Maybe you're planning on getting an epidural. You know the risks. You know about the cascade of interventions. But, you know you want one. But... did you know this?
You can still be PROACTIVE in your labor after you get an epidural. Here are some strategies for continuing to work with your body and your baby after receiving an epidural:
1. Use a Peanut Ball (or pillows) to Open Your Pelvis.
Keeping your pelvis open will help in your baby's descent through the birth canal (ie. speeding up labor!). So, while laying on your back (hopefully somewhat elevated), you can spread your knees and place one of these peanut balls between you. Or want to rest on your side? You can use the peanut ball for that too! Not only will this help in a labor where everything is going beautifully, but also in one where there may be a malpositioned (posterior perhaps) baby.
As a doula, the peanut ball is always waiting in my car in case a need arises! Or, if you know for sure you're going to get an epidural, I'll go ahead and bring it in with me.
Don't have a peanut ball? Pillows can be used as a substitute.
2. Change Positions Often.
Have your nurse, partner, or doula help you get into a different position every 30 minutes or so. Some suggestions are: semi-sitting (with frog legs); side-lying with pillows or peanut ball to keep knees open; (if your epidural allows for some use of your legs) kneeling on bed with chest resting on the birth ball/peanut ball or pillows; side-lying with pillows on the opposite side. These positions change gravity effects and cause changes with labor (keep baby descending, etc).
3. Feel The Love.
If you have your partner in the room with you, use this time to cuddle, kiss, chat, or ask for a massage. Enjoy these last intimate moments as a family of two (if this is your first baby) and make some memories. Your partner can even climb in bed with you! (Seriously!) Not only will these moments be a precious addition to your birth story, but they will also serve to relax you even further and release oxytocin (ie. aiding in progression of labor).
4. Relax and Reaffirm.
You should be able to have periods of restfulness -- go with it! After all, you are about to have the privilege of being the caregiver of a tiny, needy, wonderful baby. I encourage you to turn the lights down low. Request minimal interruptions. Maybe you sleep. Maybe not. Use this time to go over any affirmations that you may have used during pregnancy. These affirmations can include ones specific to your body laboring or maybe your upcoming task as a new mom. Take time to dream about your beautiful baby and let those feelings of love and anticipation wash over you. Believe it or not, this can aide in progression of your labor. Ride the feelings of love and longing that you have for your baby during this time of relaxation.
I hope those ideas help you! Remember, a doula will never judge you for your informed birth decisions. We are here to help you with whatever labor you desire!
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