While doulas are great at supporting moms who want to achieve a drug free birth, the fact is that most women still choose an epidural for pain relief. In the Chattanooga area,I would estimate that over 90% of women choose an epidural (this number is much lower if you have doula support). Here are three tips if you are considering an epidural.
1. Educate yourself on the procedure Learn how an epidural is placed, the risks and benefits, and how it may affect your labor. Most childbirth education classes cover this information, but you can read about it online or in books. This will help you make a decision before labor if an epidural is the right choice for you. While you are in active labor and needing relief is not the best time for listening and learning these things. Here is a great article if you would like to learn more about an epidural.
2. Wait Even if you know for sure that you would like an epidural, use coping methods and hold off on getting one until you are at least in active labor. Active labor is defined as 6cm dilated. By holding off, you can move around and use upright positions to help your labor progress and baby settle into your pelvis. This lessens the chance of an epidural slowing your labor or the baby's position being an issue. You are also limiting how long you are exposed to other interventions, like IV fluids which can cause water retention, therefore reducing the effects.
3. Plan for Labor Support Women who choose epidurals still need support before and after it is placed. Childbirth classes are still a good choice to educate you on the process of labor and to give you some coping techniques to help you be comfortable until active labor. Doulas or loved ones can provide valuable physical support and encouragement during early labor. Even after an epidural, moms need help to be in a comfortable position and one which will continue to help the baby descend. Mom's will still need lots of help and guidance during the pushing stage since some they may feel very little with an epidural. With an epidural, also comes the increased risk of other interventions or medical complications and you may need information or just emotional support if things do not go as you expected.
If you would like to learn more about how Birth Chattanooga can help you even if you are planning an epidural, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.