Going Epi-Free? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 80 Old 05-20-2010, 08:11 PM
 
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I had an epidural free birth because I had a homebirth, but I had a homebirth because I decided I wanted a natural labor and delivery, and wasn't sure I would get one in a hospital setting.

I do feel you can have an epidural and have a fine, healthy baby. So for the record, I think the choice to have or not have an epidural should be totally up to the mom. And I konw several friends that have had totally natural, drug free hospital births, so I also beleive that is a possiblity.

Here are the reasons I choose to avoid drugs during my labor:
-- I sometimes have weird reactions to drugs. I'm like the poster child for strange side effects. Some medications for pain don't work for me at all, others make help with pain, but also make me sick, dizzy, or give me rebound pain (headaches or other pain that occurs when the drug wears off). I didn't think labor was a good time to be experimenting with pain management techniques I have never tried before.
-- I hate pain. I don't want to feel it, experience it, or embrace it. I would prefer to avoid it entirely. However, I also am very aware of my body and know that it sends pain as a message. Some pain during childbirth is a signal. I worried that by damping out the signals, I could injure myself during childbirth. In particular, I worried about tearing during the pushing stage. I wanted to know how hard to push to streach and not tear, and I worried an epi would prevent my body from giving me that feedback.
-- When in pain, I don't sit still. I rock, roll around, moan, and pace. The idea of holding very still while somebody stuck a needle in my spine because I was in pain...just didn't compute well. If I was going to get an epi, I'd need it put in before the pain got bad. And if I did that, how would I ever know if the pain of labor was unbearable? If I never experienced it, how would I know I couldn't handle it?

As I said, I had an unmedicated birth. And here's what I say to those considering it.
-- The pain is not unbearable. The pain is bad, yes. There were about 20 minutes when I was very, very unhappy. (transition) I was like a movie...screaming, crying, moaning and miserable. But it is like very bad menstrual cramps combined with severe constipation. It is not like dislocating your shoulder or breaking a bone. The pain is managable, purposeful, and transient. For everything but that 20 minutes, the pain was no worse than other pain I've experienced at other times in my life. Very similar to the strong menstrual cramps I take medicine for, or painful gas cramps that I've had from time to time.
-- I was very happy to have 100% of my feeling during the pushing stage. It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life feeling DD moving down the birth canal, and being able to judge how much to push based on how much streach I was feeling. Pushing was NOT painful, although I did have one small tear right when her head came out and that is the only time during the entire labor I said "OW!"
-- Afterward, I was whipped, but also had a slight natural high like you get when you run that extra 5 mintues when you think you can't, or when you summit a mountian, or when you finally complete a job that you've been putting off for a long time. I was proud of myself (and still am).

Overall, I'm very pleased with my natural birth. I took a Bradley class and strongly reccomend it. It is very nice to be in a community of people who are all planning a natural birth, and supported by people who think like you do.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

CD'ing, homebirthing, milk making school teacher. Supporting my family on my income and trying to get out of debt in 2013!
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#62 of 80 Old 05-24-2010, 06:17 AM
 
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I am planning a homebirth and I have found this thread to be very enlighting and inspiring! Thank you for everyone posting their personal stories.
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#63 of 80 Old 05-25-2010, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I had no idea what kind of response I would get when I posted the original question, and I've been overwhelmed by the insightful, inspiring stories everyone has shared. I've appreciated the arguments from both sides, and definitely got a lot of information (which I'm still poring over). It didn't take long before I was convinced that a natural birth was the right choice for me. I feel so encouraged! I told DH, and now it will take some convincing so that he feels like he can do it!

Thank you all who have already posted and who have yet to post! This is really good, encouraging information!

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#64 of 80 Old 05-26-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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. It didn't take long before I was convinced that a natural birth was the right choice for me. I feel so encouraged! I told DH, and now it will take some convincing so that he feels like he can do it!
I know what you mean! For me, I was all in the moment, but my poor DH. There was a few minutes during labor when I was in quite a state. DH wanted to go downstairs and unlock the door so the MW could get in. I kept screaming at him "Don't you dare leave me! Don't leave me!" He kept saying "Honey, the MW has to get in the door. It will only take a sec. I'll be right back, promise. I'll run!" And I, in my totally irrational state, was like "Heck no, she can break in a window. If you leave, I'll kill you!" He did, of course, go open the door. When he got back I think I yelled at him "You left! Why aren't you helping me! Help me!" Transition is rough on those poor partners.

Funny in retrospect. Good thing I have a calm and collected DH. I think the Bradley classes really helped prepare him for the reality of birth. If you don't do a class, maybe just the book would help. My DH really appreciated have the job of "coach" for my labor, as it gave him a clear job to do and made him feel like he was helping with the birth.

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#65 of 80 Old 05-26-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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Here is what sealed it for me, even if you get an epidural, they do not always work effectively (not at all, numbing only one side, partial pain relief, etc.). Further more, sometimes there is not enough time to get one with a fast labor (like mine) and you can't always get one as soon as you might want with a longer labor. So either way, you definitely want to prepare yourself with techniques to deal with the pain/intensity and not rely on just being able to have the epidural. And if you are preparing to deal with birth without pain meds anyway, why not go for it? You will have a faster recovery as will your baby. I personally am one who is ok with pain meds during birth, but with my preparation I didn't need/want them and there wasn't time for me anyway

ETA: With regards to your DH, everyone has a different experience and DH dutifully went to the birthing class with me to learn different ways to help me, but when I was in labor I didn't want to be touched AT ALL during contractions. Anything that distracted me (talking, blanket on me, etc.) was extremely annoying, so my DH wasn't able to do much for me except be there in the room which was comforting to me and he helped answer their long list of questions in the hospital since I was answering them in transition with my fast labor!

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#66 of 80 Old 06-01-2010, 06:07 PM
 
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I was totally terrified of childbirth and planned to get as strong an epidural as I could, as soon as I could possibly get it. Then I did some research into epidurals and found out about many of the potential down-sides mentioned here. I decided to use an epidural only if absolutely necessary, instead of considering it to be my one-and-only tool for a more comfortable birth. Seemed reasonable to me!

It turned out that my first birth involved 16 hours of intense back-labor before I reached the point when my hospital would have allowed me to request an epidural. I have no idea how I could have gotten through that without preparation and natural childbirth skills! Luckily, I had discovered the use of hypnosis for birth and learned skills to remain calm and comfortable, despite the back labor and longish labor. I highly recommend learning Hypnobabies, since it made the pregnancy easier and more comfortable (lots of luscious sleep the whole way through is a beautiful thing) and led to very comfortable births. So comfortable, in fact, that I never even considered pain meds except to think, "Wow, that is powerful! I can completely understand how an unprepared person would panic and think she needed help getting through it." I've now had 3 unmedicated births, and really found that I enjoyed them. They weren't something to get through, or withstand, they were challenging and fun and amazing and showed me just how strong and powerful my mind and body and relationships were. I'm so glad that fear prompted me to look into all my options instead of just assuming that getting an epidural was the only viable option for birth!
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#67 of 80 Old 06-02-2010, 05:01 AM
 
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I was totally terrified of childbirth and planned to get as strong an epidural as I could, as soon as I could possibly get it. Then I did some research into epidurals and found out about many of the potential down-sides mentioned here. I decided to use an epidural only if absolutely necessary, instead of considering it to be my one-and-only tool for a more comfortable birth. Seemed reasonable to me!

It turned out that my first birth involved 16 hours of intense back-labor before I reached the point when my hospital would have allowed me to request an epidural. I have no idea how I could have gotten through that without preparation and natural childbirth skills! Luckily, I had discovered the use of hypnosis for birth and learned skills to remain calm and comfortable, despite the back labor and longish labor. I highly recommend learning Hypnobabies, since it made the pregnancy easier and more comfortable (lots of luscious sleep the whole way through is a beautiful thing) and led to very comfortable births. So comfortable, in fact, that I never even considered pain meds except to think, "Wow, that is powerful! I can completely understand how an unprepared person would panic and think she needed help getting through it." I've now had 3 unmedicated births, and really found that I enjoyed them. They weren't something to get through, or withstand, they were challenging and fun and amazing and showed me just how strong and powerful my mind and body and relationships were. I'm so glad that fear prompted me to look into all my options instead of just assuming that getting an epidural was the only viable option for birth!
That is so awesome! I was thinking your story was gonna end in you getting an epi..Wow! 16hrs of labor AND in a hospital?! Good for you!!

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#68 of 80 Old 06-02-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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That is so awesome! I was thinking your story was gonna end in you getting an epi..Wow! 16hrs of labor AND in a hospital?! Good for you!!
Thank you! Actually, the birth was around 24+ hours long. The 16 hours refers to how long I was dealing with intense back labor before I even reached 4 cm! That is when I would have been permitted to request an epidural, if I wanted (or needed) one. I always mention that to women who are planning to get an epidural and not developing any additional skills. Most of them think they can walk in and say, "I had a contraction, bring on the epidural!", but that isn't always true. I have no doubt that if I hadn't used hypnosis to prepare for my birth I would have wound up with a "mercy c-section" just for being stalled for so long while having such an intense labor without the option of an epidural. Having an amazing OB who was willing and able to sit on her hands and do nothing as long as baby and I were fine was the other piece of the puzzle that kept me from having surgery that day! I still consider her a friend to this day, and wish we could clone her and send her out to every L&D!
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#69 of 80 Old 06-02-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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You absolutely can do it! My little guy was born a month ago yesterday, so the whole labor process is still pretty fresh in my mind, and I promise that if you have the right preparation and support, you can labor without pain meds.

As many people have said, a lot of it is how you mentally approach birth. I did the hypnobabies home study course which really pushes the fact that birth can be comfortable. My baby was poorly positioned (fully posterior and we believe slightly acynclitic) so I had pretty intense back labor for much of the time. I'm not going to say that my labor was an ideal, painless, hypnobirth because it wasn't, and after experiencing the back labor, I'm not sure that it's possible for that type of labor to be painless, but after he moved down past the most painful part in my back, the labor was really fairly comfortable if I allowed myself to listen to my body. I made it though my intense back labor by using the relaxation techniques I learned, having wonderful birth support to give me counter pressure, and by moving around to different positions as my body told me to.

The affirmations I repeated to myself were: "It can't be stronger than me because it is me" (which I read somewhere here, and it really helped me during the hard ones) and "I can do anything for a minute."

I ended up transferring to the hospital after about 35 hours of labor and 5ish hours of pushing. He just wasn't moving down, and after two more hours of pushing at the hospital, I consented to a c-section. The point of me telling you this last part is that, once the c section was planned, I obviously got an epidural. After about 15 minutes, I felt absolutely nothing. I'm sure they gave me a pretty strong one since I was already going for the section, but after experiencing labor and pushing without the epidural, I just can't imagine trying to push a baby out without being able to feel the contractions and urge to push. It was very surreal to be laying there and having someone tell you you're having a contraction and not be able to feel it. Even though I was exhausted from 37 hours of labor, I honestly didn't like it at all! It felt like I didn't know my body anymore.

The moral of the story is that, even if I knew I would end up with crazy long back labor again, I would still pick it over the epidural. I like to feel in tune with my body. The second moral is to do everything you can to have a well positioned baby.
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#70 of 80 Old 06-02-2010, 07:54 PM
 
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You've already gotten so much great information here. I just thought I'd chime in as another mom whose had 2 unmedicated hospital births. The first was fairly long (20 hrs total... we were at the hospital about 15 hrs) and the second was only 3 hrs. These were in very different parts of the country- one was a large city teaching hospital and the other was a tiny local rural hospital. In both cases, I found that the staff was quite wiling to listen and respect my choices once they realized we were really well-educated about our decisions. Dh was nervous the first time but he trusted my research completely. He brought a little notebook with his notes and had made a kind of flow-chart for different possible scenarios to help him advocate for me with the staff. We didn't need most of it but it made him feel better! And I was more confident knowing that he could help me verbalize my thoughts and questions.
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#71 of 80 Old 06-04-2010, 04:53 AM
 
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By the time I had the baby, I was ready. I was prepared. I was NOT afraid of the pain.... and thus it did not really "hurt". It's not that there was no pain... but the sensations were never scary, never a "make it stop!" feeling.
This is SO true!
I read an article a few days ago, about the difference between feeling pain and suffering.
And while there was plenty of pain at my homebirth, I never really suffered. I never really had that "I can't handle this, some one should make it stop" feeling. I knew that the pain was there for a reason and I knew that it would stop eventually. So.. it hurt. It really hurt. But I wasn't suffering, because while I didn't exactly like the pain I knew why it hurt and on some level I wanted the pain to be strong, because that meant that things were moving along and I would be a mamma in just a few, short hours
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#72 of 80 Old 06-04-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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I've birthed 5 babies without an epidural. Besides a dose of Staidol with #1, they've been drug free births.

I would never in a zillion years consider getting one because the thought of someone coming towards my spinal column with a big scary needle is straight out of my worst nightmares! eek!

I think labor hurts like getting run over by a train, but geez! I think women that go for big ol' needles in their spines are freakishly brave!!

The only person I know personally who has had an epidural, got an intense headache from it that lasted 2 weeks. She said she couldn't even bend her head during those 1st wonderful weeks of bonding, to see her baby nursing.

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#73 of 80 Old 06-04-2010, 03:11 PM
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I had two epedural free births
In fact, no drugs. One at a birthing center and one at home.

My preparations for my first birth wer minimal, just a class about what happens to the body, and metods for coping. I got through it just find, although it would have gone much better if I had done more reading.

My preps for my second birth include watching Orgasmic Birth --- GREAT video, and reading Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth --- I didn't feel ready to give birth until I read this book. It is amazing.

I also set up my favorite music to play, had birthing ball to use, and set up a hanging rope that I could pull on it I needed help pushing (I didn't).

Next time I really want to have a birthing pool. I used a huge tub at the birthing center for my first birth and it was great.
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#74 of 80 Old 06-05-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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Hi,

I had an epidural after 30 hours of unproductive but incredibly painful labor. I did HypnoBabies, had a wonderful Doula and a very supportive husband and I was totally commited to no epi. After I got the epi I rested and dilated completely in 5 hours. I was able to push in different positions. I had an explosion of love and well being when I birthed my son and he was placed on my chest. We bonded instantly and breastfed right away. I had no complications at all from the epi. My son is perfectly healthy and happy. There is another side. It is possible to have a beautiful birth and an epi.

I have boys! My first baby boy was born 10/08 and my second baby boy was born 7/12

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#75 of 80 Old 06-06-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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I have given birth 5 times. The first 4 times were all natural...3 in the hospital and 1 at home, UC. The 5th I had an epi ... I felt like I needed it and I am glad I did, ...it all worked out for the best. I am hoping for an epi free homebirth this time but I am open to how the birth unfolds. I have really enjoyed this thread.

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#76 of 80 Old 06-06-2010, 12:59 AM
 
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I have heard to many stories of woman getting an epi then the baby going into distress requiring emergency section for me to even consider doing an epi.

 
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#77 of 80 Old 06-06-2010, 09:23 PM
 
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I had a med-free vaginal birth. I have a decent pain tolerance, but was not in shape (gained 85 pounds with my pregnancy!!) My DD was 10 lbs 11 oz and I had back labor, and although it was painful, it was the most alive moment of my life. I highly recommend it to any one who will listen for more than 5 minutes Originally I chose this for my baby. In the end, it was wonderful for me! My DH and I went through 12 weeks of Bradley method classes, and although I did not use a lot of their "calming" techniques or practice the exercises, it was really helpful for knowledge and a feeling of confidence, especially for the confidence. I understood ALOT about what was going on with my labor, was able to make informed decisions and believed that I was strong enough to do it. I also recommend using a tub if one is available. This helped alot and I spent most of my labor in it off and on. For me it isn't a question of being able to "cope" with the pain, because you can-people can endure alot-its a question of being wholly present and accepting of the experience. If you focus on the pain that is the entirety of your experience, if you focus on the intensity and awesomeness of it that will be your experience.
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#78 of 80 Old 06-07-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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And I totally agree with some PPs who have said that an epidural is a lot scarier than the prospect of a natural birth! A needle...in my SPINE?!? Eek
That is precisely why my first birth was unmedicated. I was 16, had only taken the hospital childbirth classes, but I knew I didn't want anyone putting any needles anywhere when I was in labor.

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#79 of 80 Old 06-09-2010, 04:23 AM
 
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There's been a lot of good advice here! I agree with the books recommended! Goer's book is great for this (and something to read snippets of to your dh).

I've had two natural, med-free births. Dh was hesitant and worried with #1 - let's face it, *I* was a little worried too, that my family/friends who'd had NCBs were minimizing what it was like so as not to scare me.

I think it's really important to help your dh break through the stereotypes about what labor is supposed to be like, and help him understand why you don't want an epidural. A spouse who is scared and/or unsupportive, is going to make your job more difficult. Business of Being Born would be *great* to watch together! Share articles, etc. that you're reading, too. My dh was nervous and little uncomfortable with his role (and it's hard to know what that role will BE 'til you're in labor anyway). I told him that even if I asked for pain meds, he was to tell me, "No!" I think we set up a code word in case I was really serious? I don't recall now.

Having a supportive HCP is also important. Not an HCP who supports natural birth [but only for mothers who are laboring faster than expected, several days ahead of their due dates]. Someone who understands that birth will be a different process with each mother. Goer's book would give you good ideas of questions to ask your current OB/MW to help you recognize whether you're with someone you can work with; and if you decide to look for a new HCP, Goer's book should give you good questions to ask them, too. It's important to ask open-ended questions, not "yes/no" questions. The way they answer the question tells you a lot!

Look at the side effects of epidurals. They're so common that people don't think about them (epidurals) - but I know several women who've had 'bad' epidurals, or long-term side effects. One friend got an epidural, but at transition, it wore off (but only on ONE SIDE). This has convinced her that natural child birth is horrendous - but imagine feeling no pain, and then suddenly it crashes in on you all at once rather than gradually working into it?! I've another friend whose dh was so worried about her being in pain, that even though she'd had a previous NCB, she gave in and got an epidural -- she ended up with migraines and trouble walking (scared to hold her baby for the first two weeks after birth). Lots of stories about women with chronic back pain after their epidurals ....

It's worth avoiding them. If you have relatives who've labored naturally, ask how long their labors were -- it doesn't work for all families, but in my family at least we all labor FAST (all have natural births) - my mom, aunt, cousin, and all my sisters have had fast labors. I hit a point in both my labors (transition) where I found myself thinking, "Wow, I can see why some women want pain meds." That was exactly when it was time to push.

Expect it to be intense, but manageable. When you start feeling more pain, then consciously relax your body. I think that society makes birth look so scary, that many women scare themselves into tenseness and a more painful birth. You can do this! And the rush afterwards, is amazing.

One last thought - a few years ago I was sick with the stomach flu - I was sitting there feeling miserable, and had an epiphany about how to describe labor - it was pretty much like I was feeling right then (contractions were) BUT you know roughly when it's going to end - it progresses, it's manageable - whereas stomach flu can last for DAYS and you get nothing out of it; labor is usually much shorter, and you have a BABY when you're done. *note- not nausea, just the cramping feeling

If you're worried about being fit, walk more. I walked to and from work while pregnant with #1. You don't need to be a marathon runner to give birth!

Not all who wander are lost.
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#80 of 80 Old 06-12-2010, 02:35 AM
 
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I havent read all the other replies yet, and I will, but I have my own experiences to throw in too. :-) I was scared of natural labor with my first because I didnt really feel like I knew my body well enough to take the pain. AKA I thought I couldnt handle it. So I had an eipdural and a 22 hour labor.
Preg #2, I had read and read and thought and thought about how I could overcome my fear, but you know what, mother nature blessed me that time with a labor that started in the middle of the night, and then by the time the contractions got serious, and we loaded up to go the the hospital, I was in transition and we made it to the hospital with only 30 mins until he was born. It was great. I had a four hour labor and was up immediately afterwards.
You CAN do it.

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