I'm new to the boards (just registered today, in fact!) but I've been a big fan of online communities since I first started working for one 8 or 9 years ago (No, I no longer work for said community, nor any others -- I'm in the mortgage business now, so I'm **not** soliciting
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while I was working for one of these sites, and frankly, if it weren't for the site, I'd have been lost and alone!
I have two children, 9 and 3 (girl and boy) and I imagine I had Fibro before the first pregnancy, but wasn't diagnosed until 2 years later. I became pregnant with my son in 2000 after years of battling the fibro fog and pain.
I delivered both of my children naturally - the first with a midwife and the second in a hospital. Honestly, I have a great fear of the damage that can be done by the epidural -- I mean, anesthesiologists don't go to school all that long! The risk just wasn't worth it for me.
With my daughter's delivery, it was a piece of cake -- she just kinda' popped out with a bit of nausea and yes, pain. My son had some complications due to me getting a horrible flu about a month before birth -- but, he was induced about midway through labor -- I do NOT recommend induction for any reason! The petocin causes the pain to be about 2-3x worse!! To make it worse, he fainted and I had to climb on all fours (while in severe pain) and breath through an oxygen mask with some sort of powder on it that caused me to sneeze the rest of the labor LOL
They had to put a monitor on his head because he fainted and I was bed-bound from that point on. After all was said and done, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.
In any case, I'm in the process of getting pregnant again (I could be already, in fact) and I can tell you after both experiences, I will still go the natural route and avoid the induction/water breaking/petocin and will still not have the epidural - especially with the fibro -
Keep in mind, even if you don't have an epidural, and the pain seems to be unbearable, they can still give you something to take the edge off the pain through the IV.
As far as tips after birth? Stay in the hospital as long as you can!! I know, I hate the hospital, and I came home as fast as they'd let me --- with my daughter, I was home 2 hours after birth - but take advantage of the nurses there! If you're planning on breastfeeding, take the first night off! Let them give the baby a bottle or three - it won't kill the nursing, but it'll sure let you get rest!
Once you get home, it's all on you, and waking up 10-15 times a night can really kill the rest you need! With my daughter, I nursed her (for 14 months Ack) and she slept next to me on the bed, and when she cried, I rolled her on top of me and let her nurse away -- very little disturbance in sleep!
With my son, I bottle fed him, knowing that I might have to go back to work at any time, and my daughter wouldn't take a bottle for those 14 months -- unless it was water or juice (she's STILL picky!!). He loved his bouncy chair and slept buckled up in that while I slept on the couch. I had 5-6 4oz bottles filled with water and a can of powdered formula next to it. So when I had to wake up with him, all I had to do was pick him up and mix the formula -- no trips down to the kitchen in the middle of the night! Still back to sleep within minutes.
Another thing, nap as often as you can when you first get home -- when the baby is asleep, lay down on the couch and get some quick Zzzz's - I know you want to maintain the house and do things while he/she's sleeping, but in the beginning, listen to your body! Do things in short bursts -- 10 minutes at a time. It will get done! And your body will thank you for it
Best of Luck!!