intensely trivial

Straight talk about first-time birth, Part 2

You might want to go to the previous entry for Part 1 of this series, although the title really does give you the main idea. Here’s Part 2, the part that addresses the E-word:

4. Labor is good for babies
Labor is not bad for babies! Labor is good for babies! It gives their little lungs a prenatal massage to prepare them to draw their first breath of air outside the womb. Amazing, huh?

5. Get an epidural, give up something else
The less pain medication you have, the more you can be involved in your baby’s birth. Sorry if that’s not politically correct, but it’s the truth. Personally, I have given birth both with (the first time) and without (the second time) an epidural. I have also attended both kinds of births. Mothers with less pain medication are generally more involved in their births. There is a trade-off, obviously: You can choose an epidural, which (hopefully) takes away the pain, and that is worth it to some women. Or you can choose to do it without drugs (which is a mighty challenge), and you actually get to feel what your amazing body is doing. The sensation is NOT the same with an epidural, even if the anesthesiologist reduces the amount of medication you receive while you’re pushing. It’s a day-and-night difference. Getting an epidural means giving up something else. (And I just want to note as kindly as I can, I don’t think epidurals are inherently bad. There are some good reasons to get epidurals.)

6. What no one tells you about epidurals
Here are a few things medical staff won’t tell you about epidurals (and if they did, in the moment when you’re waiting for your epidural, you wouldn’t pay attention, but they could be disappointments later on): They don’t work some of the time. Of the vaginal births I’ve attended where the mother received an epidural, exactly 50 percent of the epidurals did exactly what they were supposed to do, as far as pain management goes. It is common for an epidural to work on only one side or to leave a spot still in pain. Having an epidural for more than a very short time means you will probably have to have a catheter in order to urinate. An epidural can make you shivery and shaky (the transition stage of labor can do this, too, and it can be hard to tell the difference without doing a cervical check), which means you might want more warm blankets, which means your temperature will rise, which will make the medical staff worry you have an infection, which has all sorts of ramifications. Finally, epidurals can make you very annoyingly itchy. None of this is a surprise to medical staff, but you might wonder what is wrong.
Continue to Part 3. . .


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Straight talk about first-time birth, Part 1 « intensely trivial pingbacked on 9 years, 6 months ago


  1. * mymilkspilt says:

    Great post. I particularly like your point about how having an epi means giving up something else… I am so grateful to have been so completely present at my daughter’s birth. Feeling her body emerge from mine was the most incredible experience of my life and I get goosebumpy just thinking about it!

    Posted 9 years, 6 months ago
  2. * Keely says:

    Love your insight!

    Posted 9 years, 6 months ago

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