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Well considering this is the natural birth board, I am a big advocate of med free births. I have had 3 beautiful natural labors and recovery was amazing. I have had a med free induction, and two spontaneous natural labors including back labor. I would do it again in a heartbeat. My friends have had great epidural births too, but even some of their "positive" stories scare me (catheter, low blood pressure issues associated with the epi, tenderness at the injection site, and headaches) and think that I am very glad I went without the epidural.
Like pp said, do your research and decide for yourself. It truly is a very personal decision.
9 angels in heaven-3 in my arms and 1 in the NICU Mono/di twin girls: Josephine born to heaven and Evangeline born Earthside at 25w
For me, I looked at the pros and cons of going med-free and getting the epidural and read A LOT of studies.
The reason I decided to go for a med-free birth resulted from lots of research into this. Basically, while labor may be painful while it's happening the average recovery time for a non-medicated birth is half of that of a medicated birth. So I'd rather be in pain for 10 hours and recover faster than not be in pain during the birth but be uncomfortable after.
Also, I've had numerous friends have negative experiences with their epidurals. From them not work, only working on one side, mom's getting major migraines/headaches for months after the birth, back issues, etc. Plus the percentage of women who tear is greater with an epi than without and the severity of the tears increase.
Of course, all of this is going off of the assumption that I will have a 10-12 hour labor. I'm really not sure if I could physically handle a 24+ hour labor and that's also a possibility. My SIL went med-free the first 10 hours but then was so physically exhausted she didn't feel she could go on and the epi allowed her nap/rest and rejuvinate herself which allowed her body to progress the labor faster. Then she had the epi turned down so she could feel pushing and reduce her risk of a severe tear. So there's another option.
Anyway, I recommend you do a lot of your own research. Be aware of what may happen with you get an epi (you can no longer walk, you are usually put in bed and constantly monitored, you may get a catheter in case you urinate, etc.). I know so many women who just assumed they'd get the epi and just not feel the pain and didn't realize all the other "stuff" they have to go through along with the epi and were upset to learn that after the fact. So just be educated!
I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstruction that is anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond! I’m new wave, but I’m old school and my inner child is outward bound. I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice activated and bio-degradable. I interface with my database, my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive and from time to time I’m radioactive.
I don't think epidurals are bad, per se, but the over use of them, especially early in labor tends to lead to a cascade of interventions, often resulting in c-sections.
I wanted to avoid an epidural for a number of reasons. One was I didn't like that it got to the baby. I avoided all sorts of medications while pregnant, so it didn't make sense to me to abandon that during labor. However, my main reason was that I wanted to be able to push in positions other than on-the-back. It makes no sense to me to lay on my back and put weight on my tailbone, when I need that tailbone to move out of the way to let the baby out. I pushed squatting and on hands and knees and for me, with the help of gravity, it took only 20 minutes to push out DS. I was slow in dilating (almost 36 hrs) so I would have been really upset if I had to push for hours in addition to that.
If you do think you ultimately want an epidural, I think it's wise to wait until you are at least 5 or 6 cm dilated so it doesn't have as much of a chance at slowing your labor. I like this article from consumer reports that going a little into this and other related issues - http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/what-to-reject-when-you-re-expecting/index.htm
It's a really personal decision. I went back and forth with it during my pregnancy, but ultimately decided to have one. I was aware that an epidural might not work, and was somewhat concerned about it slowing labor, so decided to try other methods, like the jacuzzi, and figured I would just play it by ear. I was induced, and the contractions did not immediately become unbearable. There was a slow ramp-up in pitocin dosage and intensity, and while the jacuzzi was helpful, there was a point at which it was not enough. Once my OB broke water (since I was dilating so slowly) it was game over, though at that time I'd requested the epidural. The pain was unlike anything I have ever felt before.
I was 4cm, got the epidural (though it was placed too low at first and had to be re-done), and the relief I felt was wonderful. I fell asleep almost immediately and the next time they checked me (an hour later or so) I was 8cm. I dilated very rapidly after getting the epidural, and most of the time I slept on my side with a birthing ball between my legs to encourage baby to turn as he was suspected to be a bit malpositioned. When I was complete, they turned the epidural down, and I pushed for 40 minutes or so, and ended up with a second degree tear.
The pain I felt totally exhausted me and I thought I was losing my mind. I wish I'd had more rest because I've been tired for over a year now, lol. I regret that I don't remember more of my labor. Not only would I get an epidural again, I would actually get it earlier
in the process. In fact, if I'm induced again, I'll do what my best
friend did - get an epidural first.
Married Bio * BFP Chart
I agree with JCWhitey- I'd rather do the contractions rather than the weeks of feeling miserable. A friend had one and her spinal fluid leaked from it- so on top of caring for a new baby, she was sick and had headaches due to the epidural.
It really is a personal choice- no one knows our bodies like ourselves. You know your endurance, pain tolerance, and reactions to medicine better than anyone else. Example: I know I am super sensitive to medications and have crazy and nasty side-effects, so I'm a definite no on the epidural. (Luckily my endurance and pain tolerance is good!) But everyone is different.
Good luck with your decision! :)