Saturday, January 9, 2010

Numb or Not.

Okay. So, I don't always post on weekends, but this is a topic I have been considering for a while now.

Epidural. Ep-eh-der-ull.

I know, I know, I'm many weeks away from having Baby Bean, but, you know. It's never too early to start preparing right?? So. Here's the deal.

I had an epidural with Cub. I was able to make it to a 7 before I got it and I was sure I'd be fine without it, but the doctor gently encouraged me to consider it, seeing as I hadn't given birth before and Cub was posterior ("sunny side up"). And, I'm glad she did, because Cub ended up flipping back over in the birth canal, which made for some long pushing (over 3 hours). I know epidurals slow things down, but I honestly think that in Cub's case, it's hard to judge whether or not the pushing took forever because of the epidural or because he was wedged in the birth canal. And honestly, it doesn't really matter to me now!

But, now that I am pregnant the second time around, I've thought about doing the deed without an epidural. If, of course, everything goes well. If he's breech, I might hunt down the anesthesiologist myself. Of course, my Mom delivered me breech without meds, but I also came in ten minutes, so she didn't have an option. If the whole thing takes ten minutes, then shoot! No meds needed!

But, really. That's unlikely.


Let me first say, I am all about epidurals. Obviously, I've had one. I am not nearly as passionate about epidurals as I am about, say, breastfeeding. I could get to the hospital and only be dilated to a 3 and beg for an epidural. Who knows. But, from all of the ladies I've talked to who have delivered with and without an epidural, they all agree that without is better. They say that if you can accept that Yes, This Will Hurt, then you are able to feel more in tune with your body and finish it. And they say that afterwards you feel so much better.

BUT, they also agreed that the first time you give birth, you should get one (if you can), since the whole experience is so new.

So, I'm opening this up to you, friends! What do you think? Whether you've had an epidural or not, what was your experience like?? And, if you didn't have one and went into the hospital planning it that way, how did you prepare yourself physically and mentally?

Have a lovely weekend, friends!


  1. I didn't have an epidural with Sophia (it didn't work on me) and I still pushed for 4 hours. Labor is labor. I think if you can do it without, they try. If you end up wanting/needing one, then you always have that option.

    I will say that even though it seriously felt like someone lit me on fire "down there", it was really cool to be able to feel every single thing that was happening as she came out. I would think with an epi, you wouldn't feel anything but pressure, right? ...and once you see that beautiful face, you forget about the pain you just endured. It's very empowering.

  2. Uhm, no you do not forget the pain, at least I didn't. That being said, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be with my first baby.
    The second one six long years later and six years older, and given pitocin - Whew! That was not a picnic, but I survived.
    If I had to give birth again (I think my heart just stopped), I would want to be knocked out, deliver the baby, have a complete body lift and wake up from a drug induced coma in, oh, say six-eight weeks.
    Whatever works. No judgement about drugs during labor and delivery from me.

  3. i think about this topic a lot. have you seen "the business of being born"? it's the rikki lake documentary and is actually really good. the film will make you want to have a homebirth if not just a birth without drugs.

    that being said, i had an epidural with parker and am casually debating having one with our next (whenever we start trying again). part of me wonders if i am missing out on the experience with an epi, and then part of me says that my first labor experience went well and i actually enjoyed many hours of it, so why change that?

    we'll see, but i think the biggest reason i'd want to do it without an epi is just to say that i did it without drugs (and that's not a good reason so i'll probably have one :)).

  4. i am all about one...for every child i might have...even it's 15. :) i actually have a pretty high pain tolerance and have random kidney stone attacks (which some say ar elike labor) and i don't enjoy much of anything going on aorund me when those things are taking place! i had one with Lincoln and was able to enjoy family who had come for his birth, laugh with my husband while we were pushing and all that stuff (seriously telling jokes and whatnot) and I have SUCH GREAT MEMORIES of his birth and the hospital experience. When i'm in pain, i don't want anyone near me and slightest nioses seem to make it all worse. For me personally, i want to remember everything in a positive manner. my whole opinion is whether you do it with or without, you don't get a medal for either one. You get your precious darling, though either way :)

  5. Interesting. Learned a lot about this topic at the childbirth class today, and I surprised myself with how laid back I was about the epidural/non-epidural issue. I thought I'd for sure be in one camp or the other, but I found myself floating around somewhere in the middle. We'll see, I guess!!!

  6. Okay. I went almost my entire time without an epidural because the one they gave me didn't take (because of an incompetent anesthesiologist who jammed the needle into a NERVE rather than where it was supposed to go). About an hour before I started pushing, I was finally given the real thing and of course, instant relief set in. Levi, too, was sunny side up and I pushed for 2.5 hours and he was not progressing at all. (This is the reason I was induced - he was too big for me to go any further in my pregnancy because if he got ANY bigger, they'd have to c-section him because of the way I'm built). Anyway.... with the epidural, I got instant relief and was able to enjoy the whole experience (when my brains didn't feel like they were going to burst out my ears from pushing). And, um, (personal, but true, so get ready) as Levi was being suctioned out (the only way he would come) I ripped completely - all the way. top to bottom. top. to. bottom. kill. me. now.
    So, I was praising God for epidurals because I would NOT want to experience that without medication. The healing process was hard enough. (Couldn't walk for 2 days.)
    I had a very had experience during Levi's delivery so I am pro-epi's for all of my future babies. :) I think I would have passed out without one. BUT, I do hope my future deliveries go a lot easier than faster. I've heard great things though from other moms about not having them. But those are also my friends who deliver their babies fast and with like 3 pushes. I envy those ladies. Ha!!

  7. I had Aidan without an epi, but was induced. If I am ever induced again, I may just opt for an epi...mostly because the pitocin they gave me made my contractions so intense and so close together that I really didn't have a break once labor began. I started labor at about 5 cm dilated and 70% effaced, so that was helpful, but it made it all very intense for the entire time. The whole thing was about 7 hours from start to finish. The worst part for me was the recovery because I tore in a very sensitive area and was in terrible pain for several weeks...took about 12 weeks to feel partially healed. But, I would still do it all over again and plan to get a midwife with our second one. I will most likely deliver in a hospital again because insurance is stupid about home births, but I would really love to have one at home in a bathtub or something. I hear that second labors are often a lot easier and quicker than the first, so it would probably be a lot easier to go natural this time around. Oh...and I think the pain of labor is a whole lot worse than the pushing part. Yeah, it burns, but it is almost numbing at the same time. I got stuck at 9.5 cm for about an hour or so and that was probably the most difficult hour of labor that I had.

  8. Wow, these are all so good! Um, and Whitney, I can't IMAGINE not having an episiotomy with Cub (he was suctioned, too). I never had any pain at all "in that area" thanks to the episiotomy ... I know they get a bad rap, but good grief, I never felt any pain thanks to it (they did it because of the suction)! Oh man. So much to think about!!

  9. Wow, I wish I would have known that, Katie! I would have FORCED my Dr to cut me! Haha... I can't BELIEVE you didn't have any pain "in that area". It was pure misery for me for 2 weeks straight - even going potty!! Yikes. Bad memories. I know that a lot of Dr's aren't doing episiotomies any more because they SAY the natural tear heals quicker. But I don't think I believe that one bit. Next time, I'll hand the scissors to the Dr myself!! ;)

  10. I had an epidural with Selah because the labor was ridiculously long and her head was wedged. I was so thankful because I also pushed 3 hours, which I do not believe was because of the epidural but her head position.

    So, with Titus, I really wanted to try to go without an epidural, and after 9 hours of laboring and very little change in his station in the birth canal, I got one. Unfortunately my blood pressure dropped immediately afterwards and I felt really yucky for awhile, but it stabilized and I felt so much better. I was hoping that my second labor would be faster (like they tell you it usually is) but it wasn't. I was SO glad to get another one.

    I did go a lot longer without one the second time and I was so proud of that accomplishment.

  11. I say numb! :) I don't have a horror story to share, my pregnancy and delivery were really quite easy. I had decided from the get go that I would do an epidural and it worked wonderfully for me, pushing was only about 30 minutes with Grace and even though it was short, I was glad to be partially numb! You know yourself the best, you can go in with the intention of no epidural, and hey, if needed you can always change your mind!

  12. There was no question for me, I got the epidural. It didn't slow down my labor. I had my first contraction a la pitocin at 11a, got the epi @ 2pm and had Miss B. at 8pm. I had 36 mins of pushing. No episitomy, wish I had. Like Whitney I tore the same and it's never been the same since. My doctor said it was his first 4th degree in about a decade, go me! If I was able to handle pain I wouldn't mind not getting one, but I had such an awesome birthing experience (no side effects from the epi and it worked the first time), IF we have another I would certainly get the epi again. I didn't think I missed out on anything by having one.

  13. I was one of those moms that vowed to NOT get an epi unless I absolutely HAD to. I ended up passing out after 2 days of labor and got a low dose of epidural so I still had the sensations of pushing her out; it wore off after 2 hours. Whatever works for you and the little one!

  14. I was induced with Audrey and the pitocin was making me have contractions every 2 mintues and I was only at a I politely asked for the epidural. I've heard getting induced without an epi can be horrible, simply because of the pitocin and I found that to be true. My epi also wore off an hour before I had to push so all those breathing exercises I'd learned really came in handy!! I don't know what will happen with #2. I'm open to not having one but I also felt fine afterwords with having one. I don't really care, as long as the baby comes out!!!

  15. Thank you everyone for your comments! I love reading about the birth experiences of other women. Each experience is so unique and there are so many different factors that play into each one. I'm going to continue talking to my doctor about it and we'll make a decision when the time comes!

  16. this is something I've thought a lot about, my SIL had both kids naturally and I have many friends that have and had great experiences going drug free. I have friends that have done home births as well which is so fascinating to me but Tyler would flip over that! I think if we do go natural when we have kids, we will take the Bradley classes, probably study up on relaxation techniques/self-hypnosis (worked for a good friend of mine) and likely hire a doula as well. I don't KNOW that we will go that route, but I would like to try. Of course I say this now, but when I have cramps I am moaning like a baby, ha! I did just switch doctors to one that can deliver at the hospital down the road from us that is very natural-birth friendly. But hearing about people tearing "from hole to hole" pretty much scares the bejeebies out of me, so I may opt for the epi!! especially if we have big babies (and we were both 9 lbs at birth so I wouldn't be surprised!)

  17. Im not a mommy yet... but we are trying and I wanted to say thanks to everyone who shared their stories. I think Im going to opt for the epi... but we'll see! :)

  18. All for the DRUGS!;) I have three kiddos. Each one different with a different birth story. First one, induced, 11 hours of laboring but got the epidural so I was able to rest and feel good to push. Then second baby, deciding to come early. Contractions set in fast and was at 8 when I got hospital two hours later. SCARED that I was too late for my epi, but THANK the Lord, I got it. Good thing to because my son was 9 lbs 5 ozs, got stuck in the birth canal after his head came out! Very scary! But with the epidural I didn't pass out when the Dr and nurses jumped on me to get the baby out! Then I got induced, which I love being induced, with my third labor lasted 5 hours from start to finish. Enjoyed the calmness because I was pain free. I am just pro-epi because I feel that I got to really focus on the brith of my children taking everything in and not thinking about how bad it hurt the whole time. But I have some amazing friends that go all natural and love it, so to each his own!:)

  19. I didn't have an epidual. Given... I really wanted one once I hit 5, because of the pain? no, because I hadn't been to sleep in over 24 hours and I was sooo tired I just wanted to sleep... which that's all on the birth story on my blog ( however, I didn't have the epidual, but I did have stadal (spelling?) and that took the edge off the pain, but I was still able to experience everything... so that might be a choice for you, if you wanna go natural and then the pain gets to be to much... try that before you go the epidual route. Oh... and I had a fairly fast labor (started pitocin around 3 am and I had Elsie at 10 AM) so...

    Good Luck!! Are ya'll going to find out what your little bean is or just be surprised?


  20. hey katie... its is every girls decision, but i am really for the natural way. in the UK you dont really have a lot of options, so i went the birthing centre, no drugs way. and it was wonderful. my labour was about 22 hours and i pushed for nearly 3. it was very painful, but also really cool. i wast completely aware of what was going on and able to respond accordingly. i had an episotomy about 2 hours into the pushing and to tell you the truth, i didnt even feel it. they had to cut me twice, and it was ok. after it was all over, when it was time for the stiches, well THAT i felt. but i imagine in the states they would numb you for that bit. i didnt have an option there.

    but as for baby goes, no epidural was great for me. i liked having full feeling and being completely aware of everything that was going on. the only downfall i would say is that after the birth, i was exhausted. it took every muscle imaginable to get that baby out. and the weird positions they put you, man! perhaps an epidural would have helped with the fatigue afterwards.

    regardless though, i will still go with no epidaural on my second baby.

    good luck with you decision! xx

  21. I am a Labor and Delivery nurse and I am ALL FOR epidurals...I had one with my baby and it was thing to consider is that if you have to have a c/section in an you want to have to be put to sleep so you can't see your baby right after or just use the epidural...I always think worst case scenarios b/c of what I do :).'s been proven that epidurals DO NOT slow down labor!!! So if that is the reason you are thinking about not having one, put it out of your mind! Labor is the most painful thing medicine ever lets anyone go thru without anesthesia. Would you consider having open heart surgery w/out anesthesia? :)I vote for enjoying the labor process as much as you can, as painlessly as you can! In today's world, there is no reason to be a HE-Woman just to "say you did it."

  22. First off- wish you all the best with this next delivery, whether you choose and epidural or not!

    I was induced with Obadiah...we walked in at 7:30am, they started the pitocin and I got the epidural about an hour later! We just hung out and talked, slept, and enjoyed our kiddo's birthday. When it came time to push we were talking and joking with the nurse and the doctor between pushes. It was totally relaxed. It took about 1.5 hour to push that boy out, and at the last minute they had to use the forceps. I was SO thankful that I couldn't feel those things go in. YIKES! But, when after he was born we were tired, but not exhausted at all. That was probably my favorite thing about the whole ordeal. He was finally there and I got to enjoy him without being wiped out. I would do it the same way all over again. It really was a FUN day. Didn't expect to be able to say that.