Friday Confessional & Forum: Pregnancy edition


I confess that my husband and I spent nearly an hour this morning watching Veggie Tales videos on YouTube. Oh, and our toddler watched with us. All because I woke up with this song stuck in my head, thanks to the monkey books my son loves and weird pregnancy dreams:

I confess that rather than having reached that "done" point of pregnancy, I'm kind of freaking out the other way. I have a HUGE project list that I want to finish before this little one comes and it's starting to stress me out that it won't happen. Just not enough for me to really kick it into gear and get working on the list. :)

I confess that I always (you know, the twice that I've been through it) have a hard time dealing with the transition that is labor and delivery: the transition from being pregnant to actually living with the baby that I've been planning for so long. I'm happy at point A (being pregnant) and I'm excited for point C (having a new baby... and a toddler) but the point B part (labor and delivery) is hard for me to wrap my want-to-plan head around... so many variables!

I confess that I am a big wimp. I had an epidural with my son, and I'm considering doing this delivery drug-free, but I'm afraid that I'm too much of a wimp. (Not that an epidural in any way makes you a wimp. I just am a wimp who also had and loved my epidural :)

I confess that the thing that makes me feel wimpy is just two little words: back labor. I had no problem with the regular contractions with my son, but I had HARD contractions through my back that just made me want to stab someone in the eye. Repeatedly. So, back to the wimp thing: I'm afraid I'm too wimpy to work through those contractions in my back to do the drug-free delivery. But I'm not really committed either way yet.

I confess that I want to hear your birth stories! (This is the forum part :)

Now, I don't need ALL the nitty gritty details (because I'm trying to reduce some anxiety here instead of add to it...) The cliff notes version will suffice. Induced? Natural? Epidural? Best thing? Worst thing? 

I have 5-ish weeks to either toughen up and decide I'm going drug free or just embrace the fact that I like to avoid pain (and also that thanks to the epidural, I slept through most of my last labor...) So lend me your two cents, especially any insight you have about second and beyond labor and delivery (are they really shorter?), back labor, pain management, etc...please?


Brianne said...

So, I have yet to go through labor and delivery. And my confession is that I'd actually be pretty upset if you go into labor before me! ;) I blame the hormones.

And my reasons for wanting to go unmedicated include my fear of just HOW unnatural it is to have a huge needle and catheter go into your spine.

I've spoken with lots of women, some who have done both epidural and unmedicated. And they recommend Mongan's Hypnobirthing book. Seriously, it's pretty great. I'm not going to do a hypnobirth, I know someone who has and LOVES giving birth. But I LOVE their philosophy. Seriously, SO worth reading!! It's an empowering book! I could go on and on. But seriously, just read the book. It will at least give you more positive things to focus on, instead of the pain that'll come.

But also, there's no shame in getting an epidural and having a pain-free birth! You're still giving birth! It's just one of the ways to get there! Unmedicated or not, the end is the same, a healthy baby! :)

Brianne said...

PS: On my blog, the 32 weeks post, I asked for advice on going natural. There was some great advice in the comments section. I think some of the best was that an amniotomy and labor inducing drugs will make your labor a lot more intense. So if you can avoid those, do. That'll help.

Kellan and Rikki said...

I had my 2nd without any medicine. I loved it and hated it. It really wasn't too bad until the last hour(8-10cm) when I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into. Kellan helped sooo much I really couldn't have done it without him. Every time I would start to feel overwhelmed and like the pain would never end he would get right in my face and help me focus on just getting through one contraction at a time.

I felt amazing afterwards though! I could have walked right out of there. I think it helped that my water didn't break until I was almost 8cm. I don't know if that makes a difference for everyone, but it sure does for me.

On my 3rd one I was already to go drug free again, but I had to be induced and they broke my water at 4cm. By the time I got to 5 1/2 cm I felt as crummy as I had at 8cm with the 2nd so I rethought that pretty quick and had the epidural. I also had to be induced with the 4th so I knew to ask for the epidural as soon as they had to break my water.

I wouldn't change how I had any of them. When I got the epidural with the 3rd I told my husband I felt like a wimp because I'd had the 2nd natural but he pointed out that this wasn't the 2nd it was the 3rd and all that mattered was what was happening now with this labor not any other labor. I thought that was good advice. Just because I did it a certain way once doesn't mean that's what's best now.

For me my rule of thumb is if I have my water at least until 7cm I'll try natural but if it breaks before then I won't hesitate to get the epidural. Good Luck!

Katie Johnson said...

I had an epidural, and loved it! I knew I wanted one when I went to the hospital, and I don't regret it at all. I was so glad I got to just focus on how special the birth was and not be completely in pain and horribly exhausted after. It was an incredibly spiritual experience, and I loved every second of it. I had back labor too, so before I had the epidural, I was in ridiculous amounts of pain. The second they offered it to me, I said yes and never looked back. I don't think I'll even consider going without (and not just because I'm a wimp, too..) Loved it!! It made the birth about me, and my husband, and our gorgeous new baby girl, and not about the pain.

Meredin said...

I had an epideral with my first pregnancy also. I went to sleep with no pain, woke up 2 hours later with very painful, strong contractions 4 minutes apart. I would cry as each one came. By the time we got to the hospital I was begging for an epideral. I hadn't expected the pain to be that intense and horrible. I wouldn't have been able to do it naturally, even if that had been my plan. Any painkillers cause me to be very loopy and out of it. I slept through most of my labor and actually requested another 30 minutes sleep before pushing. My husband wasn't thrilled because we had been waiting for that moment for 9 months and here I was putting it off. After I had Emily I felt so groggy and out of it from the pain meds. It took me about a day to start to feel like I had any energy.

This time around I am debating about trying natural just because I hated feeling so out of it after Emily was born. I really didn't care about holding her or anything afterwards I just wanted to lay down and sleep. It took me a few days to feel an attachment to her. I don't want to repeat that this time around. I have decided I will wait and see how my contractions are. If they are more manageable with this labor I might try it, but if it's the same as last time I will be begging for an epidural.

My mom did one of her 5 labors naturally. She had VERY long labors (close to 24 hours) and had to be induced every time. She decided no pain meds with her 4th and said it was awful! But she recovered much quicker and felt more like herself afterwards, unlike her other 4 labors.

Megan Harmeyer said...

I'll give you the short of both. With Nate (#1), it was 17.5 hours of labor, including 90 minutes pushing. I thank the lord above I was able to get an epidural after 12 hours of labor - I believe it's the only way I survived. I had back labor with that one, too. NOT fun. Not at all.

With Mason (#2), my contractions wouldn't stay regular. I about tackled my OB as soon as she came in to work one day to have her check me. I was already 5 cm, so she sent me to the hospital to have some pitocin (it wasn't the hell that everybody says it was) and got the contractions going. I was relaxed even when the contractions started getting super intense because I had my sights set on getting an epidural. Yeah. So much for that! The anesthesiologist took his sweet time getting to me so while he was swabbing my back to prep me, I had to push! He got mad at me and asked me what I meant and I wanted to scream at him: I have to push because you took too damned long to get in here! LOL Once I had that feeling, Mason came out with about 3 pushes. I never thought in a million years I would be able to survive a drug-free delivery, but I did. And the recovery time was MUCH better (shorter) without the epidural.


Mamarazzi said...

no birth stories from me YET...just dreams of having all that wonderful pain. i promise if i am ever able to carry a baby full term i will never complain about the pain, morning sickness, or anything else baby related. i will just be counting my blessings!!

but i do think i will get the epidural...i mean really, why not?!

Nick and Keira said...

Well, my abbreviated story:

I fully intended to do a drug-free natural, birthing in a stream delivery. I labored at home for over twelve hours, and got things ready as I labored, knowing it was "the real thing"--obviously, I couldn't sleep! :) I ate normally and did normal activities, and had minimal back labor at that point, even though my contractions where mere minutes apart. Seriously, if you can keep moving, it helps.

I couldn't wait any longer after my water broke, so we went to the hospital. It was only there that I was starting to get back labor and definite pain--once I was all laid out and not moving anymore. I would have loved to move, even if I WAS in active labor and 7 mm dilated.

And I'm sure you know how the story ended--at the last second they found out he was breech and had NO way of turning him around. I had to have an emergency C-section, the ultimate non-hippie birth. I was shocked and disappointed, and within an hour I was being prepped for surgery in a cold room. By that point I was 8 or so mm dilated, and the pain was so bad I was *shaking*. I'm sure that if I'd had a regular birth, that would be the point I'd ask for an epidural, it was awful. AWFUL. But, I was getting cut open and needed one anyway. I never even felt the needle go in, he was so good, and I felt nothing after the entire time. Like some others have said, I felt sluggish the next 24 hours. But hey, I had had surgery and was jacked up on all kinds of pills, so that doesn't say much. :)
Hope this helps! I'd mostly just wanted you to be prepared for every avenue--you can always go natural and THEN request an epidural, and hey, who knows? (Heaven forbid) You might end up with an emergency C-section, so don't plan anything too much. :) Best of luck!

Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

rather than retype it, I'm just going to direct you to my birth stories.

I went med free both timse and wouldn't have it any other way.

One big thing for me is the time - epidurals slow things down. It's not the level of pain that bothers me, but the amount of time I have to withstand it. And awesome nurses. And I read a lot about natural childbirth. Read Ina May, the Birth Partner, and other books. It will give you the confidence you need!!!

Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

oh, and watch "The Business of Being Born" on netflix!

Jennifer said...

I am a sissy of the highest order, or at least I thought so. My plan was to have an epidural - no question about it. I had no idea how I'd get through the pain otherwise. I went in on a Monday night to be induced Tuesday morning. I was given Cervadil at 9 pm or so and almost sent my husband home. He decided to stick around and sleep on the pull out chair in my room. By 10-10:30, I was getting a little crampy, but nothing worse than period cramps. I got progressively crampier, but no big deal. I figured I'd fall asleep and they'd be fine.

Yeah. Not so much. By 1:30 AM or so, the cramps were more intense, but still bearable. My husband was sitting up with me and the nurse would check on me regularly. I didn't even realize I was in labor until she told me, and I followed along on the monitor, living for the down side of the contractions. Sweet relief, I tell you. By about 3:15 am, I REALLY HAD TO PEE. I took the monitor off and went to go to the bathroom. My husband was awake, noticed I was bleeding and called the nurse while I was in the bathroom. She came in and told me to stop pushing or I'd have the baby in the toilet - I didn't even realize I was pushing. She helped me back to the bed with the intention of removing the cervadil to stop the contractions. Turns out I was 9 cm dialated - no epidural for me!

They rolled me into the delivery room and 12 or so pushes later, my son came flying out. I actually found the stitching up part to be worse than the delivery (I had 3rd degree lacerations, as the nurse put it). I HIGHLY recommend some demerol if you have to get stitched up.

I felt FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC and didn't come down off the high until about 11 pm that night. The doctor prescribed darvocet and percocet if I wanted them, but I was able to manage the pain with extra strength motrin and ice packs (the ice packs are key).

So my plan was to have an epidural because I thought I was a huge sissy. Turns out I'm not as much of a sissy as I thought I was.

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

I had 2 babies with epidurals, one where I meant to have an epidural but they gave it to me too late and so I ended up feeling the whole thing, and the last without any meds- and I was induced.
The recovery after natural childbirth feels much better- at least it did for me. I don't really get along well with pain meds, so I try to avoid them if I can.
I think the biggest thing is confidence. I fully believe anyone can have a natural childbirth if they want to- but the biggest part of that last sentence is WANT. It's up to you- don't let anyone else make the decision- and it will be wonderful.
Best of luck to you!

sarajo said...

I've had three with and epidural and two without any pain meds. With this last one, I had a midwife and it was great! If you want to go natural, get a midwife! I'm never going back to a ob/gyn now!

Having had two natural labors, both really long, I was NOT exhausted after giving birth. Just the opposite. Don't know what that one girl was talking about, but giving birth is the biggest HIGH ever! And I loved the feeling of being able to get up right away.

I have never read any book on how to give birth. But have listened to my body and did what I thought felt right. Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without Doctor's and pain meds. I agree, watch the Business of Being Born on Netflix. It's soooo worth it.

You are not a wimp for getting drugs. I did it more times then not, but that wasn't by choice, but because of the situation. I was given pitocin to speed things along (another reason why I won't go back to an ob/gyn) and I already have pitocin like contractions, that I just can't handle that without pain. But I don't think it is needed. If you really want a drug free labor, then do it. I freak out about going into labor, and I know how much it will hurt. But once you hit a 7, the pain does not get worse. And the actual pushing part is just a different type of pain. You can do it! But if you can't, that's ok too. But if you can, try to get a midwife to be there for a drug free labor. They know all sorts of tricks and tips on how to cope with the pain.

And if you want a more detailed version of my last labor, go to my blog!

Damaris said...

I had an epidural for the first two and, like you, wasn't sure what I would do with number 3. I decided I would start out w/o the epidural but had convinced myself that it was fine to change my mind. I stayed home longer so that I could walk around instead of being tied to machines. I thought I still had quite a while to go but Steven convinced me that we should go to the hospital and I was there less than 5 minutes before Jenny was born. The last 15 minutes were pretty painful but other than that, it was much better than I thought it would be. Granted my water didn't break until I was pushing so that probably made a difference. And I didn't have to be tied to a million machines because they didn't have time to hook them up! I think the best part was that I had an AWESOME recovery. I couldn't figure out why they wanted me in a wheel chair to go to the recovery room when I seriously felt like I could get there myself, up the flight of stairs. I felt great right after the birth and I think if the choice is ever mine again I'd go natural again. That was my experience. That being said, there's nothing wrong with epidurals and if you want it, go for it! It's more important to have a good birth experience and everyone has a different way of achieving that goal.

Cameron said...

The best thing I can tell you is to follow Katie @ Squaw Creek's advice: watch the movie she recommended and read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It'll help you understand your body and birthing so much better which will you help you get through natural birth. I had a natural birth, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also the thing I'm proudest of. It's so much better for your body and the baby. Birthing pains are productive pains. Your body is made for laboring a baby. The best things you can have are confidence in your own body and a supportive birth partner on whom you can lean. Just read and do some research on natural birthing. It'll open your eyes. Good luck!

Danae said...

With my 5 pregnancies, I've done just about everything you can do. Apparently, I have an unusual-shaped pelvis, so it's really easy for my babies to end up posterior (meaning they are facing up instead of down, the way a good baby does, and nobody squishes where they are supposed to) and then I get horrible back labor (I hear you on that one! Ouch!); my first ended up an emergency c-section ("failure to progress"), so I was really determined to deliver my second naturally. I kind of had that feeling I had wimped out, and I wanted to prove that I COULD do it. I used a midwife to help me try different positions (that is key with back labor! seriously!), but I bet you could google some ideas on that one. I actually did manage to deliver my second naturally, and even though I wouldn't call that fun, it did feel like an accomplishment. I can't help you much on whether that helped with recovery-- all my others ended up as c-sections, so all I can say is, it is definately an easier recovery than a c-section, but I can't really compare it to just having an epidural. Just remember, your body is perfectly capable of doing this, and I always figure less drugs is better for you and the baby; but the epidural is always there if you get into it and feel you're not handling it. Good luck!

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

Labor and delivery are scary. You're not a wimp!!!

If I were to tell you both of my birth stories, you would hate me. Especially how the story of my second ends with "I pushed for less than 5 minutes." I went into both with no decision one way or the other on the epidural. I left it up to how I felt in the moment, and I ended up getting one with both of them. And both of my labors/deliveries were less than 16 hours from start to finish. No two births are the same. Do what's right for you.

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