Natural Birth

Epidural yay or nay?

I keep hearing mixed things about getting the epidural and would like to hear more opinions on it. I am trying to decide if getting the epidural is the way for me to go..

Re: Epidural yay or nay?

  • I think it's a really personal decision. I've had several friends get them and have great experiences with them. I think they can be a good thing for many people.

    I've also had friends go all natural and have amazing experiences with that. I encourage you to keep researching the subject and find your own personal reasons for getting or not getting one. Ina mays guide to childbirth is an excellent book you would likely enjoy.

    For me, I just want to experience birth as much as possible and decrease the likelihood that one intervention could lead to another. I'm very intrigued by the process of childbirth and am eager to experience it myself. I'm also really into trying self hypnosis for birth.

    What are you pros and cons at this point? What is making you consider getting one vs not getting one?
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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.




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  • I think there is a time and place when epidurals are appropriate, but I also think they are highly overused and people do not take them as seriously as they should. It is a serious drug with serious side effects and risks. Many people have no issues with the epidural but many people also have lasting problems (such as back pain and head aches). Babies born with an epidural also tend to be less responsive and have more difficulties breastfeeding than babies born to moms who did not have the epidural. 
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  • 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!

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  • I was in labor for nearly 36 hours before caving and getting an epi. After laboring at home for 24 hours (sparatic, to consistent to sporatic again, nothing to go in about) but I was admitted at 9:30am the next day.  I was admitted at a 4 and 85% efaced....labored naturally for seven very intense hours at the hospital...the contractions became on top of eachother, bloody show, I couldn't walk, nothing made me comfortable, hot shower did nothing, counter pressure did nothing and I was in agony (yes I use this term)....around 4:30pm the nurse came in and I asked to be checked I was only dialated to barely a 6, and 85% effaced.  I asked for the anesthesiologist right then.  I thought I was much further than I was.....

    I was in paradise after the meds.  I could still feel the lower left quadrant, and they asked if I wanted it adjusted.I said no, that I like feeling and knowing when I have to push.  So, that is how it went.  I knew when the contractions were coming, I could feel the pressure....After two hours of hving the epi I went from a barely 6 to a 10, and 100% effaced.  The nurse said it was because my body couldn't relax between contractions, and with the Epi I was relaxed and my body did what it needed.  She was born after 2 1/2 hours of pushing, at 8:32 pm.  She came out kicking and screaming and scored perfect on the apgar test.....She was so alert and she and I made the mos precious eye contact and will never forget it.

    For me, though I wanted a natural birth, I know I was getting too tired and that my body was fighting me. The epi really helped me progress.....You will hear different stories, but if you do get one, I highly suggest waiting as long as possible...My nurse said that the ones that get the epi as soon as possible are the ones that tend to have more interventions.....(don't know how true this is, but just what she had said).
  • 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 -


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  • Also will add that they call jacuzzi tubs the "midwife epidural". So check to see if your hospital (or wherever you are giving birth) has the option of laboring in a tub, or at least in the shower. Water really helps with the pain. I was able to nap on and off for a couple hours during labor in the tub. And definitely look into non-drug ways of dealing with labor pain. These will be helpful even if they are only to delay when you do get an epidural.
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    DS, May 2011
    DD, April 2014

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  • 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.

  • 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! :) 

  • NG7NG7 member
    It is a very personal decision, but it is VITAL to be educated on the pros and cons. My best advice to you is to watch the documentaries "The business of being born" and "More business of being born." I am 21 and pregant with my first child. It was a total surprise but I could not be happier. I also knew absolutely NOTHING about being pregnant or the birth process or what the options are. So I did a ton of research and nothing has helped me more than watching those documentaries. I truly feel empowered with the knowledge they provided. I'm sure it will help you make the decision that is right for you : congrats on your pregnancy. Btw you can watch these documentaries on Netflix.
  • Thank you all for your advice and for sharing your experiences with me. I will defiantly take all that was posted into consideration. Still doing research and will most defiantly look up the documentaries on Netflix. ;
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