In 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.