Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Epi or No

One of your biggest decisions about labor and delivery will include whether or not you have an epidural. I found a few different sources reporting different statistics, but between 50% and 70% of women having a hospital birth receive an epidural. There are both pros and cons to receiving an epidural. One advantage is that you have a more restful and less painful labor and delivery. However, when you choose an epidural you put yourself at risk for side effects and possible nerve damage to when the epidural is placed.
This has been my experience:
Birth #1:
I wanted to go natural. I figured I was built to go through labor and to deliver a baby. People warned me about the pain, but I still felt that natural was the best way to go. I was shocked by the pain to be honest. Luckily my labor was fast and I went from a 0 to 10 in about 4 hours. However, as I started pushing it was clear that part of my cervix wasn't completely dilated and I started to swell and went back to an 8. I gave up and got the epidural. This made me throw up but at least the pain was gone. I was so relieved, it was like the relief of Heaven. It then took two hours to dilate the rest of the way again because sometimes the epidural will slow down your labor. I then gave birth to my first son. I couldn't feel anything and I had never done it before so I couldn't push. The nurse laid on my belly and pretty much pushed the baby out.
Birth #2:
I was going to go natural again (I think there is something that women have in their brains that make them forget labor so they will do it again!). As soon as my labor pains really kicked in and the memories started rushing back, I told my husband I WANT THE DRUGS!! Too bad for me though. We were on Guam at the time and no anesthesiologist was at the hospital and had to be called in. By the time he arrived I was dilated to a 9 and it was too late. I delivered my daughter completely natural and it was awesome. I felt everything as she was delivered and I thought it was really cool. My recovery was super fast too after this delivery. I felt like I hadn't even given birth. It was a great delivery and recovery.
Birth #3
As soon as the pain started and I started screaming, I opted for the epidural. I just wanted the baby to be born peacefully. My first two were hard and I worked. I felt good about my accomplishment and very empowered, but for some reason, I just wanted to be calm and peaceful with this delivery and I knew that I couldn't have that without the pain being gone. This was my best labor experience. My husband and I chatted and laughed all through the labor. I knew how to push from my last baby and even though I couldn't feel it, the delivery was fast and I didn't need any help from the nurse this time! The doctor even said I had been the best pusher of the night!! I sort of wanted a plaque or something but I guess they didn't do that!!
Birth #4
I had to be induced because my little miss was going on 11 days late. Once my labor really got going I decided again to get the epidural. This time it only worked on half my body. It was really weird. I totally felt everything on one side while the other side took a vacation. It was helpful though because it literally cut the pain in half. Delivery was the same. I felt baby move and slide out on the one side.
I found out later that sometimes and for some people the epidural may not even work at all.

So, I kind of got a wide range of experience with the whole epidural thing. As always, we say do what is best for you. I personally think any woman can go natural if that is what she wants to to, but if you have a hard time with pain, it really is a more peaceful experience when you do it painlessly.
What do you all think? Epidural or no?


  1. I think it would be interesting to have multiple children and compare experiences. For me my labor went really fast so that by the time I got to the hospital I was already at a 9 1/2. I asked for an epi but they told me I had already gone through the hardest part and they wouldn't be able to even get it in me fast enough. I did enjoy though feeling that my body knew what was going on. Yes it hurt, but that all goes away when you see your baby. Though I was pro-epi before having my first child, I think after this experience I will see if I can do it again natural.

  2. I recently had my first baby and got an epi. It was a wonderful experience for me. Like you said with one of yours, I was able to talk and laugh with my husband throughout the labor and delivery. It was very peaceful...which was what I really wanted.

  3. I think if you are in pain, then take advantage of the availability of modern medicine. Nothing wrong with being comforatble! We don't set a broken leg today without medication!

  4. I had an epidural for the last 2 hours of labor. I needed sleep, and I had been awake in pain for way too long. If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten the epidural sooner and spent more time sleeping during labor! I needed more rest than I got. Even with the epidural, I was surprised how much pain I felt during delivery. Maybe I didn't have much of the med in my system, but boy did it hurt!

    The thing I don't like about an epidural is being stuck in bed and not being able to pee on your own. That's annoying!

  5. I have had two births and two epidurals. Now on my third pregnancy I am considering going without! With baby #1 I was given pitocin and I think you will agree, those are some STRONG contractions. When I experienced regular contractions the next time it was so much easier! But I chickened out and got the epidural anyway (I was scared of the pushing part). Now this time I am wondering if I can do it. I have been reading this really great book about interventions during labor/delivery and it is motivating me to try natural. Anyway, I think to each her own. They don't hand out medals and no one is going to pat you on the back and call you a hero. It's all about what is best for you at the time.