I enjoy reading mommy threads through pregnancy forums even though I am no longer pregnant. It seems that getting medical intervention during labor is a hot topic among pregnant women. When a pregnant woman decides that she wants to go without an epidural, she often gets criticized for wanting to try, and deliver without a medical intervention. Why the criticism? It is the mother's personal choice.
When I was pregnant with Forrest, I knew I wanted to forego an epidural during my labor because of several reasons. While watching a video about pain management during a child-birth education class that Stu and I participated during my pregnancy; the epidural was discussed along with its benefits and risks, and among the risks was a potential paralysis from being inserted improperly. As a Deaf person, I just didn't want to gamble the loss of use for my hands. The idea of having a needle being inserted into less than 3 mm cord just inches away from spinal cord sent shivers up up my back. That freaked me out. And not to mention that Stu nearly passed out while watching an epidural procedure. It was not worth getting one done in order to alleviate some labor pain. Besides, I was told by some women that sometimes an epidural didn't work, or worked only on certain parts of the body. Then there was just a huge disconnection between my body, and myself if I had taken an epidural. I didn't like being so disconnected from my body. I wanted to feel everything. Yes, everything. I wanted to feel my body work to deliver my son. I was concerned that if I had obtained an epidural then there was a chance of slowing down my labor, and thus leading to a potential c-section. Lastly, I wanted to breastfeed immediately after delivering my baby, and did not want my baby to be born slightly drugged. Being slightly drugged could affect latch-on for breastfeeding.
As you could see, I did a lot of research about not wanting to get an epidural or any pain management during labor. I was not flying into this blind. Yet when I notify people when I planned on having no pain management for my labor, I either was told that I was not going to be able to do it because it was going to be one of the most painful experience of my life, and I was most likely going to give in or people gave that look as if I had grown two heads! You know, that look of oh sure, really, you say that now.....but wait and see.
Not very many of them supported the notion that giving birth was possible without a pain management. Fortunately, one of my traits was stubbornness. I allowed the doubts to fall off my back, and kept plodding through with my wants for birth plan. I talked with people who were pro-natural birth, and read encouraging stories about birth. Giving birth suddenly did not seem that scary to me. I prepared myself for a lot of pain ahead of me, but that pain had a reward. My baby.
Being in labor was hard especially with Pitocin (the drug that induces mother to have contractions). For those who have not experienced Pitocin during labor; the contractions are usually longer, stronger, and closer together than those of a natural labor. I handled the pain pretty well until I hit 5 cm. My contractions got more intense after that. It hurt. The hurting part, I could handle, and the fact that contractions kept getting closer and closer together was tiring. I had no break in between my contractions. It was very intense. It was when I understood why women opted for an epidural. When I thought I could not handle the sensation anymore, I did request for an epidural because my labor became very intense and overwhelming. Suddenly, it was when I realized that the baby was coming...like now. My nurse checked me, and sure enough; it was time to deliver my son. That meant no epidural...there wasn't just time.
I felt everything from the baby descending to the ring of fire. That was very unpleasant, yet bearable. I wept the whole time. It was just an overwhelming experience to have my body take over the control, and I was just going along for the ride. At the same time, it was beautiful, and just the way I wanted it. I was so in tune with my body. I was connected. The end result? My beautiful baby boy.
Having gone through this experience I know what transition feels like, and how intense it can be without any pain management; I feel more prepared for my next pregnancy and labor/delivery. I know what to expect for next time. Because of this, I feel more confident to trust my body, and to go along with the ride. I hope that I will be able to go completely naturally next time without needing Pictocin.
It is okay to not want epidural. It is okay to want an epidural. It is okay to not know until the labor begins. It is okay to want to try, and end up getting an epidural. In the end, it all matters that you are a mama to a beautiful baby in your arms.