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The TRUTH about Epidurals & Pitocin
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The TRUTH about Epidurals & Pitocin

Hey Ladies...had my first night of Lamaze last night.  No breathing - just a lot of pictures of the female anatomy - and some information about real contractions vs. fake contractions.  

One thing that the lamaze instructor said was that we should not call our OB or go to the hospital until we have 5-1-1 / Contractions that are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, and this has been going on for an hour.  She then showed us the chart that breaks down labor into active labor and so on...I asked her where exactly on that chart people are when they get an epidural.  I was informed (none to kindly) that epidurals should not be expected because most of the time they cause contractions to stop - and then you are giving pitocin which forces contractions.  She said pitocin causes extremely painful labor because it's medically induced and your brain doesn't know to produce endorphins to counteract the pain...and she said that when you are given an epidural you feel all the pain of pushing anyway because they make sure the epidural wears off before it is time to push.  I felt like a little kid getting yelled at!

I was serious though...I really want to know some info.  When do they give you the epidural?  Because I always hear about people going to the hospital too late to recieve one.  Also - I thought that when you push with an epidural you feel pressure, but not the pain.  Any truth to this?  And I also thought that pitocin brings on contractions (which are painful) which is why we associate painful labor with pitocin...not that pitocin actually makes the contractions worse or the pain worse.

I feel like I went to lamaze and am even more confused - and now on top of that dh doesn't want me to get an epidural b/c lamaze lady made it totally seem like there is no point to it b/c you can't push until it wears off anyway...

Does anyone have any insight into this?  Any advice would be appreciated...I am terrified of the pain of giving birth and really thought that an epidural would be a good solution...
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Avatar_n_tn
Here is what I understand...never had kids...but have talked with my cousin who had epidural and my SIL who didn't have epidural but did have pitocin...

An epidural will basically make you numb from the waist down.  You don't feel pain but sometimes it's harder to push because you can't feel anything.  The doctor will not make you wait until the epidural wears off before you push.  (If he did, what's the point of an epidural?)  Pitocin brings on contractions very quick.  My SIL said the contractions FELT worse with Pitocin b/c she didn't have time to adjust to the pain of contractions.  One minute she felt fine and the next she was having contractions.
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172023_tn?1334675884
Well, if everyones labor followed the charts and went by the books, it'd be great.  The trouble is, labor has its own cadence and time frame.  

Her advice about the 5 min apart, lasting 1 min for at least an hour is generally sound advice.  The rest is poppycock.

Epidurals should not be given until labor is well established, with regular, strong contractions that are causing you to dilate.  Sometimes, contractions can slow briefly.  Rarely do they ever stop completely.  Usually labor picks right back up on its own.  Some doctors or nurses have their own "rule" about when to give epidurals--generally at 4 cms.  Other places are not so rigid in their thinking.  You can ask your doctor his philosophy.

Pitocin in a way makes labor more painful, b/c it speeds it up a bit and brings the contractions closer together much faster than the body normally would.  The brain not knowing to produce endorphin bit is more poppycock.  If your contractions, with or without an epidural, start spacing out, it may be necessary to bring them back again.  Sometimes your doctor will have you try walking, or other methods.  Or just waiting.  

The pushing/pain comment can go both ways.  Some women feel only pressure; some feel lots of pain, some feel nothing at all.  Most lie somewhere in between--able to feel pressure and push, but not in too much pain.  Most hospitals do NOT turn the epidural off unless the woman can't push at all b/c she isn't feeling any pressure.  I can't remember the last time I had to turn an epidural off so someone can push.  Maybe a year or more ago.  

Some women feel a great deal of pain, epidural or not, when the head crowns.  Some feel very little.  But regardless, by that point you are minutes away from delivery and RELIEF.

The only one who gets a vote in whether you get an epidural or not is YOU.  When your husband bears the next one, he can decide.

The best attitude you can have is one of flexibility.  If you would really not want an epidural, stay home as long as you can.  At the hospital, be up and around or use a birthing tub.  But if your discomfort gets to such a point that you feel you really want one, you should have one.  
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150937_tn?1235947480
I was induced with pitocin with all 3 of my babies, and I have no idea what "NATURAL" is, because I had an epidural all 3 times.  I was able to push when I was Ready to push, not when epidural wore off, in fact with my 2nd I had NO PAIN throughout my delivery (thanks to the epidural)  With my 1st , my epidural gave very little pain relief, and with my 3rd, I had NO pain relief!   Tell your DH that you will keep an open mind (and he should too!)about the epidural, as the pain is different for everyone, and the level of pain you can withstand is different for everyone. and every pregnancy is different too.  Good luck to you!
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Avatar_n_tn
Labor people (teachers) arent big on drugs. But she shouldnt have made you feel that way. Pitocin does bring on very strong contractions. But I havent heard of to many people needing pitocin with and epidural. I think also if this is your first you dont have to worry about not getting there on time, unless you home labor.
From what I understand once you are dialated to like 7 or 8 then its to late for an epidural.
I think you can also have it at a low amount so you can have some feeling.
I am gona be attempting a vbac, so I will need to have one. Because if it comes down to me needing a c-section then they can switch it quickly to a spinal, so in other words I wont need to be knocked out in case of c-section.l was of course gona try the natural thing and try to have some home labor, but was advised because of attempting vbac not to.

If you did come down to where and emergency csection is needed and there was not epidural in place they would then have to knock you out.
But also the midwife told me the more drug interference you have the higher your chances for actually needing a c-section.
You could try like alot of people I know do to go as long as you can naturally and play it by ear. Who knows you may have a really quick labor and delivery.
The only people I have known (personally) who have made it all the way naturally had either a midwife or a doula.
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164559_tn?1233711618
At my hospital they give what is called a "walking epidural"  You still have some sensation, but it takes it from excruciating to a feeling of pressure.  Did not slow my contractions, I had control over the meds, they were not turned off for delivery, in fact they "topped me up" as complications arose.

I am all for natural births, however, they are not always possible.  Last time I had an incredible detailed birth plan.  It was my second child and I was sure I was going to have that picture perfect labour and delivery.  I had complications and at that point we threw the birth plan out.

This time I also have a birth plan, and again am hoping for a natural drug-free delivery.  But I will trust my team to keep me informed if problems arise again.
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158812_tn?1189759426
I was induced w/pitocin twice.  Yes, the contractions can be unbearably painful, but my water had been leaking, and I had no choice.  I was having difficulty progressing as a result of the pain, and being so tense.  I received my epidural at 1cm dilated, and 2cm the second time.  The epidural was immediate pain relief;  therefore, I could relax.  When I was able to relax, I progressed quickly, and experienced succesful vaginal births w/both children.  It isn't a big deal.  Many, many, many women deliver w/an epidural and without pitocin.  

My suggestion is to listen to all of your options, and make a birthing plan from there.  Good luck.
Peekawho is the best person to talk to on here.  She deals w/this for a living, and is very knowledgable.
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146191_tn?1236881412
i don't know. i am not an expert, but i think that they offer you the epidural from the moment you get into L&D and i think the "window" is actually a pretty large one. i think that you only "miss" the chance for an epidural if you're labor is moving extremely fast and you are fully dialated. i know that i went to the hospital at 3 cm dialated with contractions 5 minutes apart. they gave me pitocin way before the epidural and i don't think it made things any more painful. can it get more painful? anyway, i they asked and asked about an epidural and i wanted to wait as long as i could, for the simple fact that they would only have to give me one. i waited until 7 cm dialated and at that point my contractions were pretty regular in time and strength. the epidural didn't wear off wheni was ready to push, but i could still feel that i was ready to push. actually, i had my son ay 7:37 pm and i was still numb well after falling asleep until the middle of the night. don't let what the instructor says scare you, just ask your doctor. they will be more than helpful with info. i know how you feel tho. i went into it not knowing what i was suppose to do or say. the doctors and nurses took good care of me and gave me good advice. my labor was 14 hours, but it didn't feel like it.

good luck.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had an epidural and it did slow down contractions while I was pushing.  So they gave me pitocin and they started again.  I didn't feel a thing.  I LOVED the epidural!!!
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128449_tn?1192829269
Thanks so much for all your advice/stories.  In my mind I know that women have more than one kid - so it can't be that bad.  And I'd do anything for my baby (and endure lots of pain if necessary)...but it i can have an epidural...and only feel the pressure not the pain I'll feel that much happier!  That lady last night just scared me - and i really didn't understand the whole epidural thing if it was going to wear off before i pushed anyway!  Thanks for clarifying!
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210400_tn?1325384170
Wow, lets see I had pitocin with all of mine (not by choice) it was very painful, worse than before they started the pitocin. However, I have never had an epidural so I can't be a judge on that one.
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173939_tn?1333221450
Haha, it is rather the sleepless nights that would keep me from having another one...good luck to you from someone whose husband hissed "wimp" after getting the epidural after 7 hours of pitocin induced labor. The nurse even suggested to get the epidural as I started to feel electircuted with all these close set waves of labor. It was such a nice relief and I had the epidural that allows you to self-administer via push button. That way you can decide to feel as much or little pain as you like, relatively. You don`t have to live by your husband`s birth plan, jsut remember that and forget about the class you attended. Peek`s a pro.
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171768_tn?1324233699
man, first you get the greatest doctor, and now the greatest lamaze instructor. i asked my instructor the same exact question. the response she gave me was much different. her answer was pretty much the same as peek's. she also said that you can ask in the hospital how long t is an option, and that the nurses will probably keep you informed of all of your options as they arise. she covered ALL of the pain managemnt options and pretty much advised us to keep an open mind when going in. by the way, my class barely touched on breathing techniques, and focused more on what you described and other relaxation techniques. Also, like i said, they covered all of the possible pain relief and other interventions. all of my "stupid" questions were answered with respect.

obviously, i can't be too much help based on experience cause i had to have the c-section, although i can i have heard that the process of getting an epidural and spinal are supposedly pretty much the same thing, and i found the process of getting an IV line in my arm (first in my life), much worse than getting the spinal. i can see why they say that if you're in labor, you don't care that they're giving it to you.
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177465_tn?1288242063
My doc and your lamaze teacher should hook up! They're both full of cr@p it sounds like! I have no wisdom on any of this stuff, but I was glad to hear what Peek had to say on the matter. :) Made me feel better, too!
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Avatar_n_tn
That made me laugh. Sometimes I swear these people teaching these classes have never had a child! I woke up in labor with contractions 2 minutes apart. By the time I was checked into my hospital room and they checked me, I was too far gone for an epidural, but then for the next 8 hours, I had one contraction on top of another waiting to go the last 2 cm. Finally I did get an intrathecal injection, which I loved. I could feel my legs, and feel the desire to push, but didn't feel any pain - they do wear off in about 2 hours, though. Only side effect was a really itchy face, which went away when the drugs wore off.
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Avatar_n_tn
In my case the epidural helped me and my labor nurse said that is often the case.  It took me about 5 miserable hours to get to a 4 so I could have an epidural.  As soon as I got it I was almost fully dialated in 30 min.  The nurse said a lot of times it helps you relax and that is why it can speed you up.  I think if you get it too soon you can stall, but it was great for both me and my sister.  I wouldn't go through labor without it!
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Avatar_n_tn
BTW, I didn't feel anything when I pushed and only had to push for 10 min.  It is different for everyone but don't let anybody scare you off from what you want to do.
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Avatar_f_tn
hi there.Im new to this, and waiting for some answers/suggestions while I wait, i read your question..

I only  have my 1 lil girl.4 yrs old.But I had chosen to 'go all natural'.(at leats until i cud handle it).I know the teachers explained everything and the other moms-to-be thought I was CRAZY when i said that in class. But I did wait.I however had to be induced(lack offluid in sack), but was not dialated at all. I waited as long as possible  & then told the dr.s i cant take int anymore.. before i chose to wait, i asked please tell me when I can have the epidural(sp??) before its too late for me. They told me a time frame. So as it stood, I went 4 hrs maybe  with serious labor pains, on the monitor & everything  but then cried to my husband .''Im  sorry, thr pain is bad , I want  that epidural now '...'.I was dialated maybe 2.5. the drs came in and gave me the epidural( which my husband had majoy nail markson his arms  from my nerves when they did it..lol.. But  then suddenly I dialated fast , and maybe 25 minutes later, I was ready to   have emily  delivered.
I  suggest you make sure your dr tells you what your dead line is.Go the max b4 you get the epidural..Its worth it,  the labor went so fast .  I dialated so fast , since I waited the longest possible.MY body was so relaxed after the hrs I waited..
Also.. the pressure.It was weird, but funny. i have to say , my husband was a great coach ,i dont think i wud have rememberd how to count to 10 unless he was there to guide mer..lol..but the pressure was weird, and I had to be told when to push, since w. the epidural, you feel nothing below.Not like youd feel if we didnt have drugs...

This is obvuiously your 1st child right ..I might be outta my leaugue here..lol.ladies..but just so you know..1 thing happened NO one told me about.. when your pushing,  things come out from other holes too.Im sorry, but I wish someone told me that b4 i  went into labor.I know lamaz classes didnt, and my sisters /cousins & friends didnt tell me that either. At least i cud have prepped myself for my coaches eyes when it was happening..lol. but anyways .. God Bless & good luck..
`alwayzeo
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Avatar_n_tn
I would say the lamaze instructor is NOTS

epidurals actually help your labor progress - why because you are not fighting the contractions or pushing when you ahve the urge - therefore when you have an epi - your progress usually speeds right up
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Avatar_n_tn
OMG your husband actually called you a wimp.
If my husband says anything of the sort he will be very sorry.
What the heck do they know?
If men had babies they would weigh 400 lbs and I'm sure they would take all the pain meds they could.

I kinda admire people who can do the whole thing naturally. But like it was said before every birth is different and we all have different pain thresholds. There is nothing wrong with having an epidural if thats what you need. The midwife I have isnt even really against them. But she does suggest home labor as long as possible.

There are woman in Africa that labor for days with no medical intervention, alot of times they or their babies die. Im sure alot of them would be more than happy for medical intervention. We are lucky we have all the options we do.
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118074_tn?1228332603
I had both when I had my son.  My water broke but my contractions were not coming close enough so they gave me pitocin to speed things up.  I will have to tell you, it's quite painful when I went into hard labor, that drug worked on me immediately.  I was in pain for about 30 mins before I asked for the epidural and I felt great.  I had my son within an hour and a half after I had the shot and I felt no pain....It took a total of 7 hours, including admission, to give birth to my precious.  
Just want to give you my story as I have never considered having a natural birth.  Being pregnant was hard enough.
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177988_tn?1266802499
I'm no expert and this is my first but I have several freinds who have recently had babies and each of them HIGHLY recommends the epidural saying it made things so much easier.  Only one friend couldnt feel the pressure to push so they told her when to. S he said she'd still do the epidural again.  It will totally vary by doctor as to when they will give you teh epidural.  I have heard some say they got it early and some say that their docs made them wait till they were very dialated.   Don't worry about lamaze instructors.  I go this weekend to do an accelerated course (8 hours saturday, five on sunday) and no one there will be able tot alk me out of the epidural!  
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222658_tn?1216916107
I was indudced with pitocin and i didnt find it terrible. My contractions got pretty heavy, and i got an epidural when i was at 5 centimeters. I think every woman's expierence is different, and who knows what will happen when you go into labor, but i know that an induced labor is really not too bad. Dont worry, im sure that no matter if you get induced, or it happens naturally, you can get through it! Best wishes to you. _Ash
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172023_tn?1334675884
Our hospital gives them to you whenever you want.  You do have to be having good strong contractions, though, and at least a tiny bit dilated.  

If you want one, nothing that Lamaze instructor said should hold you back from it.  I'd come in the class after the baby and tell them how it really went, too.  She should be reported to someone.  She shouldn't spread horror stories to pregnant women.  
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175665_tn?1306462624
I got my epidural at 4cm.  My water broke so they basically had to induce me with pitocin because I wasn't contracting or dilating.  I almost had to have a c-section.  Once I hit 6cm after 10 hours of labor they said if I didn't dilate a cm an hour for 2 hours then I was going to have to have a c-section.  Everything happened 15 minutes before they were going to prep me for the OR.  I didn't feel any pain, just some pressure.  I couldn't feel my contractions so they watched the monitor and told me when to push and after 30 minutes of pushing she was here.
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173939_tn?1333221450
Yep, that little comment was just the beginning of the end but the nurses gave him a really dirty look...after the 14 hours it took altogether they told me I had been a pleasant "patient", probably because I tend to suffer quietly....Okay, let`s get some pitocin for the dads...just kidding.
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Avatar_f_tn
You poor thing.  Are you taking a special Lamaze class, or is it a childbirth class.  Some of those Lamaze courses are geared toward a drug free delivery and they teach you the techniques to achieve it.  They are not so big on the drugs.  The childbirth class I took at the hospital was great, and they even showed a video of an epidural being placed, so you would know what it was like.   They told us to be open to the experience and don't just rely on getting the epidural, you may go too fast to get it...but they also told us not to be disappointed if we took one and had planned to go natural.  I needed pitocin both times, my contractions were coming, just not strong enough and when they did come strong they would stall.  The pitocin did cause my uterus to react, got overstimulated both times, meaning I had one huge contraction with no break.  My uterus just bunched up.  Happened before I got my epidural both times and I had to sit through it while they threaded the epidural.  I did not feel any pain or pressure at all with my first baby, and with my second only felt a strange vibration in my tailbone.  I mentioned it to the nurse and when they checked me I was complete and baby was crowning on his own.  He was out in minutes.  Went from barely a 4 to complete fast.  Before the epidural I was getting nowhere, so don't feel bad if you want it.  I had back labor twice and 2 large babies, made it through several hours of labor both times and felt I needed it when the time came.  I pushed both of my sons out well and my labor actually progressed better when I was able to relax.  I also had the energy to hold my babies after birth.  You do what you feel is best and ignore the crabby woman.  My sil had 2 babies, the second one was induced.  AShe felt no contractions with either till the big one where she went complete.  Some gals don't feel it as much either.  
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Avatar_f_tn
What a crap teacher!!! I guess she didn't tell you that epidurals often relax your muscles enough that you dilate quicker! I was at 4 cm when I got mine after hooooours of induced labor. Within 56 minutes, my labor hadn't just progressed. I had become fully dilated within forty minutes, pushed twice, and at that fifty six minute mark, I was holding my little man. Later my dr told me it was likely I was going to have to get a c section before I had requested the epidural, because the pain id been having was tensing my body up so much, I was unable to dilate. Because of that epidural, I was able to deliver vaginally and both my son and myself were able to leave the hospital within ten hours of his birth.
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Avatar_f_tn
**Also, should you decide to get an epidural- you could always adopt my method: "My vagina being torn open, my body in pain, MY rules." haha- I really wouldn't worry about that though- most men, when they see what their wives are going through during labor, just want to ease the pain. When the time comes, if you want an epidural, I'd be willing to bet he wouldn't fight you on it.
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