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Why Hire a Birth Doula? A 3-Part Blog Series. Part 3: I want a medicated birth so why would I need a birth doula?

Updated: Mar 9

I am planning a medicated birth so I'm all good right? Why would I need a birth doula? Oh, SO many reasons! It's still a common misconception that only people planning homebirths hire doulas. This could not be farther from the truth. Every birth that I attended as a doula (except one) was in a hospital and all but three involved some kind of pain management medication. Doulas are SO valuable during labor and birth (and pregnancy and postpartum) for so many reasons beyond those thought to be reserved for unmedicated childbirth and/or home or birth center births. Let's explore, shall we!?

Birth Doulas (and Postpartum Doulas) are SUPER helpful during pregnancy. Let me put it to you this way, if you hire your doula (especially your birth doula) at 12 weeks or at 39 weeks, you will pay the same amount. But think about how much more support you'll get if you hire them earlier rather than later. You now have someone in your corner who will journey with you throughout your pregnancy and answer many questions along the way. This might look like quick messages back and forth and it might look like in-depth prenatal planning meetings. For birth doulas, these meetings and questions are typically included in your flat rate. For postpartum doulas, the messages are likely included, and meetings might be for a fee. But, what a gift to have someone with you throughout the whole process!

What you really want to know about, most likely, is how a birth doula helps during a medicated birth.

I've got a list so here you go!

  • Birth doulas hold space. You may remember that this was first on my list of the first blog post in this series (what's a birth doula?). But guess what? Doulas hold space during a medicated labor as well. Just in the same way they hold space during an unmedicated labor.

  • Doulas provide continuous labor support. Also mentioned the first time around. This is so important, even during a medicated labor. They are STILL the main person, other than your partner, who will be with you from start to finish and who you've gotten to know throughout your pregnancy (most likely, especially if you hired early! hint hint).

  • Birth doulas will STILL give hands-on physical support. Keep in mind that labor must first begin. And you most likely will not have an epidural when it does. Birth doulas can help during that time, early and/or active labor, when you don't have your medication yet. All of those comfort measures and positions will help during this time to ease the discomfort and to help you delay the use of medications if this is your goal. Additionally, not all epidurals work the exact same way on every person. That might mean there is a little discomfort here and there during labor. This is not something to be afraid of (anesthesiologists tend to be very good at their jobs!) but having a doula will make it that much easier if anything does go a bit in another direction.

  • Per the notes in my post about having a partner and a doula, your doula can give breaks to your partner. And often with pain medication there is some down time. You and your partner can rest knowing that you have another support person there when needed.

  • Doulas often have a literal bag of tricks that they bring along with them to births. This can look like twinkle lights, tealights, a star projector, essential oils, massage tools, a rebozo, their own hands etc. All of these can be useful even during a medicated labor. Remember, labor can be long and take many twists and turns. Having someone with extra knowledge and tools can make a big difference.

  • Doulas are caretakers. We naturally see what's needed and take action. During labor this can look like making sure you and your partner are nourished and fueled for the long journey of labor and postpartum with food, drinks, rest, positivity, space etc. Even a cool cloth or warm blanket can be a game changer.

  • During the pushing phase, a doula can give LOTS of encouragement to help you along the way. They also understand the process and can be a wealth of information during this phase.

  • Doulas stick around after the baby is born to help with skin to skin and breastfeeding etc. and make sure everyone is comfortable and tucked in tight before they leave.

In so many ways, a birth doula is invaluable during an unmedicated, medicated and cesarean birth (we'll talk about these in another blog post so check back soon).

If you're expecting a baby, I highly recommend looking into birth doulas in your area. You won't regret it.

Thanks for reading this far and check out the other 2 parts in my birth doula series: "What's a birth doula?" and "Will a birth doula overshadow my partner?"


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