On Epidurals & FEelings Twords Women Who Get Them - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 04:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Why the negative attitude twords women who get epirudals? I see many posts here reflecting a very poor attitude twords women who get epidurals.

Why is this? Why be so negatively judgemental to a person getting pain relief? Do we carry the same attitude when a person takes a tylenol for a headache or novicane for a dental extraction?
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#2 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 05:17 AM
 
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I am guessing here, but perhaps many women don't like the idea that birth is a medical procedure that necessitates painkillers.

Y'know, birth is neither a headache nor a dental extraction, and maybe they feel that these comparisons denigrate birth.
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#3 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 06:39 AM
 
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The reason I would never choose an epidural for a textbook normal delivery is because it is an invasive procedure that carries risks, IMO, too high to be justified. There are circumstances where I think that it's called for- a c-section, a mother with pre-eclampsia or chronic hypertension, and possibly an induced or augmented labour- but because something is warranted for a few, does not make it right for all.
Birth is NOT an illness. It is a normal process, though not an everyday one, and for the majority of people medical intervention is inappropriate and increases the likelihood of an adverse outcome.
FWIW, I tend to stay away from threads about normal hospital births, because I have nothing to offer,so I don't normally diss posters who choose that route. You haven't acknowledged that an epidural is any more risky than tylenol (that's paracetamol over here, right?) or that sometimes, they work TOO well and that leads to other problems, or the psychological impact of the way epidurals are sometimes offered. (Can we birth them? Erm... I think so.)

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#4 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 07:19 AM
 
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I don't judge people that get them -- not at all. I totally understand why people do. I had one for my first birth. I think there are a variety of factors that have led to my thinking that epis are not as safe as people think, and that birth is not a medical event meant to be managed in the hospital. My biggest issue is with the lack of truly informed choice and the lack of evidence-based care that occurs in North America's obstetrical practices. Women are not told the true risks of the procedures. And I don't just mean the little spiel that anesthesiologist gives, I mean the true cascade of interventions that begins when you walk in the hospital door. Doctors themselves may not have researched them, as they are only practicing the way they were taught.

There is no question that epidurals have led to the skyrocketing rate of C-sections, which in turn, has poorer outcomes for mom and baby. In other industrialized nations where epis are not the norm, they have far better mom/baby outcomes than the US or Canada. I'm thinking of Western European countries where more than 60% of the women see midwives for their primary care and give birth at home or unmedicated.

I have many mainstream friends, and have had a hospital birth myself, and have heard story after story that goes something like this:
1. Arrive at hospital -- have cervical check and IV inserted
2. Get put on EFM and forced to lay on back (this is horrible, I have done it)
3. At 4cms, in so much pain request epidural
4. Epidural in place, water is broken to speed things along

At this point, the mom is forced to lay there in a position that does not facilitate a normal birth (on her back), for hours while she not allowed to eat and pumped full of IV fluids. Often the epi makes the woman nauseous or gives her the shakes (it did with me). She is now on the clock -- the baby needs to be born within a few hours since the water has been broken. The stress of being in an unfamiliar environment coupled with the bustle of strangers coming in and out of her room combined with the knowledge that she only has a certain amount of time and the fact that epis often lead to a labor slowdown create a huge amount of stress hormones. She may not feel stressed, but her brain does. Labor slows. Cervical checks follow (at which point, bacteria is introduced, which could lead to infection, as it did for my sister). Pitocin is started because the baby needs to be born and the contractions are not "adequate".

There are then a trillion variations of what happens next. Baby doesn't tolerate pit well -- turn off pit. Body is not contracting and changing cervix. C-section.

Mom reaches full dilation and pushes for two hours -- baby can't come out. C-section. (If mom had had control of her limbs she could have changed positions many times during labor to help the baby move down appropriately. The worst position for labor and birth is laying on your tailbone.)

Mom reaches full dilation, pushes for an hour, discovers baby's head is cocked to one side -- forceps and a large episiotomy are necessary.

Women are just told that a healthy baby is the most important thing, and how they get there doesn't really matter. Bull. For many women, myself included, unmedicated birth was the most empowering and awe-inspiring event of my life. I have never experienced a high like the one I had after giving birth to my second child -- I rode that high for several weeks. Women were meant to give birth -- just not under the conditions we have created for them. Women are being robbed of what it truly means to birth their babies, and they don't even know it's been taken from them.

Again, I'm not coming from a high-horse position. I have been at the hospital BEGGING for an epidural. It's not that I am stronger or better than other people. In fact, I felt the opposite many times, and kept reminding myself that somehow billions of women have had babies without epis and that I was going to get through it too. The thing I did differently was create the conditions under which a normal birth could take place, and that was outside of the hospital.
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#5 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 08:58 AM
 
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What I don't agree with: routine administration of pitocin that almost always leads to an epidural....so often when we try to "force" our bodies to go faster than it wants to, complications arise, and the doctor will rush the patient to the OR for a c-section. Both of my sons, I had pitocin (first one I didn't know any better, second one I had to be induced early for sake of baby) and both times, the pain was about 10 x's worse than true labor, and I had an epidural. It's just that hospitals seem to do whatever they can to keep you from trusting your own body, and do whatever they tell you to, and I don't agree with that.

I also remember being pregnant with my first and my mom telling me almost everyday that the pain of natural childbirth was so bad, you'll wish you were dying....I mean, she had me so scared, I had decided long before he was born to get an epidural at the earliest possible moment, and I really don't appreciate that. It's taken me a long time to get past that fear she's given me, and she's never actually had natural childbirth, all of her births were induced.
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#6 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 09:04 AM
 
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Look, when you get the eppie, generally a cascade of other interventions follow. That's not what I wanted for my infants. I also don't think a needle near my spine is a good idea. I do try not to judge but.... I'm human and sometimes I do.
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#7 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 09:15 AM
 
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My irritation is with women who won't even give themselves a chance to experience the pain of labor....the ones who practically go in the door saying, "I want my epidural now!!!!! Get the anesthesiologist in here right away so I can relax!" The ones who exclaim, "Why should I have to experience even a twinge of pain, when I can be gloriously numb from the waist down while my child is born?" The ones who tell me, "You're CRAZY for refusing an epidural! Why in the world would you CHOOSE to have that kind of pain, when relief is available?!?!" Women who just ask for an epidural without a second thought to how it might affect their baby; without bothering to research the pros and cons of the medication and the procedure itself.

I realize that there ARE legit indications for an epidural, and I don't dispute them. Induction is a whole other issue in itself.

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#8 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 09:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom
Look, when you get the eppie, generally a cascade of other interventions follow. That's not what I wanted for my infants. I also don't think a needle near my spine is a good idea. I do try not to judge but.... I'm human and sometimes I do.
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#9 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 09:45 AM
 
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I have had 3 epidurals and 3 very long hard labors. My shortest labor was 18 hours of contractions less than 7 min apart. My longest was 60hrs in and out of labor and I was exhausted. All 3 have been turned in an odd position ( face up or face side) With my first I just needed to sleep for a while the second was face up w/ 15 in head and 22 inlong and just shy of 9 lbs w/ all back labor I have had great OBs and I know w some other docs I probably would have had a c section. My 3rd had his head tilted back and was born face first his head was smaller 14.75 in. I have gone 12 hrs with the last 2 before getting an epidural I think that they are a great choice for women who are exhausted or im my case just at the end of what they can do.

Jeana Christian momma to 4 sons Logan 18, Connor 15, Nathan 6, and bonus baby Jack 1
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#10 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 10:03 AM
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I think women who get epidurals are brave...

Brave to let a sharp object near such a sensitive area like the spinal column...

Sorry in my world, Sharp ojbjects and my spine are never to meet unless medically neccissary
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#11 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 10:12 AM
 
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Nothing new to add, all you mamas said it already!

There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
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#12 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 10:23 AM
 
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I agree with Pandora.

Also, getting medication for pain relief during a dental procedure affects only the person getting the relief. Having an epidural, besides increasing risks of cascading interventions as many others have said, may also affect the baby. Yes, of course, all doctors say that it doesn't, but I haven't seen any conclusive evidence that convinces me it is absolutely safe for my baby to have my body pumped full of narcotics while the baby is still inside my body.

I find it ironic that so many women will agonize over every Tylenol they consider taking during pregnancy, but the minute contractions begin they are screaming, "give me drugs!"

Childbirth pain is good pain, it's for a good cause and it's in the best interest of your baby to keep your body as free of chemicals and drugs as you can. You need to feel the pain in order to understand how your body is performing and coping with labor and delivery. That is not the case with dental procedure pain.
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#13 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 10:49 AM
 
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I had an epidural to go along with my induced labor. : I agree that it should not be routine to have that done. It makes scar tissue and my back has bothered me there ever since I had it done and its been over 2 years. If you dont have the option of pain relief it is so much easier to labor and birth without it. If you cant feel your body it makes it harder respond to what its telling you to do. If only birth in the hospital wasnt made the norm we would all still be home birthing unless there were a true need which is what the hospital is for. Hope that made sense.
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#14 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 12:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nonconformnmom
I find it ironic that so many women will agonize over every Tylenol they consider taking during pregnancy, but the minute contractions begin they are screaming, "give me drugs!"
: I too am amazed by the people who were even more careful than I was at not eating things like blue cheese and caesar dressing (although both are pastuerized here) but scoffed at the idea of natural birth as more than trying to earn a merit badge. I tried to go without meds with my first two but wasn't aware that I was trying to have a natural birth while having an unnatural labor thanks to the pit etc. Once I was able to stop the cascade of interventions I did have two unmedicated births. Like PPs it was an awesome experience for me but beyond that I think it's very important for my babies. So there's a reason I do it and I feel a little sad for women who don't realize that it matters or just don't care. BTW last time I checked Tylenol doesn't give you a migraine that lasts for several weeks. Not a reasonable comparison at all.
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#15 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 12:08 PM
 
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I don't like getting caught up in all that judgement...I just can't help but be a bit : by women who "can't be bothered" with the birth process so they get the epi and watch soap operas (I've had friends who did this). It doesn't help things when many women who get epis talk about us who don't want them as if we're egotistical and are trying to be "heros" or "prove something"

Quote:
I feel a little sad for women who don't realize that it matters or just don't care.
I agree

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#16 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 12:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsMoe
Why is this? Why be so negatively judgemental to a person getting pain relief? Do we carry the same attitude when a person takes a tylenol for a headache or novicane for a dental extraction?

I think that most women do/did the best they can.

But I also don't take asprins for headaches or other pains, I try to treat the problem, not the symptom. The pain is a way my body tells me what is wrong.

Surgury, dental or obstetrical or any other reason, does need pain killers though. That is my mind and my doctor overriding any messages from my body, because in this case we have decided a more invasive method is necessary.
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#17 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 12:24 PM
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Well when I was pregnant with DD, I had the worst horribly hormone induced migraine headache known to mankind. I was paralized on one side of my body. Can't treat the problem there...my body needed those hormones to bake a baby. My MW gave me a NST at the hospital to make sure it wasn't CV related. my BP was WAAAAY low, and the on call neurologist was flabbergasted.

They gave me a shot of Demerol and Gravol and sent me home. Told me next time to take Tylonol 3 at the first sign of an impending migraine. I did, and I will for the next pregnancy as well.

I think it's progesterone. Had the same migraines the days I got my depo shot.. I get managable headaches during my LP...
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#18 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 12:58 PM
 
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I should stay away from MDC. I had an epidural with my dd (it was wonderful!) and have been contemplating unmedicated birth for this next birth for various reasons. I am leaning away from it as I find some of these posts so offensive. Epidurals really are awesome! Last chance to sleep or get some rest before pushing.

Also, does anyone know anyone paralyzed by an epidural or a baby with brain damage? I have never heard of anyone actually having that happen, have you?

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#19 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:06 PM
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I know a woman who almost died from extreme blood pressure drop as a result of the epidural.

ETA: I am being sincere when I say those who get epidurals are much braver women than I.

In *MY* world, sharp pointy things and *MY* Spinal column Do not mix. Whatever YOU choose to do with YOUR spinal column is totally YOUR choice.

You can't deny the fact that an Epidural is something SHARP going near your spinal column.
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#20 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by charmcitymama
I should stay away from MDC. I had an epidural with my dd (it was wonderful!) and have been contemplating unmedicated birth for this next birth for various reasons. I am leaning away from it as I find some of these posts so offensive. Epidurals really are awesome! Last chance to sleep or get some rest before pushing.

Also, does anyone know anyone paralyzed by an epidural or a baby with brain damage? I have never heard of anyone actually having that happen, have you?
That doesn't make much sense...you don't want a natural birth because some people post offensive things? Part of being an educated informed mother is doing research on the effects of anything you consent to giving to your child--not basing your decision on whether you find people's posts offensive. Heck, if people did that, you'd see a lot more "I circumcized my son because people were so adament against circing here". The logic doesn't make sense.

As someone who had an epidural 40 hours into a 53 hour induction, I can tell you that epidurals are NOT awesome. I lost feeling (complete feeling) for everything below the epi spot--it was only supposed to be a walking epi. I got to sit on a bedpan on my bed in front of several nurses all forcing me to pee in front of them. Then, I got to push for 3 1/2 hours while my baby was in distress, swallowing merconium because I was pushing like heck and his head was tilted sideways and stuck. Could I feel that? Nope--I pushed when the nurses said to. By the end of the pushing, I was so exhausted I couldn't move, and the baby hadn't dropped down at all. The pushes were wasted--I had 2 nurses, my doula, and my husband all trying to hold me up so that I could get a little push out. In the end, my baby had to be taken out via vacuum extraction, which came flying off his head 3 times resulting in a huge knot on his head, probable neck and headaches (he couldn't move his neck for weeks)...oh, and nursing difficulties because he was in so much pain. Oh, and sensory integration disfunction, probably in large part due to his traumatic enterence into the world. Oh, and the episiotomy I had to have after the doctor tried to insert the vacuum, causing a 3rd degree tear (before the episiotomy). I *still* have scar tissue from that, causing a tear during routine pelvic exams.

Just for a little break before pushing. This time, I know it's just not worth it. My body can do it without the cascade of interventions...and my baby will probably be better off without it.

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#21 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:17 PM
 
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i too try not to judge as i know every woman is doing their best at any given time. and of course, epidurals do have their place in birth.

my problem is that i don't think women are making informed choices when it comes to epidurals. i also think that pain does have a place in birth which has so many positive benefits for both the mother and baby that i can't help but wonder why so many women wouldn't like to experience natural birth.

from a feminist stand point i see epidurals as a way to prevent women from claiming their power as birthing mama's and to reap the personal benefits that come from giving birth without medication which could ultimately change our culture. not only which, it's another way of making sure that a medicalized culture of birth is the norm and this culture discourages women from choosing midwives and having homebirths (because you know, we wouldn't want to have women trusting their bodies and having other women supporting that notion).

also, i think women and babies are used as guinea pigs when it comes to birth and drugs and that makes me feel very uncomfortable. what does that say about how we value women and babies?

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#22 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:24 PM
 
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i had an epidural. i waited it out as long as i could, but in the end, i took it, and i'm not sorry i did. unfortunately the epidural pump malfunctioned, and as it was, i still felt plenty. i had a fairly short labor, but the actual birth was hard. the baby's head was turned kind of at a wierd angle, and he was too big. i pushed and pushed, and in the end i ended up with an enormous episiotomy and a 4th degree tear. i'm not sure i could have withstood all of that without pain meds.

i have a great deal of respect for women who have unmedicated births, and i hope that in the future, my birthing experience won't be so traumatic and medicalized, but i still feel i did the right thing for me at that time. as it was, the baby was born perfectly healthy, despite being about a month early.

sometimes things don't go as planned, and you have to do what seems right at the time...
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#23 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:32 PM
 
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I agree with you 100% Mandi!!!

Charmcitymama- please don't let the opinions of others (however offensive as they might be to you) affect YOUR choice- there is a LOT of judgement on both sides of the fence. Just block us all out if you want and do your own research and search your own heart as to what you want out of your birth experience- I'm sorry if my post in particular offended you.

Here is a great article I found when I was just starting to research natural birth that really helped me: http://www.pregnancy.com.au/labour_hormones.htm

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#24 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 01:39 PM
 
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Charmcitymama - you say that many of these posts offended you. Can you be more specific? What, exactly, offends you? I know that, for me, when I am confident in my choices I almost never find myself offended by people who disagree with me.

Ally - Hugs to you! So sorry things became so difficult for you and your sweet little baby.

Mandi - you made some very interesting points and I appreciated seeing your perspective. I have to say that I agree with everything you said.
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#25 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 02:01 PM
 
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charmcitymama, I'm sorry you've felt offended, I'd encourage you to do research and then decide what's best for you based on *that* and not on other people's opinions (offensive or not). My frustration is at the medical society in general, along with people who've never experienced natural birth condemning those that have/want to. I've had two births, both with epidurals. Yes, it was something that I needed, the pitocin labor was so extreme, I couldn't even think/concentrate on anything. This time, no pitocin.

I do not know anyone personally who has been paralyzed by getting an epi. I do have a good friend who has nerve damage because of hers. She has problems with her legs. She also has some serious scar tissue at the site of the epi, and it causes her bad back pain.

It's *very* common to get a spinal headache. This is incredibly common, and can last for weeks. They try to combat this by making sure you've had a bag of IV fluids run into your vein. This is also supposed to prevent a drop in blood pressure from the epi, but if you're dehydrated at all, this may not be enough. Unfortunately, they don't really account for that (I'm a nurse....I very much remember the routine). That's why once you have an epidural, you have to stay in place, and they keep a bp cuff on your arm to monitor bp every 5-10 minutes (which, to me, was very annoying during pushing, yk?)
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#26 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 02:46 PM
 
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I don't judge women who opt for epidurals. But do I want a medal for my own drug-free birth? Heck yeah! I was sooo proud of myself after I delivered my son; I was superwoman that day. And yes, I bragged about it all over town. I wanted everyone to know: WOMEN CAN DO THIS!

I've had my appendix removed and I've had my wisdom teeth pulled. Was I anesthetized for those procedures? Of course, because procedures were being done to me. But labor is a different story. My body was doing the work on its own. So to me, there really seemed to be no need for interventions (particularly the pharmaceutical variety) because my body would find its own way.

Now at one point, post-transition, I became aware that perhaps my bladder was full and might slow down my progress. Since I've had all kinds of invasive urinary tract diagnostic work done in the past, I just told the nurses to go ahead and catheterize me and get the pee out. I tolerated that because I've had much worse done (cystoscopy) and at that point, I just wanted to rest before pushing, not get up and use the toilet.
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#27 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 02:51 PM
 
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I've had 2 transfers from out-of-hospital birth and 2 epidurals for 2 long hard, not-very straightforward-labors.

I think it's great that epidurals exist, and also great when women can give birth without them.

Lots of things in life are painful- ear infections, dental abcesses, birthing and dying are all very painful. Whether each of these is a "disease" or a "natural process" is debateable- but all I know is without painkillers life would be much more painful. I am grateful that painkillers are available.

I think that 99% of people in this world are doing the best they can 99% of the time. It's just silly to imagine other people are simply being lazy or selfish with their decisions- they are just doing the bgest they can with what they have.
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#28 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 03:14 PM
 
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Just a quick note that my best friend's sister got an epidural and "crashed." They tried giving her some drugs to bring her bp back up and it didn't work. They ended up doing an emergency section & having to revive her on the table 2x. Prior to the epidural, she was doing great, she was just tired.

I was induced w/ds for pih (210/110 at one point). Had the mag sulfate, pitocin, arom, catheter, pressure stockings, the works all hooked up. I somehow lasted 24 hours before asking for the epidural. BP crashed, someone hustled dh out of the room w/no explanation, they gave me a cocktail of drugs and my bp came back. I'm not sure how I was able to actually give consent for the epi as I was seeing leprechauns bouncing from bubble to bubble all around my room while singing Bare Naked Ladies songs, but I guess that's besides the point, after all, there's no harm in just an epi, right? Ds was born blue and limp, but we'll never know which cocktail of drugs it was that made that happen. This time we're having a homebirth and an epi won't be happening. My body can and will birth this baby naturally.

W/ds's pregnancy we took Bradley classes. She got an epidural w/her first and ended up w/a migraine that lasted for the first 3 WEEKS of her baby's life. 3 WEEKS, flat on her back in the dark.

That's 3 births w/epidurals at 3 different hospitals at 3 different times that all ended w/some sort of "isolated bad reaction."

The same women in my circle of friends/family who look down on me for having a 1/2 glass of wine here or there while pregnant are the first ones to ask for an epidural. Why is that? Oh - because the dr said that wine is bad and the epidural is great. And we all know how much doctors know.
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#29 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 03:56 PM
 
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I don't look down on women for getting epidurals...although I'll admit I don't get why people insist on them before they even know how bad the pain will be or won't be.

But, I agree with the poster who said that they're braver women than me! I've had to have a needle in my spine twice - for my last two c-sections. And, it terrifies me even more than the scalpel. If it weren't that I want dh to be there to see his children being born and that I have such an awful reaction to general anesthetic, I'd probably opt to be knocked out, just so they'd leave my spine alone. I can't imagine allowing it for anything short of surgery.

Plus, my mom had a bad spinal headache with me (c-section), and my sister had back pain for weeks after delivering my nephew with an epidural. I just don't see the attraction. I'd much rather have the severe pain before I have a hungry newborn to deal with.

I also hate the numbness that goes along with anesthesia. I don't get freezing for fillings and such at the dentist, either...only for my root canal and my extraction. It's not because I like the pain - I just like it better than having feeling removed from parts of my body.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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#30 of 106 Old 08-23-2005, 04:01 PM
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I"m glad someone agrees with me regarding sharp objects + spinal column = bad mojo

Since you've BTDT, it carries more weight and doesnt make those who do think that way look like total nutters
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