With DD, I didn't know whether or not I'd get an epidural. I just decided to go in with the idea I wouldn't, but if at any point I changed my mind I was free to and my doctor was cool with that. She said I could get one anytime I wanted right up to and into pushing.
I was doing well, laboring for about 4.5 hours and at 8 cm when things went NUTS! My blood glucose plummeted, I was shaking, felt like I needed to puke, felt like I needed to poop, wanted to pee, and couldn't find any position to sit/stand/lay in...contractions were coming constantly - no specific start or finish...it was crazy. Perhaps that is the point a doula or someone with more laboring experience than DH and I had would have been helpful. I caved at that point and asked for the epidural - anesthesiologist came quickly (his name was Peter Pan...seriously!!), but my IV was blown so I had to get a new one quickly, blood glucose now was 40 so I was chugging apple juice which made me puke. Once the epidural was in he gave me bolus of drugs and then they checked me and I was at 10 cm - so all the craziness was transition (hindsight is 20/20). They said "this baby will be out in 30 min of pushing." So, rejuvinated, I started pushing with all my might!! 30 minutes pass, meds wear off, but they say my pushing is better without the meds so I push...and push and push and PUSH for another 1.5 hours when finally I say "why did i get this damn epidural if no one is putting drugs in it!?!?!" So, I get a low dose infusion of meds at that point - i can still feel everything it's just much less intense. I push another hour and out comes baby, face up and the nurse says "oh, she is face up...huh! maybe we should have tried helping turn her.." oh, now ya tell me!! So, if you were adding it up, I pushed for 3.5 hours and there is no way I could have done that without some medication, but I was happy with the dosing - I could feel everything, move everything on my own, but the pain was exhausting so taking the edge off helped me keep at it.
phew! Im exhausted just typing that...
I was induced with my first two and I had an epidural with my first two. With Malia I wasn't induced and didn't have an epidural (which wasn't by choice I just went too fast), but in retrospect I'm so glad I didn't and plan on going epi free this time. I know, however, that if I have to be induced for medical reasons, I will probably get an epi. Induction is so much harder, IMO.
Mine were both past 40 week inductions. With my first, the epi didn't take on one side and the anesthesiologist didn't believe me that it could still hurt with it in place. WTF?! Like I'd make it up. So he literally didn't do anything except give me a small "boost" in my line which made my one side completely dead while my other side was writhing in pain. Finally after several hours, he literally rips the other one out of my back and re-does the epi. Complete relief. What an idiot! Pushed for about an hour, ended up with an episiotomy.
For my second, I delivered at a different hospital because we'd changed insurance (same OB though) and they gave me my epidural before they started pitocin. I wasn't about to complain as I'd been having painful contractions for 2 weeks that weren't dilating me. I told this anesthesiologist my story from the previous birth so he made sure to numb me up really well. My right side had issues taking again, but he came and "played" with it to get it to take. He says its like putting water into a sticky ziplock, sometimes the sides don't want to open up. Anyway, I was a little too numb and had a horrible time pushing, but DS tried to come out at an angle so he was vacuum assisted. Minor tear sort of upwards which was a breeze compared to the episiotomy!
Since I've never labored without pitocin, I can't say I'd NEVER do without an epidural but based on the contractions I felt with my DD, I don't plan on going that route. My opinion on birth pain is that everyone feels it differently just like menstrual cramps. I have friends who barely feel a thing with AF whereas I'm rolling around my bed in pain for a whole day. There is no way to know where you fall on that scale either! I understand not wanting to do an epidural if you're nervous for medical reasons though. IMO just go in with an open mind and see what happens!
THIS.I'd suggest that you don't do an induction if you can avoid it and that you stay at home to labor for awhile before going to the hospital if you really do want an epidural free labor. Also speak to your doctor/midwife - they might have other pain managements option that are available at your hospital. Just because epidural is the most common doesn't mean they don't have other drugs that would allow you to move around and have a bit more control over your labor.
Also, don't go into your labor expecting an epi because it will just be harder if you are trying not to have one. Go into it planning on going without unless you absolutely have to.
Also on the being scared part: remember that labor is what your body *has* to go through to get the baby out and that there is nothing wrong with you; the pain is all part of it and not unnatural at all. You are not injured in any way, this is *totally natural.* So if you can remember that, then that can help you with the being scared part. And if you can get a doula DO IT. Or if you have a friend who is really supportive and down with natural childbirth that would be cheaper for you.
But also remember that it's your birth and your choice and it's up to YOU to decide what you want.
Good story: My friend had had three babies with epis. She always seemed to get stuck at 6cm and need an epi to speed things along. With her fourth she decided to try without an epi and she did it! It was hard, for sure, but her body knew what to do. I think if you can get past the whole "getting stuck" thing and realize that your body doesn't *need* an epidural to keep dialating, that will help too.
I'm planning to go epi free! With my first I really didn't want one. I labored at home as long as I could but went to the hospital cause I was bleeding a lot and got kinda worried about it . I was 5cm when I got there. I wandered around the hospital for awhile, took a nice bath in the tub and then when the pain got terrible I caved and got the epi, they convinced me. I really wish I hadn't cause by the time they put it in, it hardly had time to work. I don't believe it worked at all cause right after the baby came out, I took a shower and the nurse was saying, "You shouldn't be walking your legs can give out, they are numb" but I was thinking, they aren't numb at all, nor were they ever. Anyways, I had horrible back pain from the epi for about 3 months afterwards. I couldn't lay on my back or lean with my back against the sofa. I really don't want to go through that again.
Lara~ DS Deondre 14/03/2007