Unfortunately, this is the same kind of logic that lots of docs use to justify myriad interventions. Every woman needs to be able to define "healthy" and "happy" for herself.
To the OP, one thing that helped me so much was to actually *see* natural childbirth through video. Reading books is great too, but I'm a very visual person. I encourage you to go to youtube and watch both homebirth (with no medical pain relief) and the *normal* hospital births that are posted there and use that info to help you make your decision too. Also, I think doing some research and looking at the science of it all might be helpful. Unfortunately, the long term effects of lots of interventions like epi and u/s, for example, have not been studied.
Thats what all the OB's I've had have told me. Including the one that tried to scare me into having a scheduled c-section. He said that what is important at the end of the day is a healthy mom and baby. So why go through a VBAC that could possibly kill my baby just because I want birth to go my way?
When I was pregnant and before the discovery of MDC, I said "I will try it without the epidural, and if I "need" one, I will get it."
I had no birth classes, no doula...nothing
My water broke at 35.5 weeks and from 4pm until 11:00pm that day, I wasn't really having contractions. They gave me pitocin at 12:00am, and I started having some real painful contractions. I labored for 5 hours and was able to take a shower, walk, squat, etc. I made it to 6 cm, and something just made me panic about the pain. I don't know why.... DH was in the room, my mom, MIL and 2 SILs. I think I was too distracted by not wanting to moan, or cry or scream because I had an audience. (Next time it will be just DH and me).
I ended up getting an epidural and it really just gave me the ability to focus again on the task at hand, as I was no longer having this horrible panic attack. I made everyone leave the room except DH and the nurse. I rested but did not sleep. 2 hours later I was fully dialated and ready to push. I was able to feel pressure and some pain and know when to push- even when the monitor didn't "indicate" that I needed to push. An hour later, I gave birth to Kylie and 5 minutes later she successfully latched on to BF for 30 minutes.
I feel blessed that I was able to experience contractions and the pain associated with preparing to deliver a baby. I feel sad that I became so scared of the pain at a certain point, but am thankful that I was able to have an epidural. Next time may be different, but I LOVED my birth experience, as I would re-live that day, everyday of my life...that is how amazing it was. For me- it worked out perfectly.
I always told people that I really wanted to go natural and that I would be open to whatever I felt was best in teh circumstances. I still got hassled with the second when I said I wanted to go natural and I had had all the problems with the "wonderful" drugs! Now at least I can say that I've done both and people pretty much shut up about it.
Elizabeth wife to Matt , mom to Logan (2/21/01) , and little man Desmond (9/23/08)
Mourning the loss of her father: Robert Edward Dillon 5/31/52 - 01/03/2011
I guess I'm of on a tangent but remember that with an epidural your confined to your bed. So when they bombard you with interventions it's impossible to run in the bathroom and hide (make sure to take someone in the bathroom with you to help catch the baby before it drops in the toilet)
But, it's your own choice. Just do your research and don't jump into anything your not sure about. You'll make the best decision for you
I had an epidural and it went wonderfully. I had a vaginal birth with no further interventions. It had no effect on me or my son.
I don't like when people use scare tactics for either side of the "argument" it's really your choice.
Don't let any rude comments get to you. Just make sure those around you at the birth are positive & encouraging. If you want to try to do it drug free make sure that nobody offers you any meds because it can be harder to refuse at that point.
Mommy to THREE sweet boys & ONE sweet girl + a newb due in February! I need a nap.
Really, I think it would take superhuman powers to resist an epi without first resisting all the "routine" interventions. If you are strapped to a bed on your back with an IV in one arm, a blood pressure cuff on the other, a pulse monitor on your finger, an EFM strapped to your belly, and now even a probe in your cervix monitoring dilation... most likely you will want and need that epi. Who wouldn't?
So, the best way to avoid an epi is to:
A) REFUSE ALL INDUCTIONS. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOW UP IF THEY SCHEDULE YOU AN APPOINTMENT. BEING "OVERDUE" IS NOT A GOOD REASON FOR AN INDUCTION. HAVING A "BIG BABY" IS NOT A GOOD REASON FOR AN INDUCTION.
B) Don't show up until you are WELL into labor. Hire a doula who will come to your house and labor with you, and can help read emotional signposts to give you a good idea about when to go to the hospital.
C). Do not let them tie you down. Make sure your doc is on board, and have him/her write prescriptions for no IV, intermittent monitoring rather than continuous. Make sure this is spelled out ahead of time. Don't assume that the hospital will let you make those choices once you get there.
I think the epidural can also give women a false sense of security. Many women seem to have the idea that they can go in and get the epi as soon as they set foot in the hospital, and they will have a painless birth. Well, that's often not true. They like you to be progressed a bit (with good reason) before you get the epi. Even if you have Pitocin. So, many women undergo hours of agonizing hyperstimulated contractions on Pitocin before they are allowed to get an epi. And, it is a drug. There may be side effects. It may not work. They may need to turn it way down in order for you to push. Preparing for a natural birth can do you no harm whatsoever... chances are you'll need some relaxation techniques at some point whether you ultimately choose an epi or not.
The problem is not really with an epi... the problem is with the whole way birth is "managed" by the medical system.
Having said that, I was very happy at the time to have significant pain relief. I ended up with a C-section and breastfeeding problems though. But I know many women who also had epidurals, C-sections and still breastfed with not one single problem, so I couldn't say if my problems were from the interventions or not
This time around, I will also plan for no epidural, but will be planning far more pain management (first time, no one helped me with any active labour, etc, and I was ignorant) like hypnosis, doula support, water, hopefully no induction. But when the time comes, if labour is again long and I don't feel I am coping, I am open-minded to the epidural (but as a last resort).
This time around I am considering going natural b/c I think it's best for the baby. I just have to get past my fears.... We'll see.
Dh and I took the classes while pg w/ds, and I found them to be informative and empowering.
I would recommend for the OP and anyone else who is interested in becoming educated about their choices and the potential affects of interventions such as epidural to take a Bradley class:
Bradley classes, although biased towards "natural childbirth", will give you a very thorough education in all the choices and how to ask for the experience that YOU want.
Also, I haven't read the whole thread, but it's not an either/or choice. Like either you get an epi OR you go completely natural, no intervention. There ARE other pain management options in between, just FYI.
I wanted to go completely natural with my first, but I didn't have the right support system and i had a looooong transition. I ended up with a half-dose of a narcotic to get me through. I have no regrets—we made the best decision we could, given the circumstances. This time around, my mw will be there (she left town 5 days before dd1's birth!) and I think I can do it, so we're planning a homebirth.
I would never tell someone ahead of time "Oh, you need the epidural" because obviously, a lot of women don't! But for me, having the option of the receive it was wonderful.
A) Did you have IV fluids?
B) Did you have continuous EFM?
C) Did you have unlimited movement or were you attached to cords?
D) Did you have continous trained labor support (doula or mw who stayed by you)?
E) Were you able to labor in water?
F) Did you have any Pitocin augmentation?
G) Did you have AROM? (they broke your water)
H) How many vaginal exams did you have?
I) Were you allowed to eat and drink to thirst/hunger?
J) Did you stay out of the bed?
K) Was the lighting/atmosphere to your preference? (dim lights, dark, candles, or whatever is best for you)
I think there is definitely a place for an epidural. I know my best friend labored for hours and hours without it, and then it finally gave her a rest and probably prevented a c-section, for instance. And most hb transfers are due to ftp, where an epi can help them have a successful vaginal birth.
But I think when you hear a lot of women say "labor was hell until I got my epi," etc. I don't think you're getting the whole story. Yes, I'm sure their labor was hell... but maybe it wouldn't have been if hospitals were more mother-friendly. Epis would be needed a lot less if women were "allowed" to have normal, physiological births rather than all the unnecessary routine interventions most women in a hospital are "required" to have. Pain that may have been unbearable while tied to a bed may have been manageable in a hot tub of water, for instance.
No right now in my mind, body, and soul, do not want one, but is for some unknown reason I change my mind, I want that to be okay too.
I do have one friend that has 5 kids, and she had everyone of them natrual. She calmed me somewhat when I talked to her. She told me that I can do it, just stick to my guns and don't ask for it.
To me the biggest downside to an epidural is not feeling what's going on down there or not feeling the full sensation while pushing. I'm not afraid of pain, but I am afraid of hurting myself because I can't feel if I'm stretching or need to slow down or need to change positions, etc. With ds if I had been numb I think I would have ripped in half, the pain had a purpose, it made me push REALLY slowly during crowning and right before and I had not one single tear- even my midwife was a bit surprised because I am a very petite person.
Epidurals have their place and no one should feel guilty or like less of a woman for having one, but they definately shouldn't be the default option it seems like they are today.
If you want to avoid the epidural, stay out of bed, use a birth ball (that helped me so much), use warm water in a labor tub to relieve pain, have a GOOD support person their with you who will make you remember what you want when you can't, may sure you go into it thinking "there may be pain, but I can do this even when I think I can't"
Jen Mama of 2 precious boys (9) (6) and still in with my Matt after 12 years together.
Domestic Violence Children's Advocate and Counselor