While I was pregnant, I announced to any and everyone who would listen that I would not for any reason
consider having an epidural in labor. I was convinced that I would never get an epidural, I was horrified at the idea of people actually electing
for them. I was so upset by women in my (hospital-based) childbirth class who were making plans to bring video games to the hospital with them so they could play away the hours of (presumably drugged) labor. I was like, "you are going through one of the most intense and sacred transitions of your life, and you're going to play video games through it?" For me, the epidural represented all of our culture's most appalling techniques for avoiding encounter with the transcendent, the liminal and the transformative.
I had an epidural in labor.
Birth (and parenting too!) serves up a hefty slice of humble pie to us all.
Originally Posted by dogretro
Between pushes I was literally crying and begging my baby to please just come out already.
Me too! I kept saying, "let go, let go, let go," and the MW started getting concerned and asking all sorts of questions about my emotional state and was there something I needed to talk about. I just looked at her blankly for a minute until I realized why she was asking, and then I laughed out loud and said, "oh, I wasn't telling myself
to let go, I was telling the baby
to let go and come out already!"
Really, though, the pain of labor was never so bad that I felt I really couldn't handle it. It was the intense work
of labor that finally overwhelmed me -- my body couldn't sustain it. I was in transition for a LONG time (about 10 hours), and I was vomiting a LOT, so I started to get dehydrated, which started to affect my energy levels too.
Originally Posted by cristeen
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. ...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.
5 days! You're the first person I've "met" who had a longer labor than me!!!
I was in labor for three days, and ended up transferring for exhaustion. I'm sure that if I had planned a hospital birth, they would have interfered to 'hurry things up' long before I decided I needed intervention. When I got there, I told the doctor, "I just need an epidural and some rest." He said, "you're dilated too far for an epidural," and I said, "trust me, this is still going to take many more hours." Thank heaven he trusted my judgment on that! (It took 5 more hours before I was ready to push, and 4 more hours of pushing.) I am convinced that the epidural is what made it possible for me to rest, let my body relax and finish dilation, let the baby slowly move into the position she needed in order to be born. It slowed the whole process down, which is what I needed in order to have the strength to push her out.
All of that is to say -- in my case, I truly believe that the epidural was a reasonable intervention that made it possible for me to have a vaginal birth. If I had gone on with my endless transition without IV fluids or sleep for another 5 hours, I (or the baby) very likely would have crashed from exhaustion and dehydration and ended up with an emergency C-section.
However, everything that MegBoz says about epidurals is true:
Originally Posted by MegBoz
...not just the epidural catheter in my spine, but the resulting necessary blood pressure cuff around my arm, fetal monitor continuously around my belly, IV in my hand, and potential need for catheter in my urethrea to empty my bladder. EWWWWW! ... I was personally way more scared of being out of control of my own body, controlled by doctors & machines, & the whole medicalized experience, than I was of the natural pain of birth.
Me too!!! But in the end, because I was so aware of all of these "extra" things that came with the epi, none of them were actually too bad. Well, the catheter was gross. But besides some lingering back pain at the catheter site for several months, I had no other ill effects from any of these things. Thank heaven. Because I was prepared for it when I requested the epi, I didn't feel at all disempowered by all the medical stuff. (I did have some very sharp words with the resident who tried to put an internal fetal monitor into my baby's scalp without even asking me
... and after that, they were careful not to do anything without getting my consent.) And since I was already so exhausted when I got to the hospital, I didn't even mind that I couldn't get up and walk around after the epi -- because I was too tired to feel that I could
Originally Posted by listipton
I was not let in on the 'secret' about the epi.....If it's done 'right' you still 'feel' the end, just not the contractions. Instead of being able to work with your body, you're stuck in bed with your legs being pulled up, directed pushing and nurses and docs yelling at you because while you can feel the end result (and yes, it hurts), you can't feel WHEN to do the things they're telling you to do.
Yup. All of this is true. I hated it all. And the epi certainly slowed down my pushing stage because it interfered with effective pushing. But I don't think I could have done anything differently; even my HB MW thought the only way I was going to get baby under the pelvic bone was by pushing flat on my back. I tried some other pushing positions after they dialed down the epi, and none of them felt right to me -- the one that worked best with my body and my baby actually seems to have been this one. Of course, if I'd been at home and undeterred by cords and lines and tubes everywhere, I might have tried some other positions and found one that worked better, but as it was, this did eventually
work. Thank heaven for my supportive, hands-off OB, who waited quietly through 4 hours of pushing while I worked to get the baby out. And, he never once gave me a hard time about "giving in" to the epidural -- he and I both knew that I wouldn't have asked for it if it weren't really necessary for me.
So my advice is this: plan not
to get an epi, because you absolutely can
do it -- labor pain is absolutely manageable without it. But don't make grand pronouncements about how you'd never get one, either, because you might just end up eating some good healthy servings of crow later.