I was wondering if anyone was NOT able to do natural childbirth (i.e. unmedicated)?
On another thread everyone was saying how unmedicated birth is not that difficult and that it's "totally possible" etc. and no one seemed to think it was difficult or NOT possible in some cases... I felt like a crazy person reading all those stories because my experience was so vastly different...
I had a long & complicated birth & my reasons for getting an epidural weren't just for pain relief but still, I cannot imagine dealing with the pain I was in for all that time unmedicated. I know there were a lot of factors that may have made it harder for me & I would definitely do things differently next time around but I'm just not convinced an unmedicated birth will ever be in the cards for me. And I should emphasize that I had NO intention of getting the epi, I didn't even bother learning anything about it & focused instead on natural pain-relief techniques but, yup, ended up getting meds. And yup, I hated it. And yup, I felt horrible shame/guilt over needing the epi & even 1.5 years later it still bothers me. And I wonder if DS's birth was just unusually hard on me (it took me longer to recover than it did my friends who had c/s!!) or what...
Am I the only one??? Am I just a weak wimp or something????
I was induced with my first child, tried to go natural, but, yeah right. Those pitocin contractions hurt. I got the epi, and was in heaven. Afterwards felt like I "failed", especially since I endedup with a cesarean.
Second child, had a homebirth. OH MY GOD. I wanted to go to the hopsital for an epidural so bad. I wanted a cesarean. It hurt worse than anything I ever imagined. I remember being angry at anyone who ever told me birth didn't hurt or was "orgasmic". I wanted to know what they were sniffing.
I was screaming at one point when DD was crowning. I lost my voice for a few days. After the birth I was in shock from the pain. I never felt in control of the contractions, or "on top of them".
Next time, it will be back to the hospital, and BRING ON THAT EPIDURAL.
I think birth just hurts. Some deal with the pain better, some have easier labors, some harder. Some even lie about it. I think there is a lot of competition (both consciously and subconsciously) in the NCB crowd with who can go natural. I think it's sad too. Many women in other areas of the world who aren't too furtunate worry if they and/or their baby will live through the birth, but here in countries like the USA, we have the privledge of fretting over the "failure" of getting pain relief or not. It's a waste of time. Believe me.
So no, you aren't alone.
Needing an epidural isn't a moral failing, or a character flaw. All it means is that in that particular birth, your body needed pain relief out of compassion and respect for your limits. Can you go on and have a subsequent unmedicated birth? Probably, but so much depends on the situation that you find yourself in and what the prudential call is in that moment.
Don't be hard on yourself! You're not a wimp.
Right after the epi, DD went into distress. Whether this was caused by the epi, I don't know. I ended up with an amnio infusion because she was resting on her cord. If I hadn't been connected to the monitor they may not have found it.
I used to feel a little bad about it, especially because DD was born hypoglycemic and was in the ICU for two days. But she was OK and I don't worry much about it now.
I don't plan to have more children, but if I did, I would try hypno again but use a friend for my coach so DH didn't have to deal with it. (He almost passed out during the epi.) And I would hire a birth doula to help out as well.
But as it was, I just didn't have the support I thought I would so we decided to do the epi. The most annoying part was that it had worn off by the time I needed to push (2-1/2 hours of pushing). They kept telling me when to push even though I told them I could feel the contractions. I felt everything, including the tear. They didn't believe me until the doctor went to sew up the tear and I screamed. Well, duh! So in a way, I guess I had both natural (for the pain at least) and medicated (with the complications).
In any case, I still have an amazing DD.
It was so painful for her that I think she ended up suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Yes, she "did it"... she had an unmedicated birth. But she's never had another child like she had said she wanted to. I've always wondered if her intense suffering during labor had anything to do with that.
Sometimes we do everything "right" and that helps us through long, challenging labors but then we reach a point where our efforts just wear out. I believe that in those cases having some medication can be a humane response to suffering.
I wish my friend had had an epidural to help her through her first labor. Maybe if she birthed her baby with less suffering she would have known that not every labor has to be an ordeal. Maybe then she would have gone on to have more children... unmedicated, even. Those first births can be amongst the toughest.
I'm currently pregnant with my second and reflecting on my last birth. I was in labor for 24 hours before I decided to get the epidural. That was the only time I cried my whole labor because I felt like a failure. My mom had 6 unmediated births, my MIL had 6 (3 at home) and my SILs had had 3 at home by then. I felt like the only one who couldn't hack it. One SIL implied that I should have done it at home so it wouldn't have been an option to get an epidural. But it wasn't covered by insurance and it wasn't a financial option at that point. I sometimes wonder if I should have labored at home longer, or accepted pitocin earlier (he was sunny side up and his head wasn't dilating my cervix effectively- either that or just being in a hospital freaked me out). I just have to believe I made the best decisions I knew how at the time and not beat myself up. I "caved" when they put me on pitocin. I didn't want to know what pitocin contractions felt like. I wonder if I could have handled them. The one nice thing was I was able to rest. I feel like if I hadn't been able to rest, I wouldn't have had the energy to push and would have ended up with forceps or vacuum or c/s. I learned so much about myself through that experience that I think I'll know how to better prepare. I know this time that I'd rather labor alone for a long time rather than having a million people around me. I felt like I was a pot of water and everyone was waiting for me to boil. You know what they say about a watched pot! I'm 6 weeks along and I've already read 6 or so books about childbirth preparation- hopefully I can afford a hypnobabies class too. This time I'll know how to cope better, hopefully I'll be at home, and hopefully I'll have better support (I expected my husband to be more "coachy" and he's not the coachy type). Whatever the case, don't beat yourself up, it's not worth it!
Of course most women at MDC are aware that epidurals increase the chance of other intervention, and there are side effects to every medication. But I think there is a huge difference between making an informed choice when you're to the point of exhaustion, overwhelmed by anxiety or pain, or have other circumstances that lead you to opt for medication, and just automatically reaching for the drugs.
I will go as far as to say that I think it's unfair to exclusively call unmedicated vaginal birth "natural"--as if having pain relief makes your experience somehow alien or "unnatural." There's nothing neutral about those terms, and they definitely make moms who have chosen pharmaceutical pain relief or truly needed a c-section feel like less than. I much prefer the terms medicated and unmedicated, vaginal or c-section, since they convey the information more accurately and without judgment.
1. you have your own, unique neurology--how your nervous system and whole body reacts to stimuli is unique. pain stimuli is one kind of stimuli--and for some people, their bodies have very strong reactions to it. as in, even the tiniest amount of pain (needle prick, for example) can be excruciating whereas with someone else, it would not have any pain response at all. *your neurology is unique.*
of course, one can get tested to see where they fall on the bell curve here, but it's really only necessary for people on the extreme ends so that they can get proper treatment. you are likely on the bell, but may be closer to the extreme pain (as opposed to extreme no-pain) side of things.
some people will call this a threshold-of-pain tolerance.
2. hormonal stress response to neurological process--
we hve stress hormones. stress hormones are amazing! *amazing* and also, to me at least, mysterious. this is where we head between the organic/body state and the mind state (though admittedly, the 'energy' of the nervous system is also in that in between space).
so, we have a stimuli, the nervous system picks it up. then there is a hormonal response. amazing! adrenaline, cortisol--the primary stress hormones. some of us will have a normal neurological response, but an unusually high or low hormonal response.
which means, then, that the pin prick response is normal in the nervous system, but that the adrenal glands go "oh, yeah, THIS much cortisol is necessary!" and so then there is this whole-body experience of "HOLY CRAP STRESS!!!!!" which is in it's way, rather inexplicable. it just happens.
3. there is the aspect of mind---
now, i would say this is where a person has the most "control" over the situation--although there is evidence to suggest that this can also have a strong impact on the hormonal state too--to an extent.
anyhoot, this is where most pain management techniques come into play--interpreting what you are feeling in ways that are less painful, or more managable or what have you.
this is that "mind over matter" space, but the truth is, it really depends upon the matter a fair bit, doesn't it?
i mean, we can learn to feel when our cortisol levels are high and we generally "feel stress" but choose to act on that physical feeling or not. but, it's a long road to that. i mean, some tibetan masters can't even do it, and, seriously, they practice every day for hours on end. most of us have to work, take care of kids, cook, clean, etc etc etc, and might have 10 minutes to consider the idea. LOL!
so, i mean, the practice itself is hard to get to, and hard to achieve, so the fact that we would spend any time on it--using hypnobabies or meditation or any number of awesome techniques to help us--is a big deal. i mean, it's an accomplishment.
but it doens't guarantee anything at all.
this is also, btw, where the idea of a threshold of pain tolerance comes in. sometimes people use it in this space of "mind over matter' moreso than meaning something organic, of the body.
4. this part is also of the mind, and i think it has to do with our personalities, experiences, body-mind patterning, and so on. this is also an area where we hvae more "control" but it also has it's limits based on about 10,000,000 factors such as time, access to resources, ability to implement changes in an effective manner, blah blah blah.
essentially, how we incorporate all of the different things that we experience physically, emotionally, relationally, through every aspect of our being and senses (physical and otherwise) falls within certain parameters of our personality type, our psychological processes (which we both inherit and create), and so on.
so, that pin prick causes a neurological reaction, a hormonal reaction, a mental/emotional reaction, and then a broader 'psychological' or 'coping' mechanism that stems out of how our personality, with it's unique coping mechanisms (both positive and negative behavioral patterns), reacts to that particular stimuli.
*it is all so much broader than just whether someone is weak/strong.* it is a unique experience to that individual, in that moment, and with all of these factors swirling around. that is why it is *unpredictable*.
now, cultural stuff. i agree, there are people who might lie about their experience out right. and there are people who see it as a badge of honor to have had this birth or that birth.
but it's all just birth. nothing to be ashamed of--it happens as it happens, and being a conscientious person, you give it your best for yourself and your kiddo. no worries on that one.
Well, seeing as in past times women used opium, marijuana, really anything and everything to 'take the edge off' I wouldn't feel so bad. I've had both a 'natural' birth (at 16wks) and a fully medicalized one (at 37 wks).
I've learned from BOTH labors and births. With the first, I found that I could get through a ton of pain and still live. And yes, I felt MUCH better physically after that birth than after my subsequent birth. Mental is a different story tho.
With the second birth, I learned that getting an epi is not the end of the world. Mind you, it barely took the edge off for me, but that edge was heaven. I still felt all my contractions and my cervix dilating AND felt ds turn into a bad position. It really only completely numbed my left leg.
BUT, having had one with full strength pain relief and one natural, I will have no hesitation to get a light epi if, during this birth, the pain becomes too much. Sometimes getting the pain scaled back a bit is all it takes. It's similar to when I get migraines. Sometimes taking pain meds just lowers the amount of pain, but if the choice is between dizzy, fuzzy throwing up blinding pain and major throbbing but not throwing up pain, I'll choose the lesser one.
And yes, I ended up with a c/s the other time. That, I believe, is more a part of 1) having labor stopping drugs administered at the same time and 2) being forced to lie down the entire time. The only 2 times I was allowed to sit up I dilated fast and wonderfully. Even with my 16 wk birth, I didn't birth him until I fully sat up. My body just needs gravity, or something.
Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)
I was driving the other day and I saw my anestiologist that gave me the epi walking down the street. I pulled over and gave him a huge hug. He was a little taken aback I told him he gave me an epi and it was wonderful. He laughed
At least for me the point is to alter the modern birth environment by telling our stories--even bragging a little--so that it will seem just a little bit more normal to go the most natural route. The current reality is very hostile to natural birthing, and we're kind of fighting that.
I hate that a shame falls on the birthing mother. I think our birth experience is a product of our community and environment along with everything that makes each one of us unique. What kind of support will you have the fortune or luck to receive, will you have good options for comfort during labor, will you have strategies for accepting exquisite pain, will things come together just so? This is not a success/failure situation. It is the product of everything and everyone that contributes to our experience. I have learned a certain connection with my body that allows me to "walk through pain" and I am very fortunate to have been able to learn that connection in my life. It's not like I just willed that upon myself and it happened--I was fortunate to be ready in certain ways at certain times and to be in the right situations to learn that.
FWIW I have always had clear, definite, overwhelming pain during late labor that I completely accepted and allowed to carry me through. AND it was an orgasmic experience. It was exhilarating to come through that door.
I do not understand going into birth planning meds unless you have an usual circumstance, but later on after a rough road I can understand. I guess I feel like the idea that meds are the norm has to go. That induction is at all acceptable as a norm has to go. The shame is in the support system AFAIC because that is what the hospitals are, and where the norms are being shaped, etc. But it's also important to realize that a lot of us are advocating for change in the system and we need to be able to celebrate natural births as victories because almost no one thinks this kind of birth is normal or has value outside of certain minority groups. (Like MDC moms)
ME&HE... loving our: dd(18) ~~ds(13) dd(13)~~ dd(10)
I had pain meds with my first (c/s) and none with my second. both births were very empowering and I don't regret either. for someone else to judge it is just wrong.
Oh and my baby was very alert at birth and latched right on.
There was nausea, I was very hungry, there were too many tubes, I couldn't move and a bit of headache, plus some periods where the medicine wasn't quite doing the job. These are not positive things and may be enough for some women to want to go the drug free route. For me, they were worth the price of not being in excruciating pain.
Granted, I had pitocin, which was the deciding factor. I'd be open to seeing how it goes when we have another baby, provided I don't wind up induced again.
Baby #1 (epi) I was young and only had a vague idea of birth. I was not in any great amount of pain despite being dilated to 5-6 and having been induced but then a nurse that came on shift came in and spent around 10 minutes scaring me out of my mind telling me about how bad it was going to get so of course I got an epi. Then followed more meds, forceps delivery and a general all around nightmare.
Totally regret getting the epi with that birth, was feared into it.
Baby #2 (epi) This was my first baby that I experienced labor in my hips (I have with all of my children since then). My current midwife finds it fascinating because out of all her years of experience she has never met anyone that labors in their hips, not back, HIPS it feels kind of like I am being pulled apart at the thighs unless I am standing up. Which brings me to the epi with Baby #2. The hospital I went to would NOT let me stand and sitting was unbelievably painful and then a nurse went against doctors orders and gave me a med I am allergic to. I was given an epi during the starting stages of what I found out later was me being prepped for a c-section. But fortunately they were able to get my blood pressure to come back up and I did not end up with the c-section.
Totally regret getting the epi because I believe had they left me alone and let me stand I would have been fine.
Baby #3 (unmedicated) Glorious, supportive, low light dream of a birth. Yes it hurt (the hip thing) but WOW what an experience. And yes I stayed on my feet the whole time until I squatted for the birth.
Baby #4 (epi) I was terrified. I can not explain it something deep within me was just scared out of my mind. I requested an epi because I could feel myself on an edge of intensity that I just could NOT go to. I wanted an unmedicated birth but only if I was able to keep under control and I knew in my heart I was on the drop off point of completely losing it.
Totally do NOT regret that epi. For what ever reason I truly needed it or else my baby would not have been born into the wonder filled room that Baby #3 was born into but into one of filled with chaos.
Baby #5 (unmedicated) Very short, very intense and wonderful. Wouldn't change a thing about it except maybe the for knowledge that the reason things felt so intense so fast was because I was dilating so quick.
With these babies I want an unmedicated birth but I also know that if I hit a wall like I did with baby #4 I have been well informed and will be making my choice based on knowledge and not fear. I do not believe that makes me weak, I believe that makes me a woman that knows my body and my options and will do what ever I need in order to bring my babies into a joyful room which I feel was robbed from me with my first 2 children. The only time I have a problem with a woman having an epi is if she has been forced or manipulated into it, otherwise I trust that she did what she needed to do for that birth.
and yes, I blog.
I labored normally, without meds, for 12 hours, but then things stalled for a variety of reasons. I spent 8 hours trying to get things back on track. I couldn't sleep and I threw up everything that I tried to eat. Walking, moving on the birthing ball, moving through yoga poses, none of it helped. We requested a breast pump from the hospital so that I could try nipple stimulation, but they never brought one...too busy with women who were actually giving birth...but to be honest stimulating my nipples has never done much for me, so I wasn't too hopeful that that was going to do the trick.
So I asked for pitocin and labor did kick in again, and the pain was manageable...for awhile...until it wasn't.
I needed help, and it wasn't just for the pain, it was for the extreme exhaustion and depletion. At that point I had been awake for 36+ hours and I had been vomiting repeatedly for 12+ hours. My support team had been up with me all night and I could tell they were fried, too. So basically, none of us had anything to work with.
The narcotic they gave me was GREAT. And they gave me an anti-nausea med as well and it was such a relief to stop vomiting.
One funny thing about pain is that it's really impossible to compare our pain to another person's pain. We can't possibly know what someone else's pain feels like, so we can't know if we're "weaker" or "stronger" because we can't know if our pain is the same as someone else's.
We can only get to know our own pain and try to be at peace with the ways that we deal with it.
Living in Wisconsin with my partner of 20+ years and our DD(Born 10/09/08 ). Why CI Mama? Because I love contact improvisation!
I started early labor on a Sunday, it was minor & manageable, and I was able to sleep OK Sunday night. I went to work Monday with contractions all day long, again pretty manageable. By Monday night they were closing in on me & I felt it was time to go to the hospital.
Now what's tricky in my situation is that I absolutely COULD NOT let them check me. I am a sexual abuse survivor and every time I tried to let them check I completely freaked out & ended in a fit of tears. I actually stopped my labor completely because I was so upset about being checked. I wish I knew I didn't NEED to be checked. In fact, there's a lot that I wish I knew, and I wish I'd found MDC before giving birth, because the mainstream board I spent time on was filled with unnecessary inductions & c/s not tips for natural labor, although I did read a lot on my own.
Anyway. So labor restarted & I stayed awake all night Monday at the hospital -- I couldn't sleep through it at that point. My DH totally checked out. He slept on the chair while I walked the halls & took long showers etc. He didn't wake up until my OB came in the next morning (and by the way, I wish I didn't think of midwifes as antiquated, and wish I didn't go with an OB)... My contractions weren't regular with regular breaks, they were irregular with almost no breaks and I was in constant pain.
Tuesday morning when the doc came in I knew she was going to try to check me, and yup once again my labor completely stopped. She was about to send me home but there was no water at home -- somehow I managed to be in labor the whole time the town chose to work on the water main. I wish I'd thought to go to a hotel or something. I knew I needed hot showers (though would've preferred a tub) so I stayed at the hospital. By that point I was exhausted & terrified (not of birth, of being checked again) and we had no clue how far along I was. Finally I agreed to a sleeping thing (maybe it was fenetenyl???) and I still woke up from the pain of each contraction & it made me so disoriented (and the disorientation lasted a good 15-20 hours!) So then I agreed to stadol because I NEEDED to sleep, had been up for 36 hours at that point.
DH was still sleeping all day (don't ask me why, apparently me being in labor was exhausting for him I still get annoyed now when he naps!) and eventually the meds wore off and we still didn't know how far I was and I was in so much pain and so exhausted and scared...
So Tuesday night I got the epi -- couldn't feel a thing so finally found out I was at 6cm -- rapidly followed by the OB breaking my water (without my permission) and starting pitocin (again, without my permission) and well, at least I slept for an hour or two. I woke up and was still so disoriented and eventually it was time to push and the doc kept putting her hands inside me (which I said not to but she said she HAD to, and at this point I could feel everything "down there" and could feel the contractions though they weren't painful)... And had coached pushing that did not correlate at all with my contractions & my own urges to push... DS's stats plummeted & I was pushing with the oxygen mask and they had to use the vacuum. Oh and I had my eyes closed the whole time & was even more disoriented by that point. 1 day of light labor, 2 days of hard labor, lots of interventions & lots of other issues with the whole labor & recovery etc. I could go on & on about all the little things that went WRONG. Plus DS was born not breathing -- and he's been high-needs since birth -- and I feel like that's my fault for getting the epi & drugs.
I was always the kind of person that never took OTC drugs, not even for migraines etc. I was never afraid of pain & at times actively sought it out. I did not expect to be unable to tolerate labor pain.
I really want to have baby #2 soon & I need to work through all this & discuss it & plan for a better 'next time' though I think if I just plan to get the epi I would be less disappointed in myself than if I planned to go unmedicated... And I could have avoided the stadol & sleeping shot if I had just gone right to the epi... but I soooo want an unmedicated birth, for my sake & especially for my future babies...
Thanks again for listening & sharing, I really appreciate it.
FWIW, I did birth at home unmedicated, but I tried one contraction laying down on my side on the bed, and jumped up as soon as I could ranting about how if I were in a hospital, I would get an epi, because there was no way I could deal with laying down, or sitting, while laboring. I needed to be up and moving or in the shower or the pool. So, I can understand, from that perspective, why women who birth in hospitals so often choose to have pain medications. I am relatively certain I would, too, under those circumstances.
Laura, mama to Henry 01.28.07
missing Jack, born still in the car 08.23.10 at 36 weeks
Loving on Catherine, my 09.01.11, UC
I have heard many people say that the IV narcotics made them feel loopy, out of control, and less able to cope with the pain. Usually the epidural does not make them feel like that. Perhaps next time have a hospital birth with a natural-friendly CNM and a doula, with them knowing about your abuse and not wanting to be checked, and the option of an epidural if you start to feel like you need it. It really sounds like more respectful treatment of you, and understanding, would really help. And being treated poorly by hospital staff and feeling abandoned by dh would make it hard for anyone to cope, so you should stop beating yourself up for doing the best you could in a bad situation.
Others have made good points, but I just wanted to say one thing: the choices you made did not make your dc high needs. So many women have epidurals and other narcotics as a matter of course and they have perfectly mellow babies. My only epi baby wasn't high needs at all (not mellow either, but I've never been blessed with one of those, lol). Really, his high needs are probably just part of his personality. Some babies (and kids and adults) are just more intense. (((HUGS))) to you!
If you really want a natural birth, certainly work through those issues you have and go for it. But don't beat yourself up. An epidural didn't cause your son to be high needs!
|My mom had a midwife & said they wouldn't "let" her have an epidural so I wonder about that too but I definitely don't want to go with an OB again!!|
daughter #2 10/08/10