As a new mom-to-be in 2011, there was no question in my mind that I would get an epidural when I went into labor. I did not trust myself to do it any other way, and I walked into the hospital knowing that I was going to get one.
I was a young 25-year-old girl who lived far away from her family. Researching and Googling could only be done from your computer at that time, and mommy-boards were just starting to become a “thing.” I didn’t have a frame of reference for why I should or shouldn’t get an epidural- I just figured I didn’t want to feel the intense pain of labor like they show in the movies if I didn’t have to.
Even by the time my second daughter arrived 3 years later, I just assumed I would do what I did before since it worked out well for me the first time. I couldn’t feel a thing when I had my first daughter and labor was so easy- why wouldn’t I want that same experience again? So I got the epidural a second time, only this time I felt a bit more pressure and I wasn’t as immobile as the first time. Labor progressed smoothly and quickly, and just 5 hours after getting to the hospital, my daughter was born.
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My third daughter, however, was a different story. I was set to give birth just 15 months after having my second daughter (a little PSA: breastfeeding does not always prevent you from getting pregnant), and I went into labor a month early. I was in full denial that I was in labor- my husband was out with friends and, despite having done this twice before, I thought, “Oh, it’s just false labor.” However, by the time 2 am rolled around and I was clutching to the bedpost to get through contractions, I figured out that she was coming whether I was ready or not.
I drove myself to the hospital while my husband stayed behind and waited for my parents to arrive to watch our other two children. The hospital was only ten minutes away from our home and I thought to myself, “It’s just early labor, I’ll still have time to get the epidural and wait for him to get there.” But I was wrong.
Forty-five minutes after I arrived to the hospital, my third daughter was born. I had no medication, no husband by my side, and it was by far my favorite birth experience (minus my husband missing the birth by a mere 10 minutes, of course).
I didn’t believe I could do it.
Even after birthing two beautiful and healthy baby girls, I didn’t think I could manage labor without an epidural. I thought the pain would be too unbearable. I didn’t think I would make it through contractions or the ring of fire without passing out from the pain. I always had a plan to get an epidural with my third daughter, and not getting one completely threw me for a loop.
But I did it. I made it through contractions, even being fully dilated while driving myself to the hospital, without any medication. I labored at home, and I gave birth by myself without the support of my family, all without any medication. Don’t get me wrong- it hurt. I cried during contractions and I screamed in pain when my daughter crowned. But it was also magical. I remember every single step of her birthing process whereas with my first two daughters I know I am missing bits and pieces of their births.
I was lucky enough to have uncomplicated births and no side effects from an epidural for me or for my children. That isn’t the case with many women as there are several risk factors associated with getting an epidural during and after labor for both mom and the baby.
If you are considering getting an epidural because you aren’t sure you can handle the pain, take it from me- you can do it. It will hurt, it will be difficult, and you will probably question a thousand times over if you should get one, but you can do it. And if you do end up getting an epidural, for whatever reason, know that you have still done one of the most magical things in the world- brought new life onto Earth.