“But I want an epidural, why would I want a doula?”
First of all, doulas don’t hate epidurals. I want to clear that up right now. Too many people still have the impression that doulas are only for natural births. This is not true. Doulas are here to support you in whatever kind of birth YOU want.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Much of what we do as doulas, happens prenatally. Your doula has time to learn about you, your family dynamic, your preferences on birth, and your fears about birth and parenting. You have time to develop a relationship and a comfort level with this expert on birth and babies. You are able to ask all your questions and get information to make decisions that are best for you and your family. The day of your birth, you have this resource in the room with you. This can be especially valuable when things do not go according to your plan, and new choices must be made regarding your birth/baby.
Chances are, even if you do get an epidural, you will do some laboring without it first. Some ladies try to get to a certain dilation before getting their epidural, but not all. Support from your doula through this time is very helpful. Your doula can give you suggestions on (and perhaps assistance with) positions and activities you can do while you are still mobile.
Once your epidural is placed, your doula can help you change positions often to help labor progress and encourage baby to move into a good position for birth. If you have a husband/partner/another support person with you, your doula can make sure they are taking care of themselves too. It is usually easier for partners to take a food/nap/potty break knowing you have your doula by your side and won’t be left alone.
Don’t forget there’s a baby at the end of all this! Things can be a little chaotic right after baby is born. Your doula can help with a variety of tasks so that you can focus on your baby. Whether it’s helping with breastfeeding, calling family for you, arranging the pickup of your placenta, or processing what just happened, you DO want a doula with your epidural!