- 4 years ago
I am terrified of needles and I still got one, and I would get it again. I prefer an epidural any day than being in pain for many hours.
I am terrified of needles and I still got one, and I would get it again. I prefer an epidural any day than being in pain for many hours.
roseapalooza: Birthing without analgesia certainly has huge positives in my experience but epidurals (in their place) can be wonderful too
Would you be willing to elaborate on what those positives are? I need to figure out my birth plan soon, and I’m trying to think through my choices. It’s been helpful hearing how great epdurals are for most women here, but I’d also like to hear what you think are the benefits of not having one.
I’ve been through two very different labours, the first was heavily medicated and full of interventions (27 hours of active labour, antibiotics, fluids, epidural, episiotomy and ventouse delivery of 8lb 9oz baby) and the second was “natural” with only gas for pain relief (twelve hour labour, 9lb 12oz baby delivered while standing, 3rd degree tear).
i remember thinking that the unmedicated labour was reeeeally unpleasant but the initial recovery was a thousand times better than with my medicated labour. The medicated labour was much more pleasant once my epidural was adjusted and working completely but trying to care for and breastfeed a newborn while stuck to a bed is not great. And FWIW, my midwife doesn’t think my boy would’ve been delivered vaginally if I’d had an epidural as has was a textbook GD baby with fat shoulders and abdomen.
I’d really recommend not making a firm decision until you get there as so many factors can affect your labour experience however if your preference is to go “natural” then you need to find an OB or midwife who is 100% supportive of your intentions.
mightywombat: I know you weren’t asking me, so hopefully you don’t mind me answering. For me the benefit of not having an epidural was being able to move around and change position freely/not being hooked up to any monitors, being able to get up to shower soon after birth, and being able to feel myself push. I had to push for over three hours (I think because my baby’s cord was wrapped around his shoulders and neck so he was basically bungee jumping down the birth canal….) and my uterus wasn’t helping much so I used a lot of my pelvic floor and core muscles to get him out. I think if I didn’t have as much feeling I wouldn’t have been able to push him out and would’ve ended up with a c-section after 12 hours of active labor.
mightywombat: Id be happy to, but please bear in mind that Ill be talking in generalities, what Im talking about certainly doesnt apply to every birthing woman and there are many factors effecting labour and birth.
When women labour and birth without pharmacological analgesia (drugs!) their bodies are able to work in unconscious and instinctual ways to help their babies to be born and, similarly, their babies are able to go through a series of ingrained behaviours to help them start learning to feed. Ill talk about mum first – epidurals can be the first step in whats called a cascade of intervention. This basically means that if you have an epidural youre more likely to need other things such as IV fluids, syntocinon/pitocin and are more likely to need an assisted birth (forceps or ventouse/vacuum), this is generally associated with an episiotomy (cut to the perinuem). Epidurals a) Usually stop mums moving and being active which can help labour to progress; b) Relax the pelvic floor which can inhibit babies in their rotation through the pelvis; c) Can inhibit or stop contractions; d) Can make pushing more difficult. Watching mums labour and birth without drugs is an amazing thing, they move their bodies in strange ways, they sway and rock and sometimes hoick a leg up a handrail half way up the damn wall! Their bodies are designed to do this to help that baby negotiate the twists and turns of the birth canal. An epidural gets in the way of thousands of years of evolution and this can lead to stalled labours and malpositioned babies. The recovery after a non-medicated birth is generally much quicker: we discharge well mums and babies 4 hours after birth and do all of our follow up at home! The effects on baby arent as well studied, we know that pethidine and opiod analgesia can sedate babies (which can effect the initial, vital stages of breastfeeding) and there are studies which show that epidurals can have a similar effect.
Basically, epidurals, while sometimes necessary (and excellent in their place) arent a perfect “cure” for labour pain and come with some really significant draw-backs which women should be made aware of antenatally. Its really difficult to make a clear decision about something so complex when youre sick, tired and hurting. I would never advise anyone to *not* have an epidural if thats what they want but I do advise women to educate themselves on their options.
Sorry for the wall of text – Im really NOT anti-epidural (and always joke to my Fiance that Im going to want at least 15 of them when its me in the hot seat!), Im just passionate about informed choice!
Can I just say that the idea of going home 4 hours after giving birth sounds terrifying to me?! I remember leaving the hospital 2 days after giving birth and feeling like “OMG they’re just going to let me leave with a baby?!”. I think I would cry ugly tears if I had to leave within 4 hours lol.
I used to joke, ‘epidural? I’ll take 2!’ Then when it was time I used midwifery that strongly discouraged pain meds. After 2 days of ‘pre-labor’ all back labor mind you, then 16 hours of full fledged labor, I ended with an emergency c section. In those almost 3 days I had morphine, laughing gas, baths, pitocin, and finally 4 hours before surgery I got the epidural.
i only wish I wouldn’t have been so worried about whether or not I should have got it, and gotten it the minute I could. After 48 hours with no sleep and excruciating back pain, I may have actually been excited to deliver my dear baby. I remember when they told me they needed to do surgery NOW, telling the nurse, I must be a terrible mother, I’m not even excited. I just want this over.
Had I gotten the glorious epidural earlier, I would have slept, I would have been more present in the experience, and I wouldn’t have been so ‘over’ delivery before it even started. instead, I’m questioning if I even want to attempt it again, or be one and done.
Cory_loves_this_girl: Haha yes! I thought wineplease would find that a perk but I was also terrified! Not about the baby but about ME. What if I didn’t want to leave after 4 hours and just wanted them to keep taking care of me?!?! It ended up being a non-issue since I was transferred to the hospital and delivered there. But some people just want to go home, which I also understand. My husband HATED being in the hospital (but it’s not like he had just had a baby and tore open his ball sack and butthole or something) but I didn’t mind at all!
Cory_loves_this_girl: Lots of people initially have that reaction to news of our 4 hour discharge! Once we’ve explained that we would NEVER send them home unless mum&baby were perfectly well&feeding; that their midwife would visit daily for the first week (with clinic visits after that for a month); that their antenatal visits and classes with their team of midwives are specifically designed to prepare them for the first hours and days (…as much as anyone can BE prepared!) and once theyve seen that the postnatal ward is crowded, noisy, germy and understaffed…theyre generally more than happy to plan to get home as soon as possible 🙂 New mums need rest, quiet, comfort and a clean and supportive environment. Sadly, the vast majority of hospitals cant provide all/any of these things :-/
Ladies all, thank you so much for your responses. Reading all your experiences has really helped me gain a clear picture of the choices I have and thier real life implications. I feel much more comfortable now with the idea of an epidural but also realise that this choice doesn’t have to be set in stone. I think I will initially, as several of you have suggested, keep an open mind and see how I go but know an epidural is likely to be the decision I make
KoiKove: I just wanted to say I’m so sorry to hear your story, thank you for sharing it x
HEY- I would have been happy to have that baby pulled out of my EAR with NO ANESTHESIA if it would have guaranteed me a healthy baby.
By the time the epidural was administered, I NEEDED IT. And my baby needed OUT.
If you have thoroughly vetted your OB, and have discussed these issues with h/h late in your pregnancy, YOUR JOB is to trust and relax and do calm peaceful breathing and let that dear baby enter the world in the very best way you and your birthing team can provide.
DON”T read a lot of controversial articles unless you can discuss them with a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL.
I am NOT advocating drugging the mother senseless. I was conscious and alert for the WHOLE process. I’m saying you do YOUR job, let your medical team do ITS job, then relax and have that beautiful baby!!!!
Steph77: I want to start this off by saying that I am the exception. Not the rule. And even with that I would still consider having an epidural for any future children I may have. so my opinion is to choose what you are comfortable with but be educated on possible complications. My son is and always has been a happy healthy child. No less than someone who chose to do an all natural birth. So I will still recommend epidurals if labor is too much for someone. It’s a very personal decision. here is my experience…
I went into labor with my son (who is now 10 by the way) when I was 36 weeks and 5 days. I labored for a total of 20 hours and had an epidural done about 8 hours into my labor after spending the first 6 hours at home then going into the hospital. My labor was rather average. No real complications, my son was technically considered premature given his gestational age, but he was 9 lbs 3 oz so he really was above average in size at that point (I still think my due date was just off) so he was fully grown. They took him the NICU for one night just for observation because he was technically considered premature. I was fine that night and enjoyed a nice dinner of Giordanno’s Pizza with my dad, my son’s father and my sister.
I woke up at around 2 am and decided to get up a bit and move around. Upon standing up, I felt the worst headache I had ever had in my life. I mean it literally felt like my skull was cracking. I laid back down and immediately felt relief. So I figured maybe it was just a passing pain and I tried to stand up again. I stood up and again the pain returned. I woke my ex up and we called the nurses. turns out I had what is called a “spinal headache”.
Essentially it’s when the hole in your spinal sac doesn’t close and your spinal fluid leaks making the fluid around your brain low which is wht causes the pain. The only time it didn’t hurt was when i was laying down. I had to get up and walk though to avoid blood clots and to clean myself so I would literally scream for 10 minutes while my ex washed me in the shower and I would sob and feel like I was going to pass out from how bad it hurt when they would walk me up and down the hallway. I was put on some really hardcore medication that didn’t do a thing for the pain. I spent 5 days doing this.
On the 5th day my doctor came in along with 3 others (an anesthesiologist, a neurologist, and my main nurse who had been there for majority of the time thus far). they basically explained to me that this was a direct result of the epidural. that 1 percent of women who get epidurals deal with this outcome. It only lasts 7-10 days and I should be fine after that. They offered me one other treatment option (besides just medicating and trying to stay comfy for the full 7-10 day period) which was basically to repeat the epidural procedure but with a twist. So basically the theory is that they take blood from your arm and inject it into the site of the epidural so that the blood clots over the hole stopping the leak. The kicker is you do this with no numbing meds at all because you need to be able to tell them what you feel. This is what was explained to me:
“this procedure works in 90% of patients who opt for it. in 50% of that 90% it works immediately and the patient will feel relief almost instantly. The other 40% takes a couple hours but they do feel relief. the other 10% it doesn’t work on and we can eithe repeat it and hope for better luck or just wait out the symptoms.”
Ok cool. I have a 90% chance it will work. So I agree to it.
MOST PAINFUL PROCEDURE EVER.
Well it didn’t work instantly on me. Fine, i’m not part of that lucky 50% that it works instantly on. Well 5 hours later I still wasn’t ok.
So to recap, not only was I part of the 1% of women who get the damn headache to begin with, but I’m also apparently part of the 10% that this procedure doesn’t work on. Awesome.
By this time it was day 6. So that same team of doctors comes in again and they sat around my hospital bed and this was the speech they got:
“so what you’re telling me is, i’m at northwestern fucking memorial hospital, one of the best hospitals in the greater chicago area, and I’m with some of the top doctors in the city and you’re telling me you can’t fix me? is that what you’re saying?”
“give me drugs and send me home. Immediately. I would rather deal with this in the comfort of my own home.”
this entire time my son was still in the NICU becuase he ended up with Jaundice. So I went home a little under a week after having my son. while at home I was on very harcore meds and was so doped up that one day when my grandmother came over to help me out around my house she started speaking at she sounded like a robot. My son came home 3 days after me and luckily my headache had ran it’s course by then. I haven’t ever had any complications from it and once it was gone, it was gone.
So that was my epi experience. I would probably consider doing it again. Labor was so intense and I don’t know that I’m strong enough to do it unassisted. But I guess since I’m not TTC just yet I Have plenty of time to figure that out in the future…
I am a year postpardum and still have pain in my epidural area. I didn’t want one, but had to be induced so didn’t really have a choice. If I have another baby and go into labor naturally I will try everything possible to not have an epidural.
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