I am expecting my third birth in about 10 weeks. My first birth was very traumatic -- I started at the birth center. I did not feel able to cope with the pain, had contractions every 2 minutes from the start, had an uncontrollable urge to push, midwife broke the waters and then he was stuck (he was OP) and my cervix began swelling (opposite of dilating). After about 8 hours, I wanted it to stop, and requested going to the hospital to "get it out." At that point, I did not care how. They transferred me to the hospital, and I got an epidural and then pitocin. All the pain went away! After about 5 hours of a drip, they asked me to start pushing. I pushed about 2 hours and then he was out, sunny side up.
My second birth was at the birth center. It lasted 3hr15min. Again, contractions were every 2 minutes (often lasting almost the full 2 minutes) the whole time. I remember when it got really intense thinking, crap, this is the same pain (I thought it had been worse due to his OP position), I want an epidural! Then, I had to go inward and just moaned through the rest of the labor. It was a pretty uneventful birth and he was in a good position. As soon as he was out, the pain was gone.
Now I find myself in a strange place. I want to go natural, am at the same birth center again, but I am again fearful! I am afraid of the pain -- last time, I used hypnobabies, which worked for me only up to the point when the contractions got very intense, and that's when it stopped working. So, I am already anticipating that it won't work again. Maybe I should try something else?
DS1 (6) , DS2 (3) , DD is here!
I'm considering/planning an epidural too. I had two previous unmedicated births, first was very very painful, OP and nuchal hand. Felt like transition for 8 hours from around 4cm. Second was not very painful until it was actually transition, and then it was blindingly painful but only lasted 40 minutes. She was positioned better, only OP no nuchal hand. This time around, I'm planning on having an epidural if I'm in that extreme amount of pain early on - 4cm or whatever. I figure that means that it's going to be a while and there is not reason to exhaust myself with the pain. Maybe relaxing with the epidural will allow the baby to turn, and if not, at least I will be rested for pushing. If I feel like transition and I'm actually in transition, then I feel like I can breathe and work through that. Either way, I think it's good to do what works.
There's been some new research that suggests epis don't slow down labor either, and of course, since the anesthetic just goes in the epidural space, it's not like much/any is getting to the baby. (Google "the adequate mother" for a blog written by an anesthesiologist / mother. She's got some great information that made me feel much better about choosing an epidural.) There are some drawbacks but not enough for me to really care about avoiding one if the pain is that bad. I say go with what works for you; you're the one having the baby. :)
Because of my birth history, I associate pain in childbirth with "and now someone is almost going to die." My youngest was born after a cytotec induction at 39 weeks because he wasn't moving right and had a very borderline biophysical profile. It took a while to get into labor, but during that time I was not hooked to IVs (yes on heplock) and I was walking and very active. Once I had enough cervical change that we knew for sure that I was in labor, we did AROM and immediate epidural. The epidural I received was so so so much better than what I had had in previous hospital births 7 years earlier. The very next contraction I had pain reduction by 60-75% and the second contraction I could feel my body but not my pain. I could still move easily and support weight with my legs, but I could actually relax and be myself instead of being myself in pain and scared.
About two hours after AROM and epidural I was complete and I found that I actually have much better control pushing if I have a good epidural in place. Two pushes for a 10 1/2 lb baby who was in great shape and I could actually enjoy him instead of being caught up in trauma feedback loop of waiting for something bad to happen. It was absolutely wonderful.
I went into my youngest's birth really scared, but I'm so looking forward to my scheduled induction next week. For me, it is the best choice to let me be the mom I want to be and really welcome my baby to our family instead of being so focused on pain and trauma that my baby doesn't have his mom emotionally available. I know that I can handle a natural childbirth, but I also know deep down that it would be the wrong allocation of resources. I am so grateful that I live in a time and place where I can have the birth that is best for me and for my babies.