Doulas and Epidurals
I want to talk about epidurals and how a doula can assist you if you choose an epidural. I am going to be talking about it from the point of view of someone who has planned this as part of their birth choices, because it is Your birth, Your choice and it is perfectly alright to want to choose this route from the very beginning.
A doula can help you navigate through your labour pains and help you with coping methods while you wait for your anesthesiologist. You may be waiting for an hour or two if they are tied up in surgery.
Once the anesthesiologist arrives, your doula can help with supporting you and your partner through the epidural process. (Side note, in some hospitals, some anesthesiologists prefer less people in the room, and will ask some of your support people to leave, it's just how they do things)
Once the epidural is placed, your doula can help get you relaxed, settled and resting comfortably. She can help you shift your position with the use of a peanut ball or pillows to allow more room for baby to descend. She can rub your feet, or your hands and offer you and your partner lots of emotional support.
When it comes time for pushing, your doula can help you figure out what you are feeling or not feeling, and gently coach you through. Your doula may offer up a suggestion or two for more effective ways to push, or positions that you can do with limited mobility.
Sometimes an epidural doesn't work effectively. There are cases where it only works on one side, or cases where it stops working completely. It can be stressful or even frightening for a mother in labour to have this happen and not expect it. A doula can jump in and help you cope, she will calm you, encourage you and offer comfort where she can.
There are also cases where women progress too fast for an epidural. I've seen it happen, one minute she is being prepped, next they sit her up and she's ready to push! A doula can be a gentle calming guide when this happens, she can reassure you that the end is near and that you are doing a great job. Afterwards she can help you process and debrief.