September 2012 Moms
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Epidural or Med Free Delivery?

Hey ladies, I've been doing some research on epidurals/natural labors. I was wondering if you've had a baby before if you could share your story from previous births, otherwise, if you could share your opinions about going with an epidural or without any meds? I'm leaning towards wanting to do it naturally, but I've also been told I'd be a fool to not get an epi.

For those who have had an epidural, did you suffer any side effects? I'm worried about the whole bathroom thing, and also not being able to get up a few hours after the birth to shower, etc....

Any information you have or research books to suggest, I'd greatly appreciate it.

TIA

                           

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Re: Epidural or Med Free Delivery?

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    I had an epidural and I loved it. I didn't notice the foley catheter at all and it was nice not to have to get up for bathroom breaks. I didn't care that I couldn't get up to shower for a couple of hours after birth, all I wanted to do after staring at my baby for an appropriate amount of time was take a nap. I was able to get up and shower when I felt ready. (ETA: I also had pitocin and I found labor to be very painful.)

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    I would love to go med-free, but honestly have no idea how I'll feel or how much pain I'll be in that day. I am putting in my birth plan that I'd like to be offered medication and have the option to get it if I want it that day. I'm not making any firm decisions either way.
    Met DH - Aug 2001 :: Married - Jan 2010 :: DD born - Sept 2012

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    I did not have an epidural with my daughter because the military hospital I was at didnt do them, but I had some other sort of pain med, I will be having an edpidural for this child though...

     

    Drug me up and tell me when to push.... 

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    I really wanted to go natural but ended up getting an epidural a number of hours into my medically necessary induction.

    No side effects except that one of my legs was a little bit like jello for a couple hours after delivery. But I really couldn't have cared less, I was busy with the baby Smile

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    Carina 12.28.2010 | Aurelia 9.23.12 | Chart - Round 3
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    Manx4Manx4 member

    I had an epidural, I didn't have any side effects besides having to stay in bed an hour after birth.  After the hour was up, the nurse helped me get to the bathroom, which I could have done on my own but it's their policy to help you regardless. 

    You don't have to decide until you're there - I went in with the mindset of see what happens.  I was induced and went until I was 5 cm dilated (maybe 6 hours?) without anything before I asked for the epidural.  

    You should do what you feel is best for you, as long as the baby is born healthy and you are doing great, that is all that matters.

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    I had an epidural with DD, but that's not to say that going natural isn't the right fit for some folks.

    I had no bad side-effects. It wore off almost immediately and I was able to stand up and sit in the wheelchair (to be moved to Postpartum) about an hour after I delivered her. I will say that I waited too long to get it, though. I kept trying to wait just a little longer, but by the time I wanted it, I was like number 15 on the board. It took about 2 hours from the time I wanted it until the time I got it...ouch!

    I think it's great that you are getting educated on both possibilities; I say just go in and be open to what you need and how your body handles it. It's a beautfiul experience epidural or not! 

    ETA: I was induced with pitocin about 6 hours into labor. When it started taking effect, I requested the epidural. Those were a whole different level of pain than what I had been experiencing naturally.

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    I ended up with a c-section due to a breech baby. I got to have 9 hours of labor beforehand based on when I'd had breakfast (I had to be cleared by anesthesia since my water broke right after breakfast).

    I did have 9 hours of decently strong labor. The last few hours, my contractions were every 3 minutes, lasting a minute, and my midwife said they were really strong (based on the machines). If your water breaks early on like mine does (or if they tell you they have to rupture your membranes), you don't have as much cushion and you feel the contractions more. At no point in that did I think I needed an epidural, and I plan on having a natural birth in September.

     I'm a doula and work primarily with women who have natural childbirth.  In general, you are able to push a lot better without an epi because you can feel what you are doing. Your labor can also move along faster because you are able to change position instead of laying on your back the whole time. Gravity helps move the baby down, so laboring on your back makes it harder for your baby to do the work he needs to do.

    The women I see who want to go med-free and end up with an epi are usually induced. Pitocin greatly increases the strength of contractions. It is rare, though, for the women I've worked with who prepare for a natural childbirth.  I won't at all say it is easy, but it is very empowering, and I've never heard anyone say they wish they'd given in to the epi. It is also amazing to see how alert babies are when they have gone through natural childbirth.

    I do recommend hiring a doula. Some hospitals have doulas they work with, there are programs in a lot of areas for free or reduced doulas if you need that, and you can find students who will work for free because they need the hours for their certification.  Doulas can do a LOT to help with pain management for you and your partner. Also, if the place you are delivering has a tub for labor, it helps lots of women SO much with pain management.

     

    I could talk forever on this subject, but I'll shut up now. :)

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    hmp1hmp1 member

    I went into it thinking I would labor as long as possible and get the epi if I need it. One of the things that helped me a ton was my child birth class had an anesthesiologist come and speak to us and answer all our questions. It really made me feel at ease about getting an epi. I had to have Pitocin and didn't make it too long after I started feeling the effects. I had an epi around 11am and then was able to take a nap (it was wonderful). I started to feel a lot of pain again around 4pm and had a bump. Probably shouldn't have had that second bump because I was a terrible pusher. They turned off my epi around 5:30pm and told me the drugs would last in my system for an hour. I delivered at 6:32pm.

    I don't remember when I got up but it was pretty soon after being stitched up and BF. I think maybe an hour and a half I was up. No side effects from the epi. I'm pretty sure I will get one again this time.


    James Sawyer 12.3.10
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    Personally, I am more afraid of the needle in my back than the pain of child birth.  With that being said...

    I went epidural free with DD.  I was in active labor for about 11 hours before I began pushing, however for 4 of those hours I was stuck at 7cm.  I have Hypolordosis, which is basically a lack of curvature in the spine.  This puts a lot of pressure on my lower back normally, so labor was no help for that.  The nurse was even worried that I was having back labor at one point.  So, after being stuck for 4 hours at 7cm, I needed some kind of a break.  When the doctor came in to finally break my water, the nurse gave me a dose of Fentenol (sp?).  This allowed me to rest between contractions for about 1/2 an hour. I had about another hour and a half until I hit 10 cm, but just that 1/2 an hour gave me the energy to make it to the end.  I only pushed 3 times before I had my beautiful daughter in my arms.

    This time, I will insist on breaking my water earlier so that I can get through the entire labor without meds.
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    Oh, two more things. One is you should read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Amazing book!

    Second is anyone who isn't sure whether or not they want meds should consider putting in their birth plan that they do not want to be asked, but will tell you if they want meds. That is what I will put in mine. Otherwise nurses will ask every time they come in and if you are even just thinking about trying to go med-free, it will be a distraction you don't need. The nurses will never turn you down just because you said no in the birth plan.

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    You do have other options besides epi or nothing. I was induced (so already on an IV) and they gave me pain meds that way. I don't remember what it was though. It didn't do nearly as much as an epi, but they said it would "take the edge off" I was out of bed almost right away after she was born, but FWIW I didn't bother to shower for a good 12 hours regardless.
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    I went med-free for many reasons but mainly because the possible epi side effects freak me out--could lower baby's heartrate, stall labor, could increase chance of getting a c-section etc. I also don't take drugs unless absolutely necessary, preg or not preg, so that factored into it too.

    I liked documentary The Business of Being Born, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Dr. Sears' The Birth Book.  I also got a lot of information and support from the Natural Birth board. 

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    My birth experience was similar to Carly's. 

    I went in for my NST at 40wk1d and they found my amniotic fluid was dangerously low, so I was induced that night with cervadil.

    I am lucky in that my hospital does about 50% natural births and I had access to my own jet tub. My only "plan" was to go as long as possible without the epi due to my own blood pressure issues (low and I was afraid it would plummet with the epi, harming the baby and forcing a c-section).  

    So, my husband was to ask me 3 times if I was sure whenever I mentioned getting drugs. Usually, by the third time, the contraction had passed and I could rest until the next one. I spent an hour in the tub and moved back to the bed when I felt the need to push.

    Since my mw wasn't there yet, the nurses told me not to push. I told them I was going to need drugs, then. I ended up with stadol and another IV drug that allowed me to rest. They wore off by the time my mw arrived and I was able to have an epi-free birth, to which I attribute my lack of tearing and overall satisfaction. 

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    As everyone else suggested, read up on your options.  Keep an open mind about either side of the coin and not just the way you feel inclined to today. You never know.

    I did the epi vs. natural research with DS and decided that the chances of the epi having side effects on the baby were less than the effects of drinking a cup of coffee (I think that was the analogy, it's been a few years).

    Because of the fear the epi would prolong labor, I decided to wait as long as possible to get one.

    That was 4 CM for me.

    I was induced overnight and had having trouble progressing in early labor. After the epi my progress was perfect and steady.  The doctor suggested the epi helped me relax and hence move along at a good pace. I didn't have pitocin until after 7CM, and only a small dose, since my progress stalled a smidge.

    Contrary to PP's suggestion, I was able to feel myself pushing. An epi is not steady, you can control how strong or weak it is. I was able to relax, nap, and certainly not exert myself too much during transition. I turned down the epi once at 10 CM and was able to tell my nurses when I was going to have a contraction before they saw it on the monitor and get ready to push. Having that rest was imperative as I pushed for 3 hours and had no strength left by the end.

    This may sound like I was ineffective at pushing or that the epi prevented my ability to push, but it was not. I was told I was pushing effectively but that baby could not pass my hips. 

    GL. 

    ETA: as for side effects on you, I didn't care about walking around and going to the bathroom and per PPs I didn't shower until the next morning anyways. 

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    I was wanting to go natural but it's not looking like that will be a possibility because of my complete placenta previa which I am coming to terms with. I am in no way against an epi though. My mom is a LD nurse and I'm not quite sure if this is factual or not but she told me to avoid a spinal at all costs and opt for the epi because many women complain of headaches and migraines after delivery with a spinal. I'm not even quite sure how common spinals are anymore.
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    Thank you so much! All of you! I am so intrigued to learn about all the different possibilities!!!! I also did post something on the Natural Birth Board so we'll see what I get from them too.

    Thanks again!

                               

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    I got an epi, and it was amazing.  I had planned to go as long as possible before getting it, so I went about 9 hours and made it to 6 cm before having it inserted.  I didn't really feel pain when it went in -- maybe some pinching??  -- but it paled in comparison to the contractions.  The epidural sped up my labor in the grand scheme of things.  Within an hour, I went from a 6 to a 10 and was ready to push......and while I was actually able to feel the contractions and push easily (I could also move my legs), DS was sunny-side up so he wasn't making any progress.  After birth, I was up and walking around within a half hour (after getting stitched up!).  No side effects at all, fortunately.

    My son suffered from the 4 hours of pushing and got a 3 on his initial Apgar.....9 on his second.  (He had aspirated on meconium as well)  HOWEVER, I will say that he was an incredibly alert baby -- he stared everyone down in the delivery room for hours after birth and nursed as well as he could.  So the talk of an epidural "drugging" your baby was conjecture in my case -- everyone commented on how alert he was. 

    Will I do an epi again?  Yes.  When it works so well, why would I want to experience pain?  I know I could handle the pain, but I also know my body does well with the epidural, so it's kind of a no-brainer here.  You will, however, read many stories of failed epidurals -- I firmly believe they are only as good as the anesthesiologist performing them.  :)

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    I had an epidural and it was a good experience.  I really went in figuring I would ask for one and when they came by I said yes.  The pain was still bearable but I was only 4 cm and I had the worst back labor.  It was wonderful once I had the epidural in.  I had no side effects except for relief from most of the pain and it wasn't a big deal going in.  I was able to get up with assistance after birth and three hours later I walked myself down to the nursery to see why they hadn't brought the baby back into my recovery room.  Overall having the epidrual gave me a positive birth experience.  I was not writhing in pain and could relax.  

    I will get an epidural again with this baby.

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    I went into the birth hoping to do med-free, based on the research I'd done on the potential impacts of epidurals.  I also read The Big Book of Birth and highly recommend it - it's been a few years since I read it, but my recollection was that she presented the pros/cons information on various methods for dealing with labor pain - positions, pressure, medicine, etc. and it is up to you to decide what is best for you and your baby.  

     My mother was the only one I knew that had done a med-free birth - my husband was very supportive of what I wanted to do, but all my friends/family thought I was crazy to try.  I went into it with the philosophy of trying all the other pain management techniques first and seeing how I did with those, and if I needed an epidural I would decide later.  I agree with the suggestion above about putting in your birth plan that if you want the epidural you will request it, rather than having other people ask you if you want it.  

    I labored at home for as long as possible, and went to the hospital when I felt like I needed extra help/support with the contractions (I couldn't talk through them, and really had to concentrate on them).  I was 4 cm when admitted, and my son was born about 3ish hours later.  I pushed for about 30 minutes.  I was able to deliver med free.  Both at home and in the hospital, I used the birthing ball, tub, and edge of bed to labor.  Biggest help for me was my husband pushing my hips together during each contraction - that really helped me manage the contractions.  Did it hurt?  Yes.  Was it manageable?  Yes.  And I then had this huge surge of endorphins afterwards - I felt like I was on top of the world.  Even though it was midnight/1 am by the time I was in my room, it took me several hours to fall asleep because I was so excited that I'd done it med free, and so happy about our new son!  

     

     

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    I had a med-free, intervention-free labor and delivery with DS.

    DH and I took Bradley classes (very helpful in teaching us to advocate for ourselves and about the emotional and physical signposts of each stage of labor). I also borrowed a friend's Hypnobabies CDs (the relaxation tracks were particularly helpful early in active labor). But the most important aspect of my preparations for a med-free birth was to make up my mind that's what I really wanted-- everything else I did stemmed from that decision.

    From start to finish, my labor as a FTM was 9 hours, half of which was active labor. I think part of the reason it was so quick was b/c I went med-free and b/c I was able to remain focused and relaxed, letting my body do the work. The worst/most painful part was transition, followed by getting stitched up with only local anesthesia (ouch)-- pushing felt wonderful by comparison. My goal this time is an experience that is as close to my first as possible, but with twins on the way, all bets are off.

    I recommend starting your research with The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer-- very informative, but it does have a bias toward med-free births, just so you know.

    Birth story (long, sorry, and please feel free to skip):

    My labor and delivery were textbook. I went into early labor in the middle of the night, around 1 am. I was able to sleep off and on between contractions until around 5:30. I woke up DH and told him my contrx were about 4 mins apart and had been for an hour. He called my OB who told us to head to the hospital, so we got ourselves together (which took a little while as I was experiencing the oh-so-pleasant "digestive cleansing" effects of labor-- no danger of pooing on the table for me). We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 at 4cm.

    I stayed in the l&d triage room forever-- there was a shift change and then the nurses had a tough time inserting my hep lock (I was GBS + and needed antibiotics). Around 8:30, just as I was getting ready to finally get into the labor tub, my water broke and the previously manageable contrx got really intense. Thankfully the tub really helped take the edge off and I stayed in for about an hour (though I really wasn't aware of how long it had been at the time).

    When I got to my l&d room, I was at 7cm. Our nurse suggested I use the restroom, where I promptly vomited in the trash can while sitting on the toilet. After I made it into bed, she awesomely left us alone to labor by ourselves, and told us to call her when I felt ready to push. It was then that transition was hitting (I realized in retrospect) and three agonizing contrx later (ones that had me seriously questioning what I'd been thinking to forego the epi and had me convinced that I could NOT do this), I felt the urge. The nurse checked and I was at 10cm and ready to go. After 45 mins of pushing and some slight tearing, DS was born at 10:25. It was absolutely the most incredible experience and I was overwhelmed, empowered, but most of all totally in love with our son.

    BFP #1 10/27/2009 ~ DS1 ~ BIRTHday 7/16/2010 ~ med-free Bradley birth @ 40w5d
    BFP #2 1/22/2012 ~ DS2 & DD ~ BIRTHday 9/13/2012 ~ unplanned C-section @ 38w1d
    BFP #3 5/4/2015 ~ EDD 1/7/2016
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    I agree with the pp to go in with an open mind.  I was induced at 41 weeks with DD.  Pitocin started at 6:30am and I had a my DD at 6:30pm.  I went in with the mindset of, I've never done this before so I have no idea what it's going to feel like- therefore we will just see how it goes regarding pain meds.  They broke my water about 3hrs in when I was about 3cm.  I got my epi around 11am and was able to sleep.  It took the Dr 5 tries to get it in (hitting my spine, DH was about to pass out), and finally after he got it- it didnt take.  Only one side was numb.  They pushed some staydol (I think??) in my IV and said to give it 30min that it might make the other side take.  THANKFULLY for me it worked.  The doc came in to check me around 5pm and I was only at 5cm.... he no sooner left the room that I told the nurse I felt "weird".  I honestly thought my cathetar came out haha, I had no idea what the pressure was.  She checked again and said ok dont push!  I went from a 5 to a 10 in less than 10minutes.  I pushed for less than 30min, did end up with stitches... but that may have been because DD was 10lbs 8oz.  I'm happy with how everything turned out, and I plan to go in to this birth with the same mindset.

    As for side effects- I didn't have any.  My epi wore off immediately and I was able to walk and get in the wheelchair to go to the postpartum room like an hour later.  I agree with the others that a shower was the last thing on my mind haha- I was more worried about eating!

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    My plan going into labor was to manage the pain with breathing techniques for as long as I could. I wasn't against an epi, per se, I was just afraid of the big needle & had 2 people close to me have bad side effects from it.

    I made it to 7 cm & then they made me lay on my side b/c  the baby's heart rate was dropping. Laying on my side was so painful for me (I hadn't done it in weeks), and that was what made me go from calm to panicked in an instant & I could no longer manage the pain. So, I got the epi.

    I did not have any side effects. When they administer it, you may feel a quick shock down your leg. Then you lay on your back with your upper body elevated so that the epi can travel down & distribute evenly. I was told it'd take about 15 min to take effect, but for me, I felt near instant relief. It was like night & day. I went from insisting on complete silence in the room, stressed, irritable...to calm, laughing, and relaxed.

    They inserted a catheter to empty my bladder, but I can't remember if they left it in, or if they removed it once I was emptied. That was only slight discomfort.

    Before the epi, they gave me the option to get another drug that would just take the edge off. I opted not to get that b/c it's a narcotic that travels to the baby. The epi, on the other hand, does not travel to the baby.

    I was able to sleep for a while, which helps you rest up for pushing! As contractions intensified, I still felt a lot of pressure, but not really pain. Before I knew it it was time to push. I was able to know when I was contracting & when to push. Some people say that the epi was so strong that they couldn't feel anything & they needed nurses to tell them when to push & then pushing wasn't as effective. That was not my case. I think it depends on when you get the epi & other factors.

    It did take a while for the epi to wear off. Your legs will still feel tingly. A nurse helped me go to the bathroom. You'll need help at first anyway, probably b/c they'll show you how to take care of your nether region, lol.

    I had a 2nd degree tear & episiotomy, so that adds another level to taking care of yourself down there & needing assistance getting up & going to the bathroom.

    I didn't shower to the next day. While I did feel a lot better after the shower, I wasn't really in a rush to take one. I was so tired, sore & just overwhelmed with everything, that it wasn't a high priority. I'm sure that differs from person to person, though.

    HTH!

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    Obviously you got a lot of great opinions already...I'll just add one more experience:

    LOVED the epi.

    1. I was on pitocin (started naturally but needed pitocin to progress labor).  Without the pain-free experience of an epi, they wouldn't have been able to crank up the pitocin as much as they did.  I think I would have been in labor forever.  (took 24 hours of contractions to dialate 1cm).

    2. No side effects, no I had to wait to shower which was slightly annoying, but I was doting on my little boy and got over that part quickly.

    3. I was able to rest up before pushing and wasn't exhausted by that point because of the pain. 

    4. They gave me painkillers first because I didn't want the epi too soon.  They made me very very sick and I will never do that again.

    Good luck on your decision!  Either way, it's always 100% your decision.

    Big Kid Jan 2010

    Littlest Man Sept 2012

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    imagemrs.kapow:

    So, my husband was to ask me 3 times if I was sure whenever I mentioned getting drugs. Usually, by the third time, the contraction had passed and I could rest until the next one.

    That is such a good idea! My intentions are to go as long as possible without an epi and this is a good way to stave off any panicky decisions. Thanks!




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    epidural all the way for me!! it worked fine with LO, no side effects whatsoever.  i am hoping to have another one with this baby.
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