Going Epi-Free? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 04:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am 11 weeks and some change, and I've been seriously pondering the reasons for getting an epidural and researching the complications associated with that. I have two conflicting issues:

1. I am terrified of the epidural. My mom had some pretty bad experiences twenty years ago. She said after those experiences, she decided to go natural on the last one because, "it just couldn't be worse than the epidural." (Well, she proclaimed to me that it was, and if she had to do it again she would go ahead with the epi.)
2. I am a wimp. I'm not athletic, wouldn't really consider myself "in shape" (who really is after a month of m/s and fatigue??), and have never really accomplished anything physically hard (had to quit training for a half marathon because of shin splints, ugh!).

As I research I find my heart being pulled toward an intervention-free labor and birth. I am hoping you ladies can help me with your experiences and encouragement as well as any references and resources I can look up. I'm especially interested in reading about whether going without pain meds can shorten labor (or going with them lengthens it?) and prevent other medical interventions. Also, what things did you do in the months leading up to delivery that you felt made your natural birth more "successful"?

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#2 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 10:30 AM
 
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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.

Mama to 8 little ones by birth and adoption. S 14, E 12, G 10, C 9, K 7, N 6, R 5, Ch 3 and baby T 9 months
 

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#3 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 10:46 AM
 
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Are you kidding? Am I in shape? NO. Do I have a high threshhold for pain? Eh, it depends. My husband makes fun of my sound effects all the time. I make noise when my kids pounce on my stomach or spray me with an ice cold garden hose.

Truth is, aside from knowing not getting an epi was better for my baby, I also didnt want to be robbed of the experience of giving birth to my children. I also watched my mother not be able to hold my sister for almost the first WEEK of her life due to complications from her epi. That was AWFUL!!!! I also am not a huge fan of needles in my ARM, let alone my spinal column.

Truth be told, i spent a total of 30 seconds begging for one with my second child, but all that meant was I was in transition, fully dialated, and ready to push. He was in my arms 10 minutes later. It was AMAZING to be able to feel every morsel of that, trust me!
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#4 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 10:58 AM
 
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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.
YES.

Let me tell you an embarrassing story. Years ago, I stepped on a piece of glass. A small one. But there was blood. My husband grabbed some tweezers and was going to pull it out, and I freaked out so much that I nearly threw up. I was shaking and crying, it was insane. He never even touched me. When I got enough courage to address the issue myself, the glass was about the size of a grain of kosher salt. And the bleeding had already stopped.
Lesson? FEAR is worse than pain. My foot never actually hurt, but I was afraid that there was a giant shard of glass in me that would be horrible to pull out. I worked myself up into a terror for no reason, and I anticipated and reacted to pain that was never really there.

Jump to me being pregnant. I also thought I was a "wimp" and that you had to be "strong" to go without meds. But my mother, my mother in law, and my best friend all had med-free births... and some were not that easy.... hmm. And I really did not like the idea of epis, especially after my aunt had one that went wonky...

So, I started to read. I ended up going with a home birth, and it was fantastic. The best book for me in the early stages was "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth". Even if you have a hospital birth, read it! It's excellent. "Birthing From Within" is another good one.

Also, I took a childbirth class that was Bradley-oriented, and it was fantastic as well. Helped us understand each intervention and the benefits and risks. There was also a pain management session where we all experimented with different techniques. We held onto an ice cube and did different things to find out what technique let us hold on the longest. I thought I'd be a "distract me with chit chat" type or person, but when I closed my eyes, and kind of chanted, I was not that uncomfortable.

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.

And this is probably WAY too much TMI, but I thought of labor as a lot like an aggressive poop. I'm sure everyone at some point has one that comes on a little strong that is NOT comfortable. But do you freak out? No, it's only poop. You relax, and it happens. Early labor and transition was pretty much like that for me - I reminded myself not to fight the feeling, and it made the process smoother. Still not exactly comfortable, but nothing horrible.


Mom to two intact boys, born at home. DS1 11/07, DS2 9/10
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#5 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 10:59 AM
 
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I had two babies at home. No meds of any sort. If I'd been in a hospital they both would have been sections. At least with labor the pain is OVER when the baby is out. Surgery pain lasts for weeks.

Epis hugely increase the chance of ending up with a section.

-Angela
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#6 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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I was given pitocin during my labor (without consent) and shortly after begged for the epidural.

The epi did not work and shortly after the baby went into fetal distress (from the pit and the epi?) and I had a c-section.

For my second, I labored the same way (back labor) except we didn't go to the hospital until 9cm. No drugs, vaginal birth.

Do I have a high pain tolerance? Hell no. Am I in shape? Absolutely not.

I'm not going to lie, my births (posterior babies) were painful. But by the time they got painful (transition) It was too late to do anything about it anyway and you are so caught up in the process that you just go with it.
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#7 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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I have never had an epidural ( I figured if other women had been able to do it without for thousands of years before the advent of the epi, I could too), but my best birth yet was with hypnobabies. I highly recommend it

ETA... I should say I was in the worst shape for my hypnobabies birth - hypnobabies kept me in control of the pain. It really was great - I'm still shocked at how well it went.

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#8 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:19 AM
 
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I had a drug free birth. Laboring at home helped a lot, not even being in the hospital setting was an asset for me while laboring. Also in my birth plan I asked not to be offered pain relief, and no one offered at the hospital once we arrived. They were very respectful of my wishes.

I felt great after the birth and was glad I did it that way.

Actually laboring was harder than the birth. At least being at home was a comfort, I would not have wanted to labor at the hospital.
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#9 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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it is so much easier to resist the temptation of an epidural if you know one isn't available.

I had a pitocin-induced hospital labor with my first, and 5 minutes before he was born, I was hollering for the epidural (didn't get one, not enough time).

For my second, I had an all natural (accidently unassisted) homebirth, and 5 minutes before she was born, I hollered (but not for an epidural ).

I am not athletic, in shape, or tolerant of pain.

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#10 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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I had a 10.5 lb baby. No drugs. No tears. Short, intense labor. It was traumatic for me but...it was best for my baby.

My own comfort will NEVER come before my children. It started with the birth of my son and it will continue until the day I die.

ETA: That is a standard I hold to myself, not for anyone else FYI.

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#11 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ExuberantDaffodil View Post
it is so much easier to resist the temptation of an epidural if you know one isn't available.
One of the things that I remember from my first labor (at home) was thinking, in early labor, "This isn't so bad. I wonder why people want epidurals?" Then later, once the contractions got stronger, I remember thinking, "Yeah, I can understand now." Now I don't remember it being painful. Intense, yes, but not painful.

Laura Shanley often asks, what do you believe about labor and birth? Do you believe that it must be painful? Do you believe that a birth with little or no pain is possible? For you? The mind is an incredibly powerful force. If you believe that you can birth your baby without pain medication, you will.
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#12 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:14 PM
 
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I haven't had my med-free birth yet so take what you want from this.
I had a very long labor with DD and eventually decided to get an epi. I regret it so much! I know that everyone's experience will be different but for me it meant that my right leg went completely numb but even worse I couldn't feel to push and ended up with a c/s.
Looking back I know I could have avoided it if I had more support. To me, great labor support is the best pain management. Get a doula if you can! If you can't afford that try to find a well-educated (about natural birth) friend. I was pretty opposed to having a lot of people there but wish that I had just one more person. Even maybe just keeping that extra person "on-call" for if DH needs a break or you just need support from someone else.

Becky- Wife to DH, Mama to "Nani" (July '08) "Coco" (July '10) and expecting one very wiggly baby boy in May 2013!

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#13 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:28 PM
 
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I wanted to add something in, pain relief in child birth isnt an all or nothing situation regarding the epidural. There are other forms of pain relief, everything from I.V meds to local anesthetics to things like hypnobirthing and bradley method.

Im not going to lie. Birthing my kids is the most painful thing I have ever done...over and over again But for me and how I wanted to experience my births I just positively didnt want an epi. That isnt to say that all epidurals are horrible, I've seen otherwise. Epidurals are as good as the person doing them and every person reacts differently to meds. I've seen great epidurals where mothers have been all with it and it ended up being a wonderful experience to what a lot of MDC mamas would consider traumatic.

I do definately suggest that you ask your hcp about pain control options available to you Prior to your birth. Being educated about what is and what they do is a better option than not knowing at all. It also allows you the opportunity to ask questions and decide when your not in the heat of the moment.
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#15 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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More of the same here.

1) Do I have a high tolerance for pain? Well, not when I've stubbed my toe or gotten a papercut or bonked my head on the washing machine door when I'm switching the laundry and didn't see it start to swing shut. Also, you should hear me complain about the arthritis in my knees.

2) Am I athletic? Hon, you actually started training for a half marathon? I am excited when I run a HALF MILE, and I've only done that a handful of times in my life. If my husband grabbed my ankles I would give it my all to do 10 situps and then collapse in a wimpy heap.

That said, I also believe it's not just a case of avoiding the epidural. If I were strapped into a hospital bed with pitocin being dumped into my veins, I would have an epidural. Even though I would be terrified to. I think even the wimpiest of us could have a natural birth, but only if she is in control. When "hospital policy" is in control, that means you are prevented from coping with the pain. My midwife checked me a couple of times in labor, and laying on my back in bed so she could do it was the most excruciating part - I can't imagine having to deal with the whole birth that way. (For what it's worth, if I birthed again I'd decline the checks too).

I didn't have pitocin. It's excruciating.

I had a birthing tub, for me it was wonderful. For another mama, relief might be in a birth ball. Or in walking back and forth. Tying down an animal in labor is the worst thing you can do to her. No wonder women beg for epidural anesthesia. But it's better to make sure you're not tied up!

So, again, I think we can all get through birth - heck, women deal with back labor and so on, all natural, not that it doesn't hurt but you find ways of coping. But standard hospital management removes all your coping mechanisms and leaves you in panic. I think that the choice you are looking into making is about a lot more than the epidural but about your entire approach to your birth - and I think it's one of THE most worthwhile choices you can make in your LIFE.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#16 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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For me, the big issue was avoiding the snowball of interventions. If you get the epidural, you're tethered to the bed, you're more likely to get pitocin, which can cause fetal distress and lead to a C-section, you're more likely to tear or get an epesiotemy because you can't feel your body's own urge to push or control your pushing, and so on.
If you are at all interested in a natural birth, I think the best thing to do is research and learn everything you can about birth. The Business of Being Born is a good place to start. Also, Your Best Birth is a pretty decent introduction. Gentle Birth Choices or Ina May's books are also good.
I just think there is such a crazy huge difference in the way OB-attended hospital births and midwife-attended homebirths are handled. For example, most midwives encourage you to use a birth tub (think a portable hot tub set up in your living room or in the birthing center). Birth tubs are really effective at relieving pain and relaxing you.
I think it is possible to have a natural birth in a hospital, but in many ways you are set up to fail, unless you get super educated and go in with good birth support, like a doula. When women go in with just a vague idea of not wanting drugs, they are not well-equipped to resist the onslaught of interventions. If you truly want a natural birth, your best bet is a midwife.
As far as the pain of a natural birth goes, I found it really manageable. For one thing, it's not like stubbing your toe or breaking your arm, where it's a sudden intense pain. The contractions start out mild and slowly build in intensity, plus you have a long break in between each one. As they get more intense, your body's natural endorphins start to kick in. In an undisturbed natural birth, it's seriously like being on drugs. I've heard it described as "laborland" or "going to Mars." For me, it was this warm, fuzzy, pain free place, and I totally forgot I was having a baby. I was actually surprised when he started crowning, because I was so in the moment. Labor was never what I would call painful. There was discomfort, but it was never unmanageable or overwhelming, and once I started pushing it honestly felt kind of good.
The other thing is, labor is a physical, physiological experience, but it's also an emotional and mental experience. If you are scared, if you feel vulnerable, if you feel unsupported, it will hurt. If you feel calm, if you feel like you're in a safe space, if you feel supported, it will hurt a lot less.
Anyway, it's a big learning curve, but there's a ton of great information out there.
This is also an interesting perspective: http://www.childbirthconnection.org/...ing_vision.pdf

Jen, journalist, policy wonk, and formerly a proud single mama to my sweet little man Cyrus, born at home Dec. 2007 . Now married to my Incredibly Nice Guy and new mama to baby Arthur.
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#17 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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I've had three hospital births and no epidural. I don't love pain. Don't tolerate it well. But for me birth was very different than other types of pain. It was productive. I knew that I was going *through* it to get to a really great "prize" at the end--my baby. I had one labor that hurt like heck but I was able to tolerate it. Now, the only way I could tolerate it was to be bent over at a 90 degree angle. If I'd been required to stay in bed, on my back, I'd have been begging for the epidural. That's why watching those baby shows on TV make me cringe. I want to reach out and help those women get up and into a position that will allow them to tolerate the contractions.

Probably not good to start a massive exercise regimen now, but start walking every day, and doing recommended pregnancy exercises, especially squatting. Even moderate exercise like walking will make a big difference in your overall stamina and health. For many years, walking is pretty much the only form of exercise that's been available to me. I'm fat and definitely not in shape, but my births have all been short, even wit hthe larger babies.
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#18 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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I think that there was an article in Mothering (I don't remember the title, something about a tiger... or something like that, it was sometime in the last year I think, anyone remember?). It addressed all of the issues that you brought up, it was a great article, I think you would find it very encouraging.
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#19 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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Girl, I think you're really selling yourself short! The fact that you even STARTED training for a half marathon tells me you're a lot more athletic & motivated to attack physical pursuits than the average American (bear in mind that the average American doesn't exercise at all.) Based on your sig, you're either an accountant or engineer & most people in those professions have a Bachelor's Degree - obviously that took a lot of hard work, persistence, & perseverance to achieve! I don't think you should view yourself as a wimp. Seriously.

My advice is to read "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer. THAT will show you, without a doubt, that an epidural has risks & complications (chiefly that it slows labor, leading to a need for pitocin to speed it up, which can lead to fetal distress, etc.) The 2 things that concerned me most were that it doubled your risk of CS (which I really wanted to avoid) & quadrupled your risk of insturmental delivery (forceps or vacuum) - the latter increases your risk of bad perineal tears (although the epidural itself ALSO increases your risk of bad perineal tears.)

Personally, I read "Thinking Woman's Guide" and decided that a medicalized birth is not for me! "I'll suck it up & deal with the pain." is what I thought.

I was also emotionally freaked out at the idea of all those tubes in me (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! Reminded me of the movie "The Matrix" with people plugged up. That struck me as way less appealing than learning to cope with the normal, natural process of labor.

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FEAR is worse than pain.

& 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.

Then I started Bradley Training & read "Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth" by the famous midwife Ina May Gaskin. (My library had it!) Then I started thinking, "Ya know, it's probably going to hurt, but I bet it will be manageable, at least 95% of the time, and it's probably going to be an awesome experience." I started looking forward to giving birth and no longer viewing it as something I'd have to grit my teeth & suffer through until it was over.

& ya know what, that's EXACTLY what it was like. Totally manageable, AWESOME experience!

Being a very logical, rational person, this processed worked for me. Based on your career, I'm guessing you're the same way! So I recommend keeping your mind open & just getting educated. I also recommend trying to get some exercise - walking, & some upper body resistance training can be helpful - carrying a baby around gets tiring on the arms! Good luck!!!

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I think that the choice you are looking into making is about a lot more than the epidural but about your entire approach to your birth - and I think it's one of THE most worthwhile choices you can make in your LIFE.
:
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#20 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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Lots of the same as already posted. Here are my birth experiences, FWIW.

I have done childbirth with both the epi and natural. With dd, I read one book about the 'evils of epidurals' and it was so slanted that I thought there was no way it could be that bad. Everyone around me told me not to be a hero, it hurts so just don't feel it, and that I couldn't do it without drugs anyway because I am the 'girly' one in the family. In my experience (and this is just my experience talking), 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. And I had an 'easy' first birth (fast and no pit. The nurses kept telling me they were so surprised that I didn't need it.) And I personally didn't tolerate the epi well (fever, shakes, backache).

With ds, I went to a different practice and worked with a group of midwives. I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and then everything I could get my hands on regarding what my body would most likely be doing during normal birth. The end result was that while childbirth does hurt, I was able to do it. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as my epi birth. I do vaguely remember a part in transition where I said 'this was a bad idea', but within 10 minutes, I was holding baby boy. Go for the natural mama, you CAN do it .

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#21 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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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.

Mama to Xavian, born 11-24-09
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#22 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 01:41 PM
 
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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.

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#23 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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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!!

Wife to Daryl 5/98, Mama to Eve 2/07, Lilie 11/08 and Victoria 10/10 --- Our First Water Homebirth. New blessing, Mathias, arrived 8/12 --- Our Second WaterHomebirth. Waiting to welcome baby #5 in May 2014.

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#24 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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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.

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#25 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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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.

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

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#26 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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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.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#27 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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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!

Mom to two intact boys, born at home. DS1 11/07, DS2 9/10
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#28 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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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
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#29 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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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.

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#30 of 80 Old 05-18-2010, 04:18 PM
 
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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.
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