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rosiemontana
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I'm scared of getting an epidural

Sep 13th, 2018, 01:41 AM   #1
 
I'm having my first baby in March (yes I know I have a lot more time to worry about the birth!)
I'm absolutely terrified of the idea of birth. But I honestly think I'm more scared of the epidural. As of right now I plan on delivering without it but many have been telling me that's a bad idea. The truth is, I am scared of pretty much any drug or injection. I've had allergic reactions to medications in the past and a combination of that and anxiety/panic disorder if I feel any sort of side effects or even just the normal effects of a drug when taking anything (could even be a Benadryl...) I start scaring the S#*% out of myself.
So my questions are, is natural birth for the first born really that bad? What should I expect and what should I be doing to prepare myself for it? OR what does the epidural feel like physically? Does it alter your cognition?
 
 
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Kholl
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Sep 13th, 2018, 02:14 AM   #2
 
I think it is wise to be hesitant of an epidural - and of exposing yourself and your baby to heavy drugs in general. It is a serious decision and it's good you're not taking it lightly.

There is so much emphasis on the agony of birth, with little consideration for everything that is actually happening, and the purpose that discomfort is serving. Yes, it is very intense, and it is very, very hard work. You will hit a point during unmedicated birth when you feel you cannot go on. But it's not for nothing. It's not like having surgery without anesthesia. It's not as simple as, why experience pain when you don't have to? First of all, that is based on the assumption that pain and discomfort and very hard work are not valuable and don't have lessons for us. It is ignorant and smug to assume we know better than nature, or to assume that the sensations of labor don't serve a profound purpose.

What people don't say as much is that the SECOND your baby is born, the bliss matches - and exceeds - the pain. You feel amazing INSTANTLY. You aren't worried about side effects or detoxing from drugs or the potential disruption to the delicate and perfect hormonal response that has been fine-tuned by biology over millions and billions of years. You also feel like the most powerful invincible warrior woman on the planet. I believe natural birth is one of the greatest preparations for life as a mother and as a fully-developed adult woman. There is nothing that has given me more of a sense of my own power and competence. Things that used to bother me don't anymore. You don't have many opportunities in life to have a gift like that.

I have had all 3 of my babies 100% drug-free, and yes it was very difficult. But my body also led me through the experience so I was able to move around, and push in a reasonable position so I didn't tear... and the recovery was phenomenal. My energy was fantastic immediately and I felt great for the postpartum period when most people I know felt like they'd been hit by a bus. The pain of labor is not for nothing. The hormones your body releases during that process are as close to perfect as life comes. We should be very wary of disrupting the process.

I am not saying natural birth is perfect for everyone (though I do believe it is possible and ideal for the vast majority of women), and I'm also not saying that drugs during labor necessarily mean worse outcomes for mothers and babies. But they don't have no consequences, and many of those consequences are far-reaching and unknowable to us right now. I also think there is a very belittling attitude towards women, implying we can't "handle" the pain, as if we aren't built to do this. When we are. We are BUILT to do this, and we should be encouraged to own that. So, on that note, own this. F the epidural. You don't need it. Your body knows what to do - let it do what it does best!
 
 

 
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WinterWolf
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Sep 13th, 2018, 03:38 AM   #3
 
Theres more choices than epidural or nothing. Loads of other pain relief can be given if you need it but don't want an epidural. I haven't given birth yet so can't comment on that but you definitely have more than two choices
 
 

 
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Akua
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Sep 13th, 2018, 05:58 AM   #4
 
Have you looked into hypnobirthing? It can be a brilliant method for helping people cope and stay calm
 
 

 
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tropical sun
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Sep 13th, 2018, 08:16 AM   #5
 
I used gas and air for all 3 of my children and even though I got to a point during the Labour (with my 1st) that i was asking for an epidural, I was so so pleased that i didn't get one - I felt very proud, I could walk into the bathroom afterwards to get into the bath instead of not being able to walk, and it might sound strange but I was pleased I felt and experienced the whole labour and birth.
I would definitely do it again without an epidural.
It's also nice to be able to keep "active" and be able to move/walk around and find comfortable positions which all help.
There are also lots of other options other than an epidural which you might want to research a bit before your due so you can make an informed choice.
Gas and air, pethadine, water birth, tens machine, warm baths in the beginning, breathing techniques, moving around and changing positions (I found swaying my hips from side to side helpful each time I had a contraction) and probably lots more medication options that I'm not sure about but others will know about or your midwife could tell you about. But personally id say just go with your body and make a decision at the time as it's only then that you'll know how your coping and also things change and can be decided for you x
 
 
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firstfreakout
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Sep 13th, 2018, 11:01 AM   #6
 
I'm different to the ladies above, in that I've only had one labour and it was suction assisted, episiotomy, and epidural due to being induced at 40+6.

I do agree with the above though that there are many options other than an epidural, and many options in between a 'natural' birth and a birth with an epidural. I would advise you talk through each one with your midwife, making note of what you absolutely DO NOT want under any circumstances, and what you're open to when the time comes. I would also recommend you have whoever is with your be an advocate for that if they're not listening to you/you're too busy with your labour to communicate to them. But be aware your wishes will be ignored in the interest of yours and your baby's safety.

I think what you need to keep in mind is reality. It's all very well wanting a 'natural' labour with no medications and no interventions, but with your first child that's not always going to be a possibility. If you're induced for example, the contractions are a lot more intense than if you go in to spontaneous labour. I was induced and the pain was excruciating. I was bullied in to having pethidine and it didn't work. At all. By 6cm I had a spinal before I had an epidural (due to having to determine history of back pain before consenting to epidural) and the epidural was absolute bliss for me.
I could feel enough of the contractions that I wasn't numb (after the spinal wore off) and I could feel my baby be born.

Now, the thing is if you're induced you might be screaming for an epidural. If you have an instrumental delivery (forceps/suction) or an episiotomy you will need some form of anaesthetic, or even an epidural itself. If you then need an emergency c section of course the game then changes.

But then again you might have a wonderful pain threshold and are able to go through the labour without any help. I wasn't one of those women due to the contractions being synthetic but some do it. It's all down to what you can handle, and how adamant you are about having a 'natural' birth.

I don't want to scare you given that you're saying you have anxiety and have had issues with medications in the past, but this is something you're going to need to wrap your head around with your midwife because this baby will need to come out one way or another!

An epidural isn't as awful as it sounds, I promise. You get a button to control the dosage, so you can feel more or less depending on how many times you press it. They monitor your blood pressure incase of reactions.
Are you the kind of person who's anxiety is settled if you see or understand a procedure before it happens? You could always do some research in to epidurals if that's the case.

The reactions you have with other medications sounds like your anxiety takes over and they're psychosomatic. I definitely agree with the above posters about hypnobirthing in this case. The more you worry about a reaction, the more you'll probably convince yourself you have one, and the more symptoms your body will start creating.




**
What I don't agree with those is Kholl's opinion on how belitting it is for women to assume they can't handle the pain, when what she's said can have the same affect for women who couldn't do labour naturally. In fact her comments here can make women reading it who couldn't be a 'warrior' feel like they failed nature.

I wanted a water birth so badly. I couldn't have one. I almost died and missed 2 weeks of my newborn's life. I had to fight hard to learn to bond with him because of this. I am a motherfucking warrior, whether I had an epidural or not. Whether my body could go into labour or not.
 
 

 
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Kholl
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Sep 14th, 2018, 02:48 AM   #7
 
Firstfreakout- I am sorry, I didn't mean to come off like that whatsoever. I didn't mean to suggest that women who don't give birth naturally aren't warriors. I only meant that often the medical professionals themselves try to make women feel like they can't handle labor in order to make it easier on the doctors themselves, so the doctors can take control rather than allowing women to make their own choices, if that makes sense.

I have had dear friends who have gone through the induction/epidural/emergency c-section gauntlet and I absolutely bow down to them. I think they are tougher than I am in MANY ways. I think what they've been through is WAY harder than what I went through, and I feel like an absolute wuss compared to them. I really mean that. They are a breed of warrior that brings me to my knees.

I realize that 95% of my labor and birth experiences are due to sheer luck - I really do believe that. I was lucky to have everything go the way it did and I was lucky to have care providers who supported me and knew how to intervene/support me effectively. I really didn't mean to imply that I am superior on ANY level to women who have chosen (or been forced to have) ANY other kind of labor and birth experience. I feel a deep respect and camaraderie for all mothers out there who are putting their babies first - whatever that looks like.
 
 

 
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firstfreakout
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Sep 14th, 2018, 12:54 PM   #8
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kholl View Post
Firstfreakout- I am sorry, I didn't mean to come off like that whatsoever. I didn't mean to suggest that women who don't give birth naturally aren't warriors. I only meant that often the medical professionals themselves try to make women feel like they can't handle labor in order to make it easier on the doctors themselves, so the doctors can take control rather than allowing women to make their own choices, if that makes sense.

I have had dear friends who have gone through the induction/epidural/emergency c-section gauntlet and I absolutely bow down to them. I think they are tougher than I am in MANY ways. I think what they've been through is WAY harder than what I went through, and I feel like an absolute wuss compared to them. I really mean that. They are a breed of warrior that brings me to my knees.

I realize that 95% of my labor and birth experiences are due to sheer luck - I really do believe that. I was lucky to have everything go the way it did and I was lucky to have care providers who supported me and knew how to intervene/support me effectively. I really didn't mean to imply that I am superior on ANY level to women who have chosen (or been forced to have) ANY other kind of labor and birth experience. I feel a deep respect and camaraderie for all mothers out there who are putting their babies first - whatever that looks like.
Kholl, thank you for replying. This is a very sweet reply, and so is your private message, it means a lot that you took some time to clear up my misinterpretation of your original post.

I guess because I already have my back up a bit lately about labour I took your opinion and experience regarding natural labour as implying you felt anything other than wasn't as great an experience etc, so that's probably more my fault there than your wording! I'm sorry if this is the case.

I completely agree with what you've said here, that some women are lucky and others not quite, but all are incredible. Just like you have a deep respect for those who have hard harder labours, I have a massive respect for those women who have a labour with no pain relief, especially when it's a long one! Astounding, really. Hopefully with this one I can be one of those..

in regards to the point about medical professionals and their opinion on labour, I think the midwives are a bit more chilled with it all, and happy to let the mother get on with it especially if it's their 2+ child. However, I did find that the doctor who delivered my kiddo did the episiotomy and ventouse after an hour of pushing without consent, as she stated to the midwives in the room 'I'm going in to surgery and won't be free for another hour so this baby has to come out now'. So she definitely pushed for an assisted delivery based upon her own circumstances there. I was also bullied in to having pethidine by a male midwife who called me something like 'awkward' when I refused.. So I can see your point there!
 
 

 
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Kholl
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Sep 14th, 2018, 16:44 PM   #9
 
Thanks for your response FFO I read a wonderful article from a woman who had 2 emergency c-sections who summed it up saying that women don't know what they will be called upon to give during birth, and what unites us all is we give everything to provide life to our babies. That is a beautiful, humbling thing that bonds us all in the same tribe.

Yes you're right, I have had very different treatment with my subsequent children... I think that's part of where my passion comes in, is that I think your FIRST experience colors the experience you have with subsequent pregnancies and births, and while every experience is of vital importance, that first one should be treated with an extra level of honor and care. And the way you described the nurse and doctor is unforgivable! It doesn't matter so much what your experience was (natural, epidural, csection, whatever) as much as how you were made to feel by the people who were responsible for your care in that intense and vulnerable time.
 
 

 
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eager_reader
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Sep 14th, 2018, 18:09 PM   #10
 
Hi rosiemontana,

I am also pregnant with my first so I certainly can't speak from experience.

However, I would like to recommend the Katharine Graves book on Hypnobirthing, as well as The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill.
They both talk about the importance of a birth plan (and everything you should consider when creating it), as well as informed consent. There are lots of nuances to a birth plan (for example asking for staff to NOT offer pain relief, and trust that you will ask for it if required). It's vital to remember that medical staff absolutely cannot give you an epidural without your consent. It's also worth getting your birth partner fully apprised of your plan so that they can speak up for you if you feel incapacitated. I've heard great things about hypnobirthing and it doesn't hurt to have that as a tool if you feel the need to use it.

I have also been listening to the Fear Free Childbirth podcast and have watched a Positive Birth Movement childbirth video, you might like to look into those.
I have taken Daisy Foundation Yoga classes, which are very focused on breathing techniques and explaining what your body goes through during labour - having that knowledge shared and discussed has helped me to feel far more prepared.

I think it's a real shame that in our culture/media/tv shows/films, we are spoon-fed this horrible, terrifying vision of labour that really perpetuates a sense of fear and anxiety around childbirth - I keep reminding myself of this. I am certain that childbirth will not be a walk in the park but I also think it will make such a difference (if it's possible) to go into the experience with an open mind and a reminder that each experience is unique and that what is going to happen is a process that is supposed to happen. The people that have told you that no epidural is a bad idea can really only speak from their own experience and there is no ways that yours will be identical to theirs.

I hope this is vaguely helpful.

Take care and keep posting here if you have more questions or concerns - this is such a great resource for all of us.
 
 
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firstfreakout
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Sep 14th, 2018, 18:17 PM   #11
 
Kholl, that's a very cool way of thinking about it. I really like that.

eager_reader, thank you for that post. I know I'm not the OP but I will definitely be looking in to some of the things you mentioned for my labour this time around. Your post was very helpful. I went in to my first labour knowing I was being induced and tried to hope for the best, having faith in that my body knows what to do. Well, clearly that all went a bit wrong, but you're right in focusing on every experience being different.

Personally, I really liked the epidural. It calmed me down enough for me to actually be aware of what was going on. The only downside I personally had with the epidural is having to be on my back, as I am so convinced this is the reason my son didn't come out with just pushing, so I needed intervention. If I had been on my knees or standing I'm willing to bet I could have pushed him out! So that's something to consider as well as pain options - positioning and how that will affect your labour.
 
 

 
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eager_reader
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Sep 14th, 2018, 18:26 PM   #12
 
Hi firstfreakout,

I'm so glad my post was helpful! I also forgot to mention that the Daisy classes provide different positions which you can try during labour (guess what - none of them involve lying on your back). They're WAY cheaper than NCT too. :-D

I also learned about the Transition stage of labour, which I believe is not necessarily actively experienced by all women, but I do know that during that time the hormones shift and make you believe that you cannot go on and you have to have painkillers - being prepared in advance for that possibility gives me a sense of confidence.

Knowledge is power!
X
 
 
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Princess81
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Sep 14th, 2018, 18:41 PM   #13
 
Women experience labour in so very many different ways, whatever any of us tel you, your experiencenwill be very private and unique to you.
So let’s look at the facts: we know you have a successful reproductive system that has conceived and carried a baby. We therefore have zero reason to suspect that your body won’t do the rest for you as well.
Might I suggest you read “the positive birth book” by milli hill, it’s so calming. I’m a midwife and recommend it to any ladies on my community caseload who feel anxious about birth and they all deport it helps them gain some order and confidence.
As for an epidural, this is something for you to consider as only an option, not a must-have. No one will force you into it, the decision is entirely yours. There are many other pain relief options without medication, water is fabulous and there are some amazing essential oils etc as well. Also a tens machine is worth considering.
I would also recommend natal hypnotherapy (I personally used Maggie howell’s version and found it amazing).
Another very good book is “birthing the easy way” by Sheila Stubbs x
 
 

 
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malagueta
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Sep 17th, 2018, 16:09 PM   #14
 
I think you need to be prepared for anything really and to keep an open mind. A birth plan will certainly help the medical staff to know/understand what you want but you can always change your mind when in labour and as mentioned above you will have to give your consent to an epidural. I've heard other people say though that they devised an indepth birth plan and were then disappointed when things didn't go the way they'd hoped so maybe try to go in with an open mind.

I just had my first baby in July and I went in hoping to do things without any pain relief if I could. I cracked my coccyx though during pregnancy and then was induced with oxytocin so the contractions I started having when I was around 6cm became excruciating for me. Here in Spain the pain relief options seem to be nothing or epidural so that was rather disappointing that there was nothing in between and I ended up with an epidural.

I'm terrified of needles, which was part of the reason I wasn't keen on an epidural. However, asking for an epidural was, for me, the best decision. I felt I was then able to enjoy my birth experience as I was relatively calm. Even with the epidural on the full dose I was still able to move my legs a bit and then when it came to pushing I was able to tone it down so I could feel the contractions. I definitely had a positive experience with it, although I am aware that for some people it doesn't work, or it doesn't work as expected.

Everyone is different though so choose what's best for you and what you feel most comfortable with. Talk through your options with your midwife/doctor and ask any questions you have about birth and your options at your appointments.
 
 

 
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