1st Trimester

Natural Vs. Epidural - American FTM living abroad

So I'm in a situation that many may not be able to relate to. My husband and I are having our first baby while living in the UK. There are many differences here compared to the US and mainly it's the culture surrounding child birth. It's not as medicallized here as it is in the US. Instead of seeing a doctor for prenatal (or antenatal as they call it) appointments, I'll be meeting with a team of midwives. The doctor is only involved if there are complications.

The majority of women here seem to only opt for an epidural if there are complications, mostly the birthing facilities are centered around natural deliveries. On the plus side they have many tools to help cope with the pain. Use of birthing pools are very popular.

As a FTM I don't know much about anything! But what I do know is hearing from friends' experiences giving birth stateside with epidurals! The thought of natural child birth is a bit daunting.

I guess I'm a little nervous about making my birth plan. Natural would be ideal, the fewer drugs the better. However, I don't like pain! An epidural is definitely something they will do, but it seems to be discouraged here.

Moms who have experienced natural childbirth, what's your honest feelings about it? Was it worth the pain or would you have rather the epidural.

Moms who opted for an epidural, did you find it difficult to push or feel like it delayed the delivery process at all?

I'd love to hear from any moms who experienced both as well.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Re: Natural Vs. Epidural - American FTM living abroad

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    There is a thread on third tri about this. It doesn't specifically address your questions, but can still be good reading.

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    I had a natural birth.  Mine was very quick; less than four hours, start to finish.  To be honest, I would have had an epidural, but by the time I got to the hospital, it was too late; I was dilated to 10.

    In retrospect, I'm glad I ended up going natural.  It was very... intense.  Yes, it hurt.  But mostly it was overpoweringly intense, with all the rushing around and the pressure and everything.  They did give me meds afterwards when they stitched me up (2nd degree tear).

    If you want to do it, I encourage you to.  Everyone's experience will be different, and nobody should pressure you or tell you you can't handle it.  If you want to (or if you have to) you will.

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    I had to be induced with my first child so I got an epidural as quickly as I could. I was in labor for 17 hours and pushed for 3 hours. It was pretty horrible. I didn't even realize I was in true labor with my second child so by the time I made it to the hospital I was 10 cm dilated and there wasn't time for an epidural. I had her 30 minutes after checking into the hospital.

    I have never taken a birthing class and was absolutely not prepared in any way to deal with going med free. I knew zero techniques for handling pain and it all happened so quickly that I was seriously panicking. I really thought the pain was going to kill me. Maybe if I was more prepared going in it would have been a better experience but I was really scared.

    With all that being said, I was so fucking happy after having my daughter med free because I couldn't believe I actually did it! I was able to get up right away and walk myself to the bathroom which was pretty cool then I sat and ate a Subway sandwich. With the epidural, I had to have a catheter and couldn't get up to walk for a few hours and was sick.

    I'm not having anymore kids but the pain from going med free is something I never want to experience again so if I had to do it again, I'd get an epidural. I don't think a bath tub, birthing ball or any breathing techniques would ever help me get through how painful it was. I'm stoked it was forced on me because it was the most primal experience I'll ever have but I wouldn't repeat it :)

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    i had a walking epidural and loved it. i felt like it took the edge off but didn't incapacitate me from pushing or walking. i will most likely have it again with this little one. 
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    I'm in the UK and although I agree that they are a lot more encouraging of 'natural' birth here if you tell your midwife you want an epidural then they will give you an epidural, don't feel pressured into going natural if after doing your research you decide an epidural is the way you want to do this.

    They do offer other pain relief also, have you asked your midwife about the options yet? You can use gas and air (nitrous oxide), pethidine or remifentanyl before getting an epidural. There are pros and cons of all of them.

    Everyone I have spoken with who has experience of natural birth has said if you do plan on going natural then try and use the birthing pool if you can as it takes the edge off the contractions and helps you relax. You can also still use the gas and air in the pool.

    Sorry I can't really advise on what to do I just wanted to make you aware that it's not epidural or nothing.
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    gigilexgigilex member
    edited October 2015
    With my first child I was induced with pitocin and I found the pain to be completely unbearable! I wanted nothing more to have a natural birth, but because I was impatient and opted for an induction at 41+1, I felt it necessary to have an epidural to ease the pain that I felt. I felt no pain and the epidural worked wonderfully- it also did not slow my labor whatsoever; however, it took me a few tries to understand how to push- I don't know if that's normal or if it's because I couldn't feel anything. Also, I didn't tear at all- which I thank my midwife for! She had me stay at 10cm for an hour before I started pushing and she used her fingers to constantly stretch the opening of the vagina (TMI- sorry, but I think it helped). I was able to get up and go to the bathroom shortly after delivery and I have no residual pain at the injection site. This time though, I will not be induced and I hope to have a water birth. I also plan on laboring with a midwife (which I did last time as well and I think they're truly wonderful). Best of luck!
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    callen10210 :What is a walking epidural?
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    DustyMelonsDustyMelons member
    edited October 2015
    OP, I have one child and delivered med free. I had wanted to try to go med free but also went in with the mindset that pain medication is ok and there if needed. With that being said, my water broke around midnight and he was delivered at 4:30am, there was no time for an epidural even if I had wanted one. 

    I wanted a birth as free from unnecessary medical procedures as possible- BUT I also chose to deliver in a hospital with all the benefits that modern medicine can provide. I wrote up a birth plan but in the end it wasn't needed, everything happened too quickly to even bother giving it to anyone at the hospital. I knew going in what was most important to me and I communicated that verbally to my midwife when I arrived (in my case, delayed cord clamping). Birth plans are great but be flexible and educate yourself. I think most of the benefit comes from the process of writing out your plan- you'll come across areas where you'll need to do some research and you'll find out what's important to you and what kinds of things might happen during labor.

    You asked for my feelings about going med free? I think it was great! But I also don't really remember the exact pain I went through, Mother Nature is kind that way. Breathing exercises definitely helped but I honestly don't have any clue if I was breathing how I was instructed during my class and it worked out fine in the end. 

    I think educating yourself, being flexible, and having a positive mindset can do wonders. Trying to go med free was important to me for a number of reasons, but I also knew that if I wanted an epidural (or other pain management), that there was nothing wrong with that.

    If you want an epidural, get an epidural. There's no shame in pain medication, having a med free birth is not a badge of honor.
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    My oldest was induced 4 days after my due date. I did get an epidural, then pushed for 2 hours without success. They ended up using interventions to deliver her which then led to 1 night in NICU. It could have been worse but it could have been a lot better. With my youngest I educated myself on an unmedicated birth. I was prepared and so with my DH. I did not want a similar outcome, so I had to change something about my labor. From the time my water broke to delivery was 4 hours. Was it painful? Yes. Did the pain go away? Yes , almost immediately. I felt great after giving birth and so very empowered. It was intense how when given the chance, your body will take over and do what needs to be done. I too had questioned if I had the strength to deal with the pain. Is it for everyone? No. Are women who use medication during birth any less strong? No. No matter how you cut it, labor and delivery is hard work and at some point you will have pain. I was far more sore after my first delivery. I would choose med free again in a heart beat. Be confident in whatever choice you make. It is your choice and your experience.
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    Hi there!
    I opted for natural childbirth for a few reasons. Number one, my mom got an "epidural headache" after she had an epidural, which is an insatiable headache that can last for a few days post-epidural. Number two, my best friend got an epidural and it only numbed half of her body, so she went in expecting not to feel it, and had to feel it anyway. Number three, the epidural CAN slow down labor, and make pushing more difficult because you can't feel what's going on down there.

    So I opted for natural because I'd rather go in prepared to deal with the pain than go in expecting to be numb and have it not work. And honestly, I would (and will) do it again. I was able to walk around until I was about 7 cm. The worst pain was toward the very end, from 9 cm to 10 cm, but I found that sitting up in the bed helped a TON in that it moved me along much quicker. I learned in my birthing class that sometimes it helps to choose a color to think about or focus on during the worst contractions and though it sounds silly, it really helped a lot. I only pushed for 7 minutes, which was the easy part because toward the end, the worst thing is the pressure - you feel like you have to go #2 - and pushing relieves that pressure. And once I was done pushing, since I wasn't numb from the waist down, I was able to get up and move around almost immediately.

    Pre-natal yoga and picking a color to focus on will help you through should you decide to go natural (or should you get the epidural and have it fail). Best of luck to you mama!
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    I had an epidural with my first and I feel confident that it delayed things. Still, all in all, it was a relatively quick labor. But I couldn't feel when it was time to push and sat there at 10cm for far too long. After, I couldn't feel one of my legs for 12 hours which was terrifying (and annoying as they wouldn't let me get up to go to the bathroom!) I'm seriously considering going without an epidural this time around. It was certainly less intense being pain free but, I think it will be worth it and give me a better experience this time.
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    My best friend had an epidural with her first and it didn't work at all. The doctor's told her they think she would have been better off without it. The rest of her children were all natural births (she has four children). I was at the last one, the whole time, and she did fantastic. I could barely even tell she was in any pain at all. I think she had some pain meds in her IV, but no epidural. She decided to get an epidural with the last one, but by the time she decided she was fully dilated and it was too late. She had her out in like 10 minutes! I got to cut the cord. :)

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    I've had both - I really feel like the epidural with my first not only slowed things down, but caused some other issues as well. And I absolutely hated the way I felt with/after it. And there will still be some painful things after birth as well. Even with an epi, having a child is not pain-free.
    Without the epidural I felt amazing, in control of my body, a powerful part of my birth instead of like it was just something happening to me. Yes there was some pain, but we did it, just like women always have. I will absolutely choose unmedicated birth again.
    All that being said, your birth is your choice. If you decide you want to do it without medication, then woohoo! I support you! It's the same decision I would make! And if you decide you want to have an epidural later, or even right away, girl, I support you! Even if it isn't what "most" people in your area do, if it's what you want, advocate for yourself to have the birth experience you want. Do research beforehand, so that you can make informed choices, and go for it! <3

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    I wrote this up yesterdy in the thread on the third tri board, but the short version is that i had an epidural and i loved it.  I didn't get it until i was 6cm (i wanted it earlier), and the back labor was excruciating at that point.  It didn't slow me down...i actually needed to get a shot to slow labor down because my contractions were very long and it was causing LO's heart rate to drop.  I did have to push for 2.5 hours, but LO was sunny side up.  They didn't need to use instruments to remove her, and i had only a very minor tear (she was 7.5lbs).  I could feel the pressure when a contraction would start, so i knew when to push, and i knew how hard i was pushing; i could feel pressure when LO and the placenta were each delivered.  But i felt no pain.  It worked almost immediately; i was able to take a nap after they placed it before the contractions were intense enough that i felt pressure when they started.


    My legs just had pins and needles.  I was able to walk myself to the bathroom 2 hours after delivery without issue.  And i didn't really want to get up before that anyway, as we were having skin-to-skin and nursing.  I think it would be completely doable to go med-free with a short labor...but my regular, timable contractions started up around 9am (6 minutes apart) and LO wasn't delivered until 11:55pm.  There's no way i could have gone med free for that long.  I got the epi placed at 5pm.  Even if my contractions hadn't been so long and requiring the medication to slow labor down, i'm not sure i could have made it much longer without the epi, especially if i knew i'd be pushing for 2.5 hours.  The problem is that you can't get it once you're ready to push, and the pushing EXHAUSTS you.  If i had made it that far without the epi, i have no idea how i could have gotten her out of me.  I was so tired, and that was without pain and with a pre-pushing nap made possible by the epi.


    I plan to have another kid someday, and i will definitely get another epidural.  I hope the same doctor is on call the next time i give birth because his epidural placement was on fleek.  He came in to check on me after the birth and i was like "you are my new best friend." :-)

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    I had an epidural with my first and I liked it because it made the pain stop but when it came time to push I couldn't feel anything. I didn't know if I was pushing right or if it was effective.

    This time I'm going to try and go med free, I feel like the epidural really hindered with my ability to vaginally deliver my daughter.
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    I do not have any personal experience on this but have read loads on it. I haven't heard one person who was happier with an epidural over going au'natural. Like many ladies here have said, you recover faster, you can walk, you know when to push, the births seem to be shorter, you can't really feel it when you tear, if you tear (was just on the Natural Birth board here this morning--you should check it out).

    I would love it to be more normal here.
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    I had mine without an epidural. I did have one shot of Stadol because I'd only gotten 2 hours of sleep the night before and my labor stopped and had to be restarted with Pitocin. That allowed me to rest for a few hours. I did ask for an epidural, but by the time I asked it was too late. I'm planning on going without this time too.

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    I fully wanted a med-free birth and was induced with our first at almost 42 weeks. I made it to transition (8cm) and couldn't handle the back labor anymore. I had an epi, it completely numbed me, so I couldn't feel to push (which lasted 46 mins). I tore and the recovery from it was far worse than with our second. I did try to get an epi with him, since I had already been in labor for 10 hours and was only dilated to 4. But, the anesthesiologist was awful, tried five times to get it, and it only numbed one thigh. However, I pushed twice and he was born, didn't tear and was able to get up after awhile to pee and clean up. The recovery was SO much better. This time, I'm fully intending to go med-free, but every birth is different and if I need something, so be it.
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    I got an epidural both times. With my first, I pushed for 20 minutes. My labor lasted 12 hours from first contraction to delivery. With my second, who was induced, I was able to get her out in one push. That labor lasted 10 hours from first contraction to delivery. The the epidurals did not hinder my deliveries at all and I actually enjoyed both birth experiences. I'll definitely be asking for one this time around!
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    I went med free with my son, and plan on doing it again. My biggest reason was that I didn't want to deal with potential side effects from the epidural, or start a cascade of interventions. I had a moment of doubt when I got to transition, but had support from my husband and the best L&D nurse. The most painful part of my 17 hour labor was the 30 minutes spent in the car on the way to the hospital. The actual birth didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would, partly because the baby's head provides a lot of pressure to counter the pain.

    Have the birth you want. If you want the epidural or IV pain relief, go for it. If you aim for an unmedicated birth, there are a lot of websites, books, and classes available to give you information to prepare yourself.
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    nopegoatnopegoat member
    edited November 2015
    My first I had an epi pretty quickly. My second I only had the epi for pushing (my anesthesiology delivered my kid), and the third was all natural (the anesthesiologist came in as the baby was laid on my chest.

    I really did love my epi with my first. I was able to relax and was in no pain. I had no side bad side effects at all. DS was an amazing nursery. However, I didn't like that I had to have a cath and had to wait for the epi to wear off before I could get up.

    Since my second labor was so quick I put off having the epi for a bit with my third, but as things progressed I asked for one. They didn't make it and honestly I was glad. It was nice to get up immediately. Also the adrenaline rush and amazement afterwards of having no pain meds is indescribable. I plan to go natural this go around as well.

    I would do your research on natural births and then if you change your mind during labor then so be it. Stay open and prepared for anything.
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    Chichigo said:
    I went med free with my son, and plan on doing it again. My biggest reason was that I didn't want to deal with potential side effects from the epidural, or start a cascade of interventions. I had a moment of doubt when I got to transition, but had support from my husband and the best L&D nurse. The most painful part of my 17 hour labor was the 30 minutes spent in the car on the way to the hospital. The actual birth didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would, partly because the baby's head provides a lot of pressure to counter the pain.

    Have the birth you want. If you want the epidural or IV pain relief, go for it. If you aim for an unmedicated birth, there are a lot of websites, books, and classes available to give you information to prepare yourself.

    So true. I just shuddered remembering how it felt when the baby came out.
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