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Honest question: Why no drugs/pain relief? - Page 2

post #21 of 151
First off, by "no pain relief", I assume you mean pain relief from drugs. I will say that I am not totally opposed to drugs, but I certainly think a woman should do her research ahead of time and be aware of the risks/side effects before just getting an epidural the minute she steps into the hospital. In some cases, drugs can be very useful, but can also cause harm. Pain can be difficult, but it is also a useful tool for a woman in labor. Too much pain usually means something needs to change, such as your position. You need to be able to decide when the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks. A woman also needs to be aware of the alternatives to drugs, such as a doula, labor tubs, hot/cold therapy, etc.

First off, I ended up with an epidural for my first delivery, but only because I couldn't tolerate the high dose of Pitocin after several hours and lost my ability to relax. (I had the Pit because I was "on the clock" after my water had broke the night before.) It came down to a choice between the epidural and a c-section for "failure to progress,", so I chose the epidural after much discussion with my midwife, doula, and husband. The epidural did its job - I took a nap and progressed rapidly after that (waking up and saying "I think I have to push!")

However, having the epidural placed was a total nightmare. It took the anesthesiologist almost an hour because, unbeknownst to me, he was trying to give me a spinal rather than an epidural. With my Pit-induced pain, I had a really hard time staying in position, especially for such a long time. I had some side effects from that epidural, including intermittent back pain that lasted for 6 months. I would rather avoid that side effect again. The only reason I ended up with an epidural for my second delivery was because I was obviously heading for a c/s (Cord around neck, baby refused to descend).

Also, I know way too much about the other possible side effects from the epidural (and the IV fluid they give you ahead of time to try to keep your B/P from dropping) to want to have another epidural unless I have no other option. Another side effect of epidurals include maternal fever, which can lead to lumbar puncture and antibotics for the baby "just to be safe". This is something I wouldn't want to subject my newborn to.

Another reason is that I know its best for the baby. I want to make sure my baby is alert so we can bond and establish breastfeeding ASAP after delivery. All pain drugs, even the epidural, cross the placenta and affect the baby.

Third, I hate needles. I can give shots to other people, I just don't do well when the needle is pointed at me. I may require a saline lock for this delivery since I am a VBAC, but I will take that over having to push a damned IV pole around.

Next, I LOATHE the EFM. I hate being stuck in bed, I hate having to constantly adjust the belts, I hate dragging the cords along to the bathroom (no telemetry here), I hate having that noise in the background. Once you get an epidural, you will have the EFM and all its accompanying annoyances. It really breaks my concentration.

Finally, I hated how long it took for me to recover from my c-section. I was in so much pain and it made it terribly difficult to care for my older child as well as my newborn. I would take a few hours of pain during labor over no pain and ending up with weeks of pain from an avoidable repeat c/s.

Overall, I want to avoid drugs for this birth. This is my last child. I want this birth to go the way I wanted my first two to go. I plan on staying home for most of the labor so I can be somewhere I can relax and feel comfortable. I have a doula for this birth as I did in my first two, and they have wonderful tricks and methods to relieve pain (my last doula did a hip squeeze that was heavenly). Once I do end up at the hospital, I plan on making use of the labor tub and different positions to lessen the pain. I want this birth to be a wonderful, memorable experience.
post #22 of 151
best for baby #1
helps to avoid complications
it made me feel like a warrior
post #23 of 151
Reasons for baby - like others said, why avoid taking pain relief during pregnancy only to drug up at the end. I do think any drug strong enough to numb a 130 pound woman has GOT to be bad for an 8 lb infant.

Reasons for me - the thought of being numb while going through something as physically traumatic for my body as childbirth scares me much more than the pain does. It is pain with a purpose; it is good pain, productive pain. The idea of giving birth while being numb means that if your body is tearing somewhere you won't know it; if the baby is bumping up against something and needs to be turned, you most likely won't realize it; if you are not pushing effectively, you won't be able to feel the muscles that you need to engage in order to push more productively, etc.

Best for both of us - fast recovery time, fully present, no epi headache or other side-effects.

I had all 3 of my babies unmedicated (12 hour labors, all) and I wouldn't change a thing.
post #24 of 151
Dee east
Since you have experienced it all what were the differences you noticed? Did you have a lot more power during your natural birth?

I wanted to have completely unmedicated births because I thought it was better for my babies.

they were both such powerful experiences. I have a good feeling that drugs would have dulled the whole thing.
post #25 of 151
It's a heck of a lot safer for mother and baby to let nature take her course. I'm a safety kind of gal! I wanted to do everything I coud to prevent a c-section and often that means just avoiding that first intervention (which leads to another and another...)

It was uncomfortable and I was tired, but it was never so painful I felt like I couldn't stand it.
EXACTLY! Labor/Birth pain was tolerable because I knew it would be over soon (well, it lasted 17 hrs but I knew it wouldn't last forever!) and my baby would be alert and I would feel good afterward!
post #26 of 151
I don't think all drugs are necessarily bad, but I'm not willing to risk all the other baggage that goes along with a hospital birth in order to get them. I know I would struggle to relax in that environment, no matter how many drugs they pumped into me, and I couldn't stand the even further loss of control at an already vulnerable time. I don't want my baby taken away "for observation." I don't want to be told when I can or can't pee or walk down the hall. I don't want to be told I can't leave the hospital for 48 hours after my baby is born. I don't want to eat hospital food.

I suppose it's a question of what I fear more: the natural pain of childbirth or the "helpful" interventions I'd get from hospital staff.

I also think every pregnant woman should be prepared to have natural childbirth, because the truth is, epis aren't fool-proof.
post #27 of 151
My main reason was that I wanted to avoid having to have a catheter and being stuck in bed, and I had a c-section with my first so I was afraid that having an epidural might increase the chances of another c-section. Anyhow, the thing that made it manageable for me was that between contractions I didn't feel any pain, so during each one I would just think it'll be over soon, I had a doula who would help rub my back, remind me to eat my ice chips (which were remarkably satisfying), and tell me how great I was doing, and at the moment when I thought I couldn't take it any longer, I was ready to push so it was almost over and I figured it was too late for pain meds anyway...

Although with this baby (due in February) I am tempted to get the epidural just to see what it's like, but I don't know....
post #28 of 151
The question really should be, IMO, why would anyone want to interfere with the process? The article Pam posted a link to is one of my favorites I've had both medicated hospital (1) and unmedicated home waterbirths (2). My first homebirth was the most empowering and amazing experience of my life, while my hospital birth was the most disempowering, violating experience of my life (and that is saying a lot). I didn't realize until I gave birth "naturally" all that I had missed out on w/my medicated birth. I think the current birth culture in the US does a complete disservice to womanhood, families and babies and society. Works out great for the medical profession and drug industry though
post #29 of 151
In addition to avoiding drugs for the health of my baby I also did it because it felt good and I enjoyed feeling childbirth. If you prepare yourself ahead of time it isn't very painful. The way mainstream birth is set up in America causes the great majority of the pain. Learn to trust your body and ignore all of that mainstream bit and it really doesn't hurt that badly and the pain you do feel is part of the experience and is normal and good.
post #30 of 151
Epidurals prevent release of endorphins. It doesn't matter for the mom with an epidural because she is numb, but the infant is going through the birth process without the benefit of the mother's endorphins or the epidural. We don't know how that affects them. They may need the natural pain relief provided by the mom's endorphins. I think the mother and infant need to share the experience, so the infant doesn't go through it "alone".
post #31 of 151
Numb---yes. That's exactly how I felt during and after my pit/epidural/stadol/etc birth. Physically and emotionally numbed by the entire process. And this, IMO, placed me and baby at a disadvantage as far the confidence in my ability and power to birth, breastfeed and mother. The attachment process was definitely hindered for me. I was holding him, but felt very disconnected from him which was the opposite of how I felt with my biologically normal births. I still grieve this lost opportunity for me and my oldest.
post #32 of 151
I wanted to add one other one - I one of those gals who LOVES pushing. I would never want any kind of drug that would interfer with or numb that at all.

The only benefit I see to drugs is if I am struggling staying calm and relaxed. My body works best if I do not waste energy reacting to the sensations I'm feeling. I'm also sensitive to drugs - 1/2 a dose of Stadol was more than enough for the last 20 min of transition, and more would have been way too much. Being a very "mental" person, I benefit from mental relief - I've experienced the same relief with motherwort and lobelia at home (we were kicking ourselves that we didn't think to grab the tinctures when we were leaving for the hospital).
post #33 of 151
I was going to say all of these things, but you ladies all beat me to it.

And I am starting to feel nervous about the upcoming birthing, so it was wonderful to read all of this and remind myself of my strength and ability to birth my own baby without 'help'.

Yup, it's going to hurt. It's going to be hard. It's going to be exhausting. But it's my job, it's my power, and it's my responsibility to protect my little one from danger. I consider narcotics dangerous. I am terrified of an epidural. Even if the baby weren't going to get some of the drugs from an epi, I wouldn't get one. I am terrified of them, of letting someone put a needle into my spine!!! NO WAY.

Dural headaches, fever, residual pain, not to mention actual complications (those are side effects, not complications)....NO WAY.
post #34 of 151
Why won't I? My DD was born sunny side up with an interthecal (similar to an epidural....just instant and in a different spot on your back...it also only lasts up to three hours) and you know what?

I was overdosed. I was passed out. I had to be woken up to push my baby out. I had to be woken up to be reminded to breath! I was out for the first three hours of my childs life. I was so out of it I don't remember them taking a thumb print for a stupid certificate they give you. I don't remember seeing my baby for the first time.

I won't do it again because it impaired my ability to simply be with my baby. To experience it all...good and awkward.

Plus I won't take the risk of being overdosed again. She came out floppy. I was passed out. We both had breathing issues. She didn't want to nurse. It sucked.
post #35 of 151
Originally Posted by BetsyS
Thank you to all who have posted with such honest answers...

I am pregnant with #1 right now, scared of labor (and not from lack of information--it's just a big unknown), and have been adamant about WANTING pain meds the entire time I've been pregnant. Of course, now, I'm wavering a little and thinking about natural childbirth.

We'll see what happens, but I appreciate the honesty and non-flaming of this thread.
Betsy, and OP...

Yes, labor is the great unknown. The article that Pamamidwife linked you to is a great one, and the one that I was getting ready to link you to. Labor and birth involve a lot of very sensitive hormones and hormone receptors, and once you start interfering with those hormones and receptors, you're likely to mess with the entire labor.

Narcotics...did you know that it takes about an hour and a half to start wearing off of the mom, but doesn't really even FULLY HIT the baby until the third hour...and can stay in the baby's system for six to eight WEEKS after birth? Their liver isn't ready to process drugs in adult sized doses, and that's what they're given through the placenta. Did you know that they keep a drug called NARCAN on hand in L&D rooms to give "sleepy" babies whose moms have been given narcotics? Did you know that this is the same drug that they give heroin addicts who have overdosed and end up in the emergency room? Did you know that babies who are given narcotics are much more likely (in a statistically significant way) to be addicts as adults? On top of the fact that it can interfere with the breastfeeding relationship, that's why not narcotics, in my book anyway.

Epidural...on top of all the significant hormonal effects (the drugs from the epidural attach to the hormone receptors, having an effect on the labor, on bonding, on breastfeeding) and ALL of the interventions needed/used when an epidural is in place, leading to a much higher incedence of cesarean section, the epidural: a) relaxes abdominal muscles, disallowing the muscles from doing their proper job of helping the baby to move down and turn during labor b)interferes with the neurological transfer of information up and down the spinal cord, so that the uterus doesn't get the proper "contract" messages, and the brain doesn't get the proper "I'm CONTRACTING!" messages, disallowing a properly synchonized contraction of the full muscle/muscle groups. c)keeps mom in bed, immoble, which is not only a comfort issue, it is very much, and very importantly an issue that keeps the baby from moving down and turning in the manner necessary for the proper progression of labor. d)doesn't always work...then mom is STILL confined to bed, and can not use the measures that a woman undergoing unmedicated birth would otherwise INSTINCTALLY use to help alleviate pain and move her baby down the birth canal. She's stuck in bed, in agony, not helping her child birth.

I highly recommend, even at this late date, that you seek out a natural childbirth instructor who is NOT affiliated with a hospital and do a crash course on relaxation and the natural progression of labor.

I also highly HIGHLY recommend that you get a doula. She'll help you use all the stuff you didn't yet have time to learn in that class you're going to take in the next two or three weeks! She also will encourage you to use the shower (worth 50 cc's of demerol without the drugs) and a bath (worth 500cc's of demerol without the drugs), and the birth ball, and relaxation and walking, rocking, and a hundred other ways to work WITH your body to birth this baby that you were MADE to birth.

Also very importantly, the doula will encourage you, support you, and tell you how beautifully your strong and wise body is working to birth your baby. This is paramount to keep yourself focused on "the prize" and heartened to relax and work WITH the contractions all the way to the end.

Generally, by the way, it is almost ALWAYS in transition that a laboring mother feels that she can no longer get through the contractions without help...and in transition, she is really, genuinely, almost done. I highly advise you to ask your support to make sure you're checked both when you ASK for an epidural or narcotics and then when they are about to administer it (in transition things can change very quickly cervically, and you might have made significant change while waiting for the drugs!).

Really, the unknown is the hardest part about waiting for labor. But I always ask my clients to remember that labor is NOT like a period. It is NOT constant pain. There is a minute to a minute and a half of pain, then there is a significant amount of time to rest, relax, and recover until you feel the next contraction. And, with the proper support (emotional as well as physical), you will be MUCH less likely to NEED anything other than that support to get yourself through labor and birth.

At this point, if you can find a Bradley instructor who is willing to take you, I'd go that route. If not, practice yoga all the way through the "corpse pose" relaxation at the end, every day! Twice a day, if you can. Practice whole body relaxation on the birth ball, in the shower, standing and rocking against a counter or bed, in all the ways you can come up with that help a laboring woman to labor comfortably, and that HELP THE BABY TO MAKE THE CARDINAL MOVEMENTS OF LABOR and move down that birth canal.

Lastly, read Henci Goer's book, "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth." All the why not's you can think of are stated very clearly, in an easy to understand, well cited book. It's an easy, quick read, and is EXTREMELY informative.

Good luck. And, good for you for asking WHY NOT. It's a very, very good question to ask...and the possible beginning of an empowering journey.
post #36 of 151
can't have them at home

epidurals carry too much risk for me, narcotics for the baby and I don't want to be mentally away drugged into subconsciousness
post #37 of 151
excellent thread

I also LOOOOVE the Hormonal Blueprint of Labor article.

I think there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between a painmed-free birth because the mom didn't get a chance to get her painmeds, and an intentionally drug-free birth. In the first scenario, the woman is in pain and no one is helping (helping with meds, the way we like to do things in the USA) in contrast to a woman who may have a doula, chosen to labor at home, etc., drug-free.

courtenay_e, I loved when you said this:
It's a very, very good question to ask...and the possible beginning of an empowering journey.
post #38 of 151
Personally, I'm more freaked out by feeling numb or out of my body than I am by feeling pain. Especially pain that has a defined limit and purpose to it. The floaty, dissociated, hovering on the ceiling fan feeling was the worst part of my dental surgeries by far, for instance. The pain afterwards was a lot easier to deal with than that freaky feeling that I had no tongue and they could pretty much do anything in there and I wouldn't have a clue until I looked in the mirror. *shudder*

10x that on the freaky factor if we're talking about...below the belt.
post #39 of 151
ds1 epidural and pit, ds2 natural. ds2's birth was awesome!!!!!!!!! ds1 was great, once the epi wore off, but doing it natural was awesome. i just got up and peed and showered and played with him. after ds1, i was supertired and couldn't move for awhile. the high of natural birth cannot be duplicated. it was totally awesome. (nak)
post #40 of 151
For me the issue is that in the past I have hexperienced dramaticly bad failures with "pain-killers" (I put the word "pain-killers" in quotes because a bad reaction to percodan was actually one of the most painful experiences I have ever had).

The very orst was one time when I was given drugs for dental surgery and I could feel everything but I was paralyzed. Talk about a nightmare! Other "pain-killers" make me nauseated or give me a terrible headache. As near as I can tell, the only one that even sort of works is Ibuprofin.

So when I had a baby I didn't even consider "pain-killers" because quite simply I didn't trust them to work, and I didn't want to deal with any added complications of "pain-killers" in failure mode.

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