Should I Get The Epidural?


Should I Get The Epidural?

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a licensed medical professional, so be sure to speak with your doctor about the risks involved and ask them any questions.

The almighty question for first-time-moms, especially during your 3rd trimester, is whether or not you should get the epidural? What does it feel like? Does it hurt?


Many people have various opinions and thoughts on whether the epidural is worth it and if you should get one or not. Add to that, everyone's experience is not the same. Since I am so passionate about sharing my story, I figured I would share my thoughts and personal experience of getting the epidural for my firstborn back in 2018. I will also let you know whether I plan to get one again for my second child (currently pregnant and due in June).


If you were anything like me, you asked all the moms you knew and whether they had the epidural or not. I asked my mom, my mother-in-love and my sister -- add on top of that I asked all the close women I knew or was acquaintances with what they did for their big day. It's a big decision and since I hadn't gone through this before, I had lots of questions. I used their experience to gauge whether an epidural was for me. Makes sense, right?


Of course there were women that had all natural births, there were some that did the epidural, some who were for it, some who were against it. Lots of mixed reviews. I've had people tell me if you have a low tolerance for pain GET ONE. Well, I'd probably be a good candidate because me and pain don't get along very well. Ultimately, I decided to keep an open-mind and put it on my birth plan that I am willing to get one if needed.


For my firstborn, Xander (he's 2 now), I had to get induced. He was nice and cozy in the womb until I reached 41 weeks and 2 days! I will go into much more detail about my birthing experience in the coming weeks, but in a nutshell getting induced was very relaxing; a slow and steady process. Contractions for me didn't get going until a full 24-hours later after being admitted to the hospital for the induction. My plan was to "hold out" on the epidural until I couldn't bear the pain anymore. I didn't want to rush into an epidural too early (since this can slow the labor process and increase chances of a C-Section). I also didn't want to wait too late to get one because there is a threshold in which you can receive the epidural. If you're too far along in your labor, it can be too risky to get one - and I did not want to be that mama that tried to muscle through horrible pain to prove to myself I can do it and then realize I am no longer able to get one. That would be devastating to me. Doctors say that 5-6 cm dilated is the ideal time to get an epidural, by the way -- but check with your OBGYN/midwife first!


Sure enough I was 6 cm dilated when the contractions were literally taking my breath away. A pain I can't describe (which is what all the mamas say and it's so true). All that I do remember is that it was SUPER INTENSE and I felt like I was in a completely different world. Not conscious of the things around me, totally zoned out and focused on those mountain peaks on the monitor.


My husband Jamison nudged me and reminded me to go ahead and put the order in for the epidural if I am in serious pain. He was right. My pain level was a good 7 out of 10. And it was progressing FAST. When we took our birthing class at the hospital a month prior, the nurses often reminded us that it can take up to an hour for the anesthesiologist to get to your room once you place the order. So keep this in mind. Don't wait until your pain is 11 out of 10 because you never know where the anesthesiologist is at the time - they can be on lunch, with another pregnant mama, or off-site somewhere. There's nothing like being in unbearable pain and you're waiting on the doctor any minute now!


We called the nurse in to put the order in and thankfully the anesthesiologist arrived within 20 minutes. HALLELUJAH!


No one could be in the room with me when the anesthesiologist administered the epidural, for safety reasons. So all the visitors left the room and it was just me, the doctor, and the hospital nurse. I couldn't see any of the prep work being done as the doctor was behind me, and probably for good reason. I had zero interest in what she was doing anyway as I was focused on my contractions and breathing through them. By now, they were a good 3-5 minutes apart. The nurse stood in front of me to the side and she helped me hunch my back and to stay still for the needle. My contractions were so intense that the last thing I was worried about was the needle. I didn't feel a thing. I was only focused on staying still and my breathing. The process was quick and easy and the anesthesiologist finished in 15 minutes or less? I was so shocked that it was done already and how painless it was.


I gotta tell ya, once the epidural was flowing I was immediately relaxed. The pain was gone in just a few short minutes. Now that I am numb from the waist down, I can't feel my legs at all. Super weird ladies! The nurse staff and my visitors came back to the room. The staff helped me get back into the hospital bed and if I remember correctly they gave me a catheter shortly after (I believe all patients get a urinary catheter if you're getting an epidural, but double check). You won't be getting out of the bed to use the restroom, so this came in handy. That part was pain-free too because you literally can't feel anything.


Now that I have the epidural, I had a huge smile on my face and was SO relieved. It was an oasis like being on vacation in Tahiti. Everything was calm and my contraction pain was gone. I even took a good nap before I went into labor which was nice!


3 hours after getting the epidural my water did break and I felt the need to push. Called my midwife in and after 30 minutes of pushing, Xander was born! Giving birth was honestly a breeze thanks to the epidural. I felt some pressure but not pain. It was sorta weird because as I was pushing I couldn't really feel myself pushing if that makes sense, since I was numb. But my midwife assured me I was doing all the right things. I thank God for the resources made available to me and forever grateful for amazing hospital nurses and my wonderful midwife who took great care of me. On February 8, 2018 Xander was born!


Whew! Thank God I got the epidural. It made my birthing experience smooth and pain-free. I am so glad I listened to my body and didn't try to muscle through something when I had resources available.


TIP: BY THE WAY, talk to the hospital staff and your OBGYN about alternative pain meds. Epidurals aren't the only resource, there are variations and different pain meds out there that can be just as helpful! ;)


Would I get the epidural again?


HECK FREAKING YES!


OMG. I give kudos to the women who can give birth without it. Prayerfully things go well with my second and I will have enough time to order one. Of course we don't know what the day will bring, so I am keeping an open mind. I am definitely curious if I'll need to be induced again or if this time I will have that Hallmark-movie "we're having a baby!" experience at 3 am and my water breaks at home. Who knows!? lol


If you don't take anything from this, I hope you do take this:


Do what's best for you mama. Don't try to do what someone else did or compare your story to someone else's. It's natural to want to know what others have done. At the end of the day, it's all about the health and safety of you and your baby. Keep an open-mind as things may change and may not go according to plan. Not everything on my birth plan went my way, but it was still a pleasant experience and I'd do it all over again. Don't try to keep up with other mamas and don't try to be a superwoman to prove yourself or someone else you can do it with no medication. Trust me you are already a SUPER woman and whether you get an epidural or not (vaginal delivery or not), you are still amazing and this will be your story and no one else's. We are ALL different and have different needs so what works for one mama may or may not work for another. I hope this relieves some pressure off of you and that you don't have to live up to an expectation of others <3


Let me know your thoughts! Of course, I am not a medical doctor so I can't give advice I can only share my experience. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe for more motherhood content!


xoxo,

Courtney Coco Gavin

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a licensed medical professional, so be sure to speak with your doctor about the risks involved and ask them any questions.

CONNECT WITH ME:

Instagram @CourtneyGavin23

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