Epidural questions

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mlle_carrie's picture
Joined: 07/17/05
Posts: 1134
Epidural questions

For those of you who have BTDT and had an epidural, were you able to push the baby out on your own? My sister had an epidural when she gave birth to my nephew and she got so tired and couldn't feel anything when it was time to push. They had to pull him out with forceps.

Also, if you've experienced both natural birth and birth with an epidural, did you prefer one over the other?

sandraleigh's picture
Joined: 11/23/06
Posts: 2672

*lurk from Nov*

I had an epidural with both of my kids. Neither of them had to be pulled/helped out with forceps or a vacuum, I pushed them out on my own. Often if you get an epi they will turn down the meds for the pushing phase so you can feel more and push more effectively.

PAmom2boys's picture
Joined: 04/29/09
Posts: 1494

The epidural does make it harder to feel what to do but it's not impossible to push the baby out. You can ask them to turn the Epi down do you can feel a little more too. I probably wouldn't do that unless your pushing was ineffective. Sometimes there not enough time to wait for the Epi to turn down too.

I've had 2 non epidural births and 2 with. The 2 without were much more intense for obvious reasons. The 2 with the Epi were fun relaxing exciting in a really joyful way. DH prefers the Epi way. I'll probably get one this tine if there's time for to get one. Eli's birth was fairly fast and I did get to the point of wanting the Epi but I was complete and 4 minutes later he was out. But that's a fourth birth. First time babies normally take a while to come out. My first baby took 45 minutes to push out as did the second but the third was four pushes and then Eli nearly fell out Lol

Everyone experience with and without epidurals is probably going to be different. I think if you want to try no Epi go for it. It will be an option if things get to be too much to handle. Just take it one contraction at a time.

toothy35's picture
Joined: 02/20/06
Posts: 4578

*LURKER*
i've had 5 vaginal births all with an epidural.....actually, my 1st baby 15 yrs ago, i had a spinal.......had no problem pushing my babies out.....my babies were big, too.....smallest was 8lbs2 ozs 20 1/4 inches- biggest was 10lbs 3ozs 22.5 inches.......i felt the babies come down the canal, i felt the ring of fire, and had no problem pushing the babies out, like the previous poster said, they turn it down right before delivery.....all babies were fine, and none of them had a "drugged" appearance. they all latched on and bfed......if i were to have a 6th, i'd do it the same exact way!!!!!!!!! for a couple of my labors, i labored without drugs until transition....then got my epi and delivered my babies with wonderful pain management....one of my labors went so fast, i got an intrathecal epidural(that is when instead of inserting a cathedur into the epidural space in your back, they just gave me a shot with the meds right in my back) they were all great birth experiences.....
good luck on your decision making process. i'm sure you'll get some wonderful stories of natural births, too (i love reading their birthstories). congratulations on your pregnancy and good luck!!!!!

sugspop's picture
Joined: 02/22/07
Posts: 1418

My epidural experience was actually very good! I agree that it probably makes the birthing experience more relaxed and enjoyable, but I haven't gone natural, so nothing to compare! I had "sensation" down there, but not pain, if that makes sense. Like pressure etc. I could actually feel the contractions coming before the machine was registering them, so I would tell my midwife they were coming and we would prepare to push. I did have to push for an hour and he had a little conehead, but no interventions were needed.

I'm hoping to making it closer to the transition/active labor side before getting the epidural this time, but my water broke and I was having BACK LABOR and contrax every 1-2 mins that lasted a good minute in a half or so. After two hours of that pain, I couldn't wait for the epi.

But like amanda said, take it one contrax at a time! Each person and baby/delivery is different, so keep your mind open. The thought of giving birth can be scary, but just remember, our bodies were built for it! It's a really short time in the big picture, and the end result is so worth it you tend to forget about it. If we didn't, we probably wouldn't keep having babies! haha.

JuneorJulyBaby?'s picture
Joined: 10/20/08
Posts: 2479

I was induced and got an epidural the first moment I felt any pain whatsoever. I didn't like being numb in my legs and having a hard time switching from side to side, but when the contractions were strong I was glad I had it (felt pressure, but no pain). I knew exactly when the contractions were to push when I was complete and DH and a nurse held my legs in pushing position. I plan on getting the epi again if I am in pain and less than 8cm. The only "side effect" was my back was sore for about a week after birth but it was well worth it in my case for the 12+ hours of relief it gave me.

Panonim's picture
Joined: 11/11/05
Posts: 439

Well unfortunately I had the same experience as your sister (with my first baby). Had the epidural which worked really well (too well, IMO). I was so darn numb that I couldn't feel anything and my pushing was completely ineffective. 2 hours of pushing and they ended up pulling her out with forceps which caused a 4th degree tear for me and significant bruising for the baby. Sad

Being a first-timer, it never occurred to me that the epidural could be "turned down". I didn't know that was possible and of course, none of the doctors or nurses mentioned that. If only I had known. Sad I kept telling them I was so numb that I couldn't even feel when a contraction started, or know if I was pushing in the right spot. And the other problem of course is that your pelvis is so closed up when you are laying on your back - and you have to lay on your back if you have an epidural. If I'd been able to get into a more upright or squatting position or something, that might have freed her head and we might have been able to avoid the forceps. Your pelvis opens significantly in an upright position. But of course that's not possible with an epidural.

Which leads us to why I chose the natural way with my second baby. Since you asked for comparisons, I will tell you my opinions. Wink I cannot tell you how much I prefer natural birth over medicated birth. There is simply no comparison, IMO, it's not even the same experience. Sort of like comparing a road trip vs. an airplane flight. Both get you to the same destination, but the journey is entirely different. For me, I would take 100 natural births over a single epidural/medicated experience, any day of the week.

With my first, I had my epidural placed at about 4-6 cm. I was in tremendous pain and totally panicking from the pain at that point. With my second, I had no medication whatsoever during the birth. Felt everything from start to finish. Which one do I remember as more painful? The first one. Even though I never felt transition or pushing with her, it was hands down a more painful experience. I firmly believe it all comes down to your mindset, your environment, who is there to support you, what you believe, how confident you are, and how knowledgeable you are about how the natural birth process works and what you can do to relax into the contractions rather than panic and fight the pain. Once you start to fear the pain, and fight it, you'll panic and you won't be able to cope.

If you are at all interested in avoiding an epidural, I highly, highly recommend reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. It's just amazing how much we, and many doctors and nurses, don't realize about how to cope with labour naturally. We are so quick to medicate when we actually have instincts that help us cope.

_Jessicah_'s picture
Joined: 04/21/11
Posts: 1973

My situation is a bit of a variation. I was induced with my daughter and to get things started they used Cervadil the night before to soften my cervix and such. It was left in all night and the next morning they started pitocin. I got my epidural after 4 cm dilated. When it came time to push I really couldn't feel anything. I pushed for 2 hours. They realized after 2 hours that my birth canal was very, very swollen and that's why she was having such a hard time coming out. They ended up having to use a vacuum because she was more or less stuck. I am not sure what caused the swelling. I suspect it was the cervadil and you can bet your butt I will not allow them to use it this time around if the need for an induction arises. So that's my story. I will say I am glad I got the epidural and I plan on getting another one this time.

AshnBill's picture
Joined: 11/06/06
Posts: 5333

I only have one child, but I did get an epidural with him. It worked well, but I pushed for 3 hours. They finally turned it down a bit and my OB helped pull him out with the vacuum thing.

I will get an epi this time, unless of course it's too late by the time we get to the hospital. With my first I didn't realize it'd have an effect on pushing but now I know and can ask them to turn it down if I'm pushing forever.

.hilary.'s picture
Joined: 01/31/10
Posts: 1505

FTM so I have nothing to say, lol! But Nicole, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I really want a natural birth and your post was great to read Smile

fireflies11's picture
Joined: 03/26/11
Posts: 613

My Epi didn't work Sad

It ended up in my legs and really messed up my pushing. I pushed for 3-hours w/o pain meds.

I wonder if it would have been better w/o the epi at all, because at least I could have had use of my legs.

**tess**'s picture
Joined: 10/13/08
Posts: 114

"Panonim" wrote:

I firmly believe it all comes down to your mindset, your environment, who is there to support you, what you believe, how confident you are, and how knowledgeable you are about how the natural birth process works and what you can do to relax into the contractions rather than panic and fight the pain. Once you start to fear the pain, and fight it, you'll panic and you won't be able to cope.

I agree with this. It's easier to cope with the pain and the entire process if you are prepared and have good support - support that is also prepared. I was SO glad my husband and I took a birth and parenting class together before our first child.

I've really found this thread helpful.

For my first birth, I had an epidural, but not until the last minute when we were exhausted. The baby was just turned a little wrong and I had been stuck at 9+ cm for many hours. With the epidural, I could nap for about three hours then they woke me up and told me it was time to push. Pushing only took about half an hour. I don't recall having any sensation while pushing, but I didn't have any problem pushing - they just told me when.

I know what the urge to push feels like for me because I felt it before the epidural (but they told me it wasn't time yet). It felt like I really really needed to have a bowel movement.

I waited to get the epidural because it's possible that it can slow down labor. I'm not sure if that's really accurate, though. I mean, how do you really study or measure that when everyone's labor time is different?

It took a long time for the epidural to wear off, which was frustrating when we had visitors in the hospital and I was stuck in bed.

This time around, I plan to have the epidural a lot earlier. My husband is skeptical, but I think it will be a better experience.

I'm also kind of hoping not to have visitors in the hospital, but that's another subject entirely.

joyjim's picture
Joined: 05/22/06
Posts: 822

I really like epidurals because I can relax. With DS2 I was so numb that I could not feel for about 6 hours after I delivered. I could not feel my legs at all. But I was able to push him out in about 30 min or less. I might have done 6 pushes. And he as sunny side up. With DD I think I pushed 2 or three times. And that Epi was only working on one side, but it was still better than nothing Smile

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

this is a great thread!!!

I went into my first labor trying to attempt a natural birth. My back up plan was that if I wanted an epidural I wanted to wait till I was AT LEAST in transition. There are a few complications from epidurals you should be aware of. They can be minimized by waiting as long as possible for the epi. There is a big difference between having an epi for 12 hours vs 2 or 3.

You don't want to stall your labor or end up so numb you cant push. Epi's can also occasionally cause a fever which will cause baby to have a fever. Then they tend to take the baby to the NICU for an infection workup. Sometimes baby can be born a bit lethargic. None of these risks are common. They are ALL treatable. And they can all be minimized by waiting as long as possible to get the epi.

My labor went like this. I was prepared for moderate to severe pain. I did fine walking, squatting, breathing, and getting through contractions until I was about 8 cm. At that point they became so much more painful than I could have ever imagined. I also vomited through my whole labor and never got that chance to "rest" between contractions because I was throwing up as soon as the contraction passed. I made it to 10 cm's and the pain was still horrendous. At this point I lost the battle mentally. It hurt so badly and I was really really scared. I never had any urge to push, when I tried it just intensified the pain of the contraction. At that point I got the epi and Luke was born about an hour later.

my epi was great. I felt all my contractions, I could move my legs, and I got out of bed afterwards and walked with no problems. It offered total pain relief to my perineum for a good 12 hours which was wonderful!!!

For me the epi took me from a very scary experience and brought me back to where I should be, the best day of my life. Everything changed once that pain was gone. I was happy, excited, thrilled, elated... it was wonderful!!! My little man had perfect AGPARS and nursed right away.

My plan this time is the same. Try for a natural and if I get an epi I will wait till it's time to push. I would rather get the epi and have a peaceful wonderful delivery than go through so much pain and fear just to say that I survived a natural delivery Biggrin But that's just me!!

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

I had my first with no meds and my second and third with an epi. My first was a horror experience, only because I had horrible back labor, I needed an episiotomy, and tore twice on the inside. I didn't find it hard to push at all with the epi. When I was fully dialated, if I couldn't feel it, I just waited a few minutes while they turned the medicine down until I could feel it (maybe 20 min?), and it wasn't a big deal. I could feel just enough to know when I needed to push, but not enough to where it hurt at all. It was a wonderful experience for me, especially after my first where I was doing nothing but screaming (sorry for you FTM!) and couldn't focus on anything but the pain. I loved being in control of myself, and being able to focus totally on pushing the baby out (DD came out in just two pushes!) and being able to love all over them the second they came out, not feel the need to recover from anything. With both epis, however, I did wait until I couldn't take the pain anymore, as I didn't want it to stall labor at all. Both babies were born with no issues whatsoever.

I'm_a_pepper's picture
Joined: 10/25/05
Posts: 606

I had an epi with my first..it worked wonderfully. I was able to get the epi once I was dilated to a 4. I felt no pain whatsoever after that. When it came time to push, I had a little trouble getting the hang of it b/c I couldn't feel anything, but - and I'm not sure if the epi started wearing off, or they turned it down - but I finally figured out the most efficient way of pushing, I started feeling a little pressure down there, and DS started coming fast! I only pushed for 45 minutes total and the dr. didn't even make it in time- the nurses delivered the baby. I won't lie- pushing was the hardest thing for me...I was sweating, and it was hard to get yourself psyched back up and push for a count of 10 every single contraction, because the contractions were coming pretty frequently by then. But it didn't "hurt". I figured out pretty quickly in my head that pretty soon the epi would start wearing off and I would start hurting, so that gave me motivation to push harder. Lol

mlle_carrie's picture
Joined: 07/17/05
Posts: 1134

Carolyn, it sounds like you waited a pretty long time to get your epi. I have heard that once you get to a certain point, they can't give you one, so when is that point? Do you mind if I ask where you delivered?

Also, I heard or read somewhere that you have to have fluids with an epi, so if you want an epi, you should have an IV so that they can give you fluids. Anyone know if that is true?

sugspop's picture
Joined: 02/22/07
Posts: 1418

"mlle_carrie" wrote:

Also, I heard or read somewhere that you have to have fluids with an epi, so if you want an epi, you should have an IV so that they can give you fluids. Anyone know if that is true?

As far as I know, you are going to have an IV whether you go natural, with drugs, an epi or c-section, so I'm not sure you can avoid it!

JuneorJulyBaby?'s picture
Joined: 10/20/08
Posts: 2479

"mlle_carrie" wrote:

Carolyn, it sounds like you waited a pretty long time to get your epi. I have heard that once you get to a certain point, they can't give you one, so when is that point? Do you mind if I ask where you delivered?

Also, I heard or read somewhere that you have to have fluids with an epi, so if you want an epi, you should have an IV so that they can give you fluids. Anyone know if that is true?

You have to have 1 bag of fluids in you before the epi and it takes about an hour for it to get in you through the IV at my hospital. I think an IV is the first thing they put in when you are admitted in L&D around here.

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

i did wait an awful long time Biggrin I already had a liter or two of fluids in me running because of all my vomiting. I delivered at a hospital in PA. Their policy is as long as the baby isn't crowning and you can hold still during the contractions, you can get the epi.

You have to have at least a liter of fluids prior to getting the IV because occasionally the epi can cause a drop in blood pressure so they want you to have a big fluid reserve to keep your pressure up.

its really only ever "too late" if the baby is crowning or if there is some type of emergency where they need to get the baby out within minutes and getting an epi would delay the birth an unsafe amount of time.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"mlle_carrie" wrote:

Also, I heard or read somewhere that you have to have fluids with an epi, so if you want an epi, you should have an IV so that they can give you fluids. Anyone know if that is true?

You do have to have at least one bag of fluids in you via IV before they will administer an epi. At my hospital, if you're planning on going natural, you can choose to not have an IV if you so wish... but I'm sure each hospital has their own procedures and rules when it comes to this. I'm planning on getting a hep-lock, which is the IV in your hand but it's taped down until you decide you want an epi, that way you can labor freely, walking around or showering, without being connected to a bag of fluids and a pole on wheels lol...

**tess**'s picture
Joined: 10/13/08
Posts: 114

"mlle_carrie" wrote:

Carolyn, it sounds like you waited a pretty long time to get your epi. I have heard that once you get to a certain point, they can't give you one, so when is that point? Do you mind if I ask where you delivered?

Also, I heard or read somewhere that you have to have fluids with an epi, so if you want an epi, you should have an IV so that they can give you fluids. Anyone know if that is true?

It sounds like a lot of hospitals have different procedures about the IV and the epidural and how late you can get it.

I know when I gave birth that they didn't give me an IV until they gave me the epidural. My feet were swollen for a week afterward and they were hardly swollen at all beforehand!

And I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't give the epidural at our hospital if you were already at 10cm.... It took about half an hour for it to be administered and start taking effect.

Panonim's picture
Joined: 11/11/05
Posts: 439

I agree that it sounds like different hospitals have different policies. The hospital where DD was born was known for giving epidurals at any point in labour. And yep the IV is a requirement when you have an epidural due to the blood pressure issue. My IV wasn't placed until my epidural was placed, as far as I can remember. Also remember you'll need a catheter and a fetal heart rate monitor strapped to your belly if you have an epidural. Not sure if everyone keeps the catheter in the entire time or not. Mine was in from epidural placement until a couple hours after birth.

This was another reason I really didn't like the epidural - I was hooked up to so many strange medical things that I wasn't used to, and was paralyzed from the belly down, that I just felt like this completely helpless, useless, vulnerable patient. Sort of a scary, claustrophobic feeling because I couldn't move or feel half my body. It was just not something I was comfortable with given the fact that I was only there to give birth, not have surgery or something.

.hilary.'s picture
Joined: 01/31/10
Posts: 1505

At my hospital, an epidural will also get you the pleasure of a blood pressure cuff, IV, and continuous fetal monitoring with a dedicated nurse watching the readout non-stop. Ugh...that would freak me out so much. Our hospital is pushing 40% for c-section rates too, and some people are wondering if it's because of the continuous monitoring leading to overreaction. Not sure, but being strapped down with so many things makes me nervous.

joyjim's picture
Joined: 05/22/06
Posts: 822

I forgot about the catheter, I can't remember when they took it out. So weird, I know I didn't see it when I was pushing. Strange.

PAmom2boys's picture
Joined: 04/29/09
Posts: 1494

Also keep in mind how long it may take for the anesthesiologist to get to you. I like to ask how busy they are and how long it typically takes got them to respond. I waited too long for my first as he wouldn't make it to me in time. I was 8.5 and apparently progressing pretty fast. I did not plan to go without the epidural but I did. So even being somewhat unprepared (i took the hospital childbirth class)I was able to do it. With my Epi births I got them once I passed 6 and both were born within 1.5 hours. For me once I get to 6 the cervix just lets go it seems. Lol

Carolyn: you and Carrie live somewhat close right?

mlle_carrie's picture
Joined: 07/17/05
Posts: 1134

"PAmom2boys" wrote:

Carolyn: you and Carrie live somewhat close right?

Yeah, we live about an hour and half away from each other. Smile

mlle_carrie's picture
Joined: 07/17/05
Posts: 1134

Thanks everybody for your responses. It's been really interesting and informative to hear everyone's experiences.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

".hilary." wrote:

At my hospital, an epidural will also get you the pleasure of a blood pressure cuff, IV, and continuous fetal monitoring with a dedicated nurse watching the readout non-stop. Ugh...that would freak me out so much. Our hospital is pushing 40% for c-section rates too, and some people are wondering if it's because of the continuous monitoring leading to overreaction. Not sure, but being strapped down with so many things makes me nervous.

I hate all of that crap as well. I think the blood pressure cuff is what drives me the most crazy! I swear the thing goes off every ten minutes... even after the baby came! I wish they would take into account your past medical history when it comes to having babies, and the fact that I personally have never had high blood pressure in my pregnancies.

"joyjim" wrote:

I forgot about the catheter, I can't remember when they took it out. So weird, I know I didn't see it when I was pushing. Strange.

Ugghh, this is what I hate most about getting an epi, is that it's a sure path to a catheter! I'm going to have to ask my OB at my appt Tuesday if there's any way around this and the BP cuff...

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

Eeps I didn't get a catheter placed or the bp cuff. Maybe because I only had the epi an hour before he was born.

sugspop's picture
Joined: 02/22/07
Posts: 1418

The closer I get to the big day, the more I feel like I will get an epi again. I just want to make it longer in my labor process this time before getting it if I can!

jeepbaby's picture
Joined: 11/08/07
Posts: 492

I had an epi with DD. The nurse just told me when I was having a contraction, and to push. I was able to push her out on my own. I do remember having an IV for fluids, but I was able to walk around and stuff. I slept mostly, though! Hopefully, Iwill be getting one again this time.

jac81's picture
Joined: 11/22/10
Posts: 1131

*Lurker*

I had an epi with DS and was able to push him out. I couldn't tell I was pushing though since I was so numb. I was also 34 weeks and he was only 5 lbs so not sure if that just made it easier.

With DD I had a drug free birth and had more of an enjoyable experience in my opinion. I used HypnoBirthing so the pain was very manageable.

If I were to have another baby, I'd choose the drug free birth!