I’ve heard it. You probably have too. “I don’t need a doula, I’m getting an epidural.”. Somewhere along the way, doulas became synonymous with natural birthing. It’s true, we do love natural births, but not at the expense of every other birth!
I support birth. Period. I support the full spectrum of reproductive choice. I believe in the abilities of adults, to make their own medical decisions.
Let’s get real about epidurals. It doesn’t matter what choice I’d make personally. It doesn’t matter what other doulas believe. It doesn’t matter what kind of choices the majority of my clients make. I will STILL be grateful for epidurals.
Because I’ve seen the benefits. I’ve seen mothers meeting their babies in the OR with their eyes wide open. Their recoveries far easier without general anesthesia. Having the ability to hold and feed their babies moments after birth. I’ve seen mothers with previous birth trauma, terrified at the prospect of birthing again, center themselves with appropriate pain relief and weep with joy, asking “why couldn’t all my births have been so beautiful?”. I’ve seen overwhelmed teenage mothers find the strength to carry on. I’ve seen women suffering, days into complex induction, suddenly regain their ability to smile. I’ve seen fearlessly strong mothers make choices and stand by them.
I’ve also seen women birth fearlessly unmedicated. I’ve seen unmedicated births with lioness strong mothers, dedicated to their goals. I’ve seen women learn lessons about their strength and capability they never realized were possible.
That’s why I love epidurals. It’s not about the epidural itself, it’s about my trust in women. I trust you, to make your own decisions. I trust you to understand risks and benefits. I trust in birth, and I trust there is no wrong way to birth.
The infantilization of women needs to stop. Pain is okay, it’s part of life. Suffering is not. In no other circumstance would we expect human beings to suffer unaided. When the intensity of birth crosses the threshold into suffering, you deserve relief. That relief can come in any form. A hot bath. Counterpressure. Gas and air. Or an epidural. I’ll support whichever option you choose, because you are the sole guardian of your choices.
I’ll be there. I’ll be there, supporting your choices, when you labour unmedicated. I’ll be there, supporting your choices when you get an epidural. I’ll be there with the peanut ball. I’ll be there helping you change positions. I’ll be there relieving itching and other side effects. I’ll be there helping you learn to push without ejection reflex sensations to guide you. I’ll be there dimming lights and shushing guests when you need to rest. And I’ll be there to remind you that making choices about your medical care is your absolute right, and there is never a need to apologize for it.
That support is not, and will never be for one specific type of birth. When your birth plan includes an epidural, you deserve the best medicated birth possible. I love epidurals, because I trust women.