To epidural, or not to epidural... That is the question.

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marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183
To epidural, or not to epidural... That is the question.

Okay, I know this board attracts natural birth types, and I love and appreciate all the natural birth stories that float around here. However, my births have been nothing close to natural. They were both inductions and both times I had an epidural. With my DS1, my copay for the epidural was $150, and I remember commenting in the days after delivery that it was "the best $150 I've ever spent." The second time around, I was actually doing fine with working through the contractions on my own and with the help of DH, but I got scared of the pain and went for it. It worked great, just as it did the first time. But this time, my blood pressure dropped. The nurses came in and told me they were keeping an eye on me because of low BP, and I wondered what it was. They hadn't told me, but as the tracking from the fetal monitors printed out, it would have my intermittent blood pressure readings printed on it also. It was running 70's-80's/40's. I didn't feel bad at all, but it scared the crap out of me that my BP was that low. What if it dropped any lower, ya know?? Anyway, I know that the BP drop is a relatively common side effect, but I don't know if it will happen again and if it will be worse. And my dad recently had surgery, and his blood pressure dropped from the anesthesia and is STILL running low, like a month later. I seem to remember that these things are more likely to happen if they've happened to an immediate family member, but don't quote me on that one. So anyway, I'm a little freaked out and considering trying to go without it this time, but I'm just a bit scared of the pain. I really think in my case it's mostly mind over matter... I remember the nurses commenting on how big my contractions were on the monitors and how well I was managing them, and I remember feeling in control... But I just got SCARED of the pain. Grrr. I dunno...

2luvs's picture
Joined: 09/10/10
Posts: 118

I am a huge wuss when it comes to this kind of pain!! With DS the epidural worked wonderfully and I barely felt pressure to push! It was such an easy labor. (I was induced with him due to preeclamp) With DD it was another story, pain was so bad at 3cm I was begging for the epi. It only ended up working on half my body. By the time I was complete I was so exhausted from the pain I, I almost had an emergency c section. Even though my second experience was not as nice as the first, I will be getting on with this baby also. I applaud those of you that can tolerate the pain of child bearing, I am just not one of them Wink

Maddz's picture
Joined: 08/17/07
Posts: 1759

I think you should goi in there saying you won't. I was determined that i wouldn't and that's what I did... but my labor was short. I hear that they typically get shorter as you havemore kids... but i wouldn't have a personal experience. I thought the pain was going to be insane... and i know it hurt... but i set my heart. I do also hear that with pitocin (sp?) contractions hurt worse... so i think you should just make adjustments but plan no... But what ever you choose will be what you think i best. good luck Smile

Maddz's picture
Joined: 08/17/07
Posts: 1759

also each time is differnent. i hemmoraged with DS so I'm taking a precaution and going to tr y to have some donated blood in advanced just in case.

Joined: 11/28/08
Posts: 19

This is such a hard thing to decide on, I had one with my first two and both times it was really pushed by the dr because they wanted to start pitocen to "get things going" my experience with the epi was fine however I suffered through a terrible back pain for a few days after. My last was too quick and I had no choice but to go natural, although it was scary at the time my recovery was beautiful. I'm going to try natural on my own terms this time ( hopefully )

sox79's picture
Joined: 08/04/05
Posts: 395

Ugh. Me and the epidural have had a love hate relationship. First time with DS1 I had the epi, was heaven sent, amazing...until it stopped working when I was about 7-8 cm. I felt everything, and DS was face up so it was a very hard delivery - 1.5 hrs pushing and episiotomy to boot. Was awful :(. After the delivery when they came to take out the epi, they discovered that it had fallen out all together - medication was running down my back all this time! Anesthesiologist had done a sucky job and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working when they called him.
Second go around I learned my lesson and had the epi but made sure it was put in properly, had the nurse keep checking. But for an unknown reason the epi once again stopped working as I reached transition and I. Felt. Everything. No rhyme or reason for it this time. It was again pretty horrible.
So now we come to my 3rd go around and I am too wussy to just say forget the epi - maybe this time around will be different?!? I have longish labors and for the time that the epi worked it was heaven. Will be going for it again this time and hoping 3rd time's the charm :?

blondiess4u's picture
Joined: 11/08/07
Posts: 1450

I am going natural this time.
With DS1 I was told to plan for a natural childbirth because I had a low platelet count and can't have any epi if it's below 100. Luckily it was right at 100 and I labored until 8cm and then got one. The problem was it worked so well I didnt know when to push and had to get an episiotomy. It was a long and hard recovery.
With DS2 I had to be induced for his sake and the pitosin made my labor very intense but I still labored until 5cm and by the time I got my epi I was already 10cm and pushing so it didn't work and I felt EVERYTHING. It was so painful and I swore I would never do this again. I still remember the pain so it does make it hard to think of oing it again. The benefit though was an easy recovery. Hardly any tearing and I remember reaching down to pull my baby out cause it was a natural feeling.
This time I dont want to be hooked up to anything and deliver in the position thats natural for me. I think my labor will go so fast this time like last, that I wont have time for an epi so I want to be prepared.
I think it's great that delivering in a hospital you still have a choice if if one option is not right for you.

marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183

Mine have gone the same way both times. I'll spend HOURS at 4cm... Check after check after check, I'll be sitting at 4 hours. They put the epidural in, and within 30 minutes both times, I was fully dilated, ready to push. I'm sure that some of it is related to me not being able to relax and just let it happen (more mind over matter, I suppose). I'd really LOVE the opportunity to go into labor on my own. I'm sure it's no walk in the park, but I've talked to many people who have done it both ways and almost every single one has said that pitocin induction was harder. I want time to labor for a while in the privacy of my home before going to the hospital, ya know? I think I'd be better at it if I could be in my element. That said, I'm not interested in home birth, and I'm 99% sure it's illegal for doctors and midwives to attend homebirths in my state, anyway. But I'd just like to get into a good labor pattern on my own without the aid of pitocin, and make my way to the hospital in my own good time.

ETA: Yaeli, I couldn't believe that about your epidural FALLING OUT. You'd think that would be the first thing they check when they come in to see why it's not working. Goodness, maybe I should be an anesthesiologist, haha.

ETA (again, haha): I REALLY hope that my delivery is otherwise like my delivery with DS2... I didn't tear at all! I had 2nd degree tears with DS1 and they were painful for probably 2 weeks or so. After DS2, I felt like a million bucks, up walking around the halls at the hospital (stalking the nursery while they had him for assessments) and just felt great when I got home. I want that kind again!

ILoveMyMiniMe's picture
Joined: 12/11/03
Posts: 2333

My labor with DD started at 9am at my mom's house. (was staying with her at the time).
* Honestly, I thought I was just having to poop. :oops: Mom was mid-morning napping and I didn't wanna wake her up for a painful poop. Little did I know I was in labor.. Lol

We left for the hospital at 10:30.
Got into a room at 11:15.
DD was born with 2 pushes at 11:43.

There really was no time for me to get anything as I was a 9 when I got into my labor room.. IF - big IF - I get to do it the same, I'll go without pain meds of any sorts again..

One thing it taught me is that nothing will go as planned. If you wanna go without, give it the best shot you can but be prepared for a complete 180 change if things do down hill. And of course, #1 is the health of mom and baby.. if medical intervention is necessary, by all means it should be done. Smile

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 2977

*lurker from June*

Here is my 2 cents!

I've had two natural labors with DS and DD. I labored at home for quite a bit with both and arrived at the hospital at 8cm and 6cm respectively. Knowing I was at 8 and 6 really helped me to mentally say this won't be that much longer. I also think there is a BIG difference between laboring on your back and being able to be in any position you want! I labored standing up and in the tub with DS and squatting and the tub for DD. Having the flexibility to move around while in labor helps a TON with pain management. You cannot do that with an epidural.

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.

Either way it's your choice. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for not laboring the way they think you should (whether that's natural or an epidural). It's your birth! Smile

Joined: 10/02/11
Posts: 1937

I can't stand pain. When my mom asked me what I was planning on doing during birth, I said.. I'm getting an epidural and the baby will magically not have to be pushed or c-sectioned out, it will just appear. Everything will go as planned.

She laughed at me LOL

ILoveMyMiniMe's picture
Joined: 12/11/03
Posts: 2333

"babywings1" wrote:

I can't stand pain. When my mom asked me what I was planning on doing during birth, I said.. I'm getting an epidural and the baby will magically not have to be pushed or c-sectioned out, it will just appear. Everything will go as planned.

She laughed at me LOL

ROFL I just laughed at that, too. ROFL

callie2's picture
Joined: 07/09/10
Posts: 219

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...

LaurenE's picture
Joined: 06/19/10
Posts: 854

:lurk:

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.

ILoveMyMiniMe's picture
Joined: 12/11/03
Posts: 2333

"callie2" wrote:

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...

:shock: My shoulders tensed up just reading it!!!! :shock:

ILoveMyMiniMe's picture
Joined: 12/11/03
Posts: 2333

"callie2" wrote:

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...

:shock: My shoulders tensed up just reading it!!!! :shock:

akpufa's picture
Joined: 01/31/08
Posts: 3078

:lurk:

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. :shrug: 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!

tori729's picture
Joined: 07/23/07
Posts: 1743

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.

THIS.
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. Smile

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.

Mom2D's picture
Joined: 09/24/07
Posts: 87

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.