Using Emotional Support | 4 of 4 Ways to Encourage an Epidural Free Birth | by Doula + Birth Photographer Brittney Hogue
using emotional support
childbirth education + labor doulas
I know, I know. You’re thinking… well duh, Brittney. But I’m talking more than just someone who knows all the right things to say. I’m talking Child Birth Education series, I’m talking… dare I say it… hiring a doula.
The truth is unless your partner is very committed to helping you through an epidural free delivery, he or she is probably not reading 10+ books, attending Spinning Babies technique classes, learning labor patterns of variously positioned babies and more. The truth is, your birth partner is great at being your partner, but maybe not at being a knowledgeable birth worker. You know what though… that’s ok too! If you really are committed to only having your partner as support, it’s SO important to 1. recognize the limitations of your partner emotionally, physically and spiritually and 2. Take a child birth education class where you both can practice labor techniques hands on and learn about the natural, physiological process of birth. In fact, the Birth Center of Bloomington Normal hosts them frequently!
Maybe in recognizing your partner’s limitations you find he’s truly willing to do anything you’d ask of him in labor… but he just doesn’t have the time or resources available to invest in being a birth nerd. A doula (ahem, ahem… hire me) can identify what is happening in your labor so you and your partner together can apply techniques to best support you. That’s what a labor doula is… a professional support person who specializes in childbirth and offers continuous labor support.
I can hear your partner right now saying, “We don’t need a doula, we have the nurse!”
Yes… but also no. Nurses are absolutely WONDERFUL people, but their job is to first take care of you medically and you more than likely are not the only patient. Despite how much your labor nurse may WANT to spend time with you laboring, she has other responsibilities too.
Evidenced Based Birth has this to say on nurses in labor and delivery…
“Nurses provide support when they can, but research has shown that labor and delivery nurses can only spend a limited amount of time in each client’s room. In one research study that took place in the U.S., nurses spent about 31% of a person’s labor in the room with them. The majority of the time that nurses were in the laboring person’s room, they were doing direct clinical care (such as administering medications or performing interventions), maintaining equipment, applying and assessing the electronic fetal monitor, or documenting at the computer. For 12% of each person’s labor, the nurse provided labor support including emotional, physical, or informational support, or advocacy. More experienced nurses were more likely to spend time providing emotional support (Barnett et al. 2008).
Three other studies in Canada have found similar findings—that nurses spend about 50-75% of their time outside the birthing person’s room. In addition to caring for their assigned client, nurses have many other responsibilities, like communicating with care providers, taking care of other clients, covering for other nurses’ breaks, documenting care, and assisting on the labor unit as necessary (Gannon & Waghorn, 1996; McNiven et al., 1992; Gale et al. 2001).
Nurses may also touch the birthing person in a variety of ways, some of which may be unpleasant, like having an IV put in or a cervical check done. Although all of these procedures are optional, they may not be presented as such. When and how a doula touches is up to the person giving birth, so the laboring brain probably anticipates and responds to the doula more positively over time (Personal communication, A. Gilliland, 2017). Nurses may also go off shift, at which point their support ends. Most doulas, on the other hand, remain with the birthing person through birth.”
Every part of your birth team wants the best possible outcomes for you, but not all members of your birth team can be by your side and supporting you to the capacity they want to. So here’s a last tip: if your birth partner wants to be the best partner… start arming your partner with education. Buy this. Read it. Have your partner read it. Learn so very much about the process of labor and birth. It’s such a strong tool for families. Does it all feel like too much? Is your partner not a big reader? That’s alright too! My husband LOVED being at our children’s births. He stepped in at delivery and was my biggest supporter. But all that labor pain… not his strong suit. We had a great midwife, student midwife and doula team who all collaborated together on my care to give me the best possible opportunity at an epidural free delivery. And I love each of those women so fiercely for their unconditional love and continuous support.