Join Date: Jul 2006
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First off, by "no pain relief", I assume you mean pain relief from drugs. I will say that I am not totally opposed to drugs, but I certainly think a woman should do her research ahead of time and be aware of the risks/side effects before just getting an epidural the minute she steps into the hospital. In some cases, drugs can be very useful, but can also cause harm. Pain can be difficult, but it is also a useful tool for a woman in labor. Too much pain usually means something needs to change, such as your position. You need to be able to decide when the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks. A woman also needs to be aware of the alternatives to drugs, such as a doula, labor tubs, hot/cold therapy, etc.
First off, I ended up with an epidural for my first delivery, but only because I couldn't tolerate the high dose of Pitocin after several hours and lost my ability to relax. (I had the Pit because I was "on the clock" after my water had broke the night before.) It came down to a choice between the epidural and a c-section for "failure to progress,", so I chose the epidural after much discussion with my midwife, doula, and husband. The epidural did its job - I took a nap and progressed rapidly after that (waking up and saying "I think I have to push!")
However, having the epidural placed was a total nightmare. It took the anesthesiologist almost an hour because, unbeknownst to me, he was trying to give me a spinal rather than an epidural. With my Pit-induced pain, I had a really hard time staying in position, especially for such a long time. I had some side effects from that epidural, including intermittent back pain that lasted for 6 months. I would rather avoid that side effect again. The only reason I ended up with an epidural for my second delivery was because I was obviously heading for a c/s (Cord around neck, baby refused to descend).
Also, I know way too much about the other possible side effects from the epidural (and the IV fluid they give you ahead of time to try to keep your B/P from dropping) to want to have another epidural unless I have no other option. Another side effect of epidurals include maternal fever, which can lead to lumbar puncture and antibotics for the baby "just to be safe". This is something I wouldn't want to subject my newborn to.
Another reason is that I know its best for the baby. I want to make sure my baby is alert so we can bond and establish breastfeeding ASAP after delivery. All pain drugs, even the epidural, cross the placenta and affect the baby.
Third, I hate needles. I can give shots to other people, I just don't do well when the needle is pointed at me. I may require a saline lock for this delivery since I am a VBAC, but I will take that over having to push a damned IV pole around.
Next, I LOATHE the EFM. I hate being stuck in bed, I hate having to constantly adjust the belts, I hate dragging the cords along to the bathroom (no telemetry here), I hate having that noise in the background. Once you get an epidural, you will have the EFM and all its accompanying annoyances. It really breaks my concentration.
Finally, I hated how long it took for me to recover from my c-section. I was in so much pain and it made it terribly difficult to care for my older child as well as my newborn. I would take a few hours of pain during labor over no pain and ending up with weeks of pain from an avoidable repeat c/s.
Overall, I want to avoid drugs for this birth. This is my last child. I want this birth to go the way I wanted my first two to go. I plan on staying home for most of the labor so I can be somewhere I can relax and feel comfortable. I have a doula for this birth as I did in my first two, and they have wonderful tricks and methods to relieve pain (my last doula did a hip squeeze that was heavenly). Once I do end up at the hospital, I plan on making use of the labor tub and different positions to lessen the pain. I want this birth to be a wonderful, memorable experience.