Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

One of the most stressful things a mom considers before childbirth is how exactly they are going to push a baby out of their vagina.  If you’re a first-time mom, the anxiety can be killer because you have no idea what to expect. You know it’s going to hurt, but that’s so vague, isn’t it? If you’re not a first-time mom, you might experience even more anxiety because you know exactly what’s coming for you and are doing it again anyways. Good times.

I have no personal experience with an epidural, but I did do quite a bit of research in making my decision. After experiencing a birth that was mostly unmedicated, I at least have a little bit of perspective, so we will start there.

Unmedicated: Pros

  • I felt in control.
  • I could walk around, bounce on a birthing ball, and change positions as needed.
  • I was coherent the entire time.
  • I could hold my baby immediately.
  • I could walk as soon as I felt ready.
  • I had no lasting side effects after labor.
  • I had a short hospital stay.

Unmedicated: Cons

  • The pain was overwhelming at times.
  • I was not mentally ready for what contractions would feel like.
  • I had to have local anesthesia for any repairs.

It’s important to note that I am slightly biased, not having experienced a long labor or epidural. I did reserve the right to elect for an epidural, although it was my goal to not need it. This is what I found out when I researched an epidural.

Epidural: Pros

  • It greatly reduces the amount of pain felt.
  • Gives the mother the opportunity to relax and sleep.
  • Reduces the likelihood of trauma associated with pain.
  • No local anesthesia needed for any repairs.

Epidural: Cons

  • It doesn’t work for everyone (only numbs one side, wears off before active labor begins, etc).
  • Short-term and long-term side effects are possible (pain at injection site, migraines, etc).
  • Catheter must be inserted because the mother can’t walk.
  • Increases the likelihood of tears if the mother can’t feel when to push.
  • Epidurals can trigger a chain of other medical interventions (continuous monitoring, Pitocin, and possibly a c-section)

When I chose to decline the epidural, it was not because I wanted the pain. I’m not crazy. I was more scared of the possible side effects, and for me, it was all about being in control. The thought of being confined to the bed freaked me out more than the pain, and as I approach giving birth to a second baby, I hold firm to not wanting the epidural.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience is going to be different. The doctors, the nurses, your support network, the circumstances under which you are giving birth, your current mental state, and more all will impact your experience. Some rave about the epidural, and others have regretted it. It’s so crucial that you make the decision that is right for you specifically and advocate for the well-being of you and your baby. The choice of an epidural or no medicine at all is entirely yours, and you can always change your mind. Trust me, everyone begs for a c-section in the final moments of labor, anyways.