I had epidurals during both of my labors. The first labor I planned on doing everything completely natural – or as natural as you can get in a hospital surrounded by medical staff – but when the time came for my second baby to be born I had no qualms about it. If I could have, I would have marched into the hospital to give birth the second time with a sign hanging above me that said, “This lady wants an epidural.”
I lasted a decent amount of time in the first labor before I gave in to the epidural. I was dilated to 5 cm, and I was being pumped with Petocin because it was an induced labor. I didn’t realize it at the time, but contractions hurt REALLY bad while contractions on Petocin hurt REALLY RIDICULOUSLY ABSURDLY bad. So making it as far as I did was a real testament to my threshold for pain.
The epidural did not feel good going in. There was a weird stinging sensation up my back and I was smack in the middle of a contraction when the anesthesiologist was urging me to stay still so he could get everything set. After he was finished they laid me back down and I suffered through about four more contractions when all of a sudden I realized that I was having contractions (I could see them on the monitor) but I couldn’t feel them. I actually got so relaxed that I was talking, laughing, and enjoying the birthing experience. Before the epidural I was in so much pain all I could do was grip the arm bars on the bed and glare at my husband.
When the time approached for my second baby to be born I told everyone who would listen: “I’ll want an epidural. Ready an epidural. Make sure the doctor knows I want an epidural.” My water broke the night before I was scheduled to be induced so after the mad dash to the hospital I distinctly remember two things:
1. Contractions didn’t hurt so badly. It may have been a combination of no Petocin and also me having already experienced contractions before, so I wasn’t so rudely surprised by the pain.
2. I still wanted an epidural.
I had the epidural as soon as they would give it to me, and I actually slept while my cervix continued to dilate. I woke up feeling an immense amount of pressure, and a couple minutes later out popped my precious baby boy. I know many women are able (and willing) to go through labor without any medication, and I do applaud them for it. I will be one of the few women who stands as an advocate for epidurals, though, because even though a needle in the back is no fun there is something really cool about being able to enjoy labor. I don’t think that getting an epidural made me a bad mom or anything. The amount of pain I experienced in my first labor was just so intense I needed some help. My hats off to anyone who can go without an epidural, but if you wind up getting one don’t beat yourself up over it.