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Tips and advice for epidural-free childbirth

charbie

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I'm currently planning to go without an epidural for my impending childbirth. I have a very open mind, and im not trying to be idealistic, but I actually have more fear for an epidural than I do a pain med free birth! I also realize 100% that even the best laid plans can go out the wayside in an instant, and I will not beat myself up if I go into labor and realize whoa....this is NOT for me,gimme the drugs.

What can I do now to prepare for this experience? I am giving birth at a local hospital, no midwife or doula. I attended a childbirth class with my husband that gave us some pointers, but to be honest I was a bit frustrated because out of 12 couples in the class, only 2 of us were planning to go without an epidural. Taking a bradley class has been unfortunately not possible sincee we had way too many others things going on this summer. Any books for myself or DH to read? Anything I can put in my arsenal to draw upon during labor will be much appreciated.
 

Clio

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I had two without an epidural and one with. I gave birth in 3 different hospitals, but each one was a pretty traditional, epidural-expected type of place. No doulas or midwives.

Every labor is different, but in general stay vertical - up and moving around - for as long as possible. I found that standing and sort-of leaning forward into a wall (or person) helped a lot during contractions.

If you can use the shower, some people find that helps. I was never in a hospital that allowed it, though.

I never did any kind of visualization/breathing/etc., but some people swear by it.
 

Sha

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I had a natural childbirth too. (Didn't have a choice, since they don't offer epidurals where I live). It was pretty painful (I had pitocin too), but I got through it. ( It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment afterwards too - like running a race and breaking through the finish line...I would definitely do it again...now that I know what my body can do).

Things that helped - 1) knowing that women all over the world give birth naturally (every day) - if they can do it, so can I! 2) having DH and my mom rub my lower back - the counterpressure makes the contractions seem less intense 3) moving around and vocalizing without inhibition.

I tried breathing exercises too, but can't remember if those helped much or not. In terms of reading material, I read a book prior to L&D called 'Gentle Birth Choices' (Harper) which was very affirming of women's strength and the ability to bear natural labour. It talked a lot about how chidlbirth has become so medicalized, and the downside of that, e.g more c-sections etc. It helped a lot.

How much do you want a natural childbirth vs. an epidural? Being that epis are offered in your hospital, it may be difficult to resist the urge to get one once active labour gets going. If you really want a natural birth, you may have to ask your DH or other support person to really be encouraging of that choice, and help cheerlead you along the way (e.g you can do this! etc.).
 

jstarfireb

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Do you mind sharing why you're more afraid of an epidural than the childbirth itself? There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and I want to make sure you aren't misinformed. Epidurals are extremely safe these days, and with most epidural medications, you retain the ability to move your legs (and even walk in some hospitals, depending on the policies and the comfort level of the nursing staff). Any serious complications or long-term problems are extremely rare. They also don't increase your chance of needing a C-section, and they don't prolong labor by a significant amount of time (the current thinking is about 1 hour). But they can be quite helpful for both mother and baby, in that the adrenaline surge and hyperventilation associated with labor pain is not good for the baby, and that you avoid taking IV pain medications that can suppress your newborn's breathing and neurologic function. The bottom line is that if you want a relatively pain-free childbirth (I say "relatively" because you still may feel some pain or pressure, but it's greatly decreased), epidurals are both very safe and very effective. I go as far as to say they're the best choice among the options we have, because nothing else combines both the safety and the effectiveness.

As an anesthesia provider, I explain all these facts to my patients and allow them to make an informed decision. I don't try to convince them either way, but I just want them to have all the facts. There's nothing wrong with choosing to go without analgesia (pain relief) for childbirth, but I find that many women who decided to go that way have done so because of misinformation and fear rather than scientific evidence! A very helpful book that puts the latest epidural methods and research into layman's terms is "Enjoy Your Labor" by Gilbert Grant: http://www.amazon.com/Enjoy-Your-Labor-Approach-Childbirth/dp/0975993909. I think it's a must-read for anyone preparing for labor.
 

Jennifer W

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Charbie, I don't know if this is any help at all, but here's my experience. I felt exactly the same when I was pregnant. Nothing scared my more than having an epidural (not through any misinformation, it just made me feel sick and frightened to think about it). I had a severe needle phobia. Childbirth did not scare me, epidural, canulas, needles and surgery really, really did. I did a lot of research planned a midwife-let waterbirth as the most effective way (for me) to manage pain.

Of course, things never go to plan, I was induced, received an epidural after several hours, then had an emergency c-section. It was fine, all totally fine and the staff who looked after me made sure it fine (and at times, funny and fun). So I guess what I'm saying is that plan for the best, but keep in the back of your mind that if the 'worst' happens, it's still ok. (I'm not describing it very well, but what I'm trying to explain is not just accepting that things can go off plan, but moving on mentally at that point and making a new plan that you can wholeheartedly embrace, on a moment's notice). Being in a hospital whose staff I had total faith in, and who treated me well and respectfully was a huge part of why it was a wonderful day and not the huge trauma it could easily have been. I drove past three major hospitals to get there while I was in labour, and it was worth it.

The other thing I needed to do was not take it too seriously. I have to be able to laugh when things aren't going to plan. If I can't see a funny side, I'm in trouble! That is about my personality, and might not apply to you, but for me it was essential to be able to mess around, giggle, work with the midwife, nurse and anaesthetist to draw glasses and a mustache on DH when was foolhardy enough to fall asleep in a chair.... that sort of thing. ;))
 

noelwr

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don't fear the epidural. I had one (in addition to induced labor with pitocin) and I felt short-changed as I was expecting to feel nothing. I still felt pain/pressure down there and a horrible urge to go poo for hours which just kept getting stronger and stronger. to think if I hadn't had the epidural that I would have also felt the contractions in my abdomen... yeow! :-o many kudos to you if you are going to do this without any pain relief.

even with the epidural, I really counted on breathing techniques to get through the contractions and when pushing. we learned all the massages and in the end I didn't feel like being touched.
 

packrat

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I went in not wanting one w/London (being completely petrified of it-positive if I had it, it would be done wrong and I'd be paralyzed) and I couldn't dilate. And then she got stuck w/her shoulder pressing against my spine, so I couldn't walk or even move my legs. I made it to 4 after over 12 hours or more..I can't remember the time frame anymore. Dr. said an epidural might help me relax b/c the contractions were SO hard she felt my body couldn't relax and do what it was supposed to do..I didn't talk to anyone for hours b/c I was busy trying to send myself away during the contractions. Epidural news scared the dickens out of me but my body just didn't seem to want to comply. So, I had it and I was completely petrified..and it was fine. (Walking epidural he called it, so that if I still didn't dilate they could do a c section) I was able to be more alert and not have to shut my mind down during contractions-and watch the machine go haywire with the strength of them and think how weird it was to not feel it-no pressure, no nothing. And after so many hours of no changes, I consented to a C section. Then with Trapper, the thing I was most scared of, was the epidural, and it ended up being the easiest part! I got teary as we walked to the OR and the nurses got me up on the table and talked to me..one leaned in to me so I could brace against her, she cocked her head and stared right into my eyes (which I'm sure were huge saucers of scared) and rubbed the back of my hair w/her other hand, saying "It's ok it's ok" and then it was done, just like that. A little pressure in my back and then suddenly there was no feeling in my legs. They'd told me as soon as the anesthesiologist was done we were all going to immediately start moving to lay me down b/c the stuff works so fast. Well, when she said "Done", I said "Shit you guys I'm stuck" so they had to maneuver me down..fast acting stuff.

Your mind is powerful..and I think when you're scared of something, that power can really work against you. Go in planning on not having one but with an open mind that if the pain is enough to want one, or something happens like not progressing, you can harness that fear in your mind and face it head on.
 

phoenixgirl

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I think it's great that you are hoping for an epidural-free birth. I didn't have the best experience with my epidural and believe it killed any chances I had of a vaginal delivery. I have a platypelloid pelvis, which is difficult to navigate. The epidural didn't work the first time; it made the room spin, but I could still feel everything "down there." The middle of the night anesthesiologist was dismissive of my claims that it didn't feel right at first until I said to the nurse, "Um, I can feel that," when she was doing something down there. She ran out of the room and returned with the anesthesiologist. Then when he redid it, he must have cranked it up so I wouldn't complain any more; I lost all feeling in my right leg and was unable to lift it myself. There went my mobility and any chance I had to get the baby through my pelvis, and I wound up with a c/s. Lots of women have great experiences with epidurals, but I would be suspicious of anybody who feels like it's their place to convince you to get one. I guess to validate their own experience? Like Sha said, women have given birth without them for millions of years; our bodies are designed to handle the pain.

As for recommendations, I would encourage you not to get induced. Pitocin makes the contracts very strong, so going from 0 to 60 may have you begging for the epidural, whereas if you proceed naturally, you'll get your toes wet before jumping in, so to speak.
 

fieryred33143

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I also think it's great you want to go med free. I also didn't have a great experience with my epi. Sure it took the pain away but I was too foggy to understand all that was going on. I was falling asleep during pushing, couldn't focus on my daughter, and everything went the exact opposite of what I wanted because I couldn't concentrate enough to make any demands. Hated feeling that way and for me, the fogginess lasted well into the next day. For #2 I would love to try med free.

Obviously don't have any tips but Robbie did and posted a great birth story if you want to read it. If the link doesn't work, it's on page 689.
[URL='https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/calling-all-the-pregnant-psers.47081/page-689']https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/calling-all-the-pregnant-psers.47081/page-689[/URL]

Hopefully more mamas will chime in with some tips. I think there is plenty to be said about not fearing an epi but shouldn't be encouraged if the mama wants to go med free. I do agree with the suggestions to go in with an open mind. Good luck Charbie!
 

Lanie

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phoenixgirl|1312726537|2985816 said:
I think it's great that you are hoping for an epidural-free birth. I didn't have the best experience with my epidural and believe it killed any chances I had of a vaginal delivery. I have a platypelloid pelvis, which is difficult to navigate. The epidural didn't work the first time; it made the room spin, but I could still feel everything "down there." The middle of the night anesthesiologist was dismissive of my claims that it didn't feel right at first until I said to the nurse, "Um, I can feel that," when she was doing something down there. She ran out of the room and returned with the anesthesiologist. Then when he redid it, he must have cranked it up so I wouldn't complain any more; I lost all feeling in my right leg and was unable to lift it myself. There went my mobility and any chance I had to get the baby through my pelvis, and I wound up with a c/s. Lots of women have great experiences with epidurals, but I would be suspicious of anybody who feels like it's their place to convince you to get one. I guess to validate their own experience? Like Sha said, women have given birth without them for millions of years; our bodies are designed to handle the pain.

As for recommendations, I would encourage you not to get induced. Pitocin makes the contracts very strong, so going from 0 to 60 may have you begging for the epidural, whereas if you proceed naturally, you'll get your toes wet before jumping in, so to speak.


I wholeheartedly agree with this. I've known women who had pitocin and then no epi (like Sha) and it was very, very hard on them. I had pitocin myself, and the contractions are like nothing I can describe. Well, maybe a vise around your lower abdomen. ANYWAY, I feared the epidural, and it really wasn't bad at all. I think the worst for me pre birth was the IV. That hurt! My epi was good I guess, bc I felt everything down there, and was able to push. Still hurt!

However, I will say that I'm sad that this thread has turned away from your wishes. I always admire women who plan for this. And it sounds like you will be well informed when the time comes. And of course, everyone has their opinion on this! It sounds like you have an open mind in case things don't go as planned, which is good, but I hope they do for you!!!!!
 

Loves Vintage

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I think it's important for us to be as educated as possible re: our choices. I think there's a difference btw a poster saying -- I know I want a natural childbirth, it's important to me because x, y, z vs. a poster saying, I am afraid of an epidural, therefore, I want an un-medicated birth, I think it is less scary than an epidural. Of course, those of us who have had epidurals and have had positive experiences are going to try to help the poster be less afraid of the epidural. Knowing the women of PS, I am sure no one would try to convince a poster who wants a natural childbirth otherwise. Certainly, no one ever tried to convince me otherwise when I stated my preference for a natural childbirth!! So, I think this is really a case of people trying to help Charbie feel ok with whatever decision SHE makes. When I first read her post, it was my natural inclination to tell her that my epi experience was not bad at all, heavenly was more like it, haha. But, my intention, OF COURSE, is not to convince her to get an epi, just to try to help her see that it might be a good choice, especially since she doesn't seem (and I could be WRONG, this is from reading one post) to have a strong inclination toward a natural birth.

With that said, I guess I'll skip the epi-pep-talk and suggest the following book to Charbie: Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth http://www.amazon.com/Ina-Mays-Guide-Childbirth-Gaskin/dp/0553381156
 

fieryred33143

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LV I understand and appreciate what you are saying. However, I do get turned off when someone says they want a med free brith for whatever reason and the posts are usually about how wonderful an epi is not only on PS, but other birth sites and IRL. It's a shame, IMO, that more people don't encourage or at least try to support someone's decision to go natural. I guess that will be my unpopular opinion.

Anyway, healthy mama and baby are #1 no matter what.
 

charbie

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Hoooooookay. Lemme start by saying that yes, the fear of an epidural is one part of my reasoning to go unmedicated for the birth, but I've included in this post some of those reasons why I also hope for no epidural. IRL I get laughed at (no joking) and weird looks when I say I want an unmedicated birth. I don't even use the term "natural birth" anywhere bc I think any woman who spits a kid out after carrying for 9 months deserves all the credit in the world and there is nothing unnatural about necessary c/s or epidurals IMHO. I understand the questioning of why I want an uunmedicated birth, but a fear of epidurals is just as real and valid as a fear of pain and going through birth unmedicated, and I haven't seen a thread around here pushing people to go for a natural birth! I waant trying to debate medicated vs unmadicated bc people have very valid reasons for both, and I apologize for even suggesting one reason for not wanting an epi was fear...im not scared of the actual epidural as much as I am some of the negative effects it can take. Whew. Love you ladies :bigsmile:

Clio: thank you for the tips! my hospital is beginning to embrace more of a holistic approach to birthing, but still the majority of births are done with epi's. They do have a labor tub (not a birthing tub, but at least a tub to relax in before pushing) and 2 birthing suites designed around feng shui principles which surprised me. And showers in every room!

Sha: I agree with the mentality that other women have done it, so can I! Hehe. Im sure that will help. And DH is going to read a birth partner support book to help with the pain management. He thinks im crazy, but agrees that this is my choice, so will support and massage, and simply asks that I don't abuse him during labor. I know it might be tough to resist with an epi so close, but I usually stick with something once I put my mind to it. That being said, I could cave after the first contraction. :cheeky:

Jstar: thank you for the information! I don't mind sharing my fears: part of it is that my hospital does an all or nothing block, once you get the epi, in the bed you go, in the bed you stay. I want the freedom of laboring however I feel comfortable. I also prefer not to be straight cathed to empty my bladder since I've had bladder issues in the past, and to be honest I know nurses get busy and don't want a full bladder to interrupt contractions. And a foley cath is also not anything id like to deal with, even if it isn't in long. Im not afraid of needles, but hate the idea of the epi tube remaining in my back, don't know why, just is freaky to me. I fear relying on the epi, it either failing or not working completely/properly, and then not being able to walk but being in pain or things going the opposite way and ending up knocked out. Lastly, neither my mom nor aunts had epidurals, and so I think everyone is just more comfortable with what they know and what their family has experienced. My mom didn't have an epidural bc she didn't know anyone who did. I don't hear many horror. Birthing stories from women who have done med free, but hear them frequently from those who get an epi. I want the birth to be less about procedures and more about the experience, I guess. Now....with all of that being said, I am totally checking out the book you suggested, bc im not very educated on epidurals bc I never thought twice about it, and will do more research on them just in case.

Noel: I have handouts with the breathing techniques and we practiced a lot of them in my class. I will be sure to draw upon those as I go through birth, and hope they bring some relief. Sorry you didn't get the pain free birth you anticipated!
Jennifer: im all about making lemonade out of lemons. While I have a birth plan that outlines my ideal birth, I will not let myself be disappointed if it doesn't go my way. In the end, ill have my beautiful daughter and that's what really matters.

Packie: I completely understand why your doc thought an epidural would help in the situation with London. It scares me tho, that the epidural can slow labor down and make a c/s necessary...something else I reeeeeeeally prefer not to go through. Im scared of not being able to use my legs...im too freaking independent and stubborn! But, again, if it happens, it happens, and ill roll with the punches.

PG: thank you for your support. Im sorry your experience also ended in an emergency c/s, and understand why you would wonder if it was due to the epidural. With almost 30% of births now ending in a c/s, I really want to do whatever I can to mitigate the risk of a c/s. And I know jstar did mention there is no increased risk for a c/s, it would still weigh in the back of my mind. I appreciate you weighing in! Are you planning a vbac or anything with this next birth?

Fiery: another reason I don't want to rely on the epi...if I don't react well, then what? Thanks for the link to your story, ill be checking it out. My family doesn't have a history of anyone going over their due dates, in fact they go early if anything, so I'm hoping induction won't be necessary. Thanks, lady!

Lanie: yeah, I was hoping people might chime in with how they dealt with the pain or how they made it through labor, but ill keep researching. I'm not trying to be a warrior or trailblazer....I mean, the women for centuries before me are the heros in the birthing department! My hospital has said they don't do inductions, they wait for the woman to go into labor naturally. However, it also is a decision made by the mom and the doctor, bc I know my doctor will induce if there are valid reasons to do so. He is a private practice doc, not part of a group, so he does let you know if you are relying on him being there to catch your kid, you may need to be induced if he has a planned trip out of town. I told him no offense, I don't care who catches the kid, just don't slice me unless we absolutely have to!

LV: and your story helps me as well, since you did have a dreamy epi! Im very glad in the end it was what was best for you and your daughter. My MIL is convinced my daughter will also be a 9+ lber, which if that's the case, an epi will probably be needed for my sanity. Thank you for the book suggestion, I plan to order it. I've heard great things about it.
 

nfowife

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My first was an epi delivery and my 2nd and 3rd were med-free. I took Bradley before my first, and to be honest it wasn't that helpful. The focus wasn't so much on techniques for managing labor as much as understanding labor and the stages, more like knowledge=power.
Since this is your first baby I would advise going in with the idea that you'd like to go med-free, but have an open mind. Every labor and delivery is different and can have challenges that make a drug-free labor more difficult. If I was to have my first delivery all over again I'd still opt for the epi. My oldest was posterior and I ended up needing a vacuum to help get her out. I wouldn't have wanted to experience that without pain medication :).

I will say that the recovery from my med-free deliveries was so much easier. I felt like a million bucks afterwards and was ready to go home immediately (while with delivery #1 I felt like I had been punched and beaten...but it was a rough delivery).

My best advice to avoid pain meds are to:
1)stay home as long as possible. As long as you can possibly stand it. Once you are at the hospital it's much harder to stay comfortable because they will want/need to monitor your progress. If they are not a med-free friendly environment it can also be difficult for you to remain med-free because it does take support to get through labor when it starts to hurt. And it will hurt. So stay home until you absolutely feel you can't. Since it's your first baby you will likely have a pretty long labor.
2) stay vertical as a pp said. Once you are at the hospital if you are not having an epi there is no need for you to remain in bed- unless you are not making progress in which case they might push for you to start pitocin. If your baby is not 42 weeks and is showing no signs of distress you can always opt to go back home and come back later. If they don't have wireless monitoring you can ask for intermittent monitoring to remain untethered to the bed.
3) you can hire a doula, this would be helpful for both you and your husband and will give you lots of support as well as advocate for you at the hospital. You may also find a doula in training who will help you for free. Or even a trusted friend who has had a pain-free delivery.

I wish you an easy, quick, med-free delivery! And if you do end up with some pain relief, that is okay! Hope it is a beautiful experience for you no matter how it happens. I am done having babies but if I could go through labor and delivery again I probably would- it's just such an empowering experience to go through.
 

Loves Vintage

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Fiery - Well, I think we're on entirely different "other forums" then because women on the forums I frequent make other mamas feel bad for considering epis! And, they make women question their doctors all.the.time even when the doctors are advising an induction 2 weeks after EDD!! Can you imagine? That's what really angers me about forums, and women, and the topic of childbirth! Because they watched one movie produced by a former talk-show host, and even though they know nothing about the woman or her medical history, they will advise her to go against her own doctor's medical opinion!! It's complete insanity out there sometimes!! I think I may be off topic now! Oops! 8)

I totally see what you are saying. Thanks for pointing out that the mama's reason for wanting a natural birth shouldn't really come into play. Just saw Charbie's response, and I see I attributed too much weight to her comment about fear of epis. Sorry, Charbie!

Charbie - I'm sure our friend Dreamer will chime in. Have you read her first birth story? I found it to be very helpful in helping me understand (in advance) just what type of centering would be needed during labor. You really need to stay super focused and centered. I needed both my dh and the nurse to get me through contractions. My husband was by my side for each and every one, but if the nurse got distracted (they take notes on their computers in the room constantly), then I would really just completely lose it! I needed her coaching. That's when I started calling for an epi, and it was crying and begging at that point. So, I think having someone to help you feel centered is the most important thing to get you through.
 

jstarfireb

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charbie|1312730601|2985848 said:
Jstar: thank you for the information! I don't mind sharing my fears: part of it is that my hospital does an all or nothing block, once you get the epi, in the bed you go, in the bed you stay. I want the freedom of laboring however I feel comfortable. I also prefer not to be straight cathed to empty my bladder since I've had bladder issues in the past, and to be honest I know nurses get busy and don't want a full bladder to interrupt contractions. And a foley cath is also not anything id like to deal with, even if it isn't in long. Im not afraid of needles, but hate the idea of the epi tube remaining in my back, don't know why, just is freaky to me. I fear relying on the epi, it either failing or not working completely/properly, and then not being able to walk but being in pain or things going the opposite way and ending up knocked out. Lastly, neither my mom nor aunts had epidurals, and so I think everyone is just more comfortable with what they know and what their family has experienced. My mom didn't have an epidural bc she didn't know anyone who did. I don't hear many horror. Birthing stories from women who have done med free, but hear them frequently from those who get an epi. I want the birth to be less about procedures and more about the experience, I guess. Now....with all of that being said, I am totally checking out the book you suggested, bc im not very educated on epidurals bc I never thought twice about it, and will do more research on them just in case.
Thanks for your well thought-out reply! I'm glad you're looking into the book, and I also noticed Sha recommended a book on non-pharmacologic techniques...I'm not familiar with that one, but it's probably worth giving both a read to get 2 different perspectives. You're right about the bladder cath (straight or Foley), as it's kind of part and parcel of the epidural experience in most places. For what it's worth, I think it's somewhat of a shame that many hospitals confine you to the bed once you get the epidural, because many epidural techniques preserve leg strength pretty well. I guess it's a medicolegal issue, with fall risk being the problem. Anyway, just want to clarify a few things. Regarding the amount of time the epidural cath stays in, it's only for the duration of your labor and then a nurse pulls it out. If someone with an epidural requires a c-section, we pull out the epidural while we roll the woman over from the operating table to the gurney on the way out. So either way, it doesn't stay in long. It's also only inserted about 5 centimeters (about 2 inches, give or take) into your epidural space, so there's not much catheter in there. Most of the catheter is taped up to your skin and then leads to the pump that delivers medications. The catheter is flexible plastic and TINY (about the size of an IV), so you don't feel it once it's taped in place.

The pain of epidural insertion didn't seem to be an issue for you from reading your posts, but for anyone else reading this...most women say that it hurts less than the IV insertion. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes and is mostly set-up/clean-up/taping to maintain sterility.

I would recommend having a consultation with the anesthesiologist when you get to the labor and delivery suite, and you can make the final decision after hearing the risks and benefits face to face. At my hospital, we're there 24/7 and can come at a moment's notice as long as we're not in another lady's room doing the same! I would mention to the nurse that you're currently interested in going without an epidural but wanted to hear more about them in case you change your mind.

Finally, just a general comment, not directed at you, charbie, but just to address something I tend to hear whenever this topic comes up. It bothers me when people elevate epidural-free childbirth to a status that's admired or revered. That kind of thinking contributes to the unnecessary guilt and shame that many women feel when thinking about epidurals, or the notion that choosing an epidural in the middle of labor after starting without one is a kind of failure. I think any method of giving birth is equally valid, provided it's safe and there's a backup plan in case things go wrong. So whether it's a vaginal delivery vs. an elective or urgent C-section, with or without an epidural, a doula, or a midwife...how you give birth is a very personal choice, and it's not true to say one way is inherently better than another for all women.
 

phoenixgirl

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Charbie, my doctor would support me if I wanted to try a VBAC, but knowing that my funky pelvis makes things difficult in the best of circumstances, I'm pretty much decided on an elective c/s. I do think I would go med-free if I were trying for a VBAC; otherwise, it would be pretty pointless. Maybe I'll feel differently at the end of my pregnancy (I'm 10 weeks now), but at this point I've been experiencing a weird blood pressure problem I didn't have with my first pregnancy (neurcardiogenic syncope), so my fitness has gone out the window. It's hard to imagine having the energy to try a med-free VBAC, and I worry that a drop in my BP (as has been happening) would cause them to make the call for a c/s anyway. But on the other hand, I need to find out if there's any concern about the c/s anesthesia doing the same.
 

somethingshiny

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2007
Messages
6,746
I had an induced labor and I was confident I could do it without drugs. I had cervadil for 12 hrs that started my labor. They did end up adding pitocin when my labor slowed. After all the research I had done, I found that nearly all women who were on the pitocin (once in labor) would go about 14 hrs. So, that was my goal. I would concentrate on one hour at a time. I didn't go to any birthing classes. I concentrated on my breath a lot. I used the ball and walked like hell. For some reason, walking brought lots of relief. When I had to stay in bed to be monitored I would concentrate on muscle groups. As a contraction would start, I'd squeeze my toes and release, squeeze my calves and release, and on and on all the way up my body. I'd also visualize the uterus working with the contraction and the pain flowing out of my body.

I was able to stay drug free until about 16 hrs into the pitocin labor. By that time, I had been in labor for 28 hrs and I was exhausted and couldn't do it anymore. I got the epidural, labored for another 10 hrs and finally went in for a c-section.

SO, basically, my method was mind over matter.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
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I don't know if it's an option, but does your hospital offer Entonox? In the UK we all have it (counts as unmedicated if that makes sense) and until they started the pitocin I was doing well on just that - it really controls your breathing as well.

I'm convinced the epidural and c/s rates in the USA would drop quite a lot if it was introduced everywhere like it is in Europe.
 

charbie

Ideal_Rock
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Nov 16, 2008
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LV: no prob...I didn't give much to go on bc I was hoping this thread could help out anyone just interested in med free birthing, not just me ;-) I stay away from other forums bc im not an ultra crunchy chic looking for someone to make me feel like a failure for requesting the drugs! It seems you find one extreme or another...homebirths in a tub ends up what I keep finding on other forums when I look into unmedicated birth...uh, that is out of the question for my level of comfort, and my DH would totally flip his lid on that idea.

PG: if I knew I had a physical reason that would make birth without an epi or a vbac safe, id be the same as you and elect for a c/s. I had a conversation with my doc about how and when we will know a c/s is necessary (two friends recently were told by their docs that a c/s was required due to baby's size) and he said only if a) a perinatologist looks at an us and says it is required, or b) I go into labor an my pelvis can't do the job. He said he does not schedule c/s for a first birth, he can't determine what my body is going to do until we put it to the test.

Jstar: amen, lady. I do not hold anyone in higher regard just bc they want med free-and I never would blink an eye about it. Thats the marvels of modern medicine, I just don't want my options stripped of me. I wish I could have options with an epi, I really do. The contractions aren't really scary for me, but tearing...umm, yuck. I said that to my mom and she said that once I get to that point, I wont care whatsoever, ill just want the baby out. I am keeping a very open mind, and appreciate the suggestion of speaking with someone regarding options.

Shiny: I can only imagine (duh...never done this before) that the exhaustion plays a huge part in whther or not ill get an epidural. Mind over matter....check. Induction labor sans pain meds...whew, you go girl! I do have the option of wireless and intermittent monitoring, so will look into that more.

Pandora: no $h*t on the gas treatment. I sooooooo wish I had that as an option. I've heard its awesome. That would be something id be all for.

And fiery: im so glad you directed me towards robbie's birth story. It is very similar to what I anticipate things may be like for us, and how I actually would hope things would be best case scenario. Thank you!!

I had a d&c last year, in the docs office, not under any sort of anesthesia. My doc told me it would be best, and honestly I didn't think twice about it. It wasn't until afterwards that he said, "FYI, that was gutsy. Getting a needle in your cervix is not something many women can tolerate, and you handled it very very well." Gee, thanks?! That was a different doc than who I have now, but I do think it gave me a little insight on how to go to a different place during a time of discomfort. All I said during the entire proedure was, "how much longer do you think we've got?"
 

charbie

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nfowife|1312730867|2985851 said:
My first was an epi delivery and my 2nd and 3rd were med-free. I took Bradley before my first, and to be honest it wasn't that helpful. The focus wasn't so much on techniques for managing labor as much as understanding labor and the stages, more like knowledge=power.
Since this is your first baby I would advise going in with the idea that you'd like to go med-free, but have an open mind. Every labor and delivery is different and can have challenges that make a drug-free labor more difficult. If I was to have my first delivery all over again I'd still opt for the epi. My oldest was posterior and I ended up needing a vacuum to help get her out. I wouldn't have wanted to experience that without pain medication :).

I will say that the recovery from my med-free deliveries was so much easier. I felt like a million bucks afterwards and was ready to go home immediately (while with delivery #1 I felt like I had been punched and beaten...but it was a rough delivery).

My best advice to avoid pain meds are to:
1)stay home as long as possible. As long as you can possibly stand it. Once you are at the hospital it's much harder to stay comfortable because they will want/need to monitor your progress. If they are not a med-free friendly environment it can also be difficult for you to remain med-free because it does take support to get through labor when it starts to hurt. And it will hurt. So stay home until you absolutely feel you can't. Since it's your first baby you will likely have a pretty long labor.
2) stay vertical as a pp said. Once you are at the hospital if you are not having an epi there is no need for you to remain in bed- unless you are not making progress in which case they might push for you to start pitocin. If your baby is not 42 weeks and is showing no signs of distress you can always opt to go back home and come back later. If they don't have wireless monitoring you can ask for intermittent monitoring to remain untethered to the bed.
3) you can hire a doula, this would be helpful for both you and your husband and will give you lots of support as well as advocate for you at the hospital. You may also find a doula in training who will help you for free. Or even a trusted friend who has had a pain-free delivery.

I wish you an easy, quick, med-free delivery! And if you do end up with some pain relief, that is okay! Hope it is a beautiful experience for you no matter how it happens. I am done having babies but if I could go through labor and delivery again I probably would- it's just such an empowering experience to go through.
Thank you, thank you! I appreciate the info, and im keeping a little notebook with tips I find/receive.
 

swingirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,660
nfowife|1312730867|2985851 said:
My best advice to avoid pain meds are to:
1)stay home as long as possible. As long as you can possibly stand it. Once you are at the hospital it's much harder to stay comfortable because they will want/need to monitor your progress. If they are not a med-free friendly environment it can also be difficult for you to remain med-free because it does take support to get through labor when it starts to hurt. And it will hurt. So stay home until you absolutely feel you can't. Since it's your first baby you will likely have a pretty long labor.
2) stay vertical as a pp said. Once you are at the hospital if you are not having an epi there is no need for you to remain in bed- unless you are not making progress in which case they might push for you to start pitocin. If your baby is not 42 weeks and is showing no signs of distress you can always opt to go back home and come back later. If they don't have wireless monitoring you can ask for intermittent monitoring to remain untethered to the bed.
I had my babies many years ago but this is still the best advice. I found as soon as I got to the hospital they wanted to hook me up to a monitor and IV. So much for staying vertical and walking around. While I was home I was able to move around much more freely and sit or stand. Maybe hospitals are different these days but laboring flat on one's back just doesn't seem comfortable.
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
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I felt that the child birth class I took was very helpful, in that it goes through the different stages, also gave us a variety of ways of managing pain (focus on breathing, having a mantra or positive phrase, being mobile, listening to music, pressure massage, some people like sitting on an exercise ball). I think alot of the pain can be more fear of the unknown and tensing from it. Knowing the different stages and having things explained made a big difference for me. You know what relaxes you best. For example my hubby is not the best massager so when he tried to massage me it was annoying and I told him to stop it. But I liked having the tv in the background, or some of my favorite music would be been even better.
By far the biggest advice is to make sure you get a birthing room with a jacuzzi tub and USE IT! For example when they put an IV in (they do it routine in most places) have them use a "hep lock" which can be disconnected from the line versus a regular IV). They don't let you be in the tub for long periods (half an hour max). What I did was wait until things have progressed (5 cm) and then alternate being in the tub and being out of the tub walking around. I did this for both births, including one using potosin, and did not need pain medication.
Also, though it is not possible in all cases, try to do some of the laboring at home. I knew people who stayed at home doing housework, or walked around the mall during the early stages, which is alot more relaxing than staring at hospital walls!

And it's great that you are positive about a medication free birth but also open to the possibility that yes, stuff can happen and plans can change. As part of our birthing class we all wrote a birth plan. It's good to bring a copy to the hospital so everyone knows your preferences. I personally feel that not getting pain meds made the labor go faster, less drugs in the newborn's body, and there is less to recover from. I've had some wacky reactions to meds, so I'd rather do without. When I was doing a procedure for a dental implant I requested local (needle injection) pain relief only. Though most people either get put under or have local +laughing gas, I don't like the feeling of being put under or being on laughing gas.
 

dreamer_dachsie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
24,364
I can't pos much now but want to say that I have tonnes of advice and this is motivating me to finish my birth story.
 

DivaDiamond007

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Jun 7, 2007
Messages
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Charbie: it sounds like you have a great attitude towards childbirth and it will help to keep that attitude going into it. I waited until I was 8cm to get an epidural with my son - which was the last possible second at the hospital I delivered at - and my main thing was to just focus on myself during labor. I didn't have many people in the room, did breathing exercises and changed positions so that I was as comfortable as possible. Labor is hard and you will probably want someone there to support you. For me it was my husband and my mom. I also think that it's great that you realize that anything can happen during labor. I was on the fence about an epi going into my labor and got one because I feared that I wouldn't be able to deliver or that it would hurt so much I'd pass out.
 

Clio

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
809
Charbie - a couple more things to add.

1) Pitocin doesn't automatically mean epidural. Two of my labors were pitocin-assisted. With one, I didn't have an epidural, and with one I did. As many have said, every labor is different.

2) I never wanted an epidural, in large part because the idea of sticking a needle in my back really, REALLY freaked me out. With my 3rd child, I did have one and, yes, putting it in was horrible. However, it was nice to have when Mr. Hand-next-to-his-face got stuck, and it took an hour to push him out (with his sisters, I never pushed for more than about 20 minutes). For that labor, it was the right thing to do.
 

Anastasia

Shiny_Rock
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Mar 23, 2005
Messages
451
Hi Charbie,

You have gotten a lot of good advice here. I think that you are going into it with the right attitude. Noone can predict how they will handle labor until they get there.

I have had three children, all without epidurals due to prior medical conditions. I did try with the second one, but the epidural didn't take. I was fortunate to have uneventful and relatively short labors, and didn't have to push for long with any of them.

The best piece of advice that I got was to take one contraction at a time. Just get through the currrent one without thinking about what is coming next. This keeps you "in the moment" and out of panic mode. I felt that once I reached the point where I could start pushing, I could really handle the pain. I think it was because I felt like I was doing something proactive, rather than just trying to get through the contractions.

I also would recommend a childbirth class of some type. (My youngest is 12, so I am out of touch with what is currently being offered.) I do think that knowing what to expect is very helpful. Also, my husband was not at all interested in reading anything about childbirth or pregnancy, but he was very interested in the class.

Good luck!
 

swimmer

Ideal_Rock
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Charbie! Yay! I remember being on the ttc thread with you, wow how time flies!
I totally ditto the suggestion of reading Ina Mae, the idea of moving past anything that is psychologically holding you back from delivery is very powerful. She and a stability ball were the keys for me. I was on that thing in every possible position, it got me through back labor and 6 hrs at 9.5cm. The birth tub was awesome also (yes, i packed and wore a bikini top!) there are few ways to get comfortable when that huge and water just took so much of the strain off of me.

The only advice I can give is that when my contractions got going I went to the OB's because it was a scheduled appt anyway and my OB said "I can admit you now and you can have a chance of a natural childbirth, or you can go home, labor some more and come back to us with much better chances." Once you check in you are "on the clock" so to speak and since lots of women slow down their labor once admitted they end up getting pitocin (even before their water breaks) that might not really "need" it naturally speaking. Then again, I got no merit badge for almost 60hrs of hard labor and it kind of sucked to lose that much time from DH's paternity leave. The bradley class was great for DH, it got him used to the idea that he was going to be very physically involved in getting that baby out, but for me I feel like it introduced this timeline that I was unprepared to throw out the window. So if you can get your DH used to moving you around into new positions (all in the bradley workbook that is online), lots of massage, that was all we got from many weeks of Bradley. Personally, I didn't want an epi because I can't stand being on my back and i have to move around always and at my hospital once you get the epi you are in bed, no exceptions.

A doula can be great for helping to labor at home, a friend just had one who was wonderful and drove them to the hospital to naturally have a 9lb'er, mine was not very helpful, calling references might have helped. Above all though, any way you can get the bebe out is the best way. Good luck!
 

MonkeyPie

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Lots of good advice here Charbie - I hope you find that something that gets you what you want, a relatively pain-free L&D! I wish everyone could have this.

I won't go into any details of my delivery, but keep in mind that baby #1 is the worst one of the lot for the majority of women - your body has never done this before, and even though it is fully capable, there are so many reasons why it won't do it the way you think it should. Plus, even if your body is having a textbook labor, your baby may be seriously pissed off about it! My son tolerated 53 hours of labor very well, it wasn't until that 54th hour that he was finally like, "Ok, enough is enough here, lady." :rolleyes: A lot depends on your hospital, too. I agree to do your best to labor at home as long as possible, walk a lot (this works for most women - for me it actually slowed my contractions) and visualizing works wonders. Have you ever been hypnotized? Do you feel like that would work for you? I know a woman married to a comedy hypnotist (he's legit, though - worked on me pretty well, lol) and she did it for three L&D's and never once needed pain meds. Something to research!

Also...jstar made a lot of good points, and her information is very valuable and definitely something to remember/save. However...a lot of what she said works for most, really means FOR MOST. For me, nothing that works for the masses worked. So be open to a lot of different possibilities.
 

zipzapgirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 28, 2008
Messages
369
I'm currently at 35 weeks and this whole issue has been weighing heavily for me. I've done a ton of reading about the whole process, taken an intense childbirth class and drilled my practitioner.

We're doing the Hypnobirthing Method. The name is misleading because it is less about hypnosis and more about deep focus and concentration. You listen to soundtracks on a daily basis that reinforce the positive nature of what you learned (birthing affirmations) and lead you into a hypnosis/relaxed state so you can visualize how your birthing will progress. I'm generally not an impressionable person--much more a facts and logic type, an accountant(!) by trade--but I think it's really been helpful in keeping me relaxed and confident in my upcoming labor.
My teacher was awesome. She has some very inspiring birthing stories on her website and videos, so worthwhile even if you couldn't do her class. Her website http://hypnobirthingct.com/
The overall Hypnobirthing website http://hypnobirthing.com/
Even if there are no instructors in your area, the CD and book are available online.

The most important things I've learned are that
If you want a natural birth, you need to take charge. The standard medical procedures are going to put you ever more on the path to a "managed birth" which has more interventions and more likely result in a C-Section. You need to have a partner and/or a doula who supports your choices and can advocate for you during labor. You need to request a nurse who will support your decision instead of undermining you by threatening that "the anesthesiologist is leaving for the day in half an hour..." or continually pressing you to give in.

Avoid being induced or having pitocin unless there is a true medical indication. One of the coolest facts I learned over the past few months is that the signal to begin labor comes from the baby, not from the mother's body. It makes sense then that inducing labor and pushing the baby to be born before it is ready is not going to be optimal. So many of the stories you hear involve induction, pitocin, epidural and then C/S.

Your practitioner and your communication with him/her will be key to natural labor. If you want a natural birth, you need to find a practitioner and a hospital/birthing center that supports this. Ask about their statistics for C/S, epidurals, episiotomies, etc. If they blow you off, you need to question why. Under what circumstances do they consider a C/S or labor augmentation such as pitocin necessary? When are you "on the clock"? (lots of hospitals only allow 24 hrs or less between water breaking and forced C/S, or need an average of 1 cm progression per hour before they consider your labor stalled)

Stay home as long as possible. Eat and drink as you wish, especially since some hospitals will try to restrict your intake once you arrive.

Avoid any intervention you don't really need. This includes IV's, continuous fetal monitoring, breaking your water, etc. Remember that even if the hospital says that this is their policy, you do not have to consent to it.

Here are a couple of books I read that have been helpful:
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
Very interesting analysis of all kinds of interventions performed in childbirth and what their side effects are.
http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Womans-Guide-Better-Birth/dp/0399525173/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312835111&sr=8-1

Guide to Natural Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Ina May is the superstar of the midwives world. First part of book is birth stories (ok if you're into that), but second part is invaluable talking about the processes of how the body works in birth.
http://www.amazon.com/Ina-Mays-Guide-Childbirth-Gaskin/dp/0553381156/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312837095&sr=1-1

Charbie, good luck as you start your research! I'm interested to see how this goes for us in a few weeks and hoping I'll be able to report back positively 8)
 
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