I've recently had many couples ask me why they needed a Doula if they planned on an epidural anyway, and if they didn't plan on an epidural, was it impossible to get through labor without a Doula? Well, seeing as I'm a Doula, I have to imagine that I'm quite biased when it comes to this area, but if you look into what a Doula offers you, then you very quickly realize that Doulas have so much more to offer you than you originally thought. You might also realize that Doulas are key in creating the space, and setting the tone of the room that will allow you to relax, feel comfortable and even spend some intimate time with your spouse, even in the event of an epidural.
I decided to remove my doula hat for the time being and try to get into your shoes. All of the doubting led me to develop a list of key questions to ask yourself if you're considering between the two, or if you want to know if you can get through labor without an epidural, or a Doula! Are they really mutually exclusive? Are either of them necessary at all?
Here are 10 key questions to ask yourself about Epidurals that will help you figure out if a Doula is for you.
1. Is this my first birth/ do I know how Labor feels?
Have you considered how you will react to the pain of labor? How do you react to pain generally? Does that make a difference? Is labor pain the same as other pain?
2. When would an epidural be most useful? When not? When is the best time to have an epidural?
Does the timing of an epidural make a difference? If you're thinking about what you have read/classes you have taken to prepare, can you think of when the best time for an epidural is, or if there even is a best time?
3. What things can I/my partner list off the top of my/their head that will help me when I’m in pain?
Are you planning on your partner being in the room with you as your support person? If not your partner, a friend, or parent. Have any of these people seen birth, or experienced birth themselves? Do they know any coping techniques?
4. How does my partner generally react in situations where I’m in pain?
Often it's really difficult to watch someone you love in pain. Is Labor pain the same way?
5. Is movement in labor important?
What would movement in labor accomplish? Can you think of 3 reasons why it may be important? Can you think of 3 reasons why it wouldn't be?
6. Do I know movements I can do while IN bed, even while on an epidural?
Do you know movements you can do OUT of bed? And again, refer to question number 5.
7. Do I know ALL the benefits/risks of an epidural?
The main risks everyone talks about is paralyzation. This is extremely rare. Are there other, more pertinent risks? Maybe not?
8. Do I know about other medications/ pain control options?
Can you least 3 other coping techniques for pain? What about non pharmaceutical ones?
9. Do I understand the other choices I may be inadvertently making by choosing an epidural?
Have you heard of the "Cascade of Interventions?" Do you know the different examples of what this is?
If you can confidently answer these questions, you may very well be fine on your own! If you are not sure, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss them. I'm happy to help you discover that you may very well know the answers to these questions, but are not confident in your knowledge, or to share with you some new information you may not have heard before.