Epidural: Worth it?

I've got a full five months to think about this, but the truth is, I have to go through labor and delivery again. That means I get a cuddly baby in February but it also means I might have not-so-cuddly needle in my spine. 

 Here are my two cents on the epidural I had when my daughter was born. It worked perfectly, did what it was supposed to do and I couldn't have expected anything else as far as the after effects. Basically, it was the ideal epidural experience.

However it was itchy. And the moment they put it in, I went from being the strong woman I am who happens to be in labor to being a "patient" at a hospital and that's just how it felt. All of a sudden I was powerless. Then the baby's heart rate dropped and I had twelve nurses/students/doctors examining my vajay. Embarrassing!

Then I was completely numb from my hips down. Better than blinding pain every few minutes, but not the best way to go about your afternoon, right? Every 30 minutes I was supposed to turn from side to side, but I needed help turning over because I couldn't feel anything. I was like a big sack of potatoes laying there. 

I'm kind of a crazy "what would the animals do" person and I just kept feeling like a zoo prisoner. What had there been a fire? Or a robbery? (I saw an episode like that once on one of those crime shows, some dude robbed a delivery room while a lady was in labor!)

Six or eight hours later, the pain-relieving effects had completely worn off and it was time to push. My legs were rubbery, but I felt EVERYTHING when the child came out. At the time it was hella painful but I can't even say it was terrible. Birth is a natural pain like stretching a healing muscle or rubbing a headache. It's not like "injury" pain where your body is in harm's way. I'd pick a contraction over a stubbed toe, for example.

Then afterwards my legs were like jelly for hours! I want to even say it was a half a day before I could really feel confident walking. Not like I needed to go anywhere, it's just that if I had not had the epi I could have recovered a little quicker.

Then final straw was that for six months after the birth, I just had a weird ache in the spot the needle had gone in. I wouldn't call it pain, but it was annoying. I know some people have headaches and horror stories and I had none of that. Just a minor thing to make me think "why did I do that?"

I have to admit the epidural was heaven of a relief from the pain of labor but I'm not in the moment anymore so my thoughts are circumspect.Doing a completely natural birth is the goal of many women, but in the thick of it plenty of people have decided they can't or don't want to handle the pain. Hey, I had an epidural and I might have another one. I'm just saying that now 21 months after the fact, I can't decide which is the lesser of the evils: labor pain or the annoyances of pain relief, not to mention the bigger items like stalled labor and a chain of medical interventions.

My plan this time is to labor at home as long as possible and avoid the epi if I can. Who knows, my memory could be quite fuzzy and I might squeal at 4cm again. Time will tell!

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Was it really this bad? Thank you Mother Nature for erasing this memory.

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  • I didn't have one with Layla, and was glad after the fact that I didn't - I walked from the delivery room to our hospital room. My midwives and I went over it before hand and they warned me if I said no meds ahead of time they wouldn't offer any - but I could always ask and (how ridicules is this) I was reluctant to ask, so didn't get it. Also, people act like you will explode when you are in real labour, so I was so sure I was in early labour until I got to the hospital - I was at 9 cms! So, it may have been too late? not sure. But, everyone has a different labour, right? Like, I had my first contraction at midnight and she was born at 11:48 am - some people are in labour for days! If it had gone on an hour longer I would have asked for one, I think. I guess this isn't even really an opinion - just a long rambly story. Mostly I wanted to say - I am glad I didn't get one, but I think it's great that they exist and people have the option - I've never experienced someone else's labour - and I am sure it is different for everyone.

  • In reply to mommyandlayla:

    Long labor was my problem last time. I was just so sick of days and days of contractions going nowhere that I begged for pitocin to get the party started. Well, with that obviously comes monitoring, which means being tied to the bed on your back which means no way to manage the pain= epidural.

    I can do anything for 12 hours, but that three-day crap was for the birds!

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    I read your blog back then too, I remember how long yours went on, and frankly was part of the reason I thought I was in early labour! I had Layla in January, a few months after B. But I wanted to add that I like the part of this post where you say it is a natural pain - I kept telling myself that in my head and it seemed to help me get through.

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    In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    With my daughter, I was induced 9 days after her due date. I hadn't been having any contractions and was only 1cm dilated. I wanted to go natural, but after hours of pitocin and them breaking my water to get the process to go faster, I opted for an epidural. The reason I got the epi was because the contractions had gone from tolerable for several hours to unbearable (after breaking my water) in a matter of minutes. No build up to the pain.
    But of course the epi only stalled labor further and they had to up the pitocin and I couldn't feel my legs and the nurses and my husband and mother had to keep flipping me from side to side. I pushed for nearly 3 hours, was threatened with a c-section if I didn't push the baby out in the final 1/2 hour and ended up with a pretty large episiotomy. I couldn't walk for a good day, had to have a catheter and was in a lot of pain down there for a good week.
    I choose to go natural with my son. I went to a midwife who flat out won't do an epidural (she will do other pain meds if you ask, but she will never offer) and wouldn't induce until I was a full 2 weeks overdue.
    BEST CHOICE EVER. I had the best delivery. So much better than with my daughter. I was 9 days late again, still only a couple cm dilated and wanting this baby out so bad. I went to a post-due date appointment one morning and the midwife did and internal check up and then I was in labor on the way home from her office. 2 hours later my son was born. It hurt for sure. But it was a pain I knew I could manange and when I got to the hospital and they told me I was 9cm and ready to push I was amazed. 15 minutes of pushing and my son was in my arms. It hurt when his head came out, but I couldn't even feel any contractions at that point and I ended up with just 1 stitch for a small tear.
    I'm so glad that I was able to labor at home until I felt the need to go in and be able to be in whatever position I wanted. I was able to walk to my maternity room with my baby and not be wheeled there. And my recovery after was so much faster.
    I almost would have another kid just to have such a fabulous birth experience like that one (but we are done at 2).

    Whatever you decide has to be the best option for you of course. The important thing is bringing that beautiful baby into this world. Doesn't matter how it happens. Good luck!

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    I had c-sections with both of mine, so I can't comment on the epi personally, but my sister had an epi with both of her boys. With her first, she didn't have any problems with it. But, with her second (born in May), the anesthesiologist messed it up. She now has excruciating nerve pain in her back. She was told by her OB that it should clear up in 6 months to a year, but it was possible that the pain would be permanent.

    I'm sure that cases like my sister are pretty rare, but it's still something to consider as you're making your decision.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    I'm with you in hoping that no epidural/pitocin is needed for round two. I think my first mistake was going to the hospital too early (they only admitted me because of high blood pressure). Second mistake was asking for the epidural before I really needed it. It slowed my labor down, forced them to give pitocin to speed things up, and then I was in the worst pain of my life. They kept giving me "shots" of pain meds in the epidural, and it did absolutely nothing besides make my legs numb.

    Recovery was HORRIBLE. I think I reacted poorly to the epidural, because I could barely function enough to take care of Aiden for several weeks after. I had horrible headaches, couldn't eat...it was terrible.

    Long story short, I fear the epidural now. The problem is that your perspective can change quite a bit when you're actually in the moment.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    I got a narcotic and then the epi...it was awesome. I personally didn't like pregnancy and if I could have been absent to the labor, I would have been thrilled. If there was a way they could have put me out during the process (sans the pain of a csection recovery) I would have signed up for it. I could have cared less about the 'experience' or the 'miracle.'

    I guess everyone is different, but I had no problems with the epi before during or after.

    I don't have anything to compare the recovery too, but my major problem was that my vagina hurt...allot, and my guess is it had more to do with the baby ripping me a new one, more than the epi...but I could be wrong. Regardless, I don't regret it, and when people ask me about labor my only response is 'it hurts, get the drugs.'

  • I had one with my first child when I was dialated (sp?) to 9, which they weren't supposed to do, but it was OK. My other two labors were natural. I really wanted to feel the pain like women did before medical breakthroughs. Crazy, huh? The pain is MUCH MORE BEARABLE when you are standing up and walking around and you can do that 'till darn near the end. Hospitals seem to want you lying down, but that is the worst most unnatural position to be in. Good luck!

  • In reply to jtithof:

    I agree that laying down is the worst. They just want to get you in, pump you up and churn you out. I'm really hoping the 2nd time around is quicker and I won't fall down the pitocin/epidural sinkhole.

    Awesome job going natural twice btw!

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