“Educating Ellen” is a regular feature on our blog. Ellen is one of Genia’s oldest and dearest friends. Despite this, Ellen knows nothing about midwifery and is not afraid to ask questions. She has no clue and no filter!
Ellen: “I want an epidural so I don’t think I can have a midwife. You don’t get any awards for toughing it out. And why would I need or want a midwife if I am going to get an epidural as soon as I walk in the door, anyway?”
First of all, you can totally get an epidural if you have a midwife.
Managing epidurals is within our scope of practice. Some hospitals might have rules that restrict our scope of practice. Even if this is so, your midwife will manage your care up until you have the epidural, stay with you during your birth, and manage your care afterwards. Ask your local midwife or hospital how it works in your community.
Secondly, midwives are all about offering informed choice. That means that we will give you information on all aspects of care, including epidurals, and then we will support the choices that you make. It takes time to give you all that information, answer all your questions and get to know you and your preferences. Your prenatal appointments with a midwife are 30-45 minutes long so that we can ensure that you have time to have your needs met.
Why does this matter? You should always know exactly why things are happening to you and your baby. Your body, your baby, your choice. Always.
Midwives are really good at supporting people.
If you want an unmedicated birth, then midwifery care dramatically improves your chances of success. Midwives are also really good at supporting people’s choices without judgement. That means that if you want an epidural then we will get you one as quickly as possible.
Why does this matter? You should always be supported in your choices. Your body. Your baby. Your choice. Always.
An epidural does not guarantee that you will have no discomfort.
In fact, a good epidural takes away pain but does not take away the sensation of pressure as the baby descends. That pressure helps you push effectively. It is also often very uncomfortable. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that choosing an epidural means you won’t benefit from good labour support.
Why does this matter? Having an epidural doesn’t mean that people don’t require good support during birth.
Midwives offer continuity of care.
Do you think that it would be reassuring to know the person who is caring for you during your birth? Continuity of care means that you will receive care from a small number of midwives and you will know the person who attends your birth. Even if your midwife has to transfer care to a doctor that you don’t know because of complications, your midwife will provide supportive care and you will still have a familiar person with you.
Why does this matter? Epidurals numb pain but they don’t eliminate the benefits of having a known care provider.
Midwives follow you through your pregnancy, birth and for six weeks postpartum.
Your midwife will visit you at home three times in the first week after the birth to help with feeding and make sure you are both well. This leads to breastfeeding success rates that are more than 20% higher than the provincial average. Midwifery care leads to excellent, safe outcomes in many areas of maternal-child health. Breastfeeding is only one.
Why does this matter? You will require high quality health care throughout the childbearing year. Midwives are high quality health care providers that provide safe, comprehensive care from conception to six-weeks post birth. Your epidural will only last hours.
Why wouldn’t you want a midwife for your epidural assisted birth?