There are lots of pros and cons of epidurals, and this thread will probably bring out the worst in many women here. It's a very decisive issue.
Approx. 2/3 of women in the US choose an epidural.
You can try to go without meds but can change your mind during labor if you want, assuming you haven't progressed too far.
One of the possible complications from an epidural is a spinal headache. This occurs when the needle nicks the dura (a strong piece of tissue that surrounds the spinal column) and causes a small amount of spinal fluid to leak. The dura is supposed to heal itself quickly, but sometimes doesn't. (It's common for the dura to be punctured completely during other procedures, so it's not dangerous to have a nicked or punctured dura). When the fluid leaks and you stand up your brain sinks ever-so-slightly, resting on a bunch of nerves in your head, which causes a horrible headache. When you lie down, it subsides. The fix is for a nurse to draw about 30cc of blood from your arm and an anesthesiologist to inject it into your spinal column a vertebrae or two above where your epidural was placed. You sit up for a few minutes to let the blood run down the dura and cause a "patched" area. The blood provides a "matrix" that the dura can latch on to to heal itself and stop the leak. I had this all happen to me when I had some tests done on low back before surgery.
There are hundreds of websites that will give you the pros and cons of epidurals.
Good luck! And remember that YOU are the one who has to decide what YOU want... no one else. Be firm in what you want, whatever you choose, and let your partner/birth coach know that he/she needs to be supportive of that decision and to relay those needs/wants to the medical staff during labor.
I'm probably going to get bashed for saying this, but it is my personal opinion. ANYONE can go through labor without pain medication. It's been done for thousands of years. To me, it would have been a selfish decision on my part to choose something that can affect my baby, just because I want relief or an "easy" labor, when my child isn't having an easy labor! Like I said, "TO ME".
Many people say "if you are induced, you'll need the Epi".. Again UNTRUE (in my opinion and mine only). I was induced. It's NOT fun, it's NOT pain free, and it's NOT something that's going to make you die from pain. I got triple the dose of pitocin (if I can remember correctly). 23 hours of HARD labor. Nasty back labor. I cried rolling around the floor of the bathroom/shower area of my hospital room I was in so much pain. How nasty is that? LOL I never took ANY pain meds. AND I"M SUCH A WUSS! I can't tolerate pain. I passed out at a pap. You bump me, I cry.
Just thought i'd post my personal story. Pain meds (epidurals, narcotics, etc) are a personal decision. In my opinion, the cons overwhelm the pros. But it's not for ANYONE here to make the decision for you. If you need the epi, if you feel without any rest you won't be able to push, take it. Just know all aspects and make an informed decision, which I am so thankful I did. I wouldn't change my labor/delivery for the world. In fact, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, at the moment I'm begging my husband to let me do it again
In my opinion, it is really a personaly choice, but I always figured that if there is a way to get rid of the pain, why not give it a whirl? Unfortunately that ended up backfiring on me because I tried epidurals for both of my labors and they did not work like they were supposed to. My first, after 13 hours of labor I ended up needing a c-section. I had an epidural with her which worked during my labor, but it completely wore off as soon as my surgery began!!! It was horrific. I ended up being put to sleep for the remainder of the surgery.
With my 2nd, I decided to give it a try again after being in labor for many many hours on pitocin and having no progression at all. I was determined for a VBAC and got to the point that the pain was horrendous. So, I opted for the epi and this time it worked for only 15 minutes out of my 26 hour labor.
In the end, I'm glad that the epi didn't work only because I couldn't imagine having to deliver a baby without having any feeling. I felt in control of everything. But, aside from that............if it had worked, I would have went with it.
Either way you look at it............and epidural does have it's effects, but so does every other thing we put into our bodies and into our childrens bodies. Every single med out there has side effects, this is not anything new. An epidural will not kill you or your baby. You may experience side effects from it, but you could have effects from a Tylenol pill as well!!!
Delivering with no pain meds does not make your experience any different in the end. Giving birth is giving birth no matter what steps you take to get there, whether you choose pain relief or not. You could give it a whirl in the beginning and if it gets too unbearable for you, then don't be afraid to choose an epi. More often than not, women choose to have pain relief.......and they have healthy happy babies. Good luck.
Before I went into labor I made a birth plan and it included that I didnt want any pain meds unless I asked for them and for them not to ask me because I would take them. Well I wanted to go completely without any but I wasnt throwing the idea out the window (hey it was my first baby, I didnt know what it was going to feel like). At about 5cm I asked for some pain meds (not an epi) just to take the edge off so that I could get some sleep (at this point I had been up for 36 hours I think). I got verrrrrrrrrry little amount of nubane with phinergane and an hour later I was screaming for an epi but it was too late. I was ready to push. I didnt get it I delivered my baby without it and I wouldnt change the way I delivered for anything. I do however wish that I would have had the epi so that I wouldnt have felt the stitches. I felt every single one of them. With my next baby I might just do it the same way again. I just didnt want my dd to be sleepy when she was born from the drugs. They gave her a shot in the hip to counteract the meds that I was given during labor. I loved my experience. It is your decision and if you feel that you want an epi go ahead and get it. Like another poster said your not a hero and you dont have to be but if you dont want an epi you dont have to get it. My dh was trying to talk me into getting an epi when I just wanted to take the edge off. I stuck to my guns and didnt get it. My mom was over in the corner saying "why dont you stop fooling around and just get the epi" and my mil told her "she doesnt want it. leave her alone about the epi. if she wants it she will get it. it is her decision not yours" and from that point on my mom didnt say a word about getting it. The next day she did ask me if I wished I would have gotten it and I told her no I did it the way I wanted to do it and Im happy about my decision.
Get the epi so you can focus on delivering your baby. The pain is very intense so why would you want to go through that if you don't have to? I got an epi with my first and I have one again in April. I could not even feel the needle going in because I was in so much pain. After you go numb then you can relax and waite on your baby.
Only you can decide, but I know in my case the epi, did wonders for me. My water broke and I was induced and I was dilated to a 5 and wouldn't go any further I was in SO MUCH pain. So I asked for the epi they gave it to me and in and 1 1/2 i was at a 10 and ready to push. It made me relax enough to wear i dilated I HIGHLY recommend the epi.......... I had no side effects at all and I actually told the person who gave the epi I loved them and gave them a hug......
I have noticed (with my friends) at least, that unless you are 110% against an epi then you will prob. ask for one once the pain gets bad. Actually, my sister was 100% against it and wanted one once the pain got bad. Unfortunately, for her it was too late. With her 2nd she told them she wanted it ahead of time to make sure she would get it at the right time.
It's definitely a personal choice. I had one and I always wanted one. I was 100% for an epi. I am not a fan of meds though, as I believe they effect the baby more than an epi does.
I am a big fan of the modern technology we have today. We can be made comfortable with Adivil when we have a headache, we can be cured of a bladder infection with antibiotics, and the risk of dying in childbirth is down from 100 years ago. I feel- why not use technology to help me through a painful experience.
Having a natural childbirth is not about being a hero. It is about letting a natural process take place like it is suppose to without interfering. In America 93% of women choose an pain medication, usually the epidural and only 7% give birth naturally. I am totally against medication for many reasons. We do not NEED the medication to give birth and in a way, yes, it is the easy way out. Let the FACTS below speak for themselves.
Epidural blocks carry some risks to the mother, fetus and newborn. Undesired effects tend to be greater with larger doses of medication, a longer interval during which the medication is in effect and immaturity or distress in the fetus.
Undesired effects on the mother:
Inadequate pain relief (up to 10%)4
Rise of the mother's oral and vaginal temperature 5, beginning within one hour after administration of the epidural, which may lead to treatment of the mother and baby for non-existent infection. This effect may be dose-related. This recent finding from England is being investigated in the United States.6
Drop in the mother's blood pressure treated with position changes, oxygen and possible vasopressors (less likely if a bolus of IV fluids is given before the epidural).
Short or long-term postpartum backache from bruising caused by the injection or from ligament strain caused by prolonged time spent in a damaging position or inappropriate movement (for example, extreme passive flexion of the mother's trunk, hips and knees during the second stage, or sudden vigorous movements of the mother) while her muscles are relaxed and her back is numb (up to 19%). Long-term backache is almost twice as likely to occur with an epidural than without.7
Possible unintentional spinal block and resulting spinal headache requiring days of bed rest and a blood patch.
Shivering may be reduced with lower doses, by warming of the anesthetic before administration, or by adding narcotics to the anesthetic.8
Mild to severe itching of the skin (with narcotics)
Retention of urine, requiring a bladder catheter1
Mother feels detached from the process and becomes an observer; others may reduce emotional support. The nurse can no longer assess labor progress by observing the mother and must rely more on the monitor and vaginal exams.9
Problems caused by human error or maternal structural anomaly, such as inability to place catheter properly; inadvertent injection of anesthetic into a blood vessel; or too much anesthesia, affecting respiration and swallowing (rates vary with skill of the practitioner and anatomy of the mother).
Rare complications, such as residual numbness or weakness from needle injury to nerves (almost 1 in 10,000)10, delayed respiratory depression with epidural narcotics (up to 12 hours later)8, and brain damage and death (extremely rare)11.
Undesired effects on the labor:
May slow labor, requiring Pitocin; and has been found to increase the chances of a cesarean delivery in primigravidas by two or three times.12
Often slows second stage by reducing or eliminating the normal surge of oxytocin; and by reducing pelvic floor muscle tone, which may lead to more deep transverse arrests or persistent occiput posteriors. In addition, forceps or vacuum extractor are required more often (20-75%). Delaying pushing until the fetal head is on the perineum reduces the need for forceps. Even though this approach lengthens the second stage, it does not increase the incidence of fetal distress.13
Undesired effects on the fetus:
Abnormal heart rate patterns, requiring oxygen to the mother, position changes and possible cesarean delivery.
Increased likelihood of newborn septic workup, IV antibiotics and isolation in the nursery if the mother develops an "epidural fever" that causes fetal tachycardia or newborn fever.
If the fetus is already stressed greater amounts of the medication are "trapped" in the fetal circulation, leading to more pronounced newborn effects (see below).
Undesired effects on the newborn:
Short-term (six weeks or less) subtle neurobehavioral effects, such as irritability and inconsolability and decreased ability to track an object visually or to shut out noise, bright light.4 There are no data on potential long-term effects.
Possible less efficient or less organized initial rooting and suckling behavior. Nurses have reported more difficulties in feeding babies whose mothers had an epidural when compared to unmedicated babies.6
Decreased infant responsiveness may lead to long-term consequences for the parent-infant relationship.14 Parents should be counseled to give their babies time to recover from the birth and medication and should avoid a label of "diffcult child."
I also wanted to add something......for those who's insurance companys don't pay 100% and you end up still paying for a portion of your stay, it is expensive. They charge you for every Tylenol and other litte thing given to you. When deciding to get drugs, the epidural costs on the upwards of $800 or more and then you have to add more costs for the IV's, use of monitors, etc added to your bill.
I kinda just skimmed through the other posts, so I don't know if this has been said. I do, however, agreethat insurance doesn't cover everything. My epidural charge was $1400 and about $200 came out of my pocket.
I think getting an epidural is a personal decision and is based on your type of labor. I was induced. The pain cam quick and hard. It wasn't progressive like a woman who goes into labor on her own. Getting an epideral also depends on your dialation (sp). If you aren't dialated enough, they won't give you one.
I had one. It stung for a few seconds, but I didn't feel any pain for several hours. I was numb from my boobs down. I was skeptical about getting one because I was afraid something would go wrong. However, my mind changed when I was in a ton of pain! I think that is what it boils down to. You may decide to go natural but change your mind when you are in pain for 2-3 minutes and only out of pain long enough to take a deep breath and prepare for the next one
I would like to try to go natural when/if I get pregnant again, but I don't have a very hight tolerance for pain.
Personally, I don't even know if I can get an epidural. If I can I am going to try for a natural birth, and use the epi only if I think I really need it. My mom gave birth to both my brother and I w/o one, so I'm inclined to think I won't absolutely need one either (then again, I've never given birth before!).