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Birth plan , pain relief
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Birth plan , pain relief

Hi there,

I'm a little over 36 weeks and getting nervous about labour/delivery. I had 2 m/c's and wondering if that pain was the same or is it worse because the baby is bigger ? Okay,I know its "better " since I get a prize this time but, wondering about pain relief options. One sil told me get the epidural right away so that I can relax and avoid c-section. She said with her first, she waited til 6 cm before getting one and regretted waiting too long because it prolonged her labour and ended having emergency cesarean. She said she took epidural right away with 2nd baby and was able to deliver vaginally.   Now, i've read that the epidural prolongs dilation and you're immobile.  I had been planning to do this naturally and would like to move about, go to the bathroom on my own, feel the urge to push, etc...  I'd prefer to wait and see what happens because isn't everyone's experience different ? Just because I get an epidural doesn't guarantee me a vaginal birth - right ?  She said that I'll be in hours and hours of pain if I don't get one - and this is just throughout the FIRST stage of labour.  I'm hoping to hear that others had a better experience.  Need some words to comfort fears - seems people like to share their horror stories only.

I'm also aware that I'll be checked often for dilation and the thought of strangers poking my vajayjay when I'm already in pain is stressing me out.  What exactly do they do and how long does it take ? I thought it was like in the movies where the doc lifts up the sheet, takes a quick look and says,"Won't be long now ..."     So,  I'm to the epidural decision and wondering how much do you feel with one ?  How long does it last ?  Has anyone used laughing gas and if yes, what are your experiences with it ? I've read that it "distorts" your pain - did it help with pain relief  ?   Too many things swirling in my mind and I just want to get a birth plan that makes me feel like I'm in control.
Any words of wisdom regarding labour/ birth ?   Thanks for your input !  
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I was the same way with my first baby. Really nervous about delivery. It's not horrible. When you first go in, you'll be very, very excited. When you start getting uncomfortable, you'll realize that whatever happens, it'll be over soon. Every single delivery is unique. Don't let your SIL influence you too much. An early epidural does not equal a c-section. I had epidurals with my first 2. With my 3rd, I didn't have anything and I think it was a much easier birth. But, it does get easier with each baby so I don't know how much the epidural had to do with it. As for the exams, A Dr will check you every so often to monitor your cervix. They have to make sure you are continueing to dialate. You won't mind at all, because you'll be wanting to hear about your progress. I never had a miscarriage, but I have to assume that birth is much more painful. Never had laughing gas either. Just decide as you go.
I can only tell you my experience and you can take from it what you will. With my oldest (she's almost 20) I had no pain meds at was painful, yes - but, obviously I made it and I'm still here. Short labor - 6 hours total from first contraction to birth. A small tear - no episiotomy.

With my second, I decided I got no prizes for going through it med-free, so I decided on an epidural. My labor pains with him were MUCH more painful than I remembered them being with my oldest - could be because I was ten years older, or could be because he was two pounds bigger and five inches longer, or could be because I had to be induced because my water broke. I don't know. So, I begged for an epidural early - finally got one at just 3 cm dilated. It was heaven. I wanted to nap...but I started dilating so fast that I went from 3 to 9 in fifteen minutes. From the first pitocin drip to delivery, it was four hours.

My third, I had a c-section...which was HORRIBLE. Anyone who says they prefer it is insane.

Soooo...every woman and every pregnancy are different. You just don't know how an epidural will work for you - it's a crap shoot. I CAN tell you that I would never do it again without one. There's no reason to be in pain. But I would make sure my contractions were good and strong before I got one. Good luck with everything!!!
I would advice you contact doulas in your area ASAP!!!  They will help you out drastically and if you contact DONA via email they will email you a list of trained doulas in your area that are likely to donate their services at no or reduced costs.  They will help you form a birth plan and help you with pain management in the sense of encouragement, movement, and support.  Unlike doctors and nurses, they will meet you at home and stay with you the WHOLE TIME until after baby is delivered.  You won't regret it I promise.

I will cut to the facts because as a doula I give facts to my clients so they can make educated decisions (whatever they may be).  A woman who receives an epidural is 9 times more likely to have a c-section than a woman without.  It effects women differently.  In some women it stops labor completely because her body is left without feeling.  I had a clients labor stall at 8 cm for 4 hours because of an epidural.  They took it out and like magic her labor started again and she was holding her baby in less than 45 minutes.

If you can avoid having interventions your less likely to end up with a csection (i.e. continuous monitoring, excessive vaginal exam, pitocin, breaking water, etc). Each intervention increases your chances of a c-section, stats prove it.  Avoid having your water broken.  It has only been shown to make labor shorter by only 10 minutes!!!  Sorry its not worth it.  Once they pop your water you are put on a stop watch and they want to to dilate faster.  If your body is not ready, it will dilate at its own rate to reduce stress.  Avoid unneeded and excessive vaginal checks because a pushy nurse or doctor will break your water without your permission.  It happens more than people will admit and its covered in your admission papers that you consent to any procedure the doctor deems necessary (water break is NOT necessary and babies are born in the caul all the time when left alone - look up pictures).

I always tell my clients to Bring their B.R.A.I.N. to the hospital.  Those are the 5 questions you should ask EVERY time before ANYTHING is done.  1 - what are the benefits of _____  2 - what at the risks of _____ (trust me there are always risk, don't accept simple answers)  3 -  are their alternatives to this?  (i.e walking around, changing positions, etc).  4 - what is your intuition telling you?  5 - Now?  Does it have to be done right now or can you buy yourself some time.  For example, if they are asking to break your water you have the right to refuse ALL exams and monitoring so you can move freely.  Its your legal right in ALL hospital despite "policy".  Unless you are feeling like you have to poop (not just pressure) there is no need for exams.  If your body is slow to progress they may try to push procedures on you.

Where are you located?  Feel free to email me and we can talk privately and maybe come up with a plan that works for you.  I would love for you to find a doula in your area to support you, but I will do what I can via web.

My personal story:  I was in active labor for 14 hours and pushed for almost 3 hours without medication and only a small tear (I refused episiotomy, if you want more on that I will share).  It was painful, there is no lie, but I was able to feel the urge to push and didn't need coached.  I was able to lift my own legs, walk around, use the bathroom, etc.  Right after I had my son I was sitting up in bed Indian style and the nurses were amazed because most women just have to lay there because they are numb from pain meds.  I would do it again without thought.  I had an amazing nurse, doula, and husband to support me.
There are a couple of good books to read to prepare for labor: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way.  Ina May's book is a little more idealistic about natural childbirth- for example I certainly did not climax when the baby was crowning- far from it!- but they're good reads for coping mechanisms.  I think it's best to be prepared for natural childbirth even if you ultimately choose an epidural.

The thing about labor is that is progresses, so it doesn't hurt horribly from the first contraction, and in between the contractions it doesn't hurt at all so you get a breather.  The thing that surprised me the most about labor was how normal I felt between the contractions.  As they get stronger, you can try to find effective coping mechanisms to deal with them- trying to relax during them or deep breathing or focusing on an object or getting a footrub or leaning on the wall or kneeling over a birthing ball or...______  You can experiment to see what helps.  And if it gets to be too much, by all means get the epidural.

I've had a couple friends who labored naturally until they hit transition and then got the epidural.  Apparently during transition you feel like you can't take any more- I sure did- but apparently that's a good sign because it means you're almost ready to push.  So before you get an epidural make sure they check you because you might be just about fully dialated.

Make sure you tell your birthing partner NOT to let them check you internally during a contraction- between contractions is fine.  Also, if you feel your labor is progressing at a pace you can handle, be careful about letting them break your waters as that will make the contractions more intense.  I finally let them break mine when it was time to push because they wanted to check for meconium and that seemed like a good idea to me.

I had two miscarriages, and the pain is similar in nature, although in labor the cramping gets more intense, longer, and closer together.  Of course there's a huge emotional difference which really makes all the difference!

Don't listen to your sil anymore- who tells a first time mom-to-be she's going to be in terrible pain for hours?  Every person is different, and every labor is different.

I had a 9 lb 5 oz baby naturally (after being induced with cytotec), and while the last few hours of labor were no fun, by the next day I was feeling fine.  I said I did all my suffering beforehand.  I have disk problems in my back so I was especially determined not to get an epidural, plus like you said I didn't want to be stuck in the bed during labor.  I'm pregnant again now and am kind of curious what labor is like with an epidural, but I know I'll try to go naturally again.  

Best wishes.  Remember: either choice you make, the important thing is to have a healthy baby and a healthy mama!
I've had four babies without an epidural.  There are still some pain meds you can take besides the epidural, but to be honest they don't do much.  My labors were long (8-12 hours), but worth every moment.  I would def recommend at least trying without the epidural, there are so many benefits, like doulasummer said, I could sit cross-legged (indian style) on the bed immediately after each birth and there were no meds that had to wear off.  I was clear and conscious and able to get up and focus on my baby.
I won't lie, when the doctor/midwife checks you for dilation, it can be quite painful.  Several times I have had a "lip" of cervix that just won't go away, and the midwife has tried to "push" it away during a contraction to get me to 10 cm so I can push  OMG probably the most painful part of labor I've expereinced.  But, in total, they on;y check you a few times (depending on how fast your labor progresses), and you will be fine!!  Good luck to you!!  it is natural to be nervous, but also go in thinking positive, like, "I can do this!". It is amazing what the power of positive thinking can do! ;)
Hi Everyone,

Thank you all so much for your responses.  Okay, I think I"m going to wait first and see how the labour progresses  - will try natural and only ask for an epidural as a last resort. The woman who gave us the hospital tour said we have up to 8cm dilation before they won't give one.

I just started my prenatal classes ( 4 ) and the next two classes are on delivery and pain relief options. The first class was on breastfeeding - the instructor helped calm any worries I had about it. Hope I'll leave the next 2 with the same feeling.  Yeah, I'm gonna block SIL's bad experiences.... I think she thought it would help to prepare me to expect the worse because she didn't have an easy time with her first.        

Thanks for all your answers - lot of great support.  I'm feeling more positive - I know it will help to keep my eyes on the prize  :D  
I personally don't believe in pain relief but everyone has their own opinion....I delivered my twins unmedicated.....but I do solely believe in the Bradly method you might read the book Husband coached child birth it totally opened my eyes even more to low pain natural child birth
I had a spinal block because I had a c-section so I can't be much help.  I can only tell you that getting the spinal didn't hurt.  Nor did the c-section for that  I know your getting nervous, but it is amazing how caught up you are in seeing that baby...seriously, I think they could have been sawing my arm off and I would have let them...I just wanted to meet my son!  Good luck honey!!
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