There seems to be a movement back towards a more natural lifestyle. Natural foods raised organically, non-genetically modified foods, essential oils instead of antibiotics. There has even been a movement back towards medication-free child birthing because it is more “natural.” Well, I’ve had a delivery with an epidural, and then one without. And let me tell you something, I’m calling bullshit. There was nothing natural or beautiful about my med-free childbirth experience.
Let’s start with my first birth. I promise to keep it PG-13 (In other words, no gory details). In 2010 I was pregnant with twins. I went in to labor spontaneously at 36 weeks. Prior to delivery I had talked to my doctor about my options. He strongly suggested that I have an epidural because twin births can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Sometimes one baby can be delivered vaginally, and the other baby flips so they have to deliver the second by C-section. If that happens, the doctors have to move quickly to get the second baby out. If that was the case, and I didn’t have an epidural they would have no other option than to put me under general anesthesia. It makes it infinitely more complicated for the doctors, and I would miss the delivery of my babies! I happily told them I would take the epidural.
Even though I knew an epidural was the best option, I took a birthing class because I knew I might have to labor for awhile before they gave me the medicine and I wanted to be prepared. The day labor started and I arrived at the hospital I was already far enough for the epidural. Both babies were head down I was able to try and deliver vaginally. By the time I got my epidural the pain was intense enough I wanted it! And by the time the epidural was wearing off I was ready to deliver so they didn’t give me anymore medicine. However, all in all, the delivery was pretty easy and no big deal.
Now, let’s move onto my last delivery. I went into labor at 4 am. By the time I got to the hospital at 5:45 am (yes, same day – only 1.75 hours from the first contraction), I was far enough along that they whisked me away to a delivery room but not before I asked several times if I could get an epidural. The nurses were so calm and I was in sooo much pain. It was a flurry of activity getting me to the delivery room, calling my doctor, and getting the room prepped for a delivery. By the time the anesthesiologist came in to set me up for an epidural, I was writhing on the hospital bed with the pain. He was asking me stupid questions that I can’t even remember what they were. I’m sure they are important but all I could think about was “STOP TALKING AND GET ME MY MEDS!” He told me that he was afraid the epidural wouldn’t do me any good because I was so far along, the medicine wouldn’t start working until after I had delivered. He also said I would have to lay really still to get the medicine and that wasn’t going to happen.
The laborist on call came in the room and reiterated what the anesthesiologist had said. I was in denial. I thought, “No, no, no, no. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” I was also saying that over and over again out loud. “I can’t do this.” “I don’t want to do this.” “Is there anything else you can give me?”
It was the most intense pain I have ever felt and was the scariest experience of my life. My husband tried pushing me back against the gurney during one contraction since I was flailing around like a crazy lady. I turned and yelled at him “DON’T PUSH ME DOWN!” (Sorry honey!)
My husband told me later that he looked at the resident on call, who is a good friend of mine, and she gave him a look that said the epidural wasn’t an option.
So, I had to do something I never imagined I would have to do. I was worse than the screaming ladies you see in movies. When those contractions came it was like I was on a completely different planet, and the doctor had to call me back to planet earth. She probably had to say my name half a dozen times to get my attention. I remember hearing her voice and thinking “Oh my, I’m still alive!”
And as soon as my beautiful baby was born I blurted out, “I NEVER want to do that again.” It wasn’t “Oh, look she’s beautiful!” Nope, it was “I NEVER want to do that again.”
My aunt and I were talking afterwards and she made a good point. You can have a tooth pulled without pain medication, but why would you want to? You can have a bone set without medication, but why would you want to? If you know childbirth is painful, why would you want to go through it without medication?
The point of this is not to scare people into having an epidural, but I also want people to realize that childbirth is no joke either. Natural childbirth is painful and scary and not for the faint of heart. And if you have delivered naturally then hats off to you. (I personally think people are NUTS for deciding to purposefully do childbirth without pain medication! And no amount of talking will change my mind! 🙂 )
Next time I am pregnant and a month away from delivery I am going to rent a room in the hospital, and as soon as I feel the first contraction demand an epidural. Hook me up baby, because I never want to do that again!