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Going Epi-Free? - Page 2

post #21 of 80
I am a HUGE wimp with pain. HUGE. And I have never been athletic, and I was admitedly not in good shape while I was preg. I did try to walk a lot ,but thats about it.

But I did have a 31 hr posterior labor, with no drugs. I'm not gonna lie, it hurt. But its a different kind of pain. I spent most of my labor in a tub, water helped a lot. We did Bradley.

Honestly, the worst part of my labor, was about 30 min of me having one of those straps around my belly listening to DSs heart. The rest of the labor, I was not hooked up to ANYthing, but at one point MW tried listening to DSs heart with the handheld thing, and said it sounded off, so she wanted to check it continually for a while. He was fine, so we took it off after a while. But it was AWFULL having to be in the bed with wires and things strapped on. I dont know how anyone makes it through an entire labor like that, UGH!!! It was so much better to be able to move, walk, squat, rock, sit in the tub, etc. The thought of being strapped into a bed the whole time with an epi would freak me out.

My birth was awesome. I loved it in the moment, and I still cherish the memory of every second. My two main reasons for going drug free, were so that I could fully be IN the moment for everything, and for DS's benifit/safety/health.
post #22 of 80
I haven't read all the responses, but I just wanted to share this...

I am not in shape, no way shape or form. I'm about 150 lbs overweight. If I had been in the hospital, I would have had a c-section, no question. I'm not big on pain, and the physical pain of labor was compounded by the fear associated with my previous loss.

All that being said, I was in labor for 5 days. I finally pushed him out the afternoon of the 5th day, in my bedroom, with no drugs whatsoever. It was the most intense exhausting painful experience ever. And knowing that I did that was the most exhilarating, freeing, empowering experience ever. Sure, I wish it hadn't taken 5 days, but looking at this little guy smiling at me, it was worth it to me to feel that I took control and did it. Both for him and for me.

Not sure if that's terribly coherent, but... I've been told my entire life that I can't do this or can't do that. Always can't. And I proved with this one act that I'm good enough and I can do anything.

But, if I had been in a hospital, I never would have been allowed to go 5 days (3 days with broken membranes). So for me, staying home was key.
post #23 of 80
One more out of shape mama here.
I have absolutely no pain tolerance. I pass out everytime I get blood work done.
I pass out watching movies involving needles and blood.
To be honest epi was never an option for me for one simple reason: I always thought it would lead to more and more interventions and eventually a c/s. (and of course I'd be scared of the needle going into my spine ).
Long story short, two babes, in the hospital - midwife attended, drug free both times.
You can totally do it!!
post #24 of 80
I can link you to my birth pictures. I am not in shape, well round is a shape, but I'm fluffy!

I have had one intervention filled birth, and 2 intervention free births. I would go no-epi in a heart beat, happily.

If I were in a situation where it was an epi or a cesarean, I would get the epi without guilt or shame.

You can do it, and better yet you can enjoy labor, you can enjoy birth.
post #25 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcgirl View Post
I don't actually buy the "epi-free is better for baby" argument, EXCEPT that I believe the mother being mobile and free to move during labor can help birth progress and lead to fewer complications. That's better for both mom and baby. There are also times when an epidural is helpful...

The thing about the labor pain is it's different from injury pain. It feels productive (usually), and while it hurts, it's totally possible to work with your body in a way you really can't with other types of pain. I wouldn't worry about your ability to handle it because it's such a different thing.


I want to say one other thing, which is that if you put yourself in a situation where pharmaceutical pain relief is not available, then you won't get it. That's all.

I had a hospital birth but labored at home into the pushing phase. It was hands down the most painful experience of my life but the thought of an epidural (again, not that I'm strongly opposed to them personally) didn't cross my mind bc it just wasn't there, not on the radar screen. It wasn't about 'I can do it' or 'I can't do it,' it was just about getting through that next contraction.
post #26 of 80
Yeah, that is true. During my home birth - and it was painful, yeah - I wasn't thinking about an epidural at all. I wasn't thinking about anything except just making it through the contraction.

I will say, though, that the feeling of euphoria after the birth was just incomparable, totally worth it.
post #27 of 80
Oh yeah, the buzz! I almost forgot about that.
After all that work, all the pain and discomfort is gone. For a little bit, there's this great rush - I felt alert, and relaxed, but still a little out-of-it in a good way. And then that wears off, and there was this utterly relaxed bliss, like post awesome massage or orgasm - full body contentment. What a feeling!
post #28 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcgirl View Post
I don't actually buy the "epi-free is better for baby" argument, EXCEPT that I believe the mother being mobile and free to move during labor can help birth progress and lead to fewer complications.
All the research I've seen is pretty clear on this matter. Epidural does bring risks for the baby that they wouldn't have otherwise.

-Angela
post #29 of 80
Between pushes I was literally crying and begging my baby to please just come out already. But I did it w/ no drugs or interventions! And I am so proud of myself, which is totally worth all of the pain

A few things that helped: DH and I both read the book The Birth Partner. It is a great book that is written for dads & doulas. One v important tool we got from the book was using a code word. This was an unusual word that I picked that, if I said it, it meant, FOR REAL, that I wanted an epidural. This freed me up to be able to say what I felt, such as saying that I didn't think I could do this anymore. When dh heard that, instead of saying, "Do you think you want drugs?" he knew it was a cry for help & he spoke words of encouragement. It made my mental environment more relaxed.

I, too, stayed home for most of my labor (hospital midwife birth, awesome). It was painful, but obviously survivable. I *wanted* to experience it, so most of it did not bother me. I went thru transition at the hospital & I knew, rationally, that getting drugs was not a realistic option b/c I was so close to the pushing phase. That helped, too.

You are not going to go from 0 to 10 all at once, so pain med options should not be viewed in that manner, either. Can you get thru one more contraction? How about one more? How about 15 more minutes? I wanted to be fully present in each moment, even though I could have done w/ less pain, haha! I am v glad I did not use drugs, but after that experience, I reserve NO judgement for any woman who chooses drugs. There is no failure in birth, just different experiences.
post #30 of 80
I'm a fat lazy wimp with absolutely no pain tolorance (AND I bruise when you LOOK at me) and I gave birth epi free.

I firmly believe that our ability to get through birth naturally has everything to do with our state of mind and not our bodies. Our bodies already know what to do and tell us what they are doing... it is our job to learn how to listen and follow accordingly.

If you go in thinking everything is going to be painful and you need to AVOID feeling the pain or you'll not make it through, chances are you'll want an epi... but if you go in with the mindframe that every contraction is really just your body trying to tell you how to move (or not move) and what position to be in (or not be in) and that you just need to focus exactly on what your feeling until you have a breather between contractions, I think most women can make it through.

As someoen said, labor pain isn't like the pain that comes with a broken arm. Labor pains come in waves and have a real purpose... it is quite literally your body doing something to get the baby out, rather than your body screaming 'something isn't right here!' ride the wave and enjoy the breaks between. Staying relaxed, keeping your humor, following the sphincter rule, being in a comfortable place where you can really just relax and do whatever feels right... all of those can make for an awesome birthing experience. Yes, it might hurt a LOT but some people never feel pain... its all about how you manage it... the pain doesn't have to be something you need to get away from.

Reading Ina May's guide to childbirth helped me a lot. It gave me the confidence that I CAN do this and it gave me lots of ideas on HOW to do it.

In my own birthing experience, I barely even noticed when I was in transition, which was definitely the hardest part (other than the charlie horse I got towards the end while pushing haha but I don't think that happens to everyone.. ) and I had ONE brief thought about epi's... but then I was moving on to another position and figuring out how to follow my body and I forgot all about it. I had more important things to focus on going on in my body than to focus on how an epi might make me numb.

epidurals scare the crap out of me anyway.... I really don't want a needle in my spine.
post #31 of 80
Watched "The Business of Being Born" about two weeks before my due date. Decided I didn't want the Epi. Did NOTHING to prepare. Had a hospital birth with pit. but no epi. I'm a wimp when it comes to pain, but it was all very bearable, and I felt really exhilarated afterwards knowing that I did it without the epidural.
Good luck to you whatever you decide.
post #32 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna View Post
All the research I've seen is pretty clear on this matter. Epidural does bring risks for the baby that they wouldn't have otherwise.
I'm not sure what risks you're referring to specifically but I agree there have been findings of prolonged second stage and somewhat higher risk of instrumental delivery (which may or may not be improved by the common practice of turning down the epidural for the delivery).

As gcgirl said, these are probably related to mom's reduced ability to move and feel what is happening.

However, a common fallacy I see on MDC is that epidurals raise Caesarean rates. The studies I have seen pretty consistently find that caesarean rates do not appear to be elevated by the use of epidural analgesia.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16235275
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18044297
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14695735
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12005470


Another one I see circulating around here is that epidurals adversely affect neonatal alertness. This is also not supported by the available literature (actually one small study found better alertness in the epidural babies):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2718709


On balance I agree that the less intervention you have the easier the labor, delivery, and recovery are likely to be. But I don't agree that there is good evidence for adverse outcomes *for the baby* from an epidural. I think the benefits of skipping the epi mostly accrue to the mom so it really is a personal decision and one that should be made without mama-guilt.
post #33 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcgirl View Post
I don't actually buy the "epi-free is better for baby" argument, EXCEPT that I believe the mother being mobile and free to move during labor can help birth progress and lead to fewer complications. That's better for both mom and baby. There are also times when an epidural is helpful. I personally had no problem avoiding the epi with both hospital births, one with pit and one without, but I had short, uncomplicated labors.

The thing about the labor pain is it's different from injury pain. It feels productive (usually), and while it hurts, it's totally possible to work with your body in a way you really can't with other types of pain. I wouldn't worry about your ability to handle it because it's such a different thing.
The FACT is that an epidural does add risks to the baby. It is not just about mom being mobile. You are introducing a powerful narcotic to a baby via the mom during a stressful time for the baby. Common sense says its dangerous. But more importantly, there are real documented risks.
post #34 of 80
I have a fairly decent tolerance for pain, but I'm no superwoman. When I cramp at AF time, I always load up on Aleve. Why suffer if you don't have to? Still, I wasn't willing to deal with the risks of an epidural -- not to myself or to my baby. I took a hypnobirthing class and found the meditations to be very helpful. I listened to one track for an hour and dilated 4 cm while not feeling much pain at all. Don't get me wrong -- most of it hurt like crazy, but once it was over, it was over. And eating a meal after having a drug-free birth? It's the best thing ever.
post #35 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat899 View Post
The FACT is that an epidural does add risks to the baby. It is not just about mom being mobile. You are introducing a powerful narcotic to a baby via the mom during a stressful time for the baby.
No, you are not. The epidural remains in the mother's epidural space. It does not enter her bloodstream and hence cannot be transmitted to the baby.
post #36 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by treeoflife3 View Post
I'm a fat lazy wimp with absolutely no pain tolorance (AND I bruise when you LOOK at me) and I gave birth epi free.
Me, too!

But I had an epidural with my first, and Stadol with my second. I went on to have a 100% natural labor with my third, and an augmented (but no pain drugs) labor with my fourth.

My drug-free births were BY FAR the better experiences for me, maybe because I'm a control freak. With the epi, I lost control of my body. With the Stadol, I lost control of my mind. With both, all I kept wishing was for everything to be over.

With the last two births, yeah, I still wanted it to be over, but I was able to focus on being PRODUCTIVE and ACTIVE in my labor. It gave me control, and something to do with my time.

Also, with the pain meds, I was constantly thinking about their wearing off. It kept me nervous and distracted (in a bad way.) With the natural labors, I was.... *with* my pain, for lack of better words. I was able to *use* it, and look at it as positive progress and a guide to the end of the road.

Also, I was able to walk to and from the bathroom unassisted, right after delivery. A nice added bonus!

While I've never taken a natural child birth class, the Bradley books helped me A LOT! I can't wait to start flipping though them again!
post #37 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat899 View Post
That is a real problem with our culture. If you go without the epi you "must have a high pain tolerance" or "you must be really strong." These are all lies.

The truth is I am a wimp and I cry when I stub my toe just like most people. The truth is an epi free birth is better for my baby. So I do it med-free. Because I want the best start for MY baby. The truth is a med free birth happens whether you cry and scream through the contractions or whether you mediatate through them. The truth is I bonded to my babies better when I went epi free. The truth is birth is a lifechanging brush with the eternal. You create new life. And these reasons made my decision to never use drugs to numb my chance to touch the eternal again, easy. But the birth, that was still hard.
i am the biggest whimp i know lol i've been almost in tears just brushing my hair, however all my lo's have been born at home without pain relief, actually tell a lie i had 1 puff of gas and air with my 1st and it was awful.
am in shape? yes, round is a shape
post #38 of 80
I worried, too, about not being in shape or strong enough for natural birth. SO not an issue. The trick is PREPARING. And I don't mean working out, although walks and swims and yoga were all good. I did hypnobabies and I was pretty good about doing the CDs for a long time, every day, and practicing during the day when I could, at the end. birth was challenging, it was intense, and it was WONDERFUL. I am way more scared of an epidural than natural childbirth, and let me tell you-- I am LOOKING FORWARD to birth this time around. I read all the good books, Thinking Woman's Guide, LLL's book, Sears, some others Kitzinger I think, Birthing from Within, some Ima May but by then I had it down, it was the same stuff... and I got a supportive team all around me, a supportive place to birth (this time a homebirth unless Dr. Wonderful gets reinstated safely, hopefully somewhere else!), and did some nice birth prep in a class (with our doula) with my hubby, where we could talk and share... and it just carried me right through to a successful birth. I know there can be things like bad positions, but that's why you get a good birth attendant... otherwise natural birth is SO do-able. I could look at the strong feelings of birth as something *I* was doing, my body was doing, and feel very comfortable. I was glad when it was done at the time, but said right away I wanted to have like 5 more kids, so it wasn't THAT bad .

Getting to a place where you really believe birth is normal and no one is going to spring fear upon you is key. That's what slows down labor, and makes it hurt, when you fear and tense up. Epis slow down labor. Then they give you pit and baby goes into distress and you end up with a section. Pretty common pattern these days, sadly. But it doesn't have to be that way and if you want it, you can have a better birth.

You can do it!
post #39 of 80
I'm going to echo what everyone has already said, but...

I had an epi with my first labor (which led to a CS) and a med-free birth with my second. Without the epi I felt SO much more involved in the labor, pushing, etc. Like others have mentioned, I just went into my "zone" and did my thing. By that time, I was so prepared that I just sort of let my body do what it was supposed to do.

I cannot stress enough how helpful "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" was for me. The first half of the book is birth stories and I remember reading it during pregnancy #2 and wishing that I'd had it during pregnancy #1. Not only did it "normalize" natural birth in my mind (by reading successful birth story after successful birth story over and over), but it altered the way I thought about labor (using the word "rush" instead of the word "contraction").

I went in knowing that I didn't want meds, but telling myself that I'd "play it by ear". When the nurse asked whether I'd want meds, I told her that I was going to see how it went and I'd let her know. Then I went through my entire labor looking a few minutes ahead. "I'm not going to ask until at least the top of the hour. I can make it through one more contraction. etc". I think a lot of people say the same thing about dieting.. "I'll allow myself a cupcake...tomorrow."

In the end, everybody acts/labors/births differently and many women won't know how they'll react until it's happening. But if you're prepared and you trust yourself (even if you're scared), you'll be fine.
post #40 of 80
Epidural risks to baby:

* Fetal distress; abnormal fetal heart rate
* Drowsiness at birth; poor sucking reflex
* Poor muscle strength and tone in the first hours.

While in-utero, they may become lethargic and have trouble getting into position for delivery. These medications have been known to cause respiratory depression, and decreased fetal heart rate in newborns.

ETA: These are the reasons I wouldn't get one. But as long as it's an educated choice that's what matters. I don't think it benefits anyone to pretend there are no risks to baby though.
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