Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Epidurals

When I was a PhD student, I was chatting with an acquaintance about pregnancy and birth. She had four children. She said something that was really hard for me to wrap my mind around. "I just love it when I go into labor and get an epidural," she said. "I feel so empowered!"

Epidural + empowerment are two words that don't always get put together in the same sentence, even among women who gladly choose epidurals for pain relief. For me--huge caveat that I'm speaking about my own thought processes here, not generalizing myself onto all women--an epidural is the opposite of empowerment. Not just emotionally or psychologically, but in the literal sense, too, because an epidural causes full or partial paralysis from the waist down. The thought of losing sensation, of literally being unable to walk or move, isn't something I would look forward to in labor. To me, labor = movement. I cannot imagine having a contraction without moving in response to it.

I imagine that many people have reacted the same way to my choices (giving birth at home, having an unassisted birth, foregoing pharmacological pain relief) as I did when I was talking with my acquaintance. A sense of curiosity, a bit of the exotic other that feels genuinely foreign, the push-pull of one's own values and preferences at odds with another's.

I wonder why it is so surprising that women have such different reactions to certain choices or life experiences. We certainly don't expect everyone to feel the same about, say, their time in high school. Some people spend their whole lives reliving their high school glory days. They loved high school so much that they can't wait to go back and coach football or teach English at their old school. Some people would happily erase those years from their memory and are just glad that they made it through alive and relatively unscathed. (Or maybe they were like me: mostly oblivious to what was going on around me and happy in my own little world. It helps that I had a good set of friends, too.)

So what is it about birth experiences that's so divisive? Why are we so quick to take offense, or to react defensively, when people make different choices from ours? Perhaps we allow these significant life experiences to partially define ourselves--so that the choice to have, or to not have, an epidural isn't just about the epidural any more...it's about how we define ourselves as mothers and as women.

This meandering train of thought brings me to another set of questions. I want to hear about your epidural experiences. Tell me everything and anything (and you don't necessarily have to answer these specific questions in order--think of them more as prompts):
  • did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?
  • at what point in labor did you have one? 
  • how did you feel about it at the time? later on? 
  • did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)? 
  • did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?
  • did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?
  • do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?
  • what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...
  • would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)
  • what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?
Let's hear from you!

69 comments:

  1. Having had three epidurals (albeit, incompletely successful ones), I can see how it is "empowering." It is (can be/can be seen as) a liberation from pain, a triumph of medicine over biology, a way to have the labor/delivery one has dreamed of (if ones dreams' are along those lines).

    I had an interesting comment on one of my posts from a longtime friend, who had three epidurals and then a natural birth. She said she enjoyed the moment of birth more w/ the first three (felt more IN the moment of birth), and felt more self-centered (in the non-pejorative sense) and less focused on the baby, at the moment of the natural birth.

    Now to your questions (this is how I felt at the time, though it sounds like I'm talking myself back into one :):

    1. planned epidural. why not? why feel pain you don't "have" to?

    2. never early enough. 1st kid was induced: hard, pitocin-crazed contractions for 5 hours before the epidural. Plus 2 hours of non-medicated pushing, so I could "feel" it.

    3. at the time, great. Didn't even consider otherwise. Now, want to experience it -- so a selfish (again, non-pejorative) desire, not bec. I'm concerned abt baby.

    4. wasn't pressured, except maybe by my mother's suggestion that I had a lower pain threshold than she did. Maybe if she had been supportive, I would've tried natural.

    5. no other method offered/thought of other than epidural. (which is maybe the biggest shame -- although, many of those would require extensive preparation/planning, right? so being offered in labor is not much help?

    6. short-term effects: very, very numb for several hours after second two. Also, a small numb patch on one leg for a couple months (which seemed well-worth it at the time).

    7. positively, because I was able to relax instead of tensing against pain. Felt like pitocin was the greater evil.

    8. I have small scoliosis so doesn't work at first on my right side. When multiple doses are given, etc, extreme numbness. Always felt pressure of pushing.

    9. I would like to say no, but I'd also like to explore what kind of narcotics I could have instead. ;p

    10. Emotional/psychological effect was summed up as: RELIEF. Didn't seem a feminist statement either way. (at the time). And don't think it should be now, either -- The informed/thoughtful decision part, yes, not the decision itself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Jane!

    Regarding this question:
    "5. no other method offered/thought of other than epidural. (which is maybe the biggest shame -- although, many of those would require extensive preparation/planning, right? so being offered in labor is not much help?"

    I don't think any of these require any kind of pre-labor preparation (except perhaps being willing to try!) The most important thing is that there's someone present who has the *time* to offer and help you try different things, and the *knowledge* of how to assist women in labor besides just offering an epidural.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have had four children. With the first I had an epidural and the rest were natural childbirths with no pain medications.

    1. I did not specifically plan to have an epidural for my first but wanted to "see how far I could go". I was completely open to getting one if I felt like it was needed.

    2. The labor started very quickly and was intense right from the start. I got the epidural as soon as I checked into the hospital.

    3. It was an incredible relief. I was in so much pain, mostly from being unprepared mentally with how to deal with labor.

    4. I did not feel pressured into getting the epidural. I *wanted* the epidural. Like I said, I was unprepared.

    5. No other forms of relief were offered. I'm sure the nurses just wanted me to stop crying and screaming.

    6. I experienced a lot of short term side effects that led me into natural childbirths for my subsequent children. I didn't regain full use of my legs for three days following the epidural and had considerable difficulty walking for a few days. It made me feel incredibly incapacitated. It was a horrible feeling.

    7. One thing I am grateful for was the relief. I would have been fighting labor without the epidural and would have been unable to relax and let my body do what it was supposed to do. The epidural allowed me to calm down. At that point in time, it was a good decision for me although I have never chosen that route again.

    8. My epidural was a complete loss of feeling during contractions. I couldn't even feel any tightness. I couldn't feel well enough to push efficiently. It took me an hour of pushing versus just a few pushes with my subsequent kids.

    9. Most likely not. Luckily for me my labors go fairly quickly, but if they lasted a lot longer than they have, it might be an option. I would want to avoid it at all costs, though.

    10. Back then it was just a relief, but having gone through 3 natural childbirths, I would now probably feel disappointed if I did. But it depends on the circumstances of the labor.

    ReplyDelete
  4. •did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?

    No, I did not. I didn't want to be stuck in bed unable to move. I also wanted the benefits of natural birth, mostly in relation to my baby being more alert.

    •at what point in labor did you have one?

    After about 40 hours. I was still at 4 cm.

    •how did you feel about it at the time? later on?

    I was so out of my mind and incoherent that all I cared about was getting it over with. They told me it would help me progress, and it did. later on I was not so relieved though.

    •did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    Yes. I had a natural "birth plan." HAHAHAHAHAHA. Fat lot of good that did.

    •did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?

    Nope. Nothing.

    •did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?

    No. Although they turned it off after I'd been pushing for 4 hours and it felt like my chest was being crushed. Not sure what that was about or whether it was a side effect or not.

    •do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?

    NEGATIVELY. I did manage to finish dilating, but on my back I was unable to push out my posterior baby. I couldn't even feel the urge to push at all, but I tried, I tried for four hours, and it took that long for it to occur to someone to check the baby's position. If I hadn't been immobilized maybe I could have gotten into a different position and pushed him out.

    •what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...
    The sensation of it going in was extremely painful. After it took effect my body from the chest down was numb and heavy, but I still had pain in random patches on my body.

    •would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)

    No way. Not ever.

    •what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?

    Very helpless and lost. I was stranded like a turtle on my back, at the mercy of whoever wanted to come in and poke at me. I couldn't move. Nobody listened to me when I talked because I guess I had been "taken care of" by the medication. I felt trapped and alone.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, I already have lots of good responses!

    For those people about to comment: you don't necessarily have to answer all of the questions in order. Think of them more as prompts to get you writing about your epidural experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  6. * did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?

    First time: I did plan to. I was under the impression that I need to have special training or something to have my baby without one. Ha! Now that I look back, I see that I was actually doing really well.

    Second time: I was planning not to. And I didn't.

    ---

    * at what point in labor did you have one?

    First time: I had been in labor for about 17 hours when I got one.

    ---

    * how did you feel about it at the time? later on?

    At the time? Great. Labor started right as I was going to go to bed, so I hadn't had any rest for quite awhile. I was so exhausted that it was so relieved. Also the nurse encouraged me to get one, so I figured I was making the right choice.

    Later on? Well, I chose not to have one again. I felt all wrong about it afterward. It worked great at first, but I was in labor for quite awhile and it stopped working so well toward the end. Also I couldn't move. I'd rather be in control than be pain-free.

    ---

    * did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    First time: The nurse encouraged me to, although it was my choice. They were about to break my water and she said it would hurt a lot more after that and that it would be a good time to get one.

    Second time: Upon arrival, I was asked if I wanted one, and I told them I was undecided. The nurses (different hospital, by the way) told me I was doing great, and that gave me the confidence I needed to carry on without one.

    ---

    * did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?

    First time: The hospital had support tools such as balls and a tub, and the nurse teaching the class beforehand lamented their infrequent use. However, looking back, I know why they weren't used. They wouldn't let you in the tub once your water was broken. They didn't encourage you to move around at all.

    Second time: This hospital was so much better! They disconnected my IV so I could get up and walk around and get in the tub (after my water was broken, mind you).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Part two:


    * did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?

    I was pretty much handicapped for several hours afterward. It was a long labor, 25 hours, so I was completely wiped out by the time my son was born, but the epidural made it so I couldn't even move at all from the waist down. I couldn't even roll over in bed by myself.

    ---

    * do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?

    It's hard to say because it was going pretty slowly anyway, but I think that it might have slowed it, if only because I couldn't move. At the time I was actually under the impression that pregnant women should be lying down all the time and I wonder if I had moved around more it would have gone faster.

    ---

    * what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...

    Loss of everything. I couldn't feel pain, but I couldn't feel pressure or anything else, either. Until it started cutting out toward the end. Then I could feel plenty.

    ---

    * would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)

    Well, I chose not to have an epidural for my second child. It was so much better! But I would consider having one again. Possibly if I had an induction or a really, really long labor and I needed some rest. But I'd really rather not.

    ---

    * what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?

    First time: At first, I felt great. Here was rest, relief. I smiled. Later, I felt helpless. Especially afterward. Even the next morning, I couldn't really get out of bed. I needed help to the bathroom because I couldn't get out of bed myself, let alone do anything else. I couldn't take care of myself or my baby. I couldn't take a shower. I also felt that the nurses didn't really want to help me.

    Second time (without epidural): I felt so good about myself. The pain was hard at times, but I greatly preferred it to being helpless and handicapped. Recovery was so much better! I could do things myself, take care of my baby, and I felt wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I had a fantastic epidural for baby #1. I was *terrified* of birth. I got it at 7cm and it was bliss. I was exhausted so I slept the next 2 hrs. Then I woke up, pushed 2 hours and had a lovely, alert baby in my arms. Loved it. Felt so strong afterwards--my body worked and I did it!

    However, my 2nd baby I had a terrible epidural. It did not work, the nurses were not supportive...and I was unequipped to deal naturally.

    Bc of that experience, I did hypnobabies for #3 and had a natural birth. It was a good birth, "easy", and I'm glad I experienced it. But I was more alert afterwards with my epidural than when I did it naturally. It wasn't the mountaintop experience I thought it would be.

    Having both kinds of birth, I can see the benefits of both...and if I were to have a 4th, I'd probably do it naturally again, unless I was guaranteed a fantastic epidural! :) -Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  9. I had an epidural with my first child and no pain meds with my second or third.

    In all three, my plan was, "let's see how it goes." I'd heard that people that go in with a strict birth plans are the ones that end up most disappointed with their birth experience, so especially with my first, I wanted to see how my body responded.

    With #1, my water broke on Fri night (with a *pop* on my side). I went in for the testing, and it was inconclusive, then negative Saturday. By Sunday night I was very sure I was leaking and went in to be checked again--and yup, I was leaking. I had made only minimal progress (2 cm) even though I had been in labor since Saturday morning. Since I was at more than 48 hrs past rupture, I was given antibiotics and pitocin.

    The pitocin hit hard and heavy--especially after my forewaters broke when the nurse checked me. I felt completely like an animal, just trying to survive the contraction. DH was trying to help, but really? Just annoyed me. Th dr had wanted to wait at least an hour before calling the anesthesiologist, but the nurse saw how strong the contractions were and mercifully called him.

    The epidural went in no problem. It worked well, and I went from 4 cm to complete in less than an hour once it kicked in--I think I was stressed about everything and once I was able to relax, everything progressed. I felt pressure but not pain when it was time to push, and it was mostly worn off by the time the dr stitched me up (I insisted on no episiotomy and tore).

    As far as the emotional impact, I was disappointed to not have a natural childbirth, but not overly so. What it did that I am very glad for is made birth a good experience for my husband--and for us as a couple.

    My second and third live children were both natural CB. With my second, my water broke again, but I really wanted to avoid pitocin. I was still open to an epidural, but wanted to see what my body could do on its own. With my third, I had lots (and lots) of nonproductive labor (over the course of three weeks) including three trips to the hospital before actually given birth. The nursing staff offered every time that I could either stay the night and be induced in the morning (AROM) or go home, and every time we went home. I had two miscarriages (including a missed miscarriage that wasn't discovered until week 12 and delivered via D&C at week 16) between #2 and #3, and that really impacted my view of my body--and made me really want/need to deliver naturally. And eventually, I did :)

    It might be interesting to look at the effect of miscarriages on people's views of childbirth...

    ReplyDelete
  10. i feel the same way as you - it is almost strange to hear epidural/empowering in the same sentence - that is because for me, having experienced both a medicated birth and an unmedicated birth, my unmedicated birth was BY FAR much more empowering than my medicated birth. i didn't feel empowered at all after my first delivery with an epidural - it was a beautiful experience, but not empowering. after my second birth, naturally at home, i felt so empowered. it was an incredibly transformative experience.

    i sometimes wonder if a woman's perspective would change somewhat about empowerment if they could compare the two types of births (does that make sense? like for me, i could contrast a natural birth with a medicated one and see that in my case, i felt much more empowered having birthed naturally).

    now for your questions (i'll put my answers in caps so it's easier to find my answers)...

    NOT REALLY. WITH MY FIRST, I WENT TO THE HOSPITAL WANTING TO BIRTH NATURALLY, BUT NOT OPPOSED TO GETTING AN EPIDURAL. OBVIOUSLY THE "PAIN" WON OUT.

    I GOT TO THE HOSPITAL WHEN I WAS DILATED TO 6 AND GOT MY EPIDURAL ABOUT AN HOUR LATER WHEN I WAS 8.

    I FELT GREAT RELIEF FROM THE PAIN (I HAD BEEN LABORING FOR QUITE SOME TIME BEFORE AND COULD NOT FIND ANY RELIEF, IN ANY POSITION). WHEN MY SON WAS BORN HE WAS POSTERIOR AND THROUGH RESEARCH I LATER LEARNED THAT POSTERIOR BIRTHS TEND TO BE MUCH MORE "PAINFUL" AND DIFFICULT. THAT MAY BE WHY I COULD NOT FIND RELIEF AND WHEN I CONTRAST IT TO MY DAUGHTER'S BIRTH WHO WAS NOT POSTERIOR, HER BIRTH WAS MUCH EASIER (BUT THEN AGAIN I WAS ALSO AT HOME, VERY COMFORTABLE, AND MENTALLY PREPARED).

    NOT REALLY. THE NURSE WAS NICE BUT SHE DIDN'T REALLY ENCOURAGE ME EITHER WAY. IF SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE OF A SUPPORT TO ME, ENCOURAGING ME TO CHANGE POSITIONS OR SOMETHING, I MAY HAVE SUCCEEDED IN GOING NATURALLY.

    NO.

    I SHOOK UNCONTROLLABLY THROUGHOUT THE LABOR/DELIVERY AND I WAS NOT ABLE TO URINATE FOR QUITE SOME TIME AFTER GIVING BIRTH. THEY ENDED UP GIVING ME A CATHETER TO RELIEVE THE PRESSURE (WHICH HELPED SO MUCH) BUT FROM THAT CATHETER I WAS BRUISED FOR MONTHS AND VERY SORE IF I SAT IN A CERTAIN POSITION.

    I FEEL LIKE IT PROBABLY SLOWED MY LABOR DOWN, ALTHOUGH IT STILL WAS OKAY - I DELIVERED 4 HOURS AFTER GETTING TO THE HOSPITAL. BUT, I WENT FROM 6 TO 8 IN AN HOUR AND A HALF, THEN IT TOOK ME 3 MORE HOURS TO GET TO 10 AND DELIVER. SO I FEEL LIKE IF I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD THE EPIDURAL, IT WOULD HAVE GONE FASTER, BUT I DON'T REALLY KNOW.

    I WAS COMPLETELY NUMB. I COULDN'T FEEL A THING WHEN PUSHING AND I HATED THAT - THUS WHY I WAS EVEN MORE DETERMINED TO HAVE A NATURAL BIRTH THE SECOND TIME AROUND.

    NO, I DECIDED ON MY SECOND (7 WEEKS AGO) TO BIRTH NATURALLY, AT HOME. IT WAS SUCH A BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR ME AND I WILL HAVE THE REST OF MY BABIES THIS WAY, SO LONG AS WE ARE HEALTHY AND ABLE TO BIRTH AT HOME WITH A MIDWIFE.

    DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF FOR NOT GOING NATURALLY WHEN I REALLY, REALLY WANTED TO. ELATED THAT MY BABY WAS HERE.

    i'll add that when i contrast my epidural birth to my natural birth, i felt a million times better after giving birth naturally. i was up and around immediately, i felt fine - the fatigue was not nearly as unbearable - i feel like i snapped back so quickly whereas it took months to feel normal again after my son.

    i just started a birth blog if you'd like to take a look!

    birthwithconfidence.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. 1. Yes...I planned to have epidurals with both of my kids.

    2. Loved both of them.

    3. Didn't feel any kind of pressure. I actually waited a couple of hours w/my first one. The nurse never asked if I was ready...she suggested different labor positions.

    4. I didn't have any negative effects from the epidural, either time.

    5. Epidural definately positively effected both births. I couldn't relax until I had it...believe me, I tried. I actually went a lot faster after the epidural (went from a 5 to 10 in 1 hr w/the first, and went from a 4 to 10 in 30 min w/the 2nd).

    6. I had no pain, but could feel pressure and I could tell when I was contracting.

    7. I'm not having more kids, but if I did, I would DEFINATELY get another one!

    8. As mentioned above, the epidrual positively effected both births.

    9. I wouldn't say I felt empowered with the epidural...I felt more relaxed and enjoyed every minute of my labor. It was nice to be able to talk with my husband about our new baby...I loved being able to talk to my mom on the phone during transition. I wouldn't change a single thing.

    I think I may have skipped some...sorry. I have to say...I don't think it matters how you deliver...all that matters is each individual experience.

    Kristen

    ReplyDelete
  12. With my first I went in with very little preparation and the attitude of "I'll get as far as possible without an epidural, hopefully won't get one." After a spontaneous ROM at home, rapid onset of active labor, and a long car ride to the hospital, I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable. Once I was admitted, the first question the nurse asked me was, "were you planning to get an epidural?" to which I replied, "well, I wasn't but I think I will now." I was never offered any type of non-pharmacologic form of pain management. The only other pain management I was offered and accepted was Stadol while I waited for the epidural.

    My epidural is what would be described as excellent. I had immediate pain relief, no "hot spots", and could still feel some pressure so I had some sense of when I wanted to push and I was able to do so.

    I had no long-term physical side affects. I did almost immediately regret getting the epidural however. I progressed extremely fast and delivered my daughter about four hours later, so I really felt that I could have done it without the epidural.

    When I had my second baby last year, I prepared much more and had an intervention-free hospital birth with a midwife. That is what I will do for all future births. I will not have another epidural.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have given birth six times-two non-medicated, four with epidurals (although one didn't work). My first birth was completely natural at 35 weeks after a 3 1/2 day labor. It was a terribly difficult time, but I was determined to NOT have any meds. My second birth was another preemie at 30 weeks who did not survive (also no pain meds.) By the time I got pregnant again (pregnancy #5), I was considered extremely high risk and was put on strict bedrest for 20 weeks. I carried this baby for 40 weeks (a first for me!) and ended up getting my first epidural. I was 8 1/2 cm when they gave me the epidural, but had been around 8 for an hour and a half. Having lost so much strength from bedrest, I felt that I just couldn't do it anymore! My epidural was heaven! The baby ended up being 8 lbs. 11 oz., almost twice what my biggest baby had been before that! (I'm very slender, so that was huge for me!)

    After that, I felt that I had had a taste of how wonderful epidurals were, and didn't want to go back. So I have continued with the epidurals for births four, five, and six (also after bedrest each time). Some of the epidurals have been more effective than others, but I have done well with them. But I have always been of the mindset that I will not get one before 7-8 cm. I don't want the meds in me too long. So I think that might be why I have had such positive experiences with them.

    Most of my epidurals relieved MOST of the pain, but I could still function properly to push the baby out fairly easily.

    Having said that, my last birth 10 months ago was a different story. I waited TOO LONG to request the epidural and I think I might have been a 9 or 10 when the man was hooking my up. I couldn't talk to answer his questions and my son was born almost as soon as the "epidural guy" left the room. (Maybe 2 minutes!) The epidural had not had time to take effect whatsoever.

    So IF I have a birth #7, I am considering not having an epidural because I have the confidence once again that I can do without.

    I am very blessed to have doctors/midwives that are FANTASTIC! They don't pressure me into anything that I don't feel comfortable with, they know me like the back of their hand since I have been with them for 13 years, and I have had incredibly positive experiences with them. The hospital where I have delivered has been pretty much the same. I read other women's "horror stories" of their birth experiences with their doctors/midwives, and I honestly feel so blessed! It may be that I get more specialized attention because of being so high risk, but whatever the case, I love my OB and my midwife.

    I would also like to mention that three of my children have been delivered by a male midwife! (We call him my "mid-husband!") He is mine and my husband's favorite in the group and we love him dearly. He has been in practice for about 25 years.

    Rixa, my exceptionally difficult OB history had made me very skeptical/critical of the homebirth mindset, but reading your blog for over a year has helped me tremendously! I feel that I have learned to have more of an open mind, and to recognize that not everyone is like me. The way that we labor and birth is a personal choice, and I don't need to be critical of others who don't choose like me. Thank you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. For me the overwhelming feeling after I got my epidural was I wasn't needed anymore. My DH watched TV and chatted with the nurse and I slept and then woke up and pushed, sleeping between pushes.

    I felt very disconnected from everything.

    ReplyDelete
  15. 1. Both times, no.
    2. First time, right away (our first was stillborn and I was honestly, too heartbroken to "deal" with laboring) Second time, I was actually complete.
    3.I was actually pretty pissed. I even said out loud "You've got to be kidding me!" I thought I was still at a 7 and should have listened to my awesome husband and soldiered on. And therefore, of course, I felt like an idiot about it later. Oh well, learned better for next time!
    4. I was surprisingly not pressured in the hospital. However, my husband was the only one to question me getting it, at all.
    5. At first I walked around and moved freely, but the baby was already so low and engaged that it was really hard to keep the monitor on him and then I had to sit/lie in bed (RED FLAG, lol).
    6. Actually, I was up and walking right away... the nurses were very shocked. Maybe I didn't get much in my system? It was literally only in for about 15 min.
    7. Well, it did help me chill out a little, but I did feel stupid about getting it.
    8. Couldn't feel my legs, but had pressure... I shook like crazy though.
    9. No way. I think now that I know that I was at the end I can totally do it!
    10. Not empowered, I felt like I kind of wimped out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I planned on having a natural labor because it seemed like the best way to avoid a c-section. I also wasn't that hot on the idea of getting stuck with a huge needle in my back.

    Movement was the only thing that worked for me. I spent a good amount of time walking the halls and leaning against the wall wiggling my hips to get through the contractions. The birth ball didn't appeal to me at all and while I tried the shower it didn't really help. Unfortunately I am positive for Group B strep (which is why I went to the hospital as early as I did) and after I got my second dose of antibiotics they wouldn't let me get up again because the baby wasn't reacting to the contractions. Once I was stuck in bed I got stuck at 5-6 cm. When I hadn't progressed for about 6 hours (this was maybe 10-12 hrs into labor) the midwife and I talked about our options (AROM, pit, epidural). I decided that the epidural made the most sense because I was tightening up to get through the contractions and that was probably what was keeping me from dilating. I didn't really feel pressured; in fact after she talked to me about my options she left the room (and made everyone else leave too) so that I could talk it over with my husband.

    I also had a "good" epidural. I had complete pain relief and was still able to feel the contractions and was able to move my legs a little (they felt like they were "asleep"). The epidural allowed me to relax enough to dilate pretty quickly to 9 cm at which point I got stuck again but by then the baby was low enough that I was ok with an AROM which pushed me to 10 cm.

    I was able to feel enough to push effectively but my son was large (10 lbs 4 oz) and had his hand up by his face so he got a little stuck. The midwife tried pushing his hand down but he kept bringing it back up. I wound up with a vacuum assisted birth complete with a nasty episiotomy.

    It would be easy to say that it was good I got the epidural because the vacuum extraction and episiotomy would have been so painful without it. However, I think that if I hadn't been stuck on my back and had been able to get into a better position to push I might not have needed them at all.

    I feel pretty neutral about my epidural; it was what I needed to do to make the best of a bad situation. Next time I plan to do whatever I can to avoid an epidural including staying home as long as possible (so that I don't get stuck in bed again) and spending more time between now and then practicing relaxation techniques. It's not about the epidural though, it's about being able to push in a better position in order to avoid another vacuum assisted birth.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This one was too interesting for me to not type up a response.

    1) I did plan on an epidural. I was mostly undereducated on birth, other than what I had picked up from movies, my mother's experiences, and a birth class my husband and I took to prepare us for the birth of our son. Epidurals were just what women did, unless they were 'crazy fringe women.'

    2) I chose to wait until I was 4-5cm dilated before having an epidural. I'd heard that it could sometimes slow labor, and I wanted to be sure I was doing well before getting it.

    3) As I was being induced (for medical reasons), at the time I was blissful to get the epidural in and escape the increasingly bad contractions. Now, I have a very negative feeling about not only needing an epidural, but surrendering to induction (of course, at the time, i didn't know any better).

    4) Not a bit of it. In fact, I think they rather expected me to get an epidural. I expected it; why should they expect anything different?

    5) The obvious inability to pee until like, 6hr post-labor. It had reached the point where I was in physical pain from how full my bladder was, and I'd tried twice to pee with no success. They'd tried to recatheterize me, but I was too swollen from the first catheter and labor. Finally, at the six hour mark, I was able to hobble slowly to the bathroom on the arm of my nurse and actually relieve the pressure. Otherwise, nada.

    6)I don't think it had much affect at all. I was at 4-5cm dilation when I had the epidural (around 2 or 3pm) and had a baby in my arms by 11:10pm.

    7) Total loss of sensation, with the exception of a synovial cyst on my lower lumbar spine, and I wa sonly made aware of it post-epidural when they had me roll onto my bad hip to try and help me get the baby down in the last few hours of labor before I began pushing. And the epidural didn't block one BIT of THAT pain, I can tell you now. I was sobbing and shaking by the time they rolled me back over (which only took a few seconds, maybe one minute, but the cyst presses directly onto my sciatic nerve, and i FELT it).

    8) I really would prefer to go as natural as possible. I'd rather work through the intense sensations of natural, non-induced labor than blot it all out to the point where I have to be told when to push.

    9) At the time, I felt relieved to be out of pain. Knowing all I know now, I feel saddened that my first experience with birth was so completely out of my hands. I was induced, my waters were broken, I was on pitocin (ever increasing), I was numb from the waist down, I was on my back in stirrups, I was
    given an episiotomy... during none of it was I really an ACTIVE particpant. I was told when to push; I didn't feel any urge to at all. I was told where to put my legs; I wasn't given a choice on what would be more comfortable (and really, with two numb and useless legs, what else could I do?).

    ReplyDelete
  18. Part 1
    When I had my first birth I did not feel pressured into getting an epidural. I wanted one as soon as possible. I had always thought it was awesome when women had unmedicated birth, but I did not believe I was capable of anything other than a medicated one. I would say at that time that giving birth was my biggest fear. I had no preparation, and no labor support system. My husband of course was there, but we were both completely clueless. I was induced and had about 4-5 hours of really intense labor before I was "allowed" to get the epidural I had wanted from the beginning. Right before I got the epidural there was a change of shift and my new nurse tried to get me out of bed and onto a birth ball, but I was beyond help by then:) When it was placed I didn't feel a thing because I was in the middle of a contraction. I felt it was a huge relief. I was so tired that an hour later when I was ready to push I didn't think I could muster the strength. The epidural was probably a positive impact on my labor because it helped me relax and everything went really quickly from there. It did take an unusually long time for the drugs to take effect. It was probably 45 minutes before I felt full relief. They asked me if I wanted them to try and place it again since it was taking so long to work. I said no because at that point the thought of sitting up to get another epidural was overwhelming. I could still feel quite a bit of pressure and was able to tell the nurses when I was having a contraction. When the baby came out I felt disconnected. I was too tired to really "feel" any emotion. I was just relieved it was over.

    When I had my second baby I decided I wanted my epidural sooner than the first time. I was induced again, but I was able to get my epidural when I wanted it. Within 30 minutes of my water being broken (when labor got painful before) I had my epidural and it was simply a matter of waiting. This time the epidural worked ideally. I remember thinking how strange it was that I was so unaware of my body. It was as if it wasn't even me going through labor. I didn't like that idea, but once again I had no confidence in myself or my body to labor without drugs. When the epidural was administered I was surprised at how uncomfortable it was. I would describe it as a huge staple being punched into my back. It was quite shocking since I hadn't felt any of this the first time around. The labor progressed at about the same rate as my first. One thing I remember being really disturbed by was the sound of the Dr. cutting an episiotomy. I had one the first time also, but I was so out of it I didn't really remember. This time the Dr. told me he was going to perform one and began cutting. Even though I couldn't feel anything the sounds really bothered me.

    After the first two births I remember thinking that if I could guarantee I would not tear or "need" and episiotomy I would have liked to have a natural birth. I had experienced pretty intense labor and I thought that with mental preparation I could probably handle it. I was too scared of tearing though. My favorite part of the epidural had been how long it lasted after the births because it let me have a cushion of time before I felt the pain.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Part 2
    When I got to baby number three I though I had it all under control. I was induced once again. I was more confident and more outspoken than I had been the first two times. I told them I wanted my epidural the minute my water was broken. Things went exactly as I planned them. I got my epidural. I was not a big fan of the anesthesiologist. She was very abrupt ad kept getting annoyed with me for moving during contractions! The epidural worked great and within minutes I was comfortable. This lasted for about 15 minutes at which time the epidural stopped working. LIttle by little each contraction got harder and harder until I was back at full blown pain. I told the nurse and after I assured her it was pain and not pressure she called the Dr. Then they told me I was complete, the Dr. came in, and they were telling me to push. The pain was excruciating and I felt out of control. The Dr. was telling the nurses to put something in my IV. He said he was sorry that this was happening, but I had to push the baby out now! They gave me fentanyl and kept asking me if it was taking the edge off. It didn't feel that it was. I had another episiotomy, that I felt, and I pushed the bay out. I felt really traumatized and it took me awhile to calm down. The baby was out and I was sewn up before I felt relief from the drugs. At that time I was really drowsy and had a hard time staying awake. This baby was my most alert and the best breast feeder so far. There were two distinct difference in how I felt after this birth. The first was how I felt towards the baby. I didn't say it, but I was thinking Where's my baby? Give me my baby. I pushed him out and he's mine! I had never felt that before. The second was how good I felt after. I healed faster and was up and around sooner. I just felt so much better over all.

    After getting over the trauma of my third birth I realized that technically I had given birth without an epidural. I had confidence now that if I prepared mentally for it a natural birth was attainable for me. I knew I could do it. I began getting some confidence. I looked into other pain control methods besides epidural. In the end I felt uncomfortable with the other drugs because of how they might effect the baby. After much research about birth and reading many, many, normal and positive birth stories (some of them here) I found myself pregnant again and set on giving birth a home.

    I got my husband on board, found a midwife I loved, and went on to have a water birth in my home. It was awesome. I wish I could go back and have my other babes over again, but at home:) I felt so good after wards. I really believe that not having the epidural (among other things) made a huge positive difference during the birth and afterwards. I definitely felt empowered with this birth.

    As far as getting an epidural again... I will say that I think it would be a lot harder to have a natural birth in a hospital than at home. If for some reason I had to give birth in a hospital again I would still do it without medication, but I don't know if the experience would be as "empowering" to me. When I gave birth at home I felt comfortable and safe. I had control over my mind and my body. I felt everything, and it was good to feel. I wasn't afraid. I didn't endure. I accomplished something. That was what made it empowering for me.

    ReplyDelete
  20. For my first birth I planned on an epidural. My water broke at home, an hour later I got to the hospital and I was dialated to a 4, I got the epidural. At the time, I couldn't push the button enough. I thought it felt funny, and then I didn't feel anything and I couldn't move my legs.

    I had a traditional OB, so there was no support during labor and no encouragement to move physically. My L&D nurse, however, was trained in more positive ways, she's the one that massaged my perineum and helped to facilitate my birth.

    I ended up HATING the epidural. It slowed my labor down, I spent two hours pushing because I couldn't feel what I was doing. I needed assistance moving my legs into the stirrups. I could eventually feel pressure, not pain. The OB threatened me with a c-section at that point "C-section or forceps?" he asked me. Out of that choice, I chose forceps. I'm still pissed he forced my hand like that, it had only been seven hours since my water had broken and I went into labor. I was given an episeotomy.

    I experienced epidural side effects: extreme postpartum backache, headache, uncontrollable shaking, inability to move, being so pumped full of saline I was the new Stay-Puft, baby had trouble latching, nausea, yeah.

    I absolutely hated my epidural and I never want another one ever again. You can't make me. My epidural made me feel disconnected from my body; I'd lost control. I couldn't move, I needed help doing basic things, it was terrible.

    ReplyDelete
  21. p.s. I had a second baby and did not have an epidural, it was with midwives at a hospital with minimal intervention and it was magical. I hope that if we're blessed with a third, that I can have a natural birth.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I didn't have an epidural with any of my 3 labours and I feel it was the right decision for me. As a midiwife and supporting women through labour, I make it a policy (and my clients know this), to not "offer" pain relief. I discuss all options prior to birth including timing for best use and pros/cons/risks/implications for labour. I make it clear that she needs to request some pain relief because it is only the woman who knows how she is really coping inside. I walk alongside her and will work with her to try and fulfill her expectations and dreams for her birth.

    I find that it is only when labour is not going well (usually baby position) or the woman is not prepared (psycologically) for labour and birth that the "big guns" of the pain relief options are really needed. In those circumstances, the epidural has (as reported back to me) brought relief and for some women, empowerment.

    If anything, I feel that I pressure women to not use pain relief. I own this bias and ensure that they know that I am happy to provide pain relief if they want it.

    ...just my opinions in my little corner of the world.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I did not plan to have an epidural with any of the three of my children. I wanted to go as naturally as possible with all of them. If I wasn't very high risk I would have wanted to have all of my kids at home. I was high risk due to a blood clotting disorder, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, with my first baby.
    With my first I was induced at 37 weeks due to preeclampsia. Now that I have done more research and looked into it more I feel like I probably did not need to be induced at that point and it was mild and all monitoring showed that the baby and I were ok. I also had Gestational Diabetes but, again, we were ok. With my first I got my epidural in transition. The last time they checked me was awhile before they did the epidural and I 6 cms dilated and 70% effaced. Right after I got the epidural I was 9 cms and almost ready to push.
    I was so upset that I got the epidural when I got it. I was absolutely pushed into it. The nurses scared me into it saying that I would have to have one and I might as well get it because I was going to need a C-Section anyway so they might as well have it in place. It was very frustrating and disappointing that they would scare a first time mom into it to make their job easier. My husband didn't want to see me in pain so he finally stopped pushing me not to get it and just got quiet.
    I was not encouraged to use any natural techniques to get through labor and I was told I could not move around.
    I don't think that the epidural effected the course of my labor because it was put in so late. I lost feeling in one leg and it did not provide any relief to me. I just couldn't get up and move around which made things worse.
    I did end up having an epidural with my second baby even though I didn't want it. I had PPROM at 33 weeks and at the end I had a partial placental abruption that was so painful that I opted for the epidural because I was in constant pain. In that circumstance they got it in and I almost immediately passed out. The last blood pressure reading I remember was 40/28 and after that it could not read my blood pressure. They had the crash cart ready. They stopped the epidural and gave me ephedrine and I was ok and so was my baby but I got no relief and I almost lost my life.
    The epidurals made me feel scared, angry, weak, disappointed, anxious. It was horrible. I had epidural headaches which made me very ill, after both.
    With my first baby I was induced and with my second I was not.
    With my third baby I had PPROM at 31 weeks. I lasted two days on hospital bedrest and then had to be induced due to Group B strep showing up in my urine (meaning my baby was at a much higher risk of contracting GBS). I went into that labor much more prepared for whatever may come. My husband was much more prepared to stand up for me as well. I had an awesome nurse and despite complications and being induced I made it through epidural free. I never once asked for it or even thought I wanted it. I moved around, walked around, focused, breathed, and just did y own thing while everyone left me alone unless I asked for something. What an amazing experience! No tears, not nearly as much stress to my body, I was more relaxed, there were not serious complications, it was peaceful and amazing and I am so grateful that my baby who was 31 weeks 2 days when he was born was not subjected to the meds and the epidural. I recovered so much easier from that delivery and was feeling myself (except extremely tired because I lost so much blood in the process) so quickly. I was up walking to the NICU just an hour after he was born and it was AMAZING.

    I know the most people do not have the scary, almost dying with an, epidural story that I do but these are my experiences and my feelings for what I went through.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Apologies for what may seem like an advertisement but I thought you might like to know about an idea that I developed as a result of having a serious spinal operation. It is making a real difference to people around the world so I’m trying to tell as many places as possible where it may help and it is making a very real difference to c-section Mums.


    C-Section ‘must have’

    “Simply Brilliant & Brilliantly Simple”

    It is often said that the best ideas are the simplest, and here is a perfect example of that statement: The Hydrant - a personal, hands-free drinking system for people who are bed or chair-bound that makes it easy to get a drink without calling for help. The unique clip mechanism enables The Hydrant to attach easily to beds and chairs thus giving the user instant access to fluids without having to reach out.
    It is proving invaluable for new mothers during birth, afterwards in recovery where soreness makes it uncomfortable or difficult to move for a while, and then at home whilst breastfeeding. It is extremely useful for those who have had a Caesarean Section where The Hydrant should be a ‘must have’ item for the benefits it brings.
    "Hospital and breast feeding essential."

    The Hydrant was the most useful thing in my hospital bag. I was in hospital for a week and if I had been dependant on the hospital water jugs I would certainly have become dehydrated. Being able to attach the Hydrant to the bed was really helpful as we were moved rooms so often and the bed was moved with me. Having had a caesarian the Hydrant was a godsend with helping my recovery. All the midwives and doctors were very impressed by the Hydrant as a way to monitor patients fluid intake. Back at home the Hydrant has really helped me to breast feed, its all too easy to become dehydrated even if you remember to get a glass of water before each feed its often out of reach! I highly recommend it for all expectant mothers.
    Member review by Claire - Mum of 1 - review date 30th October 2009
    Independent reviews from http://www.thebabywebsite.com/viewProductReview.php?product_id=612
    W: www.hydrateforhealth.co.uk E: Info@hydrateforhealth.co.uk T: 07813 013779

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm as baffled by this as you, Rixa. We had a midwife-attended homebirth with my first child and are planning the same this time around. I think with an epidural, I would feel completely out of control.

    Perhaps that's part of the difference? Some people might find labour pain makes them feel out of control or feeling like their body is doing something they're not actively controlling makes them feel out of control whereas I feel like if I can't feel it and control my body through it, then I don't want it!

    Interesting questions.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I've had both epidurals and natural home births, and to be honest an epidural sounds really appealing. I will not choose it because with my history of low blood pressure and shoulder dystocia, it would be ridiculously stupid to play with those risks.

    If I *could* have an epidural, though, I'd strongly consider it. It's the only reason I would really consider a hospital birth again.

    For me, the simple fact is that this is my 5th birth in under 8 years and I am tired. I am just plain tired. I would find it very empowering to be able to draw a line for myself about what I will demand from myself and when I say that I've had enough. Knowing that you can technically handle birth and judging that the investment of energy and self is prudent are not the same thing.

    I have zero doubt in my ability to give birth naturally. I know that I'm strong enough, and for me the risks associated with pain relief are too high for me to justify. But, if I didn't have those extra risk factors going in, I could find it very much a relief to know that I would not be pushed to the breaking point. There's spiritual growth and break through, and then there's just a break down, if that makes any sense.

    If I was able to have an epidural, I would class it more in the category of things that would make me feel humble. I absolutely believe that women can give birth, and that in the majority of cases requiring surgical level anesthesia is imprudent. But the more births I have, the more understanding I have for especially people who have a high number of births choosing pain relief. Birth is demanding. I can absolutely understand why it would be empowering to place a limit on how much "demand" you're willing to take.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I neither did plan on an epidural nor did I not, with my first pregnancy after PROM and then pitocin induction there was no relief from the contractions (one on top of another) and they were harsh. After hours and no progress I got one, one that didn't alleviate the pain and the anesthesiologist pricked my back 10 times. I got relief when my vein collapsed and we had to restart the pitocin. I never dilated past 4cm after 28 hours of induction, we had a c-section and at that point of being under the thumb of pitocin contractions (that means being stuck in bed) I was ready to be done.

    With my second birth I labored to 5cm before getting an epidural, it had been 8 hours at that point of "active" labor, but really far longer with slow prodromal labor. Since it was a VBAC I was once again tied to monitors, yes I could have labored at home but I have a fear of dying after that first delivery (I hemorrhaged on the table after his delivery and remember being told in my mind that I could stay or I could go and I didn't care).

    After that second epidural which did not take away all the pain but just the top I was able to stop fighting my body and allow it to do what it needed to do, I dilated rapidly to 10 and I was involuntarily pushing in an hour - then I labored down for more then an hour. I pushed my 10lb 5oz, 23" VBAC baby out in 1 hour and maybe 10-20 minutes, I just know it was 12 contractions, and did fine.

    There are some of us that fight labor and have a hard time allowing our bodies to do what needs to be done. Navelgazing Midwife writes about this, I happen to be in my head a lot - a thinker, rather modest with my body, and a survivor of sexual abuse as a child - I am represent a woman with three things that interfere with labor. I think for me an epidural is a boon when it allows me to let my body work and my mind isn't working against myself.

    The only after effect of having an epidural is itchy skin from the tape, that's it - no headache, nothing, and I was up and at it after the spinal (c-section) and epidural sooner then expected. I don't think that it's something to dismiss or look down upon, for some of us it's a tool that allows us to avoid surgery and a traumatic recovery from birth.

    ReplyDelete
  28. -I didn't plan to have an epidural.
    -I transfered to the hospital to get an epidural after 24 hrs horrendous back labor.
    -I wasn't pressured. It was made as a suggestion and I accepted readily.
    -I used the shower and movement for pain management.
    -I think it affected my labor positively be allowing me to rest and and my body to relax. Prior to the epi I had been feeling panicky everytime a contraction started.
    -I had complete loss of sensation in my lower body. It was really weird that I couldn't move my own legs, but not feeling the pain in my back was a huge relief.
    -I would consider an epi again if I have another really long back labor. However, as long as the next baby isn't in a funny position, the contractions are not in my back and the labor is less than 24 hrs, I think I can go without.
    -I just felt exhausted, completely at my wits end. The epi was a relief. Not being able to move and actually having to ask when there was a contraction so I could push did make me feel helpless.

    ReplyDelete
  29. planned epidural?

    No. I wanted a natural home birth with no interventions and as much freedom of movement as possible.

    what point in labour?

    hospital transfer from home after 20 hours of little progression at home. then had epidural 10 hours later.

    how did i feel about it at the time?

    I cried and sobbed and begged for another option. All I could say over and over to my husband was "My heart is breaking, my heart is breaking." My husband broke down into tears as well because I was suffering and he couldn't do anything and of course he was tired and stressed. I have never felt so pushed into a corner.

    did i feel pressured?

    Absolutely. I begged for another option but was told repeatedly that there was no other way.
    In hindsight I am extremely bitter about this pressure because neither I nor my daughter was in any danger even a hint at trouble. It was simply lack of progress that prompted them to tell me that i had no other choice than an epidural. It was apparently the only thing that could help me to relax enough to dilate.

    adequate labour support?

    No. I wish someone knowledgeable had been there to encourage me with some different positions, movement, massage, any suggestions as to how to encourage my cervix to dilate further without drastic measures.

    side effects?

    I had trouble walking for about 4 days. I walked like an 80 year old lady with short, shuffle steps feeling like I was going to collapse on my jelly legs.

    effects on labour?

    in my case the epidural had the exact effect that I was worried that it would. It slowed my labour down, weakened the work being done by my contractions. It also gave myself and my daughter worrisome heartbeats which then propmted the medical staff to start raining panic down on us and calling for an emergent ceasarean.

    would i do it again?

    Never ever ever. We are about 6 weeks into expecting our second child and I have made it clear that the only circumstance under which I want to hear the words epidural or ceasarean are if I am on the edge of death. Our daughter was born in Canada and we now live in England, where ceasareans are not as common and quickly recommended. I am hoping that the different approach to childbirth in the UK will help.

    emotional/psychological effects?

    I am told more often than I can believe that I should 'get over it' because Ella was born and that is all that matters. I can't help how I feel over it and I am not sure that I should have to 'get over it'. I cannot discuss my birth experience without getting upset. I feel like it was stolen from me. It is not that I am ungrateful for my healthy beautiful child. It is just that I wanted to give birth to my daughter. I nurtured her within me and I wanted to bring her forth into the world. I don't think that is as crazy a desire as people are always telling me. I feel like the experience of giving birth to my daughter was stolen from me. I was unable to be a part of it at all. I was laying, immobile, unable to feel and completely detached from the birth of my own daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I was grateful for a birthing class I took while pregnant with my first that talked about different options to help with pain in labor. They taught us different breathing techniques, about IV drugs (like Demerol/Stadol) and epidurals. Both my husband I were hesitant about epidurals since you are dealing with your spine and so my attitude going into all my births was to try to avoid and epidural but see how things were going.

    First birth, waters broke at the library, contractions started and I went to the hospital. I walked around for a while. Nothing was progressing after about 5 hours so they gave me pitocin. When that was starting to hurt too much I asked for IV drugs, demerol at that time. And it worked brilliantly. I seriously fell asleep and then woke up about 1 1/2 hours later and said I needed to push. She was born 30 min later. Fantastic. I really don't even remember it being that painful.

    Second birth - I was just huge and exhausted by the time I made it to the hospital. I had been dilated to a 3 for the last 3 or 4 weeks and I asked to be induced (just 3 days before his due date). They started pitocin at 8 am and it kicked labor into gear hard. It hurt and I asked for IV drugs again, this time Stadol. It didn't do anything. But I knew he was coming fast. Yes it hurt, but I knew there would be no time for an epidural and I knew I could make it the short time. I just did deep breathing and again had him quickly - he was born at 11 am.

    Third - Started in labor at home, and being worried about how quickly things would go I went into the hospital when contractions were regular. I tried IV drugs again this time, but no real lasting effect. When I was still at a 7 and hurting and not knowing how long this would be (feeling like it was going slower) I decided to get an epidural. The best thing about the epidural was that it took away that strong pain of labor. I could still feel my body and the contractions and pushing, it just didn't hurt. And it wasn't too long until he was born.

    However, a little while after birth I got the WORST headache of my life. And this pain to me was worse than the labor. And it lasted for hours. It did go away, and I can't remember the name for what happened with the epidural, but sometimes the headaches can return. They have found doing a blood patch helps - they draw your own blood then put that blood in through the same epidural line and it "patches" the hole/relieves the pressure/helps in however it works. The blood patch was also a scary thing for me and felt really weird. I have only met one other person who went home, then had these terrible headaches and finally had to go back in and get the epidural/blood patch to help.

    So having had these different experiences, I would not have an epidural again. I had great doctors and nurses who did things on my terms but I think I would ask next time for more encouragement to keep going without medication. It really wasn't that much longer after the epidural helped until I gave birth. If I could have known that timing I think I could have handled the pain.

    ReplyDelete
  31. •did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?
    No. I planned an HBAC. First of all (smile) epidurals aren't offered at home. Second, I had a spinal for my (no labor) cesarean and it was a horrible, painful experience. Also, I felt that if I had loving support at home I wouldn't need an epidural.

    •at what point in labor did you have one? After my transfer to the hospital. I had been in labor for 42 hours and was 9cm.

    •how did you feel about it at the time? later on? At the time I was willing to accept just about anything that would get my baby out without a cesarean. later, I'd mourn the fact that the epidural made the birth so similar to my section (the numbness, lack of control, lack of knowledge about what my body was doing, etc)

    •did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)? A bit, but I trusted my midwife completely and I knew that if she felt it might be necessary, then it really might be.

    •did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?
    •did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural? Yes, both at home and at the hospital. At home, the idea of transferring for an epidural never entered my mind. At the hospital I still had my midwife, doula, husband, mother and sisters so I had a lot of support. I had been "stalled" at 7cm for over 20 hours though and unable to rest so I think everyone was worried that even if I did reach 10cm I wouldn't have strength enough to push my son out.

    •do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)? I can't say for sure. I mean, I did have a VBAC. I don't know, though, if I would have been able to push my baby out had I not gotten the epidural and 2 hours of sleep beforehand. I was awfully tired.

    •what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc... It hurt to get the epidural. White-hot, seething pain! It was awful. I wasn't fully numb though. I could still move my legs with some effort. As my son was born I could feel a lot of pressure, similar to what you feel when, with a cesarean, the doctor pulls the baby from the open womb.

    •would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation) I can't say for sure, but it would have to be a pretty dire circumstance to lead me to another epidural.

    •what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak? I felt weak, disappointed. I felt like I failed. I was looking forward to pushing my son out with my own strength and I felt the epidural gave much of that strength to those giving the commands "push, 1,2,3..", holding my legs, and watching the clock and monitor.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I've had one child so far (another one on the way).

    - I did *not* plan on having an epidural, because it was very important to me to have an unmedicated birth.
    - I had an epidural after 24 hrs of labor, and stalling out at 7 cm for around 7 hours (I was also having double-peaked contractions for most of that time and had gotten horribly dehydrated from 10-12 hrs of vomiting throughout early labor).
    - At the time I was desperately grateful for it - I was caught in the fear-pain cycle and couldn't get out, and I was exhausted and afraid I was en route to a C-section. It was such a relief to be released from the pain, and I and everyone else relaxed immediately. *Afterwards* I was disappointed.
    - I did not feel pressured. My midwife made it clear that while she recommended it and thought it would help that the baby was fine and that we could wait a few more hours and see what happened. My partner only wanted what I wanted, though we both feared a cascade of interventions.
    - Yes and no to adequate labor support - we had all the tools, a midwife and doula, water and birthing ball. But the emotional support was lacking and the doula kind of helped us make some bad choices in the beginning (re: the vomiting and dehydration in early labor).
    - no side effects (except a non-itchy back rash from whatever they put on to keep it in place).
    - It positively affected my labor - I was able to continue dilating and push. The epidural was "partial" so I had some sensation during pushing. But it did keep me from pushing as effectively as I could and I ended up with a vacuum extraction after 3 1/2 hrs.
    - not a complete loss of feeling (sort of a tingling in my legs). I felt the baby crowning but no pain.
    - I am going to do everything in my power not to have another epidural.
    - Immediately following the birth of my son I felt incredible bliss and empowerment - largely because we never felt railroaded. A week or so later I started feeling disappointed and blue about the derailment of my natural birth plans, and like I had "failed" myself somehow. I don't regret getting the epi - I regret the things that led up to it that I might have been able to change. It was frustrating, because I had planned so meticulously and worked so hard to avoid the very scenario I ended up with. But I was treated so well by midwife and nurses that it never felt like a violation, only a disappointment.
    -Erin

    ReplyDelete
  33. PS Side effects: the vacuum extraction led to significant tearing and a long and painful recovery. In addition I was also pumped so full of fluids that my legs were painfully swollen from hip to toes (my feet didn't look like feet for many days).
    -Erin

    ReplyDelete
  34. did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?

    I didn't plan either way, I didn't feel I could make that sort of decision before actually experiencing what labor was like.

    at what point in labor did you have one?

    I had the epidural when I was at dilated to a 7; I had been laboring for two hours.

    how did you feel about it at the time? later on?
    I was apprehensive at the time, because of things I'd heard about the negative effects of epidurals, but I also wanted to have some relief from the pain, and that desire won out.

    did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    I didn't feel any pressure whatsoever. It was entirely my decision.

    did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?
    Yes, I felt that I had adequate labor support.

    did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?
    Nothing that seemed unusual or that was bothersome to me.

    do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?
    It definitely affected it in a positive way. I'm really glad that I got it. I could still feel the contractions, but they didn't consume me anymore. I could focus my energy better during the pushing stage, too, I felt, because I could actually THINK. I couldn't think through the contractions for the two hours I was without the epidural.

    what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...
    Pressure but no pain. It was perfect. I felt like it was the perfect balance of pain relief and yet I still felt like I was actively experiencing everything. It was so much better after I got the epidural.

    would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation.

    I would have another epidural, but I won't plan on another. I will likely approach labor in the exact same way I did this time: open-minded with a desire to make such a decision when it presented itself to me as more favorable than opting not to have the epidural.

    what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?
    Immediately after having the epidural the only effect was that my husband felt like I didn't "need" him like I had for the previous two hours of labor, and he felt a little left out. I felt bad about that. But I was complete within 45 minutes of receiving the epidural, and I had to push for three hours before my son was born. That was hard work, even with the epidural, and I needed his help and support again just like I had before. After our son was born, my husband told me he was really glad that I'd gotten the epidural, and the whole thing ended up being a hugely bonding experience for us.

    Overall, I'm very, VERY glad I got the epidural, and it makes me grateful that I approached labor with an open mind, even though I originally thought I wanted to "go natural." My birth experience was perfect for me and my family in every way. I wouldn't change a single thing about it.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Baby #1 was with an epidural, baby #2 without.
    The epidural was unplanned. My mother, who fought very hard for a VBA2C, was able to have a med-free birth, and I wanted one too. I didn't want to be tethered, or have needles everywhere, I just wanted to be left to my body's own rhythm. After SROM and waiting for ctx to begin for 8 or 9 hours, I was put on Pitocin. I tried Nubain, but pretty much just blacked out and my daughter barely tolerated it, too. I went through the night, but after 22 hours (And I think I was at 5 cm), I finally got an epidural. It worked well, and about an hour and a half later I had an urge to push. There were 3 or 4 residents in the room, but I turned to my husband and told him I needed to push. He said something to the staff, but they all just looked at me like I was silly and went back to what they were doing. On the next contraction I couldn't fight it, so I pushed a little, and then told my husband I was pushing. He kind of freaked out, then things went flying. Very quickly things fell into place, but I was being yelled at to hold my breath and push--one of the WORST FEELINGS EVER. I totally would have done fine to listen to my own body. My daughter was out in less than 15 minutes of pushing--flat on my back, no less!!

    I felt pressure from some of the staff, but mostly b/c they kept asking me to rate my pain. I kept feeling like I had something to prove. I had a nurse who was a trained doula, but I had a lukewarm shower and ball--that was it. No tubs, no food (even before the pitocin or epidural), and IV upon admission. That was AWFUL.

    I had a good epidural-- great ability to push, good pain relief. The only lasting effect was that I still have lingering issues from where the nurse grabbed my leg and pulled it waaaay too far back. The hip on that side has been sore ever since then. I also think breastfeeding could have been better with her.

    By baby #2, though, I had been a certified childbirth educator and doula for long enough to know how to hold my ground and to listen to my body. It turns out I have loooooong early labors, but then go from 4 to 10 in 2 hours. Just as they were getting ready to give me Vistaril (so I could sleep), my doula suggested they check me. I was at 10! It was so much easier to recover the 2nd time--no tears,and I could just move as I wanted after baby breastfed.

    I am a firm believer that epidurals have their time and place, but there's no silver bullet!

    ReplyDelete
  36. First time commentator but recent reader. :) I had an epidural with my first. I had it because that was what you do. Everyone I know did it, my mother did it, my sister, my mother-in-law. In my circle no one had ever done it without one. I had thought that "maybe" I would TRY it without, but I invited my circle into the labor room. So when the contractions got intense everyone told me to get it so I did. I got it early on too.

    Initially when it was placed I didn't like it. It sent shooting pains in my legs and my blood pressure went up making me really nauseated and feel like passing out. When I laid down the pain was gone. It didn't bother me at that point. I never felt the baby move down, never felt the urge to push and I did the push counting. My mom forced her way into the delivery room and put herself in my husband's place making him feel not a central part of the birth. I still regret this.

    Because I couldn't feel to push and was in a laying down position I had a second degree internal tear. I hemorrhaged which means I had pitocin which made me feel horrible as well. I was weak and nearly passed out when I went to the bathroom the first time and it took smelling salts to bring me back. The recovery was awful. But I still said the epi was GREAT because I didn't feel the pain. Which I now know was just my fear of the unknown. I loved not having the epidural the second time. I felt amazing after the birth of my second. I will never completely rule out an epidural, but it would be out of absolute necessity because everything else had been tried. It is a tool to use in those situations, but in a normal birth I would never choose it again. I know I am strong and that birth is not that scary anymore. If I "gave in" because of pain, I know I would regret it later.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I didn't want an epidural - my first birth was a home birth - but when c/s became inevitable for my 2nd, well, it seemed like a good idea. ;) But it's not really relevant here because I didn't labour with it; I was pushing as it went it, then was in the OR, so my whole labour was deliberately drug free until the very last moment. It did "work". Recovering from it was nasty, I was unable to sleep (although I admit there were a few confounding factors there! ) until I had my feet back because the lack of sensation was so disconcerting. I would never choose this short of surgery, or perhaps a really protracted labour where I needed sleep in order to finish labouring.

    what I really came to say is that your acquaintance's comment sounds like Gillian in "Birth." The character started out at a birthing centre, had a horrible experience with ncb, and then went to epidural immediately with #2. she calls it an "empowering epidural". For her, it's the contrast to the horrible, unsupported experience of out-of-control pain of her first birth. Like so much in birth, perception of what labour is supposed to be has such a huge affect on what we experience; I can totally see how an epidural would feel empowering to a woman who had only experienced labour senation as a negative.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Baby #1 was emergency c/s under general anesthesia due to fetal distress.
    Baby #2 was VBAC. Since it was technically my "first labor", I planned to go with the flow of things. I was just hoping to VBAC successfully, not necessarily thinking or planning whether or not to have an epidural. Upon admission to the hospital, I was 2 cm. My OB ruptured my membranes, I was on pitocin & continuous monitoring due to the VBAC status...therefore unable to get up and move around much (and when I did, I was fighting against the contractions) @ 4 hours after admission, I was 3 cm and stuck there for another 4 hours. My nurse seemed to think I could labor like this for another 12-14 hours. She & the on-call OB had a round about way of putting pressure on for the epidural - it would give me some time to rest, help ease discomfort, etc. I felt torn - my mom was there with me as a support, and had all 3 of her kids w/o pain meds (plus she worked L & D for 28 + years), and I felt like I needed to / could do it the same way. She put no pressure on me whatsoever either way! But when I was told 12-14 more hours of labor, I caved. I was exhausted and defeated. I had my goal set on VBAC delivery, and beyond that I didn't care about pain meds.
    The epi went in w/o a problem, and I felt immediate relief. I was able to relax, talk, joke, and allow my body to relax. I was able to move some, but didn't feel pain at all. Within 2 hrs of the epidural being administered, I started to feel intense pressure. Sure enough, I was checked and had dialated to 9.5 cm! VBAC delivery was successful, and I was elated! I also had a lot of tearing (8 lbs, 13 oz and vacuum assist), so the epidural helped with the repair work after my son's birth!
    Unfortunately, I am one of the women that continues to suffer pain following the epidural - over 2 years later. It's not constant, but when I arch my back enough or bend the wrong way, I wince. It's not debilitating, but annoying. But I look at it like a catch-22: without it, I might not have achieved the VBAC delivery I dreamed of.
    Baby #3 was born VBAC without any interventions whatsoever (at 8 lbs, 15 oz). I'm actually lucky he wasn't born in the van on the expressway! I labored all night sleeping on and off through contractions, and awake and moving for the morning at home. I took a long, hot shower, walked around the house, played with my big kids, and then layed down to what I thought was going to be a nap. Turns out, I was in transition, had SROM and starting to get grunty in bed! We were able to make the 30 min drive to the hospital (with lots of construction) and my third son was born 30 min after my arrival at the emergency entrance - just in time for the OB to catch him!
    I would say that without meds, ivs, interventions, etc. that my recovery was by far the best. I was picking up and holding my 2 big boys about 6 hours after my third was born.
    If I had to do it all over again (not sure if there is a #4 in our future...???) I would certainly choose to do w/o an epidural or other interventions if at all possible.
    Thanks for your post!

    ReplyDelete
  39. With my first, I had a hospital birth with an epidural at the end of labor. With my second, I had a homebirth. Maybe that alone is all the answer you need regarding how I felt about my epidural.

    Did it relieve the pain? Yes. It did. I had been in labor for about 24 hours with a posterior baby by the time I had it. I got 'scared' into it by a nurse who wanted to break my water ('stuck' at 8 cm for a few hours) and promised that 'the contractions will get 10 times worse when I break it'.

    The epidural itself hurt. The sting of the shots they give to numb your back made me cry out (incidentally, that was the first and only time I yelled out during that labor). It made me numb, for sure, to the point where I really didn't even feel pressure.

    I had gone into the experience with an open mind...a 'I don't know how it will feel or how I will tolerate labor, so I don't know whether I will want an epidural' mindset. My husband supported me through 24 hours of back labor, but in the endd I caved.

    And honestly? For ME it did feel like caving. My daughter swallowed amniotic fluid on the way out, and was taken to the nursery after birth instead of staying with me. She had nursing problems. I had a numb area on my right thigh for several weeks after birth. I was swollen (and I was never swollen WHILE pregnant), and recovery was pretty painful.

    I cried a lot and felt a lot of guilt and disappointment about the epidural in the weeks after her birth. I wished I had never had it. But at the same time, her birth was such a beautiful, powerful, amazing and transformative experience that I couldn't wait to get pregnant again. For me, the beauty will always outweigh the feeling I had of letting myself down. In fact, her birth prompted me to become a doula.

    I have never judged (and will never judge) other women for getting pain relief in labor. But now that I've seen the other side (homebirth) I won't ever go back.

    (My birth story with my son is here: http://theazkahles.blogspot.com/2009/03/rohans-story.html)

    ReplyDelete
  40. I was induced (my own ignorance at the time allowed this to happen...it was not medically indicated). My nurse walked in, introduced herself and said "Let's get you an epidural and break your water". I told the nurse that I didn't want an epidural (the anesthesiologist was already in the room) because I wanted to move around during labor. I was told that they were breaking my water and after that I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. (Hello? I wasn't even in active labor yet, let alone any kind of labor. But once again, my ignorance played a large role in this.)
    I was given the epidural, but it didn't work. So a second epidural was put in. Once it began to work, I was "paralyzed" from the shoulders down and was unable to muster the strength to blow my nose. I felt absolutely nothing. When I was "at 10" the nurse told me to start pushing (I had no urge to push) and then told me I wasn't pushing hard enough! Once the doctor arrived, the epidural was turned off and two hours later, I was pushing again and could feel everything.

    In hindsight, I know that the epidural was somewhat "forced" on me because I was naive enough to think that the nurse would put my wants and needs before her own. My thoughts before labor were that I would try laboring without an epidural. I know that I would have probably gotten one, but I wasn't even given the chance to labor without. Therefore, I am adamantly against getting one next time and although I am not pregnant with #2, I am already considering a homebirth next time around. Needless to say, I did not find the epidural at all empowering, but felt violated and helpless as I lay on the bed having to have my husband yank me back up it whenever I slid too far down.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi I have read your bog for a little while now and I finally have something from my labor experience to share.

    1) No I didnt plan to have one in labor. I thought I could do it naturally. But looking back at what I knew then and what I know now, my hospitals birth class didnt prepare me for a natural birth.

    2)After the Fentanyl messed me up and before I fell asleep. Umm about hour 18 maybe? I was in early labor for much of that though.

    3)At the time... I really wanted it. With the Fen. I had the worst drunk stoned feeling in the world. I couldnt breathe very well. I was out of it in between contractions so when they came I wasnt prepared for them in any way. I couldnt articulate very well what I was feeling or needed. It wore off in 20 minutes. I was just so thrown out of wack and messed up and tired it was 2 am and i had been up since 9 am so I wanted some sleep. So beaten down by the narcotic I got the Epi. Now I am not sure what to feel. Next time it wont matter because hopefully I will have a homebirth.

    4) I wasnt pressured at all really. I had a great nurse who totally respected everything. Sort of I guess. At one time my mom had to tell her that we would ask for medication not to ask us. So maybe she did when I started making noise and my mom handled it?

    5)Yes and no. I was so uncomfortable that my parents were at the birth that I didnt use any of the comfort measures available to me then. A shower. I brought my own birth ball. But In general I would just say I was unprepared for labor itself.

    6)Short term not that I noticed. I was disappointed that I was so out of it and tired still when my daughter was born. Long term I have more back pain but whos to say thats not from holding a toddler all the time too..

    7)No honestly at the time it didnt occur to me to just let the Fen. wear off and get into a labor groove. I kind of just responded to the domino theory. Had I had a doula it might have gone differently. And my little girl was born only 4 hours labor. All even within a hospitals 12 hour mark.

    8) I remember my left foot falling asleep because I remember asking him if that was supposed to happen. Then my whole lover half fell asleep. I know I got an extra blanket because I got cold.. But I was just so worn out I slept.

    9)No. I want an all natural homebirth. Maybe water birth.. But it depends on the time of year.

    10) I felt rescued from the evil Fantanyl I was just happy that one experience was over. I wish that I would have been able to feel pushing. I wish that I could have not needed stiching for a 2nd degree tear.. But do I regret it.. No. I was a different person then than I am now. I have grown from my last birth. I want something new for my next one when ever that may be.

    ReplyDelete
  42. When I was born, my mother asked for an epidural, but it was given too late and there were problems. The doctor ended up using forceps to pull me out, leaving a gash very close to my eye. My whole life, my mom has terrorized me with this story of the epidural gone wrong. She had natural births for her next two children and has always explained those births as positive experiences.

    ...And yet, ALSO for as long as I can remember, when talk comes to me or my sisters having babies, she always says, "Just get the epidural and you'll be fine." "Don't worry about the pain, that's why they have drugs."

    Her own birth stories completely conflict with the advice she always gives, and I can't tell if she's even aware of that fact. While this doesn't really answer any of your prompts, I felt compelled to share the EXTREMELY mixed messages I've been receiving about epidurals from my own mother, the person I am supposed to trust to advise me!

    ReplyDelete
  43. * did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?
    #1 - I wasn't really sure
    #2 - (VBAC) in my mind, it was not an option at all

    * at what point in labor did you have one?
    #1 - At 6cm (after about 30 hours of labor)
    #2 - did not

    * how did you feel about it at the time? later on?
    At the time - I immediately knew I hated it, but had no other support/idea what to do to OTHER than get the epi.
    Later on - totally regretted it

    * did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?
    Not at all

    * did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?
    #1 - No
    #2 - Yes

    * did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?
    I didn't think that I did, but there is a spot on my back that is ALWAYS bothering me and my chiro mentioned a couple months ago that it very well could be from the epi

    * do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?
    Definitely had a negative affect

    * what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...
    COMPLETE loss of sensation (I asked them to put it on the lowest setting b/c I still wanted to know when ctx were occurring/when to push)I never felt the urge to push so had to be told to (lovely "purple pushing")

    * would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)
    I will never have an epi again - I know, never say never. But there is no way I can go through that again

    * what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?
    I felt so weak - disconnected (I even said that moments after the epi was placed) I also felt like I had let myself down and ruined the chance for a natural birth experience (after my section...thankfully, that wasn't the case)

    ReplyDelete
  44. No plans for an epidural - wanted to go natural as long as it worked for me but was open for an epidural.

    # at what point in labor did you have one?
    At 9cm, 20 hrs into labor

    # how did you feel about it at the time? later on?
    Extremely relieved. My body was finally able to relax - contractions had been extremely strong during the entire labor and had also awful pain in my legs during the entire time which did not allow me to stand or walk at all nor to focus on the labor pain.

    In addition exams were very confronting and terrifying due to childhood experiences - taking the sharpness of pain away made labor less confronting and scary.

    # did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    Not at all - nobody brought it up, I was always assured I did great in labor!

    # did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?

    Was not really an option. By the time I got into the hospital I was transitioning, could not walk - had tried shower/bath tub at home but without success.

    # did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?

    NONE

    # do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?

    Positively. Was able to rest a little before the pushing. I had no energy left by the time of the epidural so this was extremely helpful. The baby was stuck on one of bones and pushing lasted a very long time - without epidural it would most certainly been a C-section as I would not have had the energy to go through 4,5 hrs of pushing

    # what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...
    Felt pressure, no pain. No loss of feeling in legs (pain at the end when the epidural wore off, extreme pain by the time I was stitched up.

    # would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor?

    I will see how far I can get along. Hope the second birth goes faster, then I should be able to cope. If it takes too long, i am surely open to an epidural.


    # what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak
    Mainly relieved, felt somewhat more secure as pelvic exam / perineum massage were less felt and therefore less traumatic.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Bah. My first comment disappeared. So here are the highlights:

    -Had an epidural for my c-section after 24 hours of labor at home (last four hours spent pushing a surprisingly posterior baby).
    -I don't know if they use the same medicine but in a different amount, or if it's a totally different drug, but my epidural was nuts.
    -I was having pushing contractions when they administered the epidural. They kept telling me to "be still" and to "quit pushing." I felt like I was breaking the nurse's arm trying to hold still so they could insert the needle.
    -I was completely stiff as a board and had no control over anything. I even lost control over my arms, which wasn't supposed to happen (I think I must metabolize medicine slowly).
    -It gave me horrible shakes that lasted for what seemed like forever. I don't know if that would have happened with an epidural for labor or not.
    -For a while after my daughter's birth, I would get this twinge in my back that I often wondered if was caused by the epidural. It hasn't happened in a long time, though.
    -I definitely did not feel empowered by it. While I was glad for the pushing contractions to be over, I wanted them to be over because I'd pushed my baby out in my dining room like I was supposed to.
    -I absolutely do not want another epidural. I am quite worried that I'm going to have trouble finding a doctor who will "let" me have a VBAC. But I do at least know that I can manage the pain of a really long labor. So I don't expect that I'll ask for an epidural if I have another baby.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Bummer....I spent like 30 minutes writing a comment a couple days ago, and yet I don't see it here. Here is the gist of how I feel: I had an epidural with my first baby and had a home birth with my second. As I was preparing for my first baby's arrival, I was focused on what to do after the birth. I knew labor would happen, but I always assumed I would get an epidural and after some hours I would have a baby. The easiest way to explain my view and (lack of) preparation for the birth is that I didn't view birth as something I was doing, it was something that was happening to me. The epidural reinforced that mindset. By taking away my pain, it also took away the responsibility and ability to do much about my labor. I couldn't move very well, couldn't hold up my own legs, needed help to roll onto my side, and was completely numb from my ribcage down. I couldn't even tell when I was having a contraction. My mom or nurse would ask me and I would say, "I don't know, what does the monitor say?"

    I don't know how to classify/define my experience in terms of empowerment. To me, empowerment means that I see what I CAN DO and I feel more powerful and impressive. In those terms, my epidural did not empower me. But at the same time, it didn't have a negative effect on me, emotionally or mentally. It didn't make me feel like I couldn't do anything, like I was weak or not as much of a woman. I just felt neutral about it. When I contrast it with my second birth (at home, waterbirth, no interventions at all), I realize how I could have felt. After my son was born, I felt so strong and amazing! I find I handle pain and discomfort so much easier now. I keep reminding myself, "I had a baby without any drugs! I can do anything!" That was not the feeling I had after my first birth.

    All that being said, the epidural fulfilled my desires. I got the birth I wanted/planned for. I wanted to go into labor on my own (check), and I was completely okay with augmentation/AROM to help it along (check, check), I wanted an epidural so that I didn't have to feel anything (check). I also ended up with a 3rd degree tear, since I couldn't push as effectively (not being able to feel anything) and her heartrate was decelerating, so they used the vacuum. That one thing right there is what pushed me to a natural birth.

    My recovery was so rough after my daughter was born. I was WIPED OUT for days. I couldn't even walk from the car to the front door of my home without help when we got home from the hospital. All the pictures from those first few days show me looking very pale and exhausted. I couldn't sit without a donut or other pillow for 5+ weeks. I couldn't have intercourse for 6 months, and still had pain for another 3+ months. I can't say that the epidural was the single cause of that, but it was a major contributing factor (in concert with all the other interventions and style of pushing).

    Obviously, I have had a birth since then and did not get an epidural. My home birth was such a positive experience for me, that I will always strive for that. But if I were to experience a very long labor, especially if it was back labor, I would consider an epidural. If I ever get another epidural, I will definitely make sure it is turned off before I start pushing!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I just gave birth last Saturday, so my experience is very fresh in my mind. :)

    1. I did not plan on an epidural. My husband and I took Lamaze classes and studied the Bradley method. I thought it would be an amazingly empowering experience to give birth without pain medication.
    2. I was induced, which was definitely not the original plan. I had pretty much every intervention in the book--Pitocin, Cyotec, having my membranes stripped, etc. and after 24 hours of consistent contractions, I was just too tired to do it anymore. I managed just fine until my contractions suddenly jumped in intensity--they were 5 minutes long, very difficult, and I only had about a 30 second break in between. Within that 24 hours, I had only progressed from 4 cm to 5 cm, and I knew I just didn't have enough energy to get to 10 cm.
    3. I felt nothing but relieved. Even now, I have absolutely no regrets about getting an epidural. It was the best possible option given the situation.
    4. I felt no pressure at all from my midwife. We discusses my options and she offered the opinion that an epidural was probably going to be an effective tool for me, but she would have been supportive either way.
    5. Definitely! I labored in the tub, used a birth ball, leaned on my partner, walked the halls, etc. I was essentially allowed to labor any way I chose. I also tried a narcotic pain reliever before getting an epidural.
    6. Not so far. My epidural was great--not too strong. I was able to feel the urge to push without any problems. I was up and walking around just a few hours later.
    7. The epidural had an extremely positive impact on my labor. As soon as my epidural kicked in, I was able to rest/nap. An hour and a half later, I was fully dilated (remember that it took me 24 hours to dilate from a 4 to a 5). The epidural was just what I needed.
    8. I could still lift my legs somewhat and wiggle my toes. I had enough feeling left that I was able to push using a squat bar. I definitely still felt some pain as the baby's head was crowning. I had no problems feeling the pressure in my bottom and responding to the urge to push.
    9. It's definitely a possibility. I am hoping to have much fewer interventions next time, so I think it will be a completely different ball game. I would still like to try to go for as long as I possibly can before I get one.
    10. I felt relieved, empowered, rested, and encouraged. Because of my epidural, my body was able to rest and recharge before it came time to deliver.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I feel kind of funny commenting since I've never had an epidural nor do I ever plan to. But like some of the other posters I have experienced things which affect that choice.

    I started experiencing painful menstruation at age 14 after 2 years of normal painless periods. For the next 4 years it got worse & since my parents were very holistically minded I had nothing more than some basic herbs to take for the pain. I would spend hours curled in the fetal position wracked with pain. At 21 years old I finally got an answer, I had endometriosis. The treatment caused even worse pain, 3 days of pain so severe that any movement hurt & laying down hurt & walking required me to grit my teeth to keep from cussing. But the treatment worked & my symptoms went away for over a year & then I fell pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant with my first I figured that labor couldn't be any worse than what I had already been through & given the problems I already had with pain in my back I didn't want to risk making it worse by getting an epidural. My labors have been easy, maybe easier for me because I had already been through something far more painful, though my second was much more uncomfortable than my first because I was fighting my body trying to slow my labor down (not something I recommend but I was trying to avoid a precipitous birth like my first had been). I often wonder if women had felt the pain that I have, the pain of your body not working properly, would that change how they view labor? I would imagine a Pit induced/augmented labor could be that painful but based on my experience I just can't see a natural labor being painful enough for me to need an epidural. Perhaps I sound judgmental or condescending towards women who do chose epidurals, I don't mean to, many of my friends have gotten them & loved it. It's something unquantifiable, I can not adequately explain to someone the level of pain I have felt vs. the pain of labor. I would never wish my experience on anyone but having that comparison of painful uterine contractions not associated with labor puts labor in perspective far more than the pain of say a broken arm compared to labor. I do believe that there is a time & a place for epidurals, just like any other intervention they can improve the outcome of a birth when used properly. But reading through the experience that have been shared I see the recurring theme that epidurals are just part of "normal" birth now & that many women who get them don't really need them and/or regret it after the fact. Open & honest discussions like this is what women need in order to make an informed decision rather than always hearing how much they are going to need that epidural to make it through labor.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I was in active labor for 31 hours and was up for almost 48 hours before my daughter was born. After 24 hours of labor and no sleep, I was totally exhausted and dehydrated (I was throwing up everything I took in). I needed that epidural. I was totally wiped out, weak, and I didn't feel like I was laboring effectively anymore. My epidural was fantastic, total pain relief -- and I got very high from it -- and lasted until I started pushing, so I felt like I had a natural childbirth anyway.

    Would I have one again? Maybe. If I had the exact same labor that I did with my daughter, I would probably ask for an IV to see if I could replenish some fluids/energy that way -- it never occurred to me that maybe that would be an option. But I know what labor feels like now, and I think with the next one I'll be better equipped having had this experience.

    I won't beat myself up about having the epidural even though I wanted a natural childbirth. It was the best choice I could have made for my labor. I really like reframing my experience as "empowering" rather than "caving" (as I think many natural birth mamas may see it) and I appreciate that descriptor.

    ReplyDelete
  50. For me, getting the epidurals were empowering because I was able to make the choice to not be in pain. That said, I didn't have a labor and delivery with an epidural until my 3rd baby, so I knew all about what having a natural childbirth felt like and honestly, I didn't think that I had anything to prove to anyone anymore.

    With the epidurals I had, I could feel pressure, but no pain. I could feel that my legs were there, but couldn't move them.

    My labors with epidural generally progressed pretty quickly once the epidurals took effect, so for me I guess that's a positive thing.

    I had 2 more or less unmedicated childbirths, so it's not like I don't know what it's like. Those were empowering too, but in a different way.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I loved having epidurals for both of my births because I focused on experiencing the event rather than fighting the pain. I wanted to try childbirth without pain medication, but I was always open to it. The only "pressure" I had was from my mother who had really ugly, painful experiences. She strongly recommended that I have an epidural.

    My first birth, my water broke but I didn't start contracting so I eventually got pitocin. It was excruciatingly painful. Tried nubain (sp?), didn't work. Got an epidural at 2.5 cm dilated. Had no problem pushing; pushed only 45 minutes. Biggest problem was that my catheter was improperly placed and I couldn't tell because of the numbness. No long term side effects though.

    For my second child, my doctor recommended (but did not pressure me) to have an epidural as soon as I was at the hospital. I was having severe back and nerve problems from the way the baby was laying. He wanted me to get an epidural so that I could sleep for a few hours and be able to push. He was concerned that I was so exhausted already from lack of sleep due to the pain that I wouldn't have the energy to push when necessary. I got the epidural, slept a few hours, and only had to push less than 10 minutes. No short term or long term effects.

    I admit I was lucky, however. I know other women who didn't have good experiences with epidurals.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I have never had an epidural so I can't comment there. I just wanted to point out that people react with that emotional extremes to anything that challenges their understanding of reality.


    Talk to anyone on a special diet (be it vegetarianism, low-cal, gluten-free, fish-free, whatever,) and you'll find that people get just as uptight about those things, too. I am still taken aback at how many people react as if they are offended when I politely refuse a food that will make me sick. As if I am CHOOSING to be made sick by something that contains wheat. I've even been told that I could eat it if I wanted to! People don't like to have their world-view rocked.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I've had two epidurals (am planning a natural birth with this third pregnancy though.) My epidurals we're 'successful', in that I felt nothing. Literally, I never had even the littlest sensation during pushing or anything. Fortunately, both babies just slid out in three contractions despite my less than helpful numb-pushing, so that wasn't a problem at all.
    I never really thought twice about my first one -- it was just the way you do things. I got it, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared . . . then labor stopped. So pitocin was started, then the baby's heartrate freaked out, and the next couple hours were a terrifying blur of wondering if my baby was OK and if I was going to need the emergency c-section they kept talking about. In the end, the baby's heartrate normalized, and I was pushing a few hours later and everything turned out fine. And I was just so relieved to have a healthy, alive baby than I never thought much more about it.
    Then I got pregnant again -- and I had horrible nightmares and flashbacks of those terrifying times of wondering if my baby was OK, and if I'd need to be knocked unconscious and wake up sectioned. This time, I got educated. I read a lot, I saw my epidural (once the blessed relief from pain) as a catalyst for the situation I found myself in. I planned a natural birth this time. As it happened, my water broke three weeks early and despite everything we could think of to get it going, the next day, there were still no contractions. My doctor insisted on pitocin (which freaked me out more than the epidural, by far), and I was so tense and nervous, that I asked for the epidural. Fortunately, I had a wonderful nurse who promised that as SOON as my contractions started, she'd turn off the pit and let my body do the work on its own. I was shocked when I had my baby less than 2 hours later, with only the lowest dose of pit used for only a few minutes. I didn't regret the epidural, nothing had gone wrong this time, but I felt kinda silly getting one when things went so smoothly.
    With this third, I could easily look at my last experience and think, "The epidural was fine, nothing went wrong," and plan a similar birth. But, to me, the epidural will always be a risk. Always a gateway to something that could potentially make the situation more dangerous. So, I'm planning this birth without it.

    ReplyDelete
  54. did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not? - yes i had planned mine because i was too much of a sheep to actually do any research or form my own opinion. big mistake!

    at what point in labor did you have one? -- immediately. i don't think i felt one contraction. this was during a stop and start induction

    how did you feel about it at the time? later on? -- at the time i was thankful for it because the hospital staff made me feel that if i didn't get one RIGHT THEN that i would miss my chance. turns out my labour lasted 10 hours and i was starving by the time it came to push which was hard. later on i regretted it. i still regret it, which is why i just had a successful home birth :)

    did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)? -- absolutely!!! i wanted to try labouring on my own but was told i might not get the epidural when it came time to have one and "why be a hero" when i don't need to be? why indeed... nothing heroic about giving birth naturally...

    did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural? -- not at all

    did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural? -- no, luckily i had no negative side effects

    do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)? -- negatively! it created a spiral effect with pitocin, then more epi, then more pitocin and by the time my baby was being pushed out i was exhausted from the interventions. i ended up with a 3rd degree episiotomy and my son was born blue and not breathing because the contractions were so strong from the pitocin. they cut his cord immediately and a team of hospital staff whisked him away to breathe for him. he scored 2 and then 7 on his apgars. it was sad

    what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc... -- complete loss of feeling from my waist down. no such thing as a 'walking epidural' with me. it worked sometimes, sometimes it didn't. i felt disgusting at the time. i hated it.

    would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation) -- absolutely not!!! i would never EVER give birth in a hospital again. it affected me so deeply that i still can't even enter a hospital without becoming upset.

    what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak? -- i felt disgusted with the medical establishment that they bullied me into getting one so early into my induction. i feel disappointed in myself for not knowing my options and for not fighting for my right to say no, or that i wanted to wait for a bit which, at the time, i did (want to wait). i felt weak.

    my second birth was SO much better. my daughter was born at home at 41+4 and i loved every minute of it. we had my water broken in hospital and then we raced home and had her in my bathroom 3 hours later. it was the single most empowering, dramatic, touching experience of my life and i loved every single second of it. when we have our next child i HOPE that i can experience the same magical birth.

    ReplyDelete
  55. did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not? - yes i had planned mine because i was too much of a sheep to actually do any research or form my own opinion. big mistake!

    at what point in labor did you have one? -- immediately. i don't think i felt one contraction. this was during a stop and start induction

    how did you feel about it at the time? later on? -- at the time i was thankful for it because the hospital staff made me feel that if i didn't get one RIGHT THEN that i would miss my chance. turns out my labour lasted 10 hours and i was starving by the time it came to push which was hard. later on i regretted it. i still regret it, which is why i just had a successful home birth :)

    did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)? -- absolutely!!! i wanted to try labouring on my own but was told i might not get the epidural when it came time to have one and "why be a hero" when i don't need to be? why indeed... nothing heroic about giving birth naturally...

    did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural? -- not at all

    did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural? -- no, luckily i had no negative side effects

    do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)? -- negatively! it created a spiral effect with pitocin, then more epi, then more pitocin and by the time my baby was being pushed out i was exhausted from the interventions. i ended up with a 3rd degree episiotomy and my son was born blue and not breathing because the contractions were so strong from the pitocin. they cut his cord immediately and a team of hospital staff whisked him away to breathe for him. he scored 2 and then 7 on his apgars. it was sad

    what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc... -- complete loss of feeling from my waist down. no such thing as a 'walking epidural' with me. it worked sometimes, sometimes it didn't. i felt disgusting at the time. i hated it.

    would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation) -- absolutely not!!! i would never EVER give birth in a hospital again. it affected me so deeply that i still can't even enter a hospital without becoming upset.

    what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak? -- i felt disgusted with the medical establishment that they bullied me into getting one so early into my induction. i feel disappointed in myself for not knowing my options and for not fighting for my right to say no, or that i wanted to wait for a bit which, at the time, i did (want to wait). i felt weak.

    my second birth was SO much better. my daughter was born at home at 41+4 and i loved every minute of it. we had my water broken in hospital and then we raced home and had her in my bathroom 3 hours later. it was the single most empowering, dramatic, touching experience of my life and i loved every single second of it. when we have our next child i HOPE that i can experience the same magical birth.

    ReplyDelete
  56. With my 1st, I didn't plan on having an epidural.(I also didn't plan on needing to be induced at 9 days past my due date because my blood pressure was slowly rising.)

    Because I was having a Pitocin-induced labor, I had to be under constant monitoring, which meant it was nearly impossible to get out of bed and move around. Baby was also posterior, and by the time my water broke at 7cm, I just couldn't take the excruciating back labor anymore and allowed an epidural to be placed. Baby was "stuck" in the birth canal with just the top of her head visible for nearly 2 hours before a vacuum had to be used to help rotate her head and get her out.

    I don't feel like I was pressured directly into choosing an epidural, but I feel as though I was left with little choice while strapped to a bed with pitocin contractions and a posterior-positioned baby.

    For a few weeks following the epidural, I experienced mild to moderate spasming at the base of my neck accompanied by shooting pain down my spine.

    The epidural had a positive effect on the course of my labor because it helped to relieve much of the back labor pains.

    Instead of a total loss of sensation, I experienced a sensation of intense pressure as opposed to pain. I could still move my legs with ease and push readily without instruction.

    At the time, I was thankful for the epidural because I couldn't've imagined enduring 2 hours more of back labor while my daughter was stuck in a posterior position; however, looking back, I wish I would've had more support in terms of natural pain management (such as switching positions, breathing techniques, etc) to aid in her delivery, which may have prevented the need for an epidural in the first place.

    Since then, I have given birth to another daughter without the aid of an epidural (and LOVED it).

    We're now expecting our third child, and having had such a positive experience without the epidural but such a negative experience in the hospital setting, we've opted for a home birth with a midwife.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I didn't plan to have an epidural-my pre-labor position was that I'd take it if I needed but would prefer to not have one- but when my water broke spontaneously on the first palpable contraction and I immediately started having 10/10 pain with vomiting from the pain I thought maybe it was a good idea. I didn't try any other methods of pain relief because I couldn't concentrate on any of them: I was in too much pain to get safely in and out of a bath, really couldn't get my breathing under any particular control, sitting on anything, birthing ball or not, just hurt, etc.

    I had a very good experience with the epidural: immediate and complete relief from pain, was still able to move, no immediate numbness. After a few hours I got numb in a couple of spots but could solve that by changing positions. Unlike before the epidural I could also move comfortably. The epidural also had a bonus because when my fever spiked to 103 I could get an urgent c-section without general anesthesia.

    Post-epidural side effects: none. Post-surgical side effects: eh, mild pain. Worst pain after c-section was maybe 4/10. I had a PCA pump for the first day, took a percocet the second then maybe a tylenol. After the labor pains it just wasn't impressive. Probably helped that I was high on all the new baby hormones, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Oops. Missed a point. Would I have an epidural again? It depends. If I had pain bad enough to call for one, sure. If I got lucky on my next labor and had only mild pain, I wouldn't bother.

    How do I feel about having had the epidural? Happy that I live in a time and place where I could have it but not particularly impressed by either its empowering nature or its disempowering nature. Not disappointed, not elated. I got what I wanted out of the experience: a baby.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I had my first baby in December. I was planing an unmedicated hospital birth, but I had to be induced with pitocin. I ended up with a great nurse who had been a midwife in Hungaria, who helped me a lot using the birth ball and showed my husband how to massage my back. I did the pitocin contractions for 3 hours before being checked. I found out I had only gone from 3 to 4cm, and I knew I couldn't handle the contractions much longer, so I asked for the epidural. I had to wait two more hours to get it, and I was really in a lot of pain. I got the epidural and finally got to relax. I felt so much better, even though I had sworn before than I wouldn't get it. About 30 minutes later, I had a strange sensation, and it turned out my daughter had descended and I was complete. I pushed for only 15 minutes and she was born, less than an hour after I got the epidural. I could feel my legs, and I could feel to push. I felt her come out, and I definitely felt my stitches :( I am glad I got the epidural and I would do it again in the same situation, though I still aim to try for natural again if I have another baby. I didn't have any side effects, and I could walk 45 minutes after her birth.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I didn't plan on having an epidural, but once it became clear I was going to be induced, I lowered my hopes of going without. I figured I would likely need one. I got it when I was in active labor (finally, after a day and a half of cytotec/pit/foley bulb/AROM and things were moving at last) but before transition. I'd guess around 6-7cms but I really don't remember precisely, although I'm sure they checked me.

    At the time I was pretty out of my mind with the ceaseless pain. My ctx would last 45s-1m and were only spaced about 15 seconds apart. Even during those 15 seconds, the pain was not gone, only lessened. I was told that I just had a "fast contraction pattern".

    I didn't feel especially pressured, in fact my otherwise favorite nurse (who was a little more crunchy and in training to be a CNM) sort of tried to "help" (in her mind) me to avoid the epi by making me ask for it with a full sentence, saying that by law with my birth plan she couldn't ask me if that's what I was wanting. (Which, in retrospect, was shitty.)

    My labor support...just wasn't at the level I needed it for pit-labor. I couldn't seem to get as upright as I wanted, being in the bed, and while they held my hand and let me cling to them (my mom and DH) it really was not enough to handle that level of pain. I was offered the birth ball earlier in labor (before AROM) and told snottily that if I'd attended the hospital birthing class I would have known that they had birthing balls to begin with.

    No side-effects from it that really stood out. Positively or negatively affected...I don't know. My hopes for the whole thing were shot to hell by that point anyway, what was one more intervention? I went into the induction (at 41w5d) knowing that it upped my chance of CS, that it would hurt more, about the snowball effect of interventions, but not really feeling I had any other choice. Part of me hoped that a whiff of pit would finally put me over the edge to labor, but I was terrified that nothing would work. I already felt broken and like my body didn't know how to finish the job. The epidural at that point was just kind of a given, and after trying IV drugs (which totally blew whatever coping mechanism I may have had working for me) there really was no other option available at the time. I was crying, panicking, and just hysterical. So I guess it had a positive effect, but I wouldn't have been in that position if not for everything else...you know what I mean.

    It felt like they took the teeth off the pain. At first, it only worked on one side. And that lead to this rather infuriating interlude where I tried to convince the staff that it really wasn't working right, and they kept telling me that no, I should still feel pressure, and me saying "Ok, but this is PAIN" and back and forth for an hour. (That still makes me shaking mad.) Finally they call the Needle Man back in, and after another fifteen minutes convincing THIS asshole that yes, it REALLY DOES STILL HURT OMG, he agrees to adjust the placement, warning me that he might have to redo it entirely. Fine, whatever, fix it! And they did. Then I did still feel pressure. I could still move my legs, but they were weak. It was strong enough that I still had to close my eyes and breathe through the ctx, but I was able to rest a bit, and I was calmed down.

    I would have one again depending on the circumstances. If I was in the hospital and somehow lacked support, or felt that it would really be necessary to help me relax/progress, then maybe. (As it now stands, I recently had a wonderfully smooth--if hard work!-- HBAC that went without a hitch. No "fast contraction pattern" and no panicking, crying or fear.)

    I don't know how much the epidural alone affected my feelings at that point. I definitely wouldn't say I felt empowered, but I think I felt disempowered the moment I walked in for the induction, and nothing after that point until I was holding my baby did much to change that feeling.

    ReplyDelete
  61. 1).did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?

    I wanted to go med free, and when I found out I was being induced, I still really wanted to go without meds. I was open to the idea that I would get an epi though, if I felt I really needed it.

    2). at what point in labor did you have one?

    I was on pit for about 4 hours before I asked for one.

    3). how did you feel about it at the time? later on?

    I felt only slightly disappointed -- especially since I thought I was still going to push my baby out (I ended in c/s though). I actually LOVED the epidural at first, I felt "human" again, and I could relax and enjoy the process, not to mention get excited about meeting my son again. Prior to that, I was in too much pain to even think about it.

    After an hour or so, my son suddenly had dips in his heart rate with contraction (Gee -- I wonder if the pit and epi combo had anything to do with it?) so I needed oxygen. I also started to HATE the fact that I couldn't move around. I started to regret getting it at that point. The novelty wore off pretty quickly.

    A while after the birth, I felt the epi helped seal my c/s fate. I wasn't really upset about not having experienced a natural or med-free birth though.

    4). did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    No.


    5). did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?

    No. I wasn't "allowed" out of my bed for long, as I felt that would have helped me deal with the contractions. If I stayed in the bathroom for a few extra minutes, laboring on the toilet in peace, a nurse would be knocking on the door asking why I was taking so long. Ugh. I thought I would be able to use the shower -- as it turns out, I "couldn't" because I was on pit. (Damn you pitocin!)

    6). did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?

    I would have pain in one spot on my spine (the area where the epi went in). It lasted about a year.

    ReplyDelete
  62. 7). do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?

    I feel the epi negatively affected my labor. I felt it contributed to the cesarean. My son was posterior, and I was stuck in bed, unable to move. (There are other factors too, like not being given enough time to dilate, and just the fact I was induced w/an unfavorable cervix. Duh.)


    8. what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...

    The epi worked fine at first, but then it didn't seem like it was numbing as evenly (I have since read that posterior babies my contribute to "windows" in epidurals). I remember I kept pushing the button for more relief, but it would beep at me, telling me I was at the max. I also started to feel my legs and butt falling asleep, but was too numb to move them... weird feeling. I felt trapped.

    In the OR when they were prepping me for a c/s, the anesthesiologist had a hard time numbing me adequately. One side of my belly would not get numb. To this day I am still not sure how he fixed it, but I think he turned the epidural up extremely high, as I was numb everywhere below my neck. I couldn't even move my fingers. It was a very scary experience.

    9). would you have an epidural again? would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)

    I did end up having a homebirth just 10 months ago, and I found it excruciating. I was so close to going to the hospital for an epidural, but was terrified at the thought of dealing with contractions in the car. As it turns out, I am glad we didn't go to the hospital for the epi, because we had a pretty bad SD, and being unable to move with an epi in that little hospital bed.... I shudder at the thought.

    If we do have another baby, the only reason why I would not go to the hospital and have an epidural, is because as much as I really don't want to go through that pain again, I just don't want to risk not being able to move in case there would be another SD. That scares me more than any kind of pain.


    10. what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural? did you feel empowered? disappointed? strong? weak?

    I didn't feel empowered after getting the epi.. but, I also didn't really feel empowered after my homebirth. Actually, the homebirth made me realize that it was just, well... a birth.

    After the epi, I hated feeling claustrophobic and not being able to move, but I didn't feel dis-empowered or anything. After the homebirth, I felt a little shell shocked. Some of the reason may be the SD, but most of it was from the pain of labor. During the pushing phase, I wasn't even excited about meeting my daughter, it was as if I forgot why I was going through all the pain. One thing I did like about the epi, is that it made me able to enjoy the moment more, part of me would LOVE that for my next labor, but like I said before, I am too afraid of another SD to chance it.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I have 3 children. The first, my son, I didnt know anything about labor or childbirth, read 'What to Expect...' and thought that was all there was to know. I ran to the hospital as soon as my water broke, even though I wasn’t having contractions. They gave me 1 hour to start and when they didnt they started me on Pitocin. I labored for 6 or so hours on Pit without the epi, and when they offered I said yes please. I had a 15 hour labor start to finish and he was a tiny thing.
    My second, daughter1, I knew a lot more about childbirth, thought I wanted to do it naturally, but couldn’t find a midwife my insurance covered. At that point I was somewhat informed but not enough, so I wasn’t too concerned about it and thought, oh well, not a big deal, and ended up going with an OB. I had a scheduled induction (which I didnt want but felt helpless cause we had moved out of state, had no family or friends and not one to watch my son unless we could set a date, so we did.) I was on pit for about an hour before the nurses asked me if I wanted the epi. Contractions weren’t even painful yet so I kept saying no, I was ok, but they kept pushing saying, why not? you don’t want to feel pain do you? So I caved, because I am weak. I got it about 1 hour into labor. I had a 6 hour labor and she was huge :)
    With my latest addition, daughter2, I knew tons more, and knew I wanted a midwife and a natural birth. I found one, had a great pregnancy (as I always do) and gave birth naturally, in the birth tub. My labor was 4 hours, entirely spent at home, except the last hour, where we got to the hospital just in time :)
    For the labors in which I did have an epi:
    1. DS: yes, I planned on having one from the moment I knew I was pregnant (I was uninformed and thought I was too weak and couldn’t handle the pain) DD1: no, didn’t want one but ended up with one anyway.
    2. DS: 6 hours after the start of pitocin and lots of painful contractions. DD1: 1 hour after the start of pitocin, hadn’t even felt a thing.
    3. DS: I knew I wanted it. I labored for quite a while without one because the doctor told me it might stall my progress and I should wait, so I did. When they finally offered I was so happy, gladly accepted. Was ok with it both before and after the birth. DD1: Didnt want one, but caved. When I got it I was actually a bit annoyed, but I am a very weak and socially anxious person so I just did what the nurses said I should even though I knew I wanted different. Afterward I felt the same, and was upset with myself.
    4: DS: No pressure. At the time I knew it was what I wanted. DD1: Absolutely pressured.
    5: DS:Yes. They offered me the birth ball, which I used a lot and the nurses gave my husband ideas to help me relieve the pain. DD1: No, no options and nothing in the room to help.
    6: DS: no. DD1: It took a lot longer to regain sensation in my legs than it did with DS.
    7: I felt it didn’t have any effect, positive or negative for both children.
    8: DS: Complete loss of sensation but I could feel pressure and did feel the urge to push when I was complete. DD1: When it was first done I could still feel the left side of my body. The anesthesiologist came back and tinkered with it and then I lost total sensation. I dont know how epidurals work but I think he over did it (if that’s possible) because after he messed with it I lost all sensation and also never felt the urge to push. It also took much longer for me to regain sensation in my legs.
    9: No I would not have another.
    10: DS: At the time I did feel empowered when I got it. Probably because of my mind set. I knew I wanted it and was just waiting till they would offer. When they did it felt so good to say yes. I felt like I was finally "getting my way" and I was finally able to relax after those awful pitocin contractions. DD1: I felt like crap when I got it, it wasnt what I wanted and I felt defeated but again that is my own fault for being shy and anxious.

    ReplyDelete
  64. My birth plans did not go as I had originally planned them but sometimes medical intervention is necesseary.
    I did not plan on having an epidural during labor because I wanted to fully experience birth and I do believe that under "most" circumstances, women are able to draw from within themselves and let nature guide them.
    With my first child, I had an epidural after the second day of labor (15 hours the first day, 18 hours the second day) and on the second day I asked for an epidural about 6 hours before she was born. I had to be induced both times because I was almost 3 weeks overdue with both children. My first child was "stuck" in the birth canal and my second baby was turned upside down with his head turned. With my second I had horrible back labor and nothing would work to keep me from literally flying off the bed and screaming in pain every time I had a contraction. The pain was a distraction keeping me from doing what I needed to do.
    I was relieved when I finally received the epidural and finally felt about to concentrate on the birthing experience. Afterwards, I am glad that the epidural made me enjoy the birth experience.
    Actually, I had a very good support team of my partner, my mom, my best friend and wonderful nurses and my doctor. They knew I didn't want drugs and tried all kinds of other things (showers, baths, walking, birthing ball, rocking chairs, ice, heat, different positions, massage) first before agreeing to an epidural.
    With my first child I had numbness in one leg for several weeks but everyday the numbness became better. No side effects from the epidural with my second.
    The epidural positively affected my labor both times. During my second child, with his position, his heart rate starting dropping rapidly to dangerous levels and he had to be delivered via emergency c-section. Because the epidural was already in place, I was able to stay awake during his birth (surgery). If I hadn't had the epidural, I would have been knocked out and he would have been hours old because I would have met him. At least I was able to still experience his birth.
    I could still feel pain and pressure, however, it was less intensified.
    Having an epidural would completely depend upon the birthing situation, if I could go naturally, I definitely would but I have big babies (9.9 and 10.3) who like to come out in funny positions and come out slowly at their own paces (days!!)
    I agree with the women somewhat who say they feel more empowered. Yes I was limited in the positions I could be in but at least the pain was taken away slightly so I could focus on what my body needed to do.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I had an epidural after laboring for nearly 24 hours on pitocin to induce at 42 weeks. I had planned on as natural as possible of a birth but baby did not want to come out and I had just been through losing my father to terminal cancer. 42 weeks was my limit to wait to allow labor to begin on its own because I couldn't handle the emotional risk of a stillborn.

    I needed to have the epidural because the doctors started to really hike my pitocin, upping it 3 mgs in one hour. When they did that, they overstimulated me and I essentially had an 8 minute contration while the catheter was being placed. My BP and heart rate started to climb from the pain but I still managed to hold myself still and had no adverse effects from the epidural.

    I know if I did not ask for one that my son surely would have been effected by my heart rate and BP going up during the contractions because they became so painful. So I guess in that respect it was a good decision for me to make. I am proud that I labored as long as I did in the induction scenario with no meds, but the epidural was tough for me.

    I was on my back for most of the rest of my labor, which was very uncomfortable particularly during transition. I did continue to feel my contractions and could also feel my legs. I had a good nurse and was able to convince her to let me labor on hands and knees for a while and also she let me push that way for a while too.

    Ultimately, I had a C section because my son was slightly transverse and wasn't lined up with the birth canal correctly. I know that if I had been able to, I would have squatted to push. I'll never know if this would have made a difference in his position but I was a mover during labor too. Holding still on my back was the toughest part of it for me.

    It was also hard not being able to get out of bed for many hours after my surgery - I was sectioned at 4 am and wasn't allowed out of bed until 2 pm.

    Having another epidural would depend on the circumstances of a subsequent pregnancy. If I was able to have a VBAC I would avoid it. If we got to the point where it was not safe to continue to wait for natural labor again, I would have another epidural.

    The other consequence I should mention is that the medication I was given to acheive a spinal block so I could be awake for my son's birth did not work properly for me so I had to have general anesthesia. I would like to avoid this for future births which might mean having a consultation with an anethesiologist prior to having another section. It does bother me that I did not get to see and hear him come out or see him all covered in vernix. I didn't see him naked even for several hours after his birth.

    I still think I could have done it without and epidural if labor had started on its own and our doula agreed with me. So maybe next time will be different. Love your blog Rixa, I learned a lot here while I was pregnant with my son!

    ReplyDelete
  66. I didn't have an epidural for laboring, but I'm going to share my experience anyway. I had a spinal for a C-section. I was considered to be in active labor when I had the spinal, but I wasn't having any pain, so it was very odd to be getting a spinal. I was given a local before the spinal, so I didn't feel anything. The spinal worked quickly and well and I didn't feel a thing during the surgery.

    Most people would consider this to be a successful anesthetic experience, but I was miserable. This was the first surgery I'd ever had, so I was already terrified at having had my guts taken apart and put back together. I spent the rest of the day in a haze of vomiting. I don't know if that was from the spinal or the IV pain meds. I had inflating things placed on my legs to prevent blood clots, which made my legs so hot and sweaty and itchy that I couldn't sleep and I was in tears from the torture. I didn't even get to hold my son until he was about 15 hours old because I wasn't allowed out of the bed, even into a wheelchair, until the next morning.

    There has got to be a better way to deal with anesthesia for C-sections. I was separated from my son, incredibly uncomfortable from those inflating things, refused food or drink, and incredibly nauseated. I'm hoping this is not what normally happens, because it was an utter nightmare and I shudder to think of other women feeling that way after a C-section. It's hard enough recovering from major surgery AND being a new mom without making things worse with the anesthetic.

    ReplyDelete
  67. i have attended births in my area as a doula where i have seen epidurals used in way that prevented? helped? dis-empowerment-- if that makes any sense. it increased some moms ability to engage and interact with the birth without freaking out about the totally bizarre scene that even a normal vaginal birth in a hospital with less open practitioners can be. and in that... it created empowerment, the mothers felt afterwards.

    perhaps they chose them late in labor as a tool for disengaging from the irreverent treatment of their genitals that is standard as birth approaches... perhaps because so many women do get epidurals? the lights, the touching without permission, washing, immediate stitching, talking, talking, talking while she is on display. not always, not every practitioner... but often.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I had an epidural with my son, Nathaniel. I had an induced delivery at 41 5/7 weeks. My parents were visiting since my due date and were planning to leave on Monday (day after Easter) and I had not yet even felt my contractions and had convinced my OB not to wait until Monday (42 weeks) to start an induction. If I wasn't in labor by Friday before then, it wasn't likely to happen by Monday, I thought. I believe they used cervedil on Friday PM, and still no feeling of contractions for me the whole day. A nurse asked me if I wanted to hold off on starting pitocin until the morning but I wanted to get things going, so I declined waiting to the morning and woke up at probably 11:30pm with some of the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life. That nurse anesthetist couldn't get there fast enough for me. My contractions were in my inner thighs mostly and causing excruciating cramping pain in my legs that left me wimpering in pain. After trying to suffer through for about a half hour, I called my nurse and then it took about another hour for the CRNA to get to me. Once that med kicked in, I was able to get some more rest before the morning while the contractions did their job of dilating my cervix and I was able to deliver my son by approx. 3pm that day. I did not feel a single thing while pushing but did not feel that this caused any problem with my delivery. My doc had to tell me to STOP pushing when the head was out. My only negative was that it was hard to walk after it wore off and I had pain/numbness in my hip/leg afterwards for maybe 2 weeks that I believe was due to how I was positioned while resting with the epidural going and perhaps how I was pushing, or perhaps from the pitocin. I would definitely have an epidural again if the pain was that bad. I requested no other pain management or comfort other than the epidural -- didn't think to ask and it wasn't offered. I don't have any problem with that. I felt that my epidural was overall great. I still felt like myself during my labor and delivery and I felt extremely connected to my baby who after a brief rubdown on the warmer was brought back to me and nursed like a champ. It was a very emotional and empowering experience overall and the epidural I think only helped because I was still "with it" and not overwhelmed by (or even feeling any) pain. In hindsight, the discomfort I felt afterward was a fair trade for being able to have such a positive labor and delivery experience.

    ReplyDelete
  69. did you plan on having an epidural during labor? why or why not?

    No, I thought it would go faster as I entered hospital halfway there.

    at what point in labor did you have one?

    After about 18 hours into labor.

    how did you feel about it at the time?

    Loved it.

    later on? Loved it.

    In fact got one immediatley for the second ne.
    did you feel at all pressured into choosing an epidural (from nursing staff, midwives, physicians, or even your own partner or friends)?

    The doctor said it would remove pain as I was in great pain, but no pressure.

    did you have adequate labor support? In other words, were you able or encouraged to use other forms of pain relief (shower, jacuzzi, birth ball, massage, hypnosis, movement, TENS, gas and air, etc) before the epidural?

    No I was in too much pain.

    did you experience any short- or long-term side effects from the epidural?

    No.

    do you feel that the epidural positively or negatively affected the course of your labor (or had no effect at all)?

    No effect.

    what did your epidural feel like? did you have complete loss of sensation? pressure but no pain? etc...

    Pain went from a 10 to a feeling akin to a period cramp.

    would you have an epidural again?

    YESYESYES

    would it depend on the particular circumstances of your next labor? (for example, maybe you'd have an epidural if you had another posterior presentation, but not for a normal anterior presentation)
    what about emotional/psychological effect of the epidural?

    did you feel empowered?

    NO

    disappointed?

    NO

    strong?

    NO

    weak?

    NO

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...