Birth Stories

Epidural or no epidural?

Can epidurals make labor longer since you can’t feel as much and listen to your body?
I’ve had some friends say they loved the epidural and some say that they didn’t want it and had a relatively fast and easy delivery. I’m on the fence. Anybody have stories with/without the epidural?

Re: Epidural or no epidural?

  • I required an epidural for both deliveries due to severe pelvic girdle pain with the baby trying to descend. The contractions for me were nothing compared to that pain. I labored unmedicated for hours with both kids and no progress with dilation only to cave, get an epidural, and become fully dilated and deliver within an hour. Obviously my body needs it. This time around I will be getting one much sooner and save myself the time and misery. 

    Obviously I’m not every woman, but I fully support women who choose these. I fully believe I would have had c sections for failure to progress if not for getting epidurals when I did. 
  • I was induced and could not take the pain of the oxytocin contractions.  The epidural was painless for me (although I had two contractions while receiving it so that pain might have masked the epidural being placed).  I was about 4cm dilated at that time.  I also had concerns about the epidural making labour longer but I think it actually made mine faster.  Within two hours I was at 9.5cm and almost ready to push.  The nurse said it sometimes relaxes the muscles letting you dilate faster.  That was my experience!
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  • I was induced and could not take the pain of the oxytocin contractions.  The epidural was painless for me (although I had two contractions while receiving it so that pain might have masked the epidural being placed).  I was about 4cm dilated at that time.  I also had concerns about the epidural making labour longer but I think it actually made mine faster.  Within two hours I was at 9.5cm and almost ready to push.  The nurse said it sometimes relaxes the muscles letting you dilate faster.  That was my experience!
    Sounds like my experience. But I want to add that for anyone reading this, it’s largely a myth that induction contractions are “worse” than “natural” ones. It’s all the same hormone. I’ve experienced both and they both hurt equally. However, if you have an aggressive nurse/doc, ramping up the drip may make them come more quickly with little break in between, making it less bearable. 

    I came in with DD with ROM and strong contractions every two minutes. The impatient night shift doc wanted to start pitocin anyway and both myself and the nurse had to advocate that I was doing fine on my own. Pitocin is not there to ram the kid through as fast as possible but some use it as such and I think this leads to epidurals because women don’t get breaks to get their bearings. 
  • I was induced and could not take the pain of the oxytocin contractions.  The epidural was painless for me (although I had two contractions while receiving it so that pain might have masked the epidural being placed).  I was about 4cm dilated at that time.  I also had concerns about the epidural making labour longer but I think it actually made mine faster.  Within two hours I was at 9.5cm and almost ready to push.  The nurse said it sometimes relaxes the muscles letting you dilate faster.  That was my experience!
    Sounds like my experience. But I want to add that for anyone reading this, it’s largely a myth that induction contractions are “worse” than “natural” ones. It’s all the same hormone. I’ve experienced both and they both hurt equally. However, if you have an aggressive nurse/doc, ramping up the drip may make them come more quickly with little break in between, making it less bearable. 

    I came in with DD with ROM and strong contractions every two minutes. The impatient night shift doc wanted to start pitocin anyway and both myself and the nurse had to advocate that I was doing fine on my own. Pitocin is not there to ram the kid through as fast as possible but some use it as such and I think this leads to epidurals because women don’t get breaks to get their bearings. 
    Totally!  I was handling them okay when all the sudden I didn’t get any breaks between contractions.  It was constant, that is when I decided on the epidural.
  • @knottieaae78e9c2b19c1ef How awful! I’m glad it turned out ok. 
  • YMMV - my epidural took away the contraction pain but I still had the ability to "feel" my contractions in the form of pressure towards my back/bottom. Around 5 seconds after I started feeling the pressure the nurse would tell me I was having a contraction from it showing up on the monitor. Since I knew when they were happening they took off the contraction monitor towards the end as I was pretty much pushing when the urge came on my own 
    *TW* History:
    Me: 34 DH: 36 | Together since 2007 | Married July 2016

    TTC #1 since 7.2017
    Dx: low morph (1%), ANA positive, low decidualization score, high TSH and testosterone, histone antibodies

    IUI #1-3 all BFN
    IVF #1 | 6.11.19 | 24R, 17M, 15F, 6B, PGT-A tested - 5 normal, 3 girls & 2 boys
    FET #1 | 9.10.19 | BFN "I know you, but we've never met. I'm with you, but I don't know your name"
    RPL, Receptiva, & ERA testing | all normal/negative, recommended going on gluten and dairy free diet for next FET
    FET #2 | 3.31.20 | Opted to cancelled due to pandemic, continued diet and tried naturally over the summer
    2nd Opinion with another RE | 8.20.20 | Not immune to measles (received 1 dose); SA results similar to 2 years ago; decided to move forward with FET #2 redo at start of next cycle
    Surprise natural BFP! | 9.22.20 | MC 10.23.20 at 8 weeks
    TTCAL naturally | starting 11.22.20

    Initial consultation with Reproductive Immunologist | 9.14.21
    Decidualization score biopsy | 10.1.21 | abnormal - low score of 1; endometrial scratch recommended and progesterone supplementation
    Saline sono | 10.15.21 | normal
    Bloodwork | 10.21.21 high TSH, high testosterone, positive for anti-nuclear antibodies and histone antibodies, high protein S, multiple genetic mutations
    BFP! | 11.3.21 | EDD 7.14.22 B) | biopsy provided same effect as endometrial scratch; added supplemental progesterone and estrogen, prednisone, levothyroxine, and MTX Support to maintain pregnancy
    DS born 7.19.22 after induction


    TTC #2 begins 6.2023
    Consultation with RI | 6.6.23
    Saline sono, endometritis biopsy, skin & eye check | all normal
    Labs | high TSH, Factor XIII mutation, high %CD56
    Follow up | 8.8.23 | prescribed metformin, prednisone, plaquenil, and levothyroxine
    Repeat labs after 3 weeks on meds
    Follow up | 11.9.23 | Green light!, increase in prednisone, added lovenox
    Repeat labs in 8 weeks
    Follow up | 1.16.24 | Green light continues
    TTC put on pause
  • Update
    I had my baby and the epidural was awesome. I had to have it placed twice though since the first one failed. The first time it was placed hurt so badly that I began crying. I got sharp pain in my left side as the anesthesiologist was threading it in and I kept crying and telling her it hurt. I could tell she knew it shouldn’t hurt like that but instead she kept threading it in. She’d ask me where it hurt and I repeatedly kept saying the left but she didn’t retry the epidural to my knowledge but rather kept threading (I obviously can’t see back there so maybe she did retry). All that epidural did was numb my left foot and nothing else. So I felt the contractions still and went through a horrible and painful epidural. My nurse came in and said that
    she was watching my monitor and I was tensing so badly from the pain of my contractions that I was stopping them which I didn’t even know was possible. She called in a different anesthesiologist to replace the epidural. I was so scared from the first time around that I strongly considered not trying again but the thought of no pain relief ultimately was scarier to me so I tried again. The second one went smoothly and was almost painless. There was a slight pinch at the beginning but no more painful than a standard blood draw. The only difference is it’s a little uncomfortable because I could still feel the epidural being threaded. That was uncomfortable and weird but not super painful. The pain relief on the second epidural was almost immediate and my birth was super easy and almost painless with it. I only had to push for about forty five minutes and I felt no pain during pushing except for when I began tearing. So even with the bad experience with the first epidural I’d still recommend it to someone who’s considering it. Just be aware that it might not work the first time but when it does it will make for a really calm almost painless delivery. You also may need to hit the boost button which delivers a little more pain meds through the epidural. The pain from my contractions started to come back but once I got the boost I felt no pain again.
  • Along with others experiences, I've learned a lot following justtheinserts on Instagram and doing other research online.

    She shares the potential side effects and warnings that are written by the manufacturers and FDA. For some reason, I don't know a single woman who's doctor explained these while she was trying to make a decision. Additionally the experiences of several of my friends matched the warnings, only they didn't know to connect the dots. 

    Things like:
    - difficulty in breast feeding since the baby can be impacted by the epidural;
    - fever after birth that required extended hospital stay;
    - Low APGAR scores (this was either on the epidural or pitocin list)
    - Hemoraging

    And there are other much more serious possibilities as well. 

    Much of what I've read has led to the thoughtline that intervention often leads to more intervention. 

    Some are comfortable with this, but if you're not, you might want to do some more research on these.
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