“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself” – Albert Einstein
TO HAVE AN EPIDURAL OR NOT???
That is the 6 million dollar question right? For some women, it's not an option! They know right away that they do not want to feel any pain! They have heard from other women that it is awful, that they "can't" do it; it's unbearable!
Yea, it hurts! So what! I will not give you a page full of pros and cons about epidurals, you can google it and find all of that out for yourself. Just type in, "The Pros and Cons of an Epidural", and you will get some very factual information about the safety and medical aspects of an epidural.
What I want to talk about is the lie that accompanies it! The lie is that 'YOU CANNOT HAVE A BABY WITHOUT ONE'!!! That you just won't be able to do it, it is too painful! Listen, I am not a hippocrate! I had 4 epidurals with all 4 of my kids. Why? Because I didn't know any better, and because they were dangled in front of me like a carrot every 5 minutes!! "You know you can have an epidural any time you want it... are you ready for it? Do you want it now? How about now? Hurry up or you'll miss your chance and then you'll have to SUFFER!!!!!"... lol (yes, nurses do say these things!!! and sometimes the doctor!).
I have seen it with my own and now I am consciously aware of it and see it with nearly every birth, even when the mother tells every one who will listen right up front "Um, NO epidural".
So what's the big deal? Well, do your research and you will find that they are not as safe as the doctors want you to believe! But, that is something you will have to research for yourself because as a doula, my job is to help you make your choices and then help you carry them out; and that means getting an epidural for well over half of my mommies!
Here are the realistic and experiential components of having an epidural...
1) There is something in the epidural (Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics, such as bupivacaine, chloroprocaine, or lidocaine. They are often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics, such as fentanyl and sufentanil, to decrease the required dose of local anesthetic. This way pain relief is achieved with minimal effects. These medications may be used in combination with epinephrine, fentanyl, morphine, or clonidine to prolong the epidural’s effect or stabilize the mother’s blood pressure - taken from the website American Pregnancy Association.)which often can cause the mom to have severe itching as well as extreme shaking. This shaking isn't because mom is cold. Moms will often experience shaking AFTER delivery in a non-medicated delivery due to hormones and from the actual experience; BUT with an epidural it begins nearly as soon as the epidural is administered. It is very uncomfortable and it is very hard to relax, which is the whole goal right? Let's review the pain cycle.... fear = tension = pain = fear = tension = pain.... Well, if you are shaking and fearful and not able to relax, it would follow that you experience more feelings of pain...
2) It is often VERY difficult for moms to push after having an epidural. This is simply because the area is so numb (even though you can often have some control over your legs - although they are very heavy) that you aren't quite sure that you are pushing from the right place. This frustrates mom and she often feels very out of control and as if she isn't "doing it" right. This frustration can lead to a more agitated and prolonged labor.
3) After a "natural" or non-medicated delivery of the baby (with no complications), mom is quickly able to recover, sit herself up, start to move around and take charge and control of what is happening; breastfeed, etc. When you are medicated with an epidural, it is much harder to recover; you continue to feel immobilized; it is difficult to position yourself and it takes much longer to get up and have freedom.
4) AND HERE IS THE NUMBER ONE THING... moms are afraid that they won't be able to handle the pain! They feel they will be overwhelmed by it. YOU CAN DO THIS! Your body is absolutely amazing and YOU can handle the pain, you can do it natural. You need support and encouragement and a skilled doula/labor partner to assist you. You also need to mentally prepare and go into it KNOWING you can do it, and you will!
Now, all of these things above are not THAT big of a deal for many moms! The trade off is worth it - which is that with an epidural, you do not FEEL the contractions.
Here is a MAJOR misunderstanding: Moms think that there is NO pain at all with an epidural. That is not accurate. There is no contraction pain, true, BUT, moms STILL feel the pressure in their rectum when that baby is ready and you are 10cm (complete) and ready to start pushing! To some moms, including myself, this pressure equalled PAIN!! Not unbearable, and certainly not for as long and hard as contractions are. But, don't be mislead, there is still some levels of uncomfortability!
I have seen many of my moms - about nearly half, go ALL natural with no epidurals and I can say from experience, that those moms without the epidurals recovered much faster and also have a BETTER and more positive view of their birth! Even with feeling the contractions.
Some of my mommies who had epidurals were very disappointed with the outcomes of their births (not all of my mommies, some had epidurals and were quite pleased with their labor and delivery!), and were upset that they couldn't "feel" the pushing and actually felt disappointed in themselves. It also took longer for them to recover and they were not satisfied with the fact that they could not move about and have the freedom to move on their own without assistance.
More moms got physically sick (throwing up) with the epidurals than without. Is this cause-effect? I don't know? I threw up with all 4 of my own kids, BUT, I do have to say I have a very sensitive stomach and have great difficulty taking ANY kind of medication, even over the counter stuff...
Another statistical fact for my moms... The ones without epidurals had quicker labors!!! That may or not be a proven fact somewhere, BUT, for my mommies, statistically, their labors were shorter when they had no interventions!
Okay... Remember that the decision to have an epidural is yours and yours alone! If you choose to have one, that is okay. It doesn't mean you are weak or less! Just know what you are getting yourself into. Don't be pressured by anyone.
As always, open to comments... You can respond to this through my "contact us" page and I will post your comment and then respond!