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Why Decide on Getting an Epidural BEFORE Labor?

post #1 of 123
Thread Starter 
I totally understand why women would want the option of an epidural. But I just honestly can't understand why women would definitely chose to have it well in advance of labor (for the 1st baby that is - so they've never experienced any labor.)

I have to think that for this to be the case, women truly believe:
1. The epidural is risk-free (or, the risks are like one-in-a-million, so they aren't worth worrying about)
2. Birth is always horribly painful
3. There is no benefit to actually feeling the birth of your child (i.e. birth is just plain painful & there's just no value in feeling any of it.)

Wouldn't you have to believe those things in order to decide in advance of labor, with certainty, that you want the epidural? or am I way off base?

I just find that sad because, as we know here, none of that is even remotely true. I just wish women would at least be open-minded to experiencing something so amazing. But to decide in advance to close down the possibility, well, I can't help but feel that that is just sad.
post #2 of 123
Because you don't get a medal for doing it natural.
Because the drugs are absolutely harmless, my doc said so.
Because I don't want to be a martyr.
Because it might hurt a little.
Because it's the way it's done.
Because my doc said it's the way it's done.
Because every movie shows the needle in the spine so it must be okay.
Because no one will know I did it naturally so why go through that?
Because the book I read (WTEWYE) said it's the way it's done.
Because my best friend, sister, cousin, and every woman on my mainstream birth board had one and loved it.
Because I don't mind being paralyzed from the waist down and having a catheter and not being able to walk and having to stay for three days.
Because only hippies go natural.

Should I go on?

I don't know why. Before the sperm ever hit the egg for my first, I knew I would never even take a Tylenol in labor. Was never an option for me. Hopefully some day epidurals will be the exception, not the rule.
post #3 of 123
How's about: because I know how I deal with pain and I don't want to deal with the pain of labor, which is - from all accounts - going to be worse than any pain I have yet encountered.

This was not my reason - I didn't get one - but I would not presume to judge someone who did think this way. Given that labor was, both times, the worst pain I have endured in my life.
post #4 of 123

Oh geez

I often wonder too. Pitocin and Epi greatly increase your risk of needing a c-section. In some hospitals, the section rate is nearing 50%!!!! I guess some women don't care or believe their doctors BLINDLY. It's like the blind leading the blind.

And then there is all the "big baby" fear which docs are great at. "We have to induce you NOW! Your baby is getting too big!" And it's common knowledge that pitocin contractions are hard and spasmodic. So they want the epi in advance.

Why not just let the baby come on it's own and avoid the c-section?? A few hours of pain is better than a risky surgery and long recovery.

I've had so many friends wind up with a section. I only know 2 fellow mamas who didn't have one. Sad.
post #5 of 123
Because they don't know that with that pain comes something so mind-blowingly cool that they choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.

I think in trying to not upset fellow mamas on the joys of natural birth, we keep the secret that with great pain come great triumph. However, I am not saying that getting an epi is a bad thing, I have heard of births where I think it is awesome that choice is available!

But, to say you can somehow avoid pain in childbirth is the biggest fallacy there is. The baby is coming out somehow and you will feel that it is happening or that it has happened.
post #6 of 123
because they are scared.


the only reason i can think of why they would choose it BEFORE they go into labor.
post #7 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by SandraS View Post
Because I don't mind being paralyzed from the waist down and having a catheter and not being able to walk and having to stay for three days.
It's funny. When my sister go the epi, she told me it was "awesome". DS1 was 2 then, and I'd only had one c-section...no natural birth, but 20+ hours of labour. I was looking at her, lying in bed, and unable to move her lower body, and I felt freaked. I honestly can't imagine signing up for voluntary paralysis. I hate getting a spinal for surgery. Just reading what you wrote here gave me the chills. Yuck.
post #8 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplemoon View Post
Because they don't know that with that pain comes something so mind-blowingly cool that they choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak.
I really can't agree with this. I didn't have an epidural. And yes, my birth contained mind-blowing coolness. That mind-blowing moment occurred the minute the baby was out of my body, as soon as I realized it was over and I had done it. Prior to that, labor was a horribly painful, exhausting, seemingly neverending ordeal. No sparkles and unicorns for this mama.

So I have to question the assumption that women who get epidurals somehow cheat themselves out of that fabulous moment when you see your baby and realize that you have given birth. We all have that moment, epidural or not. I think it's awfully demeaning to assert that women who get the epi experience none of the exhilaration anyone else does when a child is born.
post #9 of 123
Have you looked around at how society portrays birth?

That should answer your question.
post #10 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
I really can't agree with this. I didn't have an epidural. And yes, my birth contained mind-blowing coolness. That mind-blowing moment occurred the minute the baby was out of my body, as soon as I realized it was over and I had done it. Prior to that, labor was a horribly painful, exhausting, seemingly neverending ordeal. No sparkles and unicorns for this mama.

So I have to question the assumption that women who get epidurals somehow cheat themselves out of that fabulous moment when you see your baby and realize that you have given birth. We all have that moment, epidural or not. I think it's awfully demeaning to assert that women who get the epi experience none of the exhilaration anyone else does when a child is born.
No, it isn't demeaning at all. They get the cool moment of meeting their baby! And in the end, that is the best moment of all.

But, you take away the pain, you take away the endorphins, ergo you take away the "rush". It is science, not just conjecture. The fact is they don't get the rush, but they do lose the pain. You can't get both. And sometimes, sadly, in your case you just got one (the pain).

However, I do know that it isn't strangely uncommon that the rush just doesn't get there for whatever reason, and that's ok too.

But I would like most women to know that in the majority of births that aren't impeded they will get that. And it is awesome!

Also, I like telling women that there is a 15% epidural failure rate (um, me) and that PLEASE be prepared for natural anyway!

And, with the pain (that I wasn't enjoying) I was suprised by my little meditations with the universe in labor land, and then decided there was something to natural labor after all. And then the more I researched, the more I figured it was pretty cool indeed!
post #11 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
How's about: because I know how I deal with pain and I don't want to deal with the pain of labor, which is - from all accounts - going to be worse than any pain I have yet encountered.

This was not my reason - I didn't get one - but I would not presume to judge someone who did think this way. Given that labor was, both times, the worst pain I have endured in my life.
:

Also because of a sexual trauma (or other trauma) which would make feeling things in that area unbearable mentally/emotionally.

Honestly natural birth isn't always this amazing rewarding experience for everyone. Some women aren't willing to risk that. Some women are well aware of their boundaries. Though I may never have had a bone placed I know it's going to hurt. It's not rocket science with birth really. You got one side saying it is the worse pain ever and another saying it is the most amazing experience and the pain is nothing. Well you know not always and that goes for both sides. Realistically birth hurts. Looking at the process itself it would be pretty darn ridiculous to think it wouldn't even just a little without some hardcore mental prep to aid you and even then there is no guarantee.

Why do women choose to get epis before they even experience labor? For a variety of reasons none of which are our concern.

Quote:
Because I don't mind being paralyzed from the waist down and having a catheter and not being able to walk and having to stay for three days.
I had an epidural with my first. Couldn't stand it because I couldn't feel anything. But stay there for 3 days? I didn't and every friend I have had who has was out the next day as well.
post #12 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplemoon View Post
No, it isn't demeaning at all. They get the cool moment of meeting their baby! And in the end, that is the best moment of all.

But, you take away the pain, you take away the endorphins, ergo you take away the "rush". It is science, not just conjecture. The fact is they don't get the rush, but they do lose the pain. You can't get both. And sometimes, sadly, in your case you just got one (the pain).

However, I do know that it isn't strangely uncommon that the rush just doesn't get there for whatever reason, and that's ok too.
My last birth I had no rush. It was completely natural and left me with PTSD. The rush is also no guarantee when you have the pain and frankly that rush after that long labor would not have been worth what I endured or what it meant for my baby and I afterward. Even in getting the rush natural birth can leave a woman beaten emotionally and mentally let alone physically. The rush is little consolation when that happens.

This is the reality of birth- it can be amazing and it can be traumatic and everything in between. I think if we are really sincere about birth education we need to prepare women for both and be open with them about their options in both scenarios and not guilt them when they find themselves with the less ideal.

Quote:
Also, I like telling women that there is a 15% epidural failure rate (um, me) and that PLEASE be prepared for natural anyway!
I completely agree and have said the same thing myself with my friends who choose the epidural. Be prepared in birth always.
post #13 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
My last birth I had no rush. It was completely natural and left me with PTSD. The rush is also no guarantee when you have the pain and frankly that rush after that long labor would not have been worth what I endured or what it meant for my baby and I afterward. Even in getting the rush natural birth can leave a woman beaten emotionally and mentally let alone physically. The rush is little consolation when that happens.

This is the reality of birth- it can be amazing and it can be traumatic. I think if we are really sincere about birth education we need to prepare women for both and be open with them about their options in both scenarios and not guilt them when they find themselves with the less ideal.


I completely agree and have said the same thing myself with my friends who choose the epidural. Be prepared in birth always.
As I said, there are births that I have heard that make me glad that an epidural is a choice available. If birth is very traumatic, we should use the resources available to lesson it (if possible) and an epidural may be high on the list of resources.

But, while the rush isn't THE REASON to have a natural birth, it is a great bonus that shocked me (as I said, my first was unintentionally natural) and shouldn't be as discounted as it often is.

It should be embraced (but warned that it may not happen) as should the reality that birth is such a crap shoot there is no planning for the unplannable.

However, there are two camps. The women that want a natural birth and like non-mainstream boards and research and then expect a high (because they heard about how cool it was) and then the mainstream moms who expect the epidural upon admission and know nothing of any high at all and had no idea it existed.

Just an observation with the last paragraph...

Maybe what is better is to plan but expect nothing.
post #14 of 123
The concensus from women who want the epidural before labor is that they don't like pain. Honestly, I've planned two home births (Ava was a transfer but still natural) and I can get where they are coming from. Some people just don't like pain. There is a lot of the "my doctor wouldn't give me anything dangerous" mentality too though.
post #15 of 123
Hmmm, I don't think it's sad that a woman would choose well before she's had a baby to have an epidural. It's her choice to make and maybe your assertion is correct in that all women do not value the journey that is childbirth. So what?

The only thing I think is important when it comes to childbirth is the choice (if we're lucky, since really it is out of our control) to birth how you want. If the choices are there, then who cares how another woman chooses to birth her child? I think The Business of Being Born did a lot to bring Natural/Homebirth into the mainstream...opening up people's minds about birth. For some, maybe they never considered anything other than hospital/epi births b/c that appears to be the norm, that's all they know. I had *never* even heard of homebirth as it exists today until after the birth of my son. All the while I was pregnant with him I had a lackadaisical approach to childbirth. I didn't care one way or other. I knew I didn't want a section, but I thought I'll get the epi if/when I want it and if not, that will be fine too. Epidural/hospital birth was all I knew. Of course, with such an approach to birth, I got an epidural and I don't regret it at all. I was completely exhausted after birth...pushing 3 hours. I can say I didn't have the "high" that I hear natural birthing mamas talk about b/c I was just seriously spent.

Ironically, my DH seemed to be more in touch with childbirth and it's magnitude during my pregnancy that I was. He would say, "Yes. I think you can do it w/o an epidural. It's a rite of passage to birth a baby. Women have been doing it for thousands of years." Etc. etc. Of course, that was just talk b/c it wasn't until after the birth of our DS that I began actually looking into natural birth. It was definitely eye opening!! I do want to add that I had a pleasant, non-traumatic birth at a hospital, although it was very different than what I thought it would be. I just had no idea that unless you say otherwise, you're pretty much pushed through the assembly line for a factory birth. Undress, gown, IV, bed, period. The End. I was seriously undereducated about that aspect. Seriously...even shows like "The Baby Story" led me to believe my nurses would have me walking the halls, sitting on a ball, essentially catering to me and my needs as a woman in labor. Yeah, not so much. Hence the reason I am happy I had the epidural b/c I could not deal with the pain stuck in a bed.

Anyhoo, I said all that to say that unless you have some experience in which you learn otherwise, honestly I think many women don't even consider birth w/o epidural b/c they really don't know about the alternative. I mean, it's not like most OB's actually take it upon themselves to talk to you and educate you about your choices. For me, while it was just fine, the birth of my son was that experience that made me look into a different way to birth. I had envisioned something different, but the epi was not the deciding factor for me to deem my birth successful.

Okay, that was some crazy rambling!
post #16 of 123
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is hospital policy or financial planning... some smaller hospitals don't have 24/7 anesthesia support (and request that women include a yes/no response to whether or not they want an epidural during the pre-registration paperwork) and some insurance companies do not cover routine epidurals so that expense needs to be pre-planned as well (especially if a care provider requires payment in full/a specific payment amount prior to the birth).

(and because I know the question that always comes up in regards to small hospitals... there is an on-call anesthesiologist for emergencies and a life-flight helecopter for people who need more than our local hospitals can provide. A delay in emergency medical service/lack of "high tech" medical care is just one trade off for choosing to live in a certain region.)
post #17 of 123
Before my first baby, I planned on having an epidural.

I wanted to labor as long as I could without it, but I wanted an epidural before I actually gave birth. Why? Because I've seen lots of births, and the idea of stitches in an un-numbed bottom is HORRENDOUS to me. I have seen many, many women describe the worst part of their labor/birth experience as the stitches afterwards. And, I know that, even with a 4th degree tear, most practitioners and anesthesiologists are reluctant to give an epidural just for repair.

I knew I was going to have a big baby (and I was right--he weighed 11 lb, 14 oz), and I figured there would be stitches.

Weird, but there you go.

As it turns out, I got an epidural for pain relief 17 hours into my 36 hour labor. It stopped working, I had it replaced, #2 stopped working, we pulled it out, I labored med-free for a while, and then, when it was looking like a c-section was inevitable, I had epidural #3 placed. I did have a c-section. And, I'm okay with all my epidurals. The pain was bad. Really bad. Even with the epidural I screamed like someone that labors high on crack. I'm not the best girl to deal with pain.
post #18 of 123
I think the "because I'm scared" sums it up pretty well, and the OP's list breaks it down pretty well.

I had a natural (home) birth because 1) I believe there are benefits to retaining feeling and 2) I'm one of those people who don't seem to process most drugs very well, and they make me feel very strange and sick and out of control.

On the other hand - I have a crunchy holistic dentist, and he always asks if I want novocaine before he drills my cavities (some of his patients apparently decline). And my reaction is exactly like many women's when considering birth: "of course, are you crazy??" I do not believe there is any benefit to retaining feeling, I am scared of the pain, and I believe the drug is safe for me (unlike most drugs, novacaine seems fine to me, though my dentist only uses 1/3 of the usual amount for me and it numbs me up 100%).

So, while I made a different choice for birthing, I can definitely see why some women just don't even want to give it a second thought and just choose the "comfortable and safe" option.
post #19 of 123
I pretty much agree with all the above comments. But I also think it is just a societal standard. There was a time when epidurals weren't so commonplace (long, long time ago) and women had other avenues to mentally prepare for a natural, drug-free birth to cope with pain and endurance. That is obviously not the case very often anymore. Women are built up from their first baby on to believe that the pain of childbirth is just so horrible that it's the end of the world. Get a gaggle of women together who've had kids and all of them (at least in my experience) will tell you the horror stories of how horrible their labor pain was before they got their epidural. After hearing story after story like that and mentally dragging you down, who wouldn't assume they'd have to have an epidural?

Even from women who've never had their own children, I have gotten the weirdest, most extreme statements. Several of my old co-workers, in response to learning I'm planning a drug-free homebirth, told me, "You'll never be able to do it without an epidural - do you know how much it's going to hurt?" Of course I know it's going to hurt, but because I've had wonderful midwives who have one, taught me to have full trust in myself and my baby and two, given me so many tools to deal with pain and discomfort during labor, I know that I'll be able to weather the storm. This is not the type of mindset one receives in a typical OB or hospital setting. Being surrounded by other homebirthers with the same mindset and some who have given birth naturally without drugs has done wonders for my confidence and excitement over our impending birth.

I knew long before I was PG that I would want a fully nature, drug-free birth. I studied the birth process and I'm convinced there is pain for a reason. And that it goes beyond 'rite of passage'. Pain sets of different types of hormones in the labor process that physiologically encourage other things to happen (stronger contractions to further advance the baby, etc.). When you take away the pain and interfer, the natural birthing process is interrupted, hence the climbing number of c-sections. I live in Atlanta and all of our hospitals have an outrageous number of c-sections. The one hospital dubbed 'the baby factory' because it is the birthing capitol of the southeast has a c-section rate of 49%.

And it absolutely drives me crazy when someone has the nerve to say, "You know you don't get a medal for doing it naturally". I mean, really, do any of us choose to do it because we think we'll get a pat on the back? And it kills me that it's other women that typically say that instead of offering something encouraging from one woman to another.
post #20 of 123
[QUOTE=MegBoz;14123720]I totally understand why women would want the option of an epidural. But I just honestly can't understand why women would definitely chose to have it well in advance of labor (for the 1st baby that is - so they've never experienced any labor.)

Because your mother told you while you were pregnant that every year on your oldest sibling's birthday, she thinks, "This is the anniversary of the worst day of my life," and she said she wanted to die when he was being born. Because you don't want those kinds of memories when you think about your own child's birth.

Because every friend you know IRL (i.e. not on MDC) who experienced both natural and epi births said they would always choose the epi in the future. Because even the ones whose labors went too fast for the epi said they wished they'd asked for it in time.

Because your DH can't give you longer than a 3-minute backrub while you are pregnant, and you know when you get to labor he is not going to have the stamina or the stomach to give you the support you will need, and the idea of watching him stand helplessly by while you are writhing in pain makes you want to strangle him even now.

Because you don't believe that choosing an epi invalidates the right of passage to motherhood just because you didn't feel the contractions, the ring of fire, the stitches, or the OB's hand inside of you groping for retained placenta.

Because you've weighed the risks versus the benefits and decided that although you admire women who choose natural as being amazingly strong and courageous, you are glad the choice of the epi is available to you because it is the best option for you personally.
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