If you DIDN'T want an epidural for your first childbirth...

PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
...did you end up getting one once you were in labor and in pain?

I am really leaning toward not wanting to get an epidural or other pain meds. I know it will hurt a lot. Of course, I've never experienced any pain like that though because this is my first pregnancy. What I'm wondering is, how common is it for first-time moms to SAY they don't want one, then to change their minds once they realize how much it hurts. I sometimes wonder if all the women I talk to who have given birth before secretly laugh at me when I tell them I don't want to get one. Like they're thinking "oh sure, she says that NOW."

For the poll, please don't reply "Yes" if you went in thinking "I'll see if I can do it without, but get one if I need it." I'm more interested in finding out about people who DIDN'T want one and then changed their minds completely.

Thanks in advance!
Faith, 3Aish redhead
Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
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Comments

  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    Pixie, I knew I did not want one unless it was medically indicated. I've mentioned before all the reasons I did not want one automatically. And I'm not laughing at you because I did not get one and I don't plan on getting one for any future deliveries either.

    My experience (which is limited and anecdotal) is that lots of women say "I don't think I want one", but don't necessarily have reasons for thinking that, don't really prepare for coping with the pain in other ways, don't study the adverse effects of other interventions (like being stuck in bed on constant monitoring) and then end up getting one because they were not prepared. Of course, everyone's perceptions of pain differ, so it's possible to be prepared and still need one, especially if unexpected things like back labor happen.

    If you really don't want one, read, research and study. Learn about alternate methods for coping with pain, about the effects of common interventions. Practice relaxation, visualization, positions, whatever techniques you think will help. Do exercises to try to make sure that you don't have a posterior presentation (see spinningbabies.com). It also will help immensely if your medical person is on board with your plan. If anyone in your family is very negative about it, don't discuss it with them and keep them out of the delivery room. If you do all that, if you go in prepared and you find that you need something to help deal with the pain anyway it's not a failure. You will have researched your options and made an informed decision that is best for you.
    To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
    I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

    Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
  • velvet pawsvelvet paws Registered Users Posts: 1,250
    Pixie, have you thought about hiring a doula to help you during your birth? There have been a lot of studies that have shown having a doula present reduces the use of pain medication and other interventions during labor/birth.
    3A / 2B / 2C wavicelli

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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Pixie, have you thought about hiring a doula to help you during your birth? There have been a lot of studies that have shown having a doula present reduces the use of pain medication and other interventions during labor/birth.

    It's crossed my mind, though I haven't decided yet. My husband is pretty good in stressful situations, and also my mom is local and I believe would be a wonderful, supportive addition to the delivery room (she has told me she'd be honored if I wanted her in there, but not offended if I did not). She is a nurse practitioner, has had two children, and is always very supportive of me and my decisions. She's also an amazingly calming influence. I was kind of thinking my mom could be my "doula," even though she's obviously not trained in the same way.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • marielle448marielle448 Registered Users Posts: 1,823
    I didn't want one for the same reasons geeky posted but ended up getting a shot of stadol due to posterior labor first time.

    I would also recommend hiring a doula. Your hubby and mom may be great for emotional support but they're very unlikely to know 1) what position you need to be in and 2) where to put her hands on you to ease the pain a bit. Only a qualified and experienced birth attendant knows that and it's not going to be your OB, the maternity nurse or even your mom who's given birth unless she's had many natural births.
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    PixieCurl wrote:
    Pixie, have you thought about hiring a doula to help you during your birth? There have been a lot of studies that have shown having a doula present reduces the use of pain medication and other interventions during labor/birth.

    It's crossed my mind, though I haven't decided yet. My husband is pretty good in stressful situations, and also my mom is local and I believe would be a wonderful, supportive addition to the delivery room (she has told me she'd be honored if I wanted her in there, but not offended if I did not). She is a nurse practitioner, has had two children, and is always very supportive of me and my decisions. She's also an amazingly calming influence. I was kind of thinking my mom could be my "doula," even though she's obviously not trained in the same way.

    Pixie, if you end up deciding that you would like to do drug-free childbirth, I would really recommend a doula (if money is an issue, you might be able to get a free doula--doulas who are attending births to get their DONA certification often will not charge for them).

    As supportive as your husband and mom are, doulas really serve a different purpose. They are trained in many techniques that the average person just isn't, like accupressure, that may make the difference for you in coping with labor pains.

    From my experience as a doula, the women who go into their birth committed to going drug-free usually accomplish it, barring unforeseen circumstances such as abnormally long or difficult labor. The women who go into their birth saying "I'll see how it goes, but if I can't handle it, I'll get the epidural" almost always get the epidural. So, IMO, your mindset and preparation in the months before your birth will really affect the decisions you make in the delivery room.
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  • mad scientistmad scientist Registered Users Posts: 3,530 Curl Neophyte
    I was fully prepared to go without any drugs but in the end I did have an epidural.

    It wasn't because of the pain, though. I found that I could handle the pain. However, my labour was very very long - 30 hours of contrax at 3 min intervals or less and in the end baby's head was stuck. The epi gave me a little rest and the energy to start pushing (which went on for 5 hours) and in the end I had a vacuum assisted delivery.

    I don't regret getting the epidural given the circumstances, but I'll plan to do without it if and when I deliver again.


  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Thanks for all the advice! I may in fact look into hiring a doula then. I might ask at my next OB appointment if she can recommend anyone or if there are any available through the hospital at which we'll be delivering.

    I also just check the DONA website and e-mailed the people on there in my area to request some information.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • internetchickinternetchick Registered Users Posts: 6,191
    geeky wrote:
    Pixie, I knew I did not want one unless it was medically indicated. I've mentioned before all the reasons I did not want one automatically. And I'm not laughing at you because I did not get one and I don't plan on getting one for any future deliveries either.

    My experience (which is limited and anecdotal) is that lots of women say "I don't think I want one", but don't necessarily have reasons for thinking that, don't really prepare for coping with the pain in other ways, don't study the adverse effects of other interventions (like being stuck in bed on constant monitoring) and then end up getting one because they were not prepared. Of course, everyone's perceptions of pain differ, so it's possible to be prepared and still need one, especially if unexpected things like back labor happen.

    If you really don't want one, read, research and study. Learn about alternate methods for coping with pain, about the effects of common interventions. Practice relaxation, visualization, positions, whatever techniques you think will help. Do exercises to try to make sure that you don't have a posterior presentation (see spinningbabies.com). It also will help immensely if your medical person is on board with your plan. If anyone in your family is very negative about it, don't discuss it with them and keep them out of the delivery room. If you do all that, if you go in prepared and you find that you need something to help deal with the pain anyway it's not a failure. You will have researched your options and made an informed decision that is best for you.

    Ditto everything that Geeky said, especially the bolded.

    I have already given my reasons why I went drug free with all three births. I would never laugh at someone who decided to get an epidural. Yes it is hard to labor without drugs, but it's not like you are enduring the pain for nothing. During transition the only thing that got me through was thinking over and over how I was doing this for me and my baby. Keeping the baby in my thoughts sort of brought out the part of me that will do anything to protect my baby, and for me that meant no drugs.
  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,060 Administrator
    Well, for me, it's easy. Since the midwife doesnt pack epidural stuff, it's not an option. I've allready warned my neighbors that if they hear screaming coming out of the house not to call the cops.


    In addition to seeking a doula, I highly reccomend getting a chiropracter. I went for the first time a couple of days ago and OMG - what a difference! A chiropracter with experience or a focus on prenatal care can do wonderful things. I wish I went sooner instead of suffering through needless back pain. Also, chiropracters can help turn and position the baby for optimal delivery.

    Good luck!
  • cosmicflycosmicfly Registered Users Posts: 1,814
    I thought I was prepared to go without, my labor itself wasn't too bad, but when it came time to push.... uh oh! I do think I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was and I agree with Geeky about knowing why you want to avoid medication. I was so confused for most of my first (unplanned) pregnancy that I really dodn't prepare well.

    The second time around, I did it without, although again I wasn't prepared. I thought it would be like my first, only quicker. It was quicker, but much more typical in that I had a really intense transition and my daughter was posterior (which was mighty uncomfortable), and if I had been at a bigger hospital with an anesthesiologist available, I probably would have caved. I'm glad I didn't, she was easy to push out (relatively speaking) and I feel confident that if I ever need to, I could easily do it again without pain medication.

    ETA: When I say caved, I mean it for myself- I really wanted to do it without the medication even though my motivation was not particularly clear. I wouldn't question anyone else's decision to use pain medication, nor would I judge such a decision.
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Thanks for all the great replies. I did get replies from a couple of the doulas I e-mailed last night. They both charge right around $400 - one said that was negotiable though and the other said if we couldn't afford it we could work something out. I'm torn because it does seem like a lot to spend, but technically we COULD afford it so I'd feel wrong about telling them we needed a lower rate. I don't know if I'll be able to sell my husband on the idea though, since it is kind of expensive.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    PixieCurl wrote:
    Thanks for all the great replies. I did get replies from a couple of the doulas I e-mailed last night. They both charge right around $400 - one said that was negotiable though and the other said if we couldn't afford it we could work something out. I'm torn because it does seem like a lot to spend, but technically we COULD afford it so I'd feel wrong about telling them we needed a lower rate. I don't know if I'll be able to sell my husband on the idea though, since it is kind of expensive.

    Pixie, get a copy of the Birth Partner and make your husband read it. I bet he'll consider a doula then :wink:

    Also, keep in mind you will see your doula several times throughout your pregnancy and probably once postpartum. She will be with you your entire labor, so she will not be getting any sleep either. If you factor that in, $400 is quite reasonable, and is actually not too expensive as far as private doulas go.
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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    iris - I actually do feel it's a reasonable price for the service. However, I just worry about my husband agreeing to pay that much for a service that is not "necessary". Especially because we're trying to save money, with the baby on the way.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    PixieCurl wrote:
    iris - I actually do feel it's a reasonable price for the service. However, I just worry about my husband agreeing to pay that much for a service that is not "necessary". Especially because we're trying to save money, with the baby on the way.

    I understand completely.

    I still recommend the Birth Partner. If you don't end up getting a doula, it still has good ideas for how your husband and others can support you during labor.
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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    iris427 wrote:
    I still recommend the Birth Partner. If you don't end up getting a doula, it still has good ideas for how your husband and others can support you during labor.

    I think I will check it out! Thanks :)

    And I still haven't given up on the doula idea.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    I second the Birth Partner recommendation.

    Be persistent about a doula. It's not a frivolous expense. Research has shown that using a doula will shorten the duration of labor, reduce the incidence of c-sections, forceps deliveries and the need for epidural.
    (here is one study to show your husband: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/265/17/2197)
    So it's for you health. Plus, epidurals are expensive, C-sections and the longer hospital stays they require are expensive.
    To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
    I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

    Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    geeky wrote:
    Plus, epidurals are expensive, C-sections and the longer hospital stays they require are expensive.

    Absolutely, but I imagine that insurance covers those expenses, but not the cost of a doula. I'm definitely going to try to get my husband on board though. I think I'll start with the book then work from there.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    PixieCurl wrote:
    geeky wrote:
    Plus, epidurals are expensive, C-sections and the longer hospital stays they require are expensive.

    Absolutely, but I imagine that insurance covers those expenses, but not the cost of a doula. I'm definitely going to try to get my husband on board though. I think I'll start with the book then work from there.

    You should check your particular coverage, but most insurance does not cover 100%.
    To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
    I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

    Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
  • internetchickinternetchick Registered Users Posts: 6,191
    Pixie some insurance covers doulas. I had two doulas and they were free. I got them from the local college. They were already trained, but they needed to attend a certain number of births to get their certification so they were attending births for free. One doula didn't make it until pushing, but the other one got there early enough to help me labor. She was wonderful :D
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    Pixie some insurance covers doulas. I had two doulas and they were free. I got them from the local college. They were already trained, but they needed to attend a certain number of births to get their certification so they were attending births for free. One doula didn't make it until pushing, but the other one got there early enough to help me labor. She was wonderful :D

    This is what I was talking about before. Pixie, if you join DONA's site (I'm pretty sure it's free to register), you can look on their discussion boards and try to find a doula in your area who is still working on certification.
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  • KaiaKaia Registered Users Posts: 8,815 Curl Connoisseur
    Iris - I don't want to guano this thread, but I was also considering a doula. Can you (or anyone else) let me know what I should look for and what kind of questions I should be asking? Also, when should I be looking to hire one? If you'd rather me PM you, let me know. Thanks!
    *Poster formerly known as Bailey422*

    Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid. ~ George Carlin
  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,060 Administrator
    PixieCurl wrote:
    geeky wrote:
    Plus, epidurals are expensive, C-sections and the longer hospital stays they require are expensive.

    Absolutely, but I imagine that insurance covers those expenses, but not the cost of a doula. I'm definitely going to try to get my husband on board though. I think I'll start with the book then work from there.


    My doula is also a massage therapist. I'm hoping I can file it under 'massage therapy' if I can't it under 'doula'

    Regarding services, some doulas just do the birth day and the day after. Others do post-partum care as well.


    And I third the book. You may want to google "birthing positions" to give yourself some other ideas.
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    Bailey, I would recommend finding several possible doulas and meeting with them. First, do you feel comfortable around them? Do you feel like their is a rapport between you? Is this someone you would feel at ease with, asking them questions, having their hands on you, etc.? Can you see her easily fitting in to your birth team (i.e. whoever else will be supporting you during labor like your SO)?

    Second, are they certified by DONA and does that matter to you? How many births have they attended?

    Third, talk to them about what their role will be. Does that sound like something you would want for your birth? If you want an epidural or highly medicalized birth, does that seem like something this doula would be ok with? Or does she seem judgmental? It's your choice, not hers--does she seem ok with that?

    Have you given much thought yet to what kind of choices you want to make in regard to labor and delivery? If not (I know you just found out you were pregnant), that is fine but it's something you should explain and see what reaction you get from that. A doula should be their to support your choices and offer advice but ultimately let you make the decision.

    Fourth, ask about their policies. How much will you see them during your pregnancy? Postpartum? When will they meet you at the hospital and how long do they stay after the delivery? Can she offer breastfeeding help?

    What happens if she cannot make it to the birth? Is there a back-up doula and, if so, can you meet her too? What is the refund policy?

    That's all I can think of for now. Here are some more questions that DONA suggests. HTH!
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  • internetchickinternetchick Registered Users Posts: 6,191
    iris427 wrote:
    Pixie some insurance covers doulas. I had two doulas and they were free. I got them from the local college. They were already trained, but they needed to attend a certain number of births to get their certification so they were attending births for free. One doula didn't make it until pushing, but the other one got there early enough to help me labor. She was wonderful :D

    This is what I was talking about before. Pixie, if you join DONA's site (I'm pretty sure it's free to register), you can look on their discussion boards and try to find a doula in your area who is still working on certification.

    Shoot, I missed where you already suggested that :oops: Well then I second that! :lol:
  • marielle448marielle448 Registered Users Posts: 1,823
    also most people don't know but there's another professional doula organization called CAPPA that you can check out for referals. Both my CPM friend and my doula are CAPPA affiliated but not DONA affiliated.

    http://www.cappa.net/
  • sarah42sarah42 Registered Users Posts: 4,034
    I have heard good things about doulas, and might try one next time I have a baby. However, I had a great experience with my husband and sister present for the birth. They were extremely supportive and helped to suggest non-medication pain measures (my sis did, at least. DH was more of a strong silent type).

    For me, making it through the early stages of labor (i.e. up to 4 or 5 cm) was the most difficult, probably because it was so long for me, and I remember that as the most painful part. I found pushing to be more satisfactory, for lack of a better word, because I could actually do something rather than sit there and feel the contractions.

    Pixie, I feel vaguely archaic writing this, but your body was made to do this! The majority of women worldwide don't even have the option for pain medication, so they don't have it, and it usually turns out fine. I believe that in most cases, it's completely possible to give birth naturally. Going in with that intention will help, because then you feel more committed to the idea and less likely to go for the epidural. Best wishes!! :D
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  • CynaminbearCynaminbear Registered Users Posts: 4,476 Curl Connoisseur
    I think I went in with my first hoping to get through without interventions or pain meds. I ended up with both. I found once they start messing with nature the other stuff follows.
    Break the water, but progression too slow. So, give pitocin which caused hard labor too quickly. So, give me pain meds.

    I've heard of many women who planned to labor without pain meds, and didn't.
    There's no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold so he turned up the sun.
  • iris427iris427 Registered Users Posts: 6,002
    I think I went in with my first hoping to get through without interventions or pain meds. I ended up with both. I found once they start messing with nature the other stuff follows.
    Break the water, but progression too slow. So, give pitocin which caused hard labor too quickly. So, give me pain meds.

    I've heard of many women who planned to labor without pain meds, and didn't.

    Yes, there is definitely an intervention cascade. Start with one, and it's more likely you will need others. Epidurals themselves necessitate other interventions (IV fluids, pitocin, continuous monitoring, Foley catheter, etc.)

    A great book explaining this is Henci Goer's A Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
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  • velvet pawsvelvet paws Registered Users Posts: 1,250
    Once your water is broken, you're on the clock, so to speak. Lots of hospitals also have labor milestones that you're meant to meet, or they will intervene. In addition to a doula, finding a natural-birth friendly hospital (like Roosevelt here in NYC) can help you avoid interventions as well.
    3A / 2B / 2C wavicelli

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  • geekygeeky Registered Users Posts: 4,995
    Once your water is broken, you're on the clock, so to speak. Lots of hospitals also have labor milestones that you're meant to meet, or they will intervene. In addition to a doula, finding a natural-birth friendly hospital (like Roosevelt here in NYC) can help you avoid interventions as well.

    Yep. Also, the later you go in the better. You should be really well into active labor when you get to the hospital (barring any complications, of course).
    To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
    I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

    Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.

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