As a low country doula, I am hired by a family who is having a baby to help them navigate the medical jargon of pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy often seems to slow time down in the beginning and then before you know it, the weeks are flying by and it feels like the like there are a million questions that need to be asked and answered.
One of the most common questions I get from my clients is whether or not they have to get an epidural. Short answer, no. An epidural is a pain management method that uses regional anesthesia to block pain in specific areas of the body. In the case of childbirth, those areas would include your abdomen, back, hips, and legs. Many of my clients are worried about the epidural process and the possible risks associated with the medications so they want to know how to avoid using this particular pain block tool. Thankfully, most of the birthing centers in the low county have many tools that we can use to help manage pain during labor without using drugs.
Having a birthing ball is extremely helpful in helping to manage pain. Birthing balls are also called an exercise or yoga ball. The cm size of the ball would be dependent on the laboring woman’s height so be sure to check the measurements properly before purchasing or using one. Birthing balls help the women labor in many positions and allow birth partners easy access to her body so that hands on pain management techniques can be utilized. Peanut balls are also incredibly helpful and are similar to birthing balls, but they are shaped like a peanut where a birthing ball is spherical. The peanut balls are helpful for mothers who need to sit on something that puts less pressure on their pelvic area. They are also helpful to open the cervix while the laboring woman is laying down either on her back or side. This is beneficial because the peanut balls can still be used by women who opt for an epidural. They will need birth partner or nurse help to get positioned properly but is excellent in helping to keep cervix and hips activated while in a supine position.
Another question I often hear is whether the hospital will allow immediate skin to skin following birth. Yes, barring any medical emergencies, the care providers in the low country have proven to be very positive about immediate skin to skin contact between mother and baby. This is fantastic and I am so happy to be in a birth community that supports the importance of skin to skin contact. I have even been in c-sections with women who were able to have skin to skin immediately following their surgery. Be sure to tell your care providers that you want skin to skin so there is no misunderstanding in the hustle and bustle of delivery but be assured that it is very likely that your medical birth team is on board with your wants.