Why I chose no drugs in childbirth

225164_10150178607916891_2588327_nIn response to my previous blog post, a good friend of mine, who is an anaesthetist, asked what my reason behind not taking pain medication or having an epidural when giving birth was?

I have nothing against epidurals at all and in fact with Mila I asked for one.

What happened was, it failed dismally. It only worked on one half of my body and so I was left in agony, pinned to a bed, feeling as if I was being stabbed in the side. I had no ability to stand or control my pain as the midwife kept rolling me from side to side (whilst bringing me gas).  I remember looking at her with a venomous eye and saying, “will I be paying half price for this epidural, or the full price?”

After hours of pain the irritable anesthetist was then called back just before it was time for me to push.  He dosed me with so much anesthetic that when I did push… I couldn’t.  I felt as if I was pushing my eyes out of their sockets and my brain through the top of my head.  My floppy legs felt separated from my body and I had no control. I felt as if the epidural prolonged my labour (labour was 27 hours in total) and after the birth I had to wait most of day with a catheter attached before I could get up and walk.

This experience was what gave me a desire to try it without and to explore the more natural route.  I figured, if I had control over my pain and could walk and breath through contractions then it would be far better… and it was!  Not only that, I believe that the prolonging of the labour as a result of the epidural had a negative affect on Mila at birth as she was completely exhausted and therefore limp when she came out.  The doctor’s had to suction her nose and rub her ferociously in order to get her to cry.

With Sam I chose to go without an epidural and it was quick and seamless. Yes of coarse it was painful, but not nearly as painful as it was when is was localised to one half of me. I also knew that I had to control myself.  I didn’t want to complain or scream through the pain as I had chosen to go without the drugs- it was a decision I had made.  Screaming would ruin the experience for everyone around me and it would be a sign of me loosing control.  As soon as I had given birth, I held and breastfed Samuel for 2 hours with skin to skin contact and then got up and helped Dylan give him his first bath.

So to answer my friends question- I wouldn’t want to go the epidural route again.  The pain of the epidural was far worse than going without it and having control over my body and mind is far more appealing.  There was a sense of peace and calm that came over me as I contrmplated the fact that God made us to give birth this way. Also, if all of our mothers did it in a self- controlled manner then so can I.

My friend said something interesting and that is that she gets the feeling from some women, that their choice to go without pain medication is more of an emotional choice- where they almost want to be seen as a hero (and so they tell everyone and anyone repeatedly that they had no epidural.)  Perhaps someone in their life had placed this expectation on them, that in order to truly be a woman and “earn your motherhood stripes” as it were, they must go the 100% natural route?  Perhaps this is true for some? Who cares anyway?

There are others, who favour the natural route and would prefer to control the pain as apposed to not having control.  I am also lead to believe that epidurals can slow the process down and I really want nothing more than for it to go quickly for the sake of me and the baby.

There is so much pressure or  “mommy guilt” placed on women these days.  An unspoken pressure for one to do things a certain way, right from conception through to when your child is grown- there will always be many different schools of thought.  For mom’s who have caesar’s and epidurals I have enormous respect and admiration for you.  At the end of the day what is most important is that your baby is safe and that it is prevented from being starved of oxygen or placed under distress at birth, for whatever reason.

My belief is that one should go with ones gut. We are all different. What works for some may not work for others.  We are all in this road together and ought to support one another as apposed to judge.

 

Three things to do when waiting to give birth

There is noting that can quite compare to the feeling of utter suspense when waiting for the arrival of your unborn child.  Every cramp, tightening of the stomach and slight wince of pain immediately catapults you into a world of wonder.  Is it now? When will it be and how long will it take?  Was that wee or my waters breaking?  For those who know when the date is set, I can imagine the suspense is as intense as those who have natural birth.

In my current state of pre-natal tension (I am now 39 weeks pregnant with a slowly calcifying placenta), I thought I would offer some thoughts on what one can do to help curb the expectant anxiety of the moment as well as give one strength in the moment.  Perhaps these thoughts will be more helpful to first time mom’s, especially those wanting to have natural birth?  Having experienced giving natural birth twice before, one with an epidural that went wrong, and one without the pain medication, I feel that I am a lot more equipped for what is to come.  I think back to the first time I gave birth and I somehow wish I knew then what I know now.

My thoughts and advice…

  1. Rest now- mentally, physically and spiritually

The term “nesting” has been so real to me, especially now that I am having my third child and running a business at the same time.  It is almost to the point where I have become slightly obsessive and have needed to truly take a step back and “let go”.

I have re-decordated, re-arranged, re-planned.  I have become a drill sergeant when it comes to the routine that Mila and Sam are in and I have not stopped working.  In the past two weeks I have been to bed at 2am on two occasions in an attempt to complete all the work that I have on my plate prior to my little ones arrival.

I was convicted of this obsessive behaviour when my sister approached me with a scripture that rang true.  The scripture she had for me was from Psalm 127 and speaks of how those who “toil and labour, waking early and staying up late, do so in vain as the Lord is the master builder and he is the one who builds the house”.  It then goes on to speak about how “children are a reward from God, like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in ones youth”.

I have realised that all of my attempts to control every detail of my business and life before this baby arrives are futile and that now is the time to step back and to let God “build this house”, as children are the greatest reward.  This baby is a blessing from heaven and whilst I sleep, God will take care of  and build “my house” for me.

After this revelation of the kindness and care of God toward me I am determined to rest.  He longs to bless us and to show himself strong on our behalf.

2.  Take your time

My labour with Mila lasted 27 hours in total.  I did not know what was going on with my body and what to expect.  Contractions seemed to start and then stop and then start again.  I was overcome with frustration and was left completely confused with regard to what was going to happen next.  I remember walking with Dylan to the ATM at 2am, then going for a brisk walk in the pouring rain later that morning, after having been sent home from the hospital because the contractions had stopped.  I timed contractions to the millisecond but as a result only become more and more anxious and exhausted.

With Sam I knew labour would take a while and so I took my time.  I had a sleep, took deep breaths, read my bible and watched the most magnificent sunrise whilst breathing through contractions in the comfort of my own home.  When it was time to go to the hospital I knew it was time as the pain was intense.  It was almost as if in a state of rest and peace I was able to hear what my body was saying.

My mind was focussed and determined and I knew that all would be ok.  I knew that I needed to remain calm and take control.  I used the time to pray over my baby and to expectantly ask God to reassure me of his love and power.  In this state of mental peace my labour process was accelerated and I was able to give birth without drugs and without even a shriek (only a slap to Dylan’s hand when he attempted to massage my back) …and crazy gasps of gas from the gas machine just prior to the delivery.

For those of you who choose to have an epidural or a caesar- this would not be the case but my first experience of a failed epidural, when I had Mila, caused me to choose to go without one when I had Sam.

3.  Relish every moment.

I am overwhelmed at how fast time flies.  Mila will be 5 years old this year and it feels as if I was walking through the rain to quicken her labour last week!  The last five years are like a blur they have gone so fast.

In my longing for this baby to come I am reminded to capture every moment in my mind and heart and not to let time rush by in a haze.  Focussing my attention on the peripheral things of life- like bills that need to be paid and tasks that need to be completed will only rob from this precious, God ordained time.

To all the moms out there who are about to give birth.  I pray for peace over you.  May you rest knowing that it will be ok.  In a state of calm may you be given wisdom and guidance and a surreal knowledge of what it is you should do when the moment of giving birth comes.  May your birth moment be a powerful, awe-inspiring moment.  A moment of rest, joy and excitement, a moment of unprecedented strength and capacity.

Whether you are drugged up for the pain or not, you can do this!