Your Doula’s Guide To Birthing With An Epidural

It’s no secret that movement is helpful at moving things along during labor; as your body and your baby work together to find a groove and make birth happen, continued movement facilitates the process and the progress. 

 

As such, one of the number one concerns clients have when opting for epidural pain relief is their inability to get up and walk around. In this quick little guide, we will ease those concerns by sharing three tips for staying active during an epidural-supported delivery. 

 

Welcome to your doula’s guide to birthing with an epidural!

 

TIP #1: THE SIDE-TO-SIDE

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If you’re feeling antsy or stiff while sitting in bed, turning onto either side (or even frequently shifting from side-to-side) can help. This not only gets you moving, but also rolls the weight of the baby off of your back. Lying on your left side in particular may be helpful, as well, as this position is said to be conducive to good blood flow and, more specifically, maternal-fetal circulation.

 

Additionally, sometimes people find that initially the epidural is more effective on one side of their body. If you experience this, your medical provider may actually prop you on the opposite side to help evenly distribute the medication and make you more comfortable.

 

TIP #2: THE PEANUT BALL

 

One study found that the use of a peanut ball by women birthing with epidurals actually decreased the length of both first- and second-stage labor, and was associated with a significantly lower cesarean rate (Tussey, Christina Marie et al., 2015). But what is a peanut ball, and how is it used?

 

Most often utilized to open the pelvis and create room for baby to descend, a peanut ball is just that: a ball that is shaped like a peanut! It comes in a variety of sizes and may be used in a variety of positions.

 

For example, while lying on your side, you may slide a peanut ball between your knees. From here, you can either remain in a straight-line side-lying position, or tuck your knees up so that you are essentially side-lying in a squat position and further opening the pelvis. 

 

If on your back or in a semi-sitting position, you may also place the peanut ball beneath one or both knees, still opening the pelvis, but at different angles and to different degrees.

 

TIP #3: THE HOSPITAL BED

 

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Perhaps the most surprising secret of all when it comes to birthing with an epidural lies in the hospital bed itself. 

 

Have you noticed all of the buttons on the bedside that allow you to manipulate its position? 

From reclined to seated, from a supported upright squat utilizing the squat bar to turning around and kneeling on your hands-and-knees—the options are endless! With proper support from your nurses, your partner, and your doula, you can utilize your bed to maneuver into positions that are comfortable and effective for laboring and pushing.

 

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When it comes to birthing with an epidural, being bedridden doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can even be a little fun discovering just how many options you really have! While these are our top-three techniques for encouraging movement when laboring with an epidural, this little guide is only the tip of the iceberg. For more movement strategies, contact your doula today. We will help you find the moves that are just right for you.