I chose to get an epidural and my doula was still beneficial, this is why…

A doula AND an epidural? You bet.

I was full of high hopes, nervous energy and blissful ignorance when I went into labor early on a Monday morning. I was confident in my birth plan and in my strength as a woman to birth my baby with limited medical interventions.  I had Renee Wymer and my husband’s undying support and was excited to meet my baby. I labored at home for about four hours until my back labor got to be so unbearable that we went to the hospital lest I not be able to sit in the car if we waited much longer. Flash forward a few hours. The back labor wouldn’t quit. I kept remembering what I learned in my hospital-associated birthing class that contractions would last a minute or two and then you’d get a break in which you could rest. I kept waiting for that break. It never came. I felt like I was contracting non-stop and had been for hours. I was losing focus and I was starting to panic.

Renee saw the panic in my eyes. We tried every position possible to get my baby to turn, but most only caused me extreme pain. The little bugger just wouldn’t move (he’s only 8 months now, and I will say, he is already stubborn and determined). I was beginning to doubt my ability to birth the baby, at all, never mind with the epidural.  Somehow, Renee and I managed to have a logical conversation about getting an epidural.  She was supportive and informative, which I needed more than anything since I was beating myself up for ‘failing’ to have the birth experience for which I was hoping. She bargained with me to have my dilation checked and, if, I  was 8 centimeters or greater than we’d forgo the epidural because the end would be near.

We called the nurse to check my dilation and I was at 7 centimeters. Renee congratulated me on making it that far and left the epidural decision up to me. I went for it.

Once it was placed, I needed Renee there just as much as I did when I was feeling pain. My baby was posterior and with her help and cajoling of the nurses and attending OB, I was able to move around in bed to try to get the baby to turn. She even persuaded the medical team to allow her to get me into knee chest position  and try a “ketchup bottle” maneuver in efforts to push my baby up in the birth canal so that he might turn. Unfortunately, her efforts were for naught as I ended up having an unplanned c-section for fetal distress, about which I was extremely upset, and convinced myself that if I hadn’t gotten the epidural, then I wouldn’t be having a c-section. Renee was there to help me process those feelings so that I went to the operating room knowing that I did the best I could.

The most important thing Renee did for me during my labor was to be supportive. Women who have a doula and an epidural, likely did not plan on receiving an epidural, and there’s some component of their birth plans that has gone awry. When things go awry, the support of a doula will be one of the shining lights of the day. Meeting my son was the highlight of his birth day, yet Renee’s support was pretty high ranking as well.

Erin Sizemore


{Classes that Labor of Love offers to encourage optimal fetal positioning may certainly have been helpful in the case of a malpositioned baby. It is easier to get the baby into an optimal position while not in labor than it is to try to turn the baby in labor.}