Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birth stories please!

I'm decidedly on the fence regarding a natural birth vs. having pain medication. I've read the pros and cons, and understand that this is a decision I have to make for myself. What I have decided is that having a plan and being prepared is the best policy, but it's also important to keep my options open because anything can happen. What I'm interested in hearing are the stories of women I know and trust. In my opinion bringing a new life into this world is an amazing and heroic achievement regardless of how it comes about. That being said, I've never done this before and all the reading in the world won't be of as much value as the real life experiences of women I trust and admire. I was in the delivery room when my sister was in labor with Erin. She did not have an epidural but did have an IV of pain medication. Even with that, she was in excruciating pain. The labor was long and difficult ultimately ending in a cesarean. Being in the delivery room with Laurie was the complete opposite. She chose to have an epidural. She was completely alert and aware of what was going on. She knew when to push and delivered Taylor after five hours of labor. I won't say that it seemed easy, but compared to Erin's delivery, Taylor's seemed much easier.

What's your story? Did you make a decision or just go with the flow of things? Is there anything about your labor and delivery that you would change?


Unknown said...

I am not a mother, have not had a baby, but strangely enough, I have had an epidural. (one of my many abdominal surgeries)

It was not bad at all getting one, and the way my doctor described it to me was my body wouldn't go into hyperdrive on inflammation and would heal better if I had one. I did notice a huge difference.

I guess I would say if you know yourself, and know how you are going to react then you have a big advantage. Kristen was the first mom I have known personally that had a completely drug-free birth.

A pain management plan seems the best idea to me. That way you'll have control when you are making the plan, and will still have comfort knowing that if things get intolerable you will have options.

My very best wishes to you!

Kelli said...

I had an epidural with the twins, but nothing at all with Cece.

With the twins, my doctor advised having the epidural because they didn't want any more stress than would already be placed on the babies since they were so small and early, so I went ahead and took his advice. Even though the birth would have been very quick and easy because they were so tiny, I am sure it still would have hurt SOME, and I of course felt no pain and felt great afterward. When it was all said and done, I left thinking how easy and pleasant the experience was.

Then there was Cece, who was 8 1/2 pounds, and who came out with no pain medication for me. Totally different experience. I remember that at one point, when she was crowning, thinking that I wanted something to make it stop hurting, and I wanted it immediately, otherwise I was just going to give up and she would never be born. Since, of course, neither of those were options, I continued to push until she eventually decided to make her appearance! Even though I have seriously never experienced anything as painful as that, I would probably do it again the same way. But part of my decision process was that that was my last baby, and I wanted to have the "full" experience. Full term baby, contractions, med free labor, etc. and because my first pregnancy/labor was so stressful and hard and out of the ordinary, I knew that the choices I made with Cece were right for me.

However, those are out of the ordinary reasons for the decision to not have pain meds, so that may or may not be helpful. :) Good luck with your decision, and remember to keep an open mind throughout it all. It seems that when women are dead set to have things one certain way they go any way but that way!

R said...

i had an epilethial -- a little different than an epidural -- because you can walk around and it only lasts two hours. Keep in mind that by the time I got to the hospital with Sam, my water had already broke and doctors estimated I had been in labor for 20 hours. After arriving at the hospital, I had Sam within eight hours.

There was some serious stress during the labor because Sam's heartbeat dropped. His umbilical cord was not long enough to let him out of the birth canal, so doctors did an epistomoy (sp?) and used a vacuum.

I would not, ever, have a home birth. I do not want to be the expert in the room when my child is born. I want a team of people who have seen thousands of births at my beck and call.

I would try for natural childbirth if I was pregnant again. I went into the hospital with a birth plan for it with Sam -- didn't work out that way.

The most surprising thing about birth to me is how much I wanted to be alone. I didn't want Nate or anyone to be around me during the transition phases. I wanted it dark. I wanted to concentrate.

For me the pushing was the best part. You actually get to do something, not just endure. By the time I was pushing, the epilethial had worn off. During the pushing, I didn't mind having people around.

Mostly -- I just wanted to hold Sam and I was willing to use whatever means necessary to get him in my arms.

Sorry so long.

McMom said...

I have had some form of epidural with all of my kids. With the first one I ended up needing a c-section and it was good I had the epidural so they could get me to surgery faster. With the other three the absecnce of intense pain helped me "enjoy" it more.

Baby #2 was almost pain free and things progressed well. He was a VBAC.

With baby #3 the pain was all in my belly and not totally gone because he came VERY fast! (no time to enjoy it) At least the back pain was gone.

Baby #4, my Em, was the best! By the time I had her epidurals had come along way form the first time I had one. With her I could move, the pain was almost completely gone, and I could watch everything (with mirrors) happen and I truly enjoyed her birth. The lights were low, soft music and she did not try and come at super speed like her brother. I saw her present herself and come on out.

It was a beautiful birth for my last one!! They all were special though.

I have a friend that did it without anything for her first 3 and then with #4 she took something and she said it made a world of difference and she enjoyed it .

I wanted to go without drugs but chickened out when the pain came.
Kristin deserves a BIG gold medal for making it! I admire those who do!!

See, you get us Moms talking about our baby stories and we/I ramble on forever!! LOL!!

Sandra said...

Cara,thanks for the info on the epidural. Did you feel loopy? I have a very low tolerance for pain medication. 1/2 a vicodin makes me loopy.

Kelli, I think those are great reasons to want a natural birth. The first labor/delivery was so out of your control that it makes sense that you would want the second to be more in your control. When you went into labor were you aware of the phases and of the transition phase that Kristen has mentioned? That is when most women want to quit. I only ask because I wonder if knowing you are going to feel that way helps you get through it.

The book I am reading recommends staying at home for as long as possible during early labor. It says most women jump the gun and end up at the hospital too early. It sounds like that wasn't the case for you at all. It also says that during active labor you begin to pull into yourself and become less social because your body knows you need to focus on the process of giving birth. Out of curiosity what would make you choose a natural labor/delivery the next time around?

Cheri, can I just skip ahead and have a labor like yours was with Emily? It sounds almost blissful! I'm sure that by number 4 you knew the ropes well enough to know exactly what was coming next. Nothing is more comforting that experience.

Unknown said...

No, the epidural didn't make me loopy in the slightest. In fact, I was so anxious about the surgery that I asked them for something for anxiety.

I got a 'martini' in my IV before too much happened, and actually I got to watch them place the epidural by using a fluoroscope, a kind of live-action X-ray. I also had a nurse who comforted me and held my hand.

I just had no pain. Given all the pain that I have had, I am a HUGE FAN of no pain.

aola said...

I had my first two in the hospital with meds, the last two at home without. For me the home birthing was the easiest but I would never recommend it for anyone having their first baby.

I've never had an epidural but if there is a way to have a baby without the pain, I would do that!!

Sandra said...

Aola, you crack me up! I keep asking myself why I would even consider going through unnecessary pain. I think there is a bit of a stigma associated with not having a natural labor. As if it makes you less of a woman or a less strong woman. That is probably just my own feeling.

R said...

oh, you know, so i could brag and everyone could call me amazing;) no really, it's because i know what to expect now. i know what i need so i think i would be better equipped to do it naturally. i thought the first time that i would really need nate there to encourage me -- the opposite was true. i need him there afterwards, but during i need to be alone.

Sandra said...

Ha ha ha Becky! I was asking if there were medical reasons you would chose to go with a natural labor. Like if any specific experience in giving birth to Sam made you think that you'd like a natural labor the next go around.

R said...

no medical reasons.
sam is and was fine. a longer labor would have probably ended up in a c-section or something worse because of the cord. so i don't regret my two hour relief. it speeded up the process

aola said...

I think a lot of women chose to go natural because they just don't like the idea of putting drugs into their system and their babies system.I know the old school way before epidurals had some pretty nasty side effects. I had a saddle-block with Charlie and Levi and I believe to this day that is a big part of my back problems. And to be honest, without medication I recuperated much faster. But, once again, I know nothing about epidurals or thier side effects and I'm sure in the last 20+ years things have improved greatly.

Old Folks Blog said...

Well Sandra.I don't have a story to tell,or advice.Will keep you and David in my praters,mostly David.............ha
Love ya,God bless.

E. Michelle said...

I know this is really late BUT

I would do Judah's birth exactly the same way over again, it actually seemed kind of easy...but that might be a comparison to what i thought it would be like.

I had to be induced with Judah as he was late (by three days) and i had been struggling with high blood pressure (just plain doing too much, seriously). My docs wanted to induce me the week before but i wasn't ready to give up on a natural birth.

the induced version scared me because i "knew" labor would come on fast and strong, being medicinally controlled, to a point, it comes on faster and stronger than natural contractions, or so they say. They!, they always say thing, no?

So i labored, start to finish for just under six hours. six! i feel lucky even when I say it now!
(i had been dilated to a four for almost two weeks before i was induced.) I think that i was physically pretty ready, which i really think make the inducement easily successful....
During an hour in which i progressed from a 6 to a 9 I felt it was becoming too much and that, if i had much further to go, I wouldn't make it. boo! i didn't know that I was already at a nine and had done so much work at that point-- so i requested the epidural ( considered a light epidural so I could continue to "work" through it) Seriously, when she came to give me the epi, she was asking me to lie still in these major earth shaking contractions, nutjob! But this is what happened... as soon as she left the room, my nurses came in to check me and said I was nearly at a ten and I really wanted to push... I had to wait a little bit... and when it came time to push, the epidural came through saving me from the "ring of fire."
The rest of the story is really easy, judah came right out, totally beautiful. he weighed 9lbs and 11 ounces. my word.

in the end, i think i could have gone through it without the medicine if someone had told me how far I really was along, it would have been motivating.
still, i don't have any complaints, the last thirty minutes were nice and easy .

I told my friend that my advice to her was to wait as long as you possibly can wait-- the further you get the less likely you might have a c-section as epidurals can slow labor in various ways,-- and then get the medicine.
she did it that way and she had a totally great experience too and I think it is really nice to know that if you truly feel you need the medicine you can have it, but only if you really really want to.

Sandra said...

Thanks everyone! I've found all of your stories to be insightful and helpful. I've decided to do exactly what Erica recommends. I will go as long and as far as possible before asking for medication. If that gets me all the way through, great! If not, that's okay too.

Wow Erica! 9 lbs 11 ounces!!!!