Wednesday, July 23, 2014

let's talk labor!

Just to put this out there, I am NOT at all penning this post with any sort of a desire to argue natural birth vs. epidural and which is better and which makes you a better mother/person/citizen. I am just hashing out my thoughts on the various birthing ways and thinking thinking thinking about how this one is going to go down all the live long day. I try to steer clear of controversy round these parts of the web. I'm a middle child, I like peace and harmony and donuts.
Here's a prior labors recap, for fun:

+ we had an all natural, un-medicated, accidental tub birth (not accidentally natural, just accidentally in the water), after being adequately schooled in all things Bradley and evils of the epidural and how all doctors are out to slice and dice you to get your baby out.

+ we had a c-section. Yes, after all that, little Bernadette proved to be our most stubborn child in the uterus as well as out and would NOT flip from her comfy breech perch. We tried the version, and everything else under the sun and on the "spinning babies" website but to no avail. Sooo slice and dice it was, because I am just not at all ok with the risk of a vaginal breech birth.



+ we successfully VBACed with Lucy (vaginal birth after cesarian, sorry I just used the work vaginal. 3 times). While I would have liked to try the natural thing again, after 2 full weeks of being a very full 4 centimeters and timing contractions for hours in the middle of the night, every night (again, for 2 weeks) by the time my water broke I was just done. So epidural it was. And it was a glorious, glorious thing.

So my question is, what now? And yes, that a serious question. Even though every time I mention the natural birth thing to Mike he looks at me like my head is on upside down (because I praise the epidural to the high heavens!), I am still of the Bradley mindset in a lot of ways, except that I really, really like doctors and will never say a bad thing about them.

I get a leetle worried about tempting the epidural gods, lest they let me know that not every epidural is as awesome as mine was with Lucy. I've had plenty of friends that they don't work for, or they fall out for and then have to be re-administered, etc... and I wonder if I shouldn't take a break from it this time or something.

So let's go over some pros and cons of the birthing ways, because I'm 36 weeks and it's just not possible to NOT think, talk, and breathe all things birth and baby right now. Just bear with me.

Epidural Cons:
- interventions often lead to interventions (or so they say)
- it's not fun trying to stay still while they put it in, while you're in hard labor
- sometimes they don't work
- sometimes they come out and you have to get another one
- you have to get an IV (I didn't even have to have a port with Naomi's birth and I am going to go ahead and say that getting the IV was the very worst part of Lucy's birth experience. I hates it)
- there can be other complications which I won't even look up and type out because they freak me out too much

Epidural Pros:
- it gives you the chance to rest. REST while in labor.
- I don't buy that relaxation techniques actually help with pain management, so what other option is there?
- most anesthesiologists are completely competent and they go just fine
- you don't feel any pain...
- you don't feel ANY PAIN......
- YOU DON'T FEEL ANY PAIN

Alright, some people still say they feel some level of pain or "pressure"- though I didn't at all- but really, compared to actual transition contractions and " the ring of fire" (gross! sorry!), if the epidural is working even a little you are still in a much better place in my opinion.

And now for the pros and cons of the non-medicated, all natural birth, as I can remember them.

Non-medicated Birth Pros:
- no worries about interventions going wrong
- possibility of not getting an IV
- makes you feel awesome about yourself
- I've heard you bond better with baby or nursing goes better, but everything was the same with my epidural birth as my natural one
- you're "really present" for every single aspect of the birth, though I could probably go ahead and list that as one of the...

Non-medicated Birth Cons:
- you're totally present for every aspect of the birth, every square inch of the pain. yikes.
- it is really flippin painful
- painful
- painful
- painful
- PAINFUL

So that about sums up all the pros and cons I can think of for now. I know everyone says that "your body is meant to do this work" and what not, and while I agree, I also think our bodies sometimes have exhaustion limits. As soon as my epidural was in with Lucy I went from 4 to 10 cm in like 2 hours, after being at 4 cm for 2 weeks, and I attribute that to my body being able to relax and let the uterus do its thing. I don't know how things will go this time around. Who knows? Maybe I will actually give birth during the day, which would certainly change up the exhaustion factor since the 2 vaginal (4 times!) births were smack dab in the middle of the night.

Any extra pros and cons that you seasoned birthers care to share? I am all ears, or eyes in this case. I by no means feel like I am a pro at any of this and tonight Bernadette asked in all seriousness if "I am scared to have baby Joseph come out?" And while I answered "no", I kind of lied because birthing a baby is crazy hard work and OF COURSE I am scared!

^ Bernadette and Baby Lucy. Time must stop NOW!

In the end, I just want baby J to come into this world in the most healthy and peaceful way. (And in the end, I will probably get an epidural :)

And on the birthing note, a big, huge, massive CONGRATULATIONS to my little sister Christina and my bro-in-law on the birth of their first sweet little boy, William! She is a rock star of the highest caliber and I cannot wait to meet his royal sweetness! 

31 comments :

  1. I'm in a similar boat, minus the c-section in the middle. I'll all ear for the comments!

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  2. We did Bradley too! First was drug-free and came out sunny-side up so I was glad to have opted out of the epidural because he most probably would have been a c-section if I hadn't. Second was an epidural (I blame PTSD from the first. The memory lingered too clear for me.) Third was another drug free birth with a doula and was AMAZING!! She was amazing and I can't sing her praises enough. Those 3 were hospital births. The fourth was a homebirth just a couple weeks ago. We moved to a homebirth friendly state and when the option was taken away for an epidural, that pretty much made up my mind. My husband was my doula and he was amazing. He HAS done this a couple times though so he knows what to do :) The homebirth was amazing...ly painful. And great too. But painful. And I am certain I will choose that route again! I am insane, I know...

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  3. I have had three epidurals and they were all perfect. My labors seem to speed up (but they may have moved along that fast anyway). I do worry that my number may be up next time because three in a row is pretty great. But maybe my body just responds well to them? You'll do great either way :)

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    1. When we took our Bradley class the instructor talked a lot about how some instances called for epidurals for the woman's body to be able to relax and let the uterus work, especially when you've done a whole lot of early labor. Since I wasn't just dilated, but also laboring for that 2 weeks, I do think that the epidural helped me in that way. I had only had 1 previous natural birth before that point, so my body wasn't just used to being super dilated. We'll see how it all goes this time around :)

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  5. I wonder about the same things should we be blessed with another baby. I've had 3 natural births (hospital, birth center, home) and honestly I'm kinda worn out from the pain, kwim? I almost feel like "well, I did that whole feeling labor thing 3 times, surely I can just skip it this next time." And my last two were FAST, like scary being-dragged-by-a-speeding-train fast. 5.5 hours and 2 hours, 45 minutes. Hello precipitous labor! And let me tell you, both of those hurt way worse than my first one. I'm genuinely terrified a fourth baby might be a 1 hour labor and i might have a heart attack. Oh, did I mention my third baby's labor was only 2 hours, 45 minutes because I refused to push for a full 15 minutes??? I just could not mentally wrap my mind around pushing so I refused to do it.

    So yeah, I might be trying out the whole epidural thing if we should have another one. But then I also really hate hospitals and loved having my baby at home where I could take a nap afterward in my own big bed with baby tucked in beside me. So I'm no help, sorry. But I'll be eagerly waiting to read your birth story, maybe it'll help me decide before I get pregnant again :)

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    1. That is so crazy!! I cannot imagine having a 2 hour labor. Mine was 6 hours flat with Naomi and it felt like such a whirlwind, so anything less? Just so crazy! YOU are a rock star for doing natural labors at home, a straight up rock star.

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    2. Yeah, everyone says they want a fast labor but my 12 hour labor was much better I think. My 5.5 hour labor felt terribly fast so I can imagine your 6 hour one feeling like a whirlwind too! Hopefully you sort out the epidural vs no epidural thing before baby Joseph makes his appearance :)

      Btw I met your FIL a few months ago and he was raving about your skills as a writer :) He was a great speaker, it was fun to meet him in person. By the way you never mentioned your name is pronounced "Ahhhhn - ah" vs "An -ah" (like banana)....so I was a dope and mispronounced your name, so sorry about that, lol!

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  6. With my first, I had an epidural but I went over 6 hours on Pitocin and I was SO tired and only 3 cm. I had not slept much the night before - my water broke in the evening and I never went into labor. He was also sunny side up, so BACK LABOR. Most evil words, ever. With my 2nd I went natural only because I waited too long to ask and they wouldn't let me have it. I chose to go natural with the 3rd and 4th because after I did it once, I really felt so much better as soon as the baby was born and I felt like my recovery was much quicker. I also learned that my water doesn't normally break until really late in the labor process and once it does, I get into transition really quickly and have the baby in less than an hour. So when it really starts to get super hard, my husband's job is to remind me that "it's only 45 minutes" or something along those lines, so I can push through. That all being said, if I had another labor like the first one, I would totally get the epidural. My sister desperately wanted to go natural and never could, because her body just would not relax. She would get stuck at 3 or 4 cm for hours. But once she would get the epidural, she would speed through. So the bottom line, I guess, in all this is that each labor is different and each Mom is different, and you really have to do what's best for you and the baby in the moment. And all you want is the end result - a healthy baby and a positive delivery experience.

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  7. I don't have any advice either except that I know I will be thinking these exact same thoughts when I get pregnant with #4 (Lord willing, of course). I had my first epidural with my 3rd baby and like you said, glorious seems to be the perfect word to describe it! I was in the "pro-natural both" camp for a long time....but now, I just don't know. I will also say that I was the most "present" after my medicated birth...the first 2 natural ones, I felt like I got hit by a bus (in addition to being super joyful or course). I'm curious what other will say too!

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    1. I am really, really glad to hear this- just that I am not the only one who feels like I do! I was definitely a bit scared from the natural birth, but now I feel like maybe, just maybe, I am far enough removed to try it again (?) And then be scared again. And then get an epidural again. That sounds like an ok pattern. (Or just all epidurals :) )

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  8. I got excited when I saw a newborn picture pop up for this post in my Facebook feed. Soon enough, right?

    I got epidurals with both my kids and I am thankful for them. First one I don't think I would have had the energy without having gotten it (water broke at midnight; I was in bed stupidly reading instead of trying to sleep; 14.5 hour labor with pitocin blah blah blah); second one was a faster labor by half but I got the epidural because I had the shakes the whole time and I just couldn't deal with that and contractions. And I vomited towards the end, so that was fun. Sometimes I wonder though if I could have done that second one without.

    That having been said, I am trying to go unmedicated with this one. But I think having a doula will help a lot, and I am also hoping labor will be fast. My shallowest reason for trying to go without epidural is that I don't want to have to pay for it (did last time! better insurance this time but still...). Also, I kind of just want to see if I can do it; I also didn't like getting IVs (the thing stuck in your arm/hand for that long creeps me out, so gross) and hated feeling like I didn't have total focus and control when I was pushing. Epidurals made it hard for me to move my legs and I didn't like that feeling. Best reason is that I'm trying to "offer it up" for a friend but I have no idea how that's going to go.

    Anyhow, my bottom line is to try to stay flexible. If I absolutely can't handle this birth unmedicated, I will get an epidural, but I think I've got enough motivation to be able to do it. We'll see.

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  9. I'm also 36 weeks (and 4 days) with my second son. I've enjoyed following your posts since we're pretty much due-date twins! :) I had my first son at home, and hopefully Baby 2 will be born here too. I'm definitely not looking forward to going through labor again, but...here it comes! I'm focusing my energies on planning my recovery: freezer pads, sitz bath concoctions, salves...you name it. Being pregnant seems to bring out my "crunchy" side. One good thing I've heard about skipping the epidural is that the pain motivates you to change positions which can make it easier for the baby to come out. Good luck with whatever you decide! I'll be keeping you and Baby Joseph in my prayers---I'd love it if you'd keep me and Baby Owen in yours!

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    1. Aw, fun! Due date twins!
      I am utterly impressed with every homebirther I have ever met- you are all incredible! I will definitely keep you and Owen in my prayers, so fun that we'll be having boys at the same time!

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  10. I've had three babies, all natural births. And yes, it's extremely painful. And the pain never gets any less with subsequent births, which seems like the logical thing to me. My doula tells me I'm one of the "best birthers" she's ever seen...I may be good at staying calm and not tensing up, but that doesn't mean it hurts any less!

    If we have another baby (I hope!), I'll probably try to go natural again. It's hard for me to put my finger on why I chose that course. In the beginning, it was extreme fear of "more interventions" leading to a c-section. Now I think there's more to it. I mean, most women for all of human existence didn't have the option of an epidural. Those that successfully birthed their babies did it with all the pain. There's something intriguing to me about the idea of having that connection - that common suffering that is a necessary part of our vocation.

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    1. I totally relate to this, though I've only had one speedy natural birth. I had my husband and two girlfriends there acting as doulas for me. It was incredibly painful, but I also managed to stay calm. I am a major cryer, but I would not let myself cry during labor. I knew that if I did, I would lose control and it would be over. I'm glad I had people there to remind me that I wanted to get as far as possible into labor and before I knew it I was pushing on three contractions and met my baby boy.

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  11. I really wanted Henry's birth to be natural, but it didn't work out that way and I ended up singing the praises of the epidural. I was super close to needing a c-section and frankly I was so exhausted from my 40 hours of labor that I almost couldn't push him out. I'm convinced if I had made it to 10 cm naturally, I would have been too exhausted to push and ended up with the c-section anyway.

    I'm all for trying natural, but having the right, free of judgement, to get an epidural at anytime. :)

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  12. as you know each delivery is different. I have found it is best to be completely flexible with your birth plan. because if things do not go according to plan you are not left morning how things should have been and you are able to enjoy your new born baby. Because it all depends on the day you have had or the hour you get to the hospital or the things on your mind. I say roll with it because no matter which way you go there is always that final moment when your baby is born and you have a huge sigh of relief and joy that it is all over.

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  13. I went in with a "let's get this baby out" mindset/birthplan. I worked to 6 cm on my own, (looooots of contractions), but then decided I was done. I got to rest up a bit and felt like I was really super present for the birth because I wasn't focused on managing the pain. There was enough pain after the epidural was over and I don't feel like I missed a thing. I had a midwife and hospital birth and made it clear that I was in the "fewer interventions the better" camp and the "especially please no c section" camp. She came out face up, head tilted a weird angle, and with the cord wrapped around her neck. But my team was great and and I didn't have any interventions because of those things. Would do it alllll over again.

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  14. Oh please just get the epi so people like me can live vicariously through you, please?

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  15. I went for the epidural with Grace, which was good because her labor took for-freaking-ever and I really needed the rest after two nights of no sleep. Unfortunately, she was taking so long that my dr decided to not give me any more pain meds/let the epidural wear off so that I could push better since I could feel... so I ended up getting to feel every bit of the actual birth. Ouch. I was thisclose to needing a C-section with her (she was kind of stuck) so I was glad the IV and everything was in place. With Sophie, I asked for the epidural, but went fast enough that I didn't get it until I was at 8cm, and she was born in less than an hour. I loved that I could feel some pressure, but it wasn't painful right away, even for a bit after she was born. If you can do all-natural, more power to you, but I love me an epidural and a break from the pain.

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  16. I love epidurals to the moon and back. Post partum is hard enough for me, I figure I get my intense suffering in the 5 weeks after the event instead of all at once :)

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  17. I've had 3 epidural births and then 3 natural births.

    I have to say that though the fear of no drugs is very real and scary, the aftermath of the natural births was way better. After my 3 medicated births, I chose a midwife who does not give the epidural as an option, so my decision was made up from day one of her prenatal care. Since you aren't in the same boat, I think you just go into labor knowing you have the option of drugs if and when you need them, and see how far you can go without them. My 4th birth was my easiest (she also was accidentally born in the tub), so I'm praying the same goes for you!!

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  18. I had 2 medicated and 2 unmedicated births. The first epidural wore off and wasn't stellar but the second was...ad then didn't wear off for 6 hours post birth so I couldn't walk. That said, my births have gotten faster and so my 6 hour third labor was more doable natural. My fourth was prodromal labor including a false trip to the hospital, but then precipitate 2 hour labor accidentally at home. If it was getting terrible I'd have another epidural but I feel really proud of those natural births and at the time like a rock star with little recovery problem. I would not say I have been more present- after transition the baby basically propels herself out and that is mind numbing.

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  19. I had the epidural with my first, went natural with my 2nd, had another epidural with my 3rd, then went natural with my 4th. Obviously I have a hard time making up my mind about which is the way to go.

    Both of my epidurals worked exactly as the 'pro- epidural' people said with none of the scary stuff that the 'anti' camp has promised. But I do know it's just my own experience and that even within one person experiences could change with later births. My last baby (natural) was posterior position, so who knows what would have happened had I had the epidural and wasn't able to work with gravity to get him better positioned to come out. I wonder about that a lot. I am so so glad that I have been able to experience a natural birth because if I hadn't I would always wonder, you know?

    I say don't decide anything until you've labored as much as you can at home. Then go to the hospital, see where you are and decide then. Unless you really do know what you want and are just scared about it. Then you need to try to work out that fear a bit.

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  20. My first baby I had 51 hours of natural at home labor, then a hospital transfer due to severe decels and epidural and baby arrived 4 hours later. Second baby was 22 hours, drug free home birth, 10.4 baby. Unbearably painful! Third baby I was up two nights with contractions, then active labor started. I had 26 hours of hard drug free labor at home, then a hospital transfer. I had an epidural that worked great for about 4-5 hours but wore off hours before he was born, total 38 hours labor, 9.14 baby, and shoulder dystocia.
    I'm now 17 weeks with number four and not looking forward to labor. I will likely get an epidural but I anticipate being in labor a day or so before going in so I'll have plenty of natural too.

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  21. Oh my! I read all the Bradley stuff and wanted so badly to do it that way! I had to get an epidural after 28 hours of labor with my first and I was able to nap, push for 20 min and have my baby. The second one meant another epidural because she had to be induced and wow... Pitocin. Same deal though, nap and push and baby. Third one, didn't even bother with attempting natural. Pitocin again (darnit, my babies never want to leave!) which meant epidural asap, watching some American Pickers and this time only 10 minutes of pushing and baby. My husband and I have a theory that I am just too uptight to let the babies out. I need the drugs. Good luck to you if you do not - I can't wait to hear about the little man's arrival!

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  22. Another homebirther here so pain meds aren't really an option for me. I actually find labor super enjoyable (weird, I know but I always get so excited when I find out I'm pregnant because I get to labor again).
    I think it makes it easier to deal with the pain knowing there is no other option. That being said, my labors are super quick (under 2 hours) so I'm not sure how I would handle a looooong labor. With our youngest (1 week old yesterday), I thought during one contraction that an epidural would be awesome but uh those aren't possible in my bedroom ;).
    I also try to think of labor as part of my calling as a wife and mother. What a great gift to be given the opportunity to really suffer for my child and for the poor souls! Hopefully that doesn't sound preachy, it's just how I justify to myself the intense pain I choose to go through!
    Best of luck with whatever you go with- he will be here so soon!

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  23. Three kids in, you are a pro. Do what you want. I'm looking forward to pics of your new guy.

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  24. My only epidural was with my first, and it slowed down my labour, drastically, and then led to complications. I will always avoid them if possible.

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