The question of the day was “What do you think about epidurals?” I don’t believe much in universal answers to questions like this, so I’ll go over the grey areas and you can come to your own conclusions! (That’s the great thing about information – it gives you fuel to make an informed decision for yourself.) Most labor interventions bring you closer to a cesarean section. A select few might say that a cesarean section or C-section is no big deal and they wouldn’t have a baby any other way. However, if you ask the majority of women who have had both a vaginal delivery and a C-section, most will say they would have a vaginal delivery 10 times before having another C-section. There are traumatic vaginal deliveries and there are traumatic C-sections, this is baby’s way of teaching you early that there are no guaranties, baby is in charge, and life is a bit of luck of the draw. Sorry…. I strayed. Some interventions, like being on the fetal monitor or having an IV will not have an effect on having a C-section or vaginal delivery. However, interventions like epidurals, pitocin (a medication administered by IV to increase contractions), and internal monitoring can bring you closer to a C-section (MAJOR surgery). I’m not trying to scare anyone who is already terrified of a C-section, I’m just letting you know that there are more risks to your health associated with a C-section than with a vaginal delivery, along with an increased recovery period. If you want a painless childbirth experience you’re in the wrong business. It’s hard, painful, and a pain in the butt. It’s part of the preparation for motherhood!
Epidural or not, there is pressure (which an epidural doesn’t take away). If you think a C-section will prevent you from having the pain of labor you may be right. You will however have pain with recovery at your incision site. Having a baby is almost never painless. (I told you I don’t believe in universals!) An epidural can be a great tool. There are some labors that drag on for days. Sometimes when a mother tenses up and is unable to relax between contractions it can stall labors progress. This is why natural birthing methods focus on getting mom to relax through labor. In these cases, an epidural can give enough pain relief to allow mom to relax and progress to the final stages of labor. (See stages of labor here.)
There are other cases when an epidural can stall labor. Labor is generally assisted by movement such as walking, rocking, etc. Many women find their labor goes by faster by walking or sitting on a birthing ball. Getting in the shower and letting warm water run on the laboring mother’s back or getting in a warm jacuzzi tub can also provide some pain relief. If you have an epidural, you are confined to bed rest because your legs feel like they are heavy and “asleep”. You will also have an IV, frequent blood pressure monitoring, and fetal monitoring. If your epidural prevents you from feeling your contractions completely and the contraction monitor isn’t reading your contractions well, your doctor may also want to place a thin tube along baby’s head in your uterus to monitor the strength and frequency of your contractions. So, if you were planning an active labor process you might want to hold off on the epidural.
These are just some basic positives and negatives regarding Epidurals. Do you have other questions or comments regarding epidurals? Please comment on this post and share!