"F-this, give me the drugs!"
That seems to be the general feeling whenever the leading lady in a movie is about to push out her baby.
While sometimes having a medicated birth is what a woman chooses, does that mean having a doula becomes obsolete?
I've talked about a few of my experiences as a birth doula, but generally I'm kinda mum on the topic. That's pretty interesting considering I could talk about vaginas, babies, birth, and boobs, ALL DAY LONG!
I recently followed-up with a potential client to see if she had discussed my services with her husband and wanted to hire me.
I've had my fair share of rejects, mostly because the client wasn't prepared for how much hiring a doula costs (I think most women under charge).
I'm totally fine with that because I believe there is a doula for everyone. But this is my business, which means I have to charge based on the value I'm giving.
However, this client didn't hire me for a different reason. After a few emails with this potential client, we'll call "Ashley", I realized that money wasn't the issue.
You see Ashley was planning on having a medicated birth. She figured that because I spoke a lot about the inner strength that women possess and how natural birth is more beneficial for baby and mom, that I would not be able to support her.
In her mind she was probably thinking, "I'm not going to be feeling any pain, what do I need a doula for?"
The truth is, having a doula attend your birth can be SUPER beneficial, even if you plan on using pain medication.
Prior to Birth
All of my clients get the same amount of attention and care from me before delivery. My job is not to determine how each woman decides to give birth, but to help them have an informed, empowered, and safe delivery.
While most women I talk to have the intention of having a natural birth, it is by no means a prerequisite for me to support them. I provide as much information about the pros and cons of using artificial pain management as I can, and then let the woman decide.
Some women feel very strongly, from the get-go, that the pain of birth will be too much to handle. I try to point out, especially for first time moms, a few key points:
1. Most women don't know, until they are in it, how powerful, resilient, and amazing their bodies are.
2. Most women also don't know the world-shaking pain they will feel during transition or the inevitable "ring of fire".
3. But, each of our bodies were made to birth the children we created. Mother Nature has been doing her thang for a LONG time, trust her.
For those who are on the fence, I do my best to offer natural comfort measures that don't have the negative side effects of medication. Doulas are known for having an extensive "bag of tricks" including: massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, visualization, meditation, movement, walking, birthing balls, and deep breathing, just to name a few.
But if the mama decides that she's going straight for the meds, I respect her decision.
The beginning stages of labor can be pretty misleading. I've had clients who say to me, after a few hours of contractions, "Wow this is easier then I thought." This is somewhere between 3-7 centimeters of dilation.
I usually encourage them to continue resting, walking and eating, then chuckle to myself because they have NO idea that this ain't the real deal.
Mamas often think that as soon as they start to feel pain they should get an epidural or narcotic. But most OB's and Midwives don't like to administer drugs too early because it can often stall labor, and wear off before transition.
On the other hand, once a woman has reached a certain point in her labor (around 8 or 9 centimeters), many doctors are reluctant to administer medication because contractions are very close together and can hinder the injection being given. *(I was denied an epidural during my first pregnancy because I was too far along.)
No matter if they decide to get something to "take the edge off" or not, no laboring woman can go without having any pain or discomfort. Which is why having a doula there to remind you of the process and how to stay focused can be very helpful.
Some time during the end of this phase of labor the pain becomes more intense. I mean like someone is ripping you open from the inside, intense.
This is usually the point in labor, no matter how confident and prepared a woman is, she questions whether or not she can do this.
It usually sounds something like this, "No, no! I can't do this. I feel like I'm dying. Someone please put me out of my misery. Get this kid outta me!"
If she opts to get an epidural at this point, it's my job to make sure she is clear on what will happen next. Getting pain medication is ironically often a very painful and scary process.
I've embraced clients who were in tears while getting an epidural, all while their partners stood by feeling helpless.
Though that discomfort is temporary, having that calm support can make a world of difference.
In some cases when a woman has received an epidural, it has worn off by the time she's ready to deliver her baby. In those cases it's important to have a doula there to guide her through the sensations she's feeling now that the drugs aren't in her system.
If her medication is still in full effect, she will need some guidance & encouragement when its time to push. There is a "right" way to push out a baby, and if you are numb from the waist down it can be hard to tell if you are doing it effectively.
As part of my standard services I provide post-partum care and support for up to 6 weeks after the birth. Most people like to focus on labor as being the most important part of having a baby. And while it is immensely important to the physical, mental and developmental well-being of both mom and baby to have a good birth experience, those first few weeks at home are just as important.
Whether you had a medicated birth or not, every woman (hopefully) brings home a healthy new baby, which can come with its own set of challenges.
• Less chance of infant dehydration and hospitalization with health difficulties due to educated care
• A reduced amount of maternal postpartum depression and shorter duration and easier for mother to cope with it if it occurs
• Less maternal exhaustion, frustration, trepidation and anxiety during early weeks.
• Reduction in unnecessary calls to pediatricians
• The Partner can get back to work sooner with less anxiety
• More of an understanding of newborn emotional and physical needs and behavior
• More care choices, tools for dealing with relations and others.
So if you decide that a natural or a medicated route is for you, having a doula at your side can be a beautiful addition to your birth team.
Did you hire a doula for your birth? Planning a medicated birth but still not sure having one is right for you? Post your comments below!
If you are a mama-to-be and want extra loving support on your Birth Day, I would be honored to assist you. You can email me for a 1 hour consultation at granolaville[at]gmail.com or check out Soul Fueled Mama for more information.