10 Reasons NOT to Get an Epidural

"I don't know if I can do this," I whisper it into the blurry room. The contraction begins to rise and I scream, sing, breath, and pray simultaneously. With a final push, the crescendo, her body slips through mine. I catch her and bring her to my chest, elated.

Three natural childbirths later and I have no regrets. Each time, I was afraid. Each time, the baby slid out into my arms and the pain evaporated, replaced by pure relief and indescribable joy.

Please note as you read this article that I am not against the epidural. On the contrary, I am simply FOR more education for women. I've heard too many stories from new mothers who express deep sadness about their labor & delivery experience and the repercussions of choosing an epidural. The information presented here is meant to serve as a guidebook of data and a compilation of experiences so that you can make the decision that is right for your family.

The first epidural to be used for childbirth dates back to somewhere in the 1930's and 40's. The precise date is disputed. We do know, however, that they did not gain wide popularity for pain relief in labor until the 1970's. Epidurals as a pain management option for childbirth is relatively new - less than 45 years old.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics published a report about the use of epidurals in 2008. Based on data collected from 27 states that track the use of anesthesia for labor, six out of ten women with a singleton birth received an epidural or spinal anesthesia. In my own hometown of Tucson, Arizona, hospitals report epidural rates between 65-85%.

While epidurals may be a good option for some women, it would be folly to discount the risks and side effects - for both mother and baby. The needle provides temporary pain relief, but it also can lead to a slew of unwanted interventions and a slower recovery.

Consider these 10 reasons why you may want to think twice before calling for the anesthesiologist.

Reasons-not-to-get-an-epidural

(1) Epidurals restrict movement.

Because epidurals require IV fluids, bladder catheter, and full time electronic fetal monitoring, mothers are unable to be in control of the natural progression of labor. Deena Blumenfeld, a Registered Prenatal Yoga Instructor and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in Pittsburgh, explains, "The epidural restricts mom to bed, and it restricts her movement. When mom's movement is restricted it can cause a number of complications, including: fetal distress, low fetal heart rate, and inability for baby to rotate to the anterior position (optimal and normal for birth)." Ultimately, she says that the "use of the epidural can be a direct cause of c-section."

(2) Epidurals increase the risk of fever. 

It is not uncommon for epidurals to increase the mother’s body temperature. A recent study pinpointed that over 19% of women who received an epidural experienced a fever of 100.4 or higher. Fevers, in turn, can increase both the mother's and baby's heart rate. Since fetal heart rate can be a sign of distress, doctors often react with the suggestion of a C-section. Even if a C-section is not the outcome, the heightened heart rate often leads to further investigations of the baby after birth (which can include blood and spinal fluid samples). This can lead to days of separation, observation, and possibly antibiotics - which inhibits mother-baby bonding and the establishment of a strong breastfeeding relationship. Kelly Whitehead, author of High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me?, had this very experience. After a spiking fever, she had to leave her baby behind at the hospital for a few days after her discharge as a preventative measure. She commented, "It was extremely hard emotionally to leave my daughter behind. Breastfeeding her kicked off with a rough start since I was separated from her moments after birth. Though the hospital lent me a pump, I found that difficult, especially being a first time mom."

(3) Epidurals may cause the mother's blood pressure to drop.

A sudden drop in blood pressure is one of the most common side effects - which is why blood pressure is taken every 5 minutes when the epidural is initialized and every 30 minutes thereafter. A drop in the mother's blood pressure affects how much of her blood is pumped to the placenta and can lead to less oxygen being available to the baby.

(4) Epidurals have been known to cause headaches.

Many women with epidurals report having persistent and/or chronic headaches post-delivery. Blumenfield says that this happens when the epidural needle is inserted too far, "...it can release spinal fluid up to the brain, causing a spinal headache. These are severe and often debilitating, lasting for hours or days."

(5) Epidurals can slow labor.

Epidurals often slow the second stage (or pushing stage) of labor by interfering with the natural hormone of labor (called oxytocin), as well as reducing moms’ ability to push effectively. Since the mother is numb, she is unable to get in the most helpful positions to help guide the baby's descent.

(6) Epidurals increase a woman's risk of having a delivery with the aid of instruments.

The gold standard of medical reviews, a Cochrane Review, came out with this research in 2011. Epidural babies were more likely to be delivered with the "help" of  forceps, a vacuum, or other tools that increase pain and discomfort for both mom and baby (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD000331. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000331.pub3). The use of instruments also increases the likelihood of a woman having a more serious tear and/or receiving an episiotomy.

(7) Epidurals increase the risk of Cesaearan Section.

Nick Angelis, a nurse anesthetist and the author of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School, states this matter-of-factly, "statistically, the chance of getting a c-section increases with each medical intervention [including epidural]." He also points out that mothers seeking a natural childbirth experience would be wise to avoid labor augmentation drugs such as Pitocin since it is known to make contractions less manageable for the new mother.

(8) Epidurals = a slower recovery.

Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD, is a New York mom of four. A graduate of John Hopkins Medical School, she initially did an OB/GYN internship, but ended up changing specialties to focus on oncology. Two of her babies were delivered with an epidural, two without. She far preferred her non-medicated births, "A woman delivering without anesthesia recovers much faster than with anesthesia. I tore much less -- I could feel everything so I was able to pay attention to my pushing." She even went on to say that she, "was up and running behind the stroller within a week after delivering without anesthesia...it was much easier to care for my other children." Though perhaps not all new mothers will be jogging at one week postpartum, there is certainly something to be said for being able to get up and around quickly.

(9) Epidurals sometimes interfere with the early stages of breastfeeding.

Studies have shown a link between epidurals and breastfeeding rates among new mothers. Whitehead explains that this is "due to neurobehavioral effects in the baby in regards to initial rooting and suckling behaviors." Note that epidurals also interfere with the natural production of oxytocin (as stated above)...the hormone which causes the let-down effect in breastfeeding and promotes healthy bonding between mamas and their babies.

(10) Epidurals may cause other unpleasant and dangerous effects for babies and mothers.

Women have reported nausea, itching, backache, and incontinence. Little is known how the epidural effects the baby, but we do know that the drug does enter the baby's bloodstream. It seems contradictory that many women take great precautions to avoid deli meat, coffee, wine, and tylenol throughout their pregnancies...and then proceed to take in a heavy anesthetic agent right before meeting their babies for the first time.

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Scientist Kelly Whitehead correctly points out that "There is a time and a place when epidurals are needed and necessary, such as for C-sections, moms who are having very long, hard labors or those moms who are truly not managing well during labor." She notes, however, that pain, crying, and yelling don't necessarily mean that the mother isn't managing well. Those can all be "normal" during the laboring process.

Kimberly Jacobsen Nelson, a freelance reporter from Oregon, has had three babies - the first with an epidural, the second two without. She describes the epidural as a "massive mistake" and wishes she had been better informed about the risks. In contrast, she says her two natural births were "the most amazing thing I have ever done...so rewarding. [My labors] were fast - 4 to 6 hours - and the babies came out so much more alert."

Elizabeth Greenwell, a doctoral candidate at Harvard School of Public Health, completed a study about epidural use and fevers which involved more than 3,200 women delivering a full-term baby at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in 2000. She concluded, "It's clear that from our data that about 20 percent of the term infants born to mothers who received epidurals experienced one or more adverse outcomes after birth." Twenty percent is certainly enough to give a new mother pause before requesting drugs.

Share your experience! What would you change about your labor & deliveries (if anything)? Did you experience any side effects related to using the epidural?

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87 comments on “10 Reasons NOT to Get an Epidural”

  1. I have twins, i had cesarea, so i have to use epidural
    Now my back hurts when is cold weather jeje
    Greetings from México ??

  2. I have three children and I had the epidural with all three and I have had different experience with each epidural. First labor and deliver I was totally against the epidural after 20 hr of labor my husband was begging me to have the epidural I still said no up until my contractions started to stop and the dr was putting me on patois did I change my mind and I was still in labor for another 3 hr one of them being an hr of hard pushing. After all that the only issue I had was my back being sore for a few weeks and the adhesive was so hard to get off. For my second I had back and front labor 15 hr before water broke they wouldn't except me until my water broke once that happened I was at the dr requesting the epidural that was a horrible mistake the guy hit a nerve and I was instantly in so much pain that I almost past out and hit the floor and it wasn't worth it since an hr later and 3 pushes I was delivering my daughter. The after affects were horrible I had severe back pain for almost a year horrible migraines and vison loss with the migraine and my whole body was itching like I had bugs crawling on me so needless to say we I found out I was pregnant the Thrid time I was not getting the epidural then I was two weeks past my due date I was taken in and giving patois for 22 hr with no progress but lots of pain and I was exhausted and I needed sleep so i stupidly asked for the epidural and as I was sitting on the edge of the bed getting preped for the epidural I told the nurse I needed to push she said no you don't your only a 4 I said then I need to go to the bathroom she said I was going to have to wait but I knew and I kept pushing the issue that I need to push and she started yelling that i needed to sit still for the procedure but my contractions were less then a min apart and they didn't even put the epidural in correct only half my Body and from the chest to toes was numb so what did they do they gave me more to try and numb the other side and the whole time I am telling the nurse I have to push as she was trying to put in the catheter the baby was crown and my son was born in the sack water never broke. Headache nausea back pain for weeks and no feeling in legs for hrs after delivery. Worse mistake ever! And now that I am currently pregnant I can't even think about getting an epidural with out getting hot flashes and sick to my stomach so I will be going all natural wish me luck!

  3. Education is necessary. In my country (Poland) epidural for labor is unavailable. The effect is increasing number of c-section (in some hospitals up to 50%, 30% is normal). I wolud say that epidural available for everybody could solve the problem if it is not to late to overcome the trend. In fact I'm angry that women for whom labor pain is unbearable are forced to give birth without epidural.

  4. SOOOO grateful for epidurals. I did not experience a single negative listed in this article and was actually able to enjoy having my son without being in immense pain for 8+ hours. To each his own but I will definitely have one again next time.

  5. It's good to know these facts about opting for an epidural. However, each labor is very different. I planned on having my daughter drug free and it turned out due to interuterine growth restriction I had to be induced during week 38. I managed to go 21 hours of labor with no pain medications, while on high levels of pitocin. I still was not progressing past 5 cm (normal for being induced early, these labor stake longer since your body is being forced before it was materially ready to give birth). Finally, I have into the suggestions to take the epidural due to the fact that I had not slept in 2 days and was exhausted. As soon as I got the epidural I was able to take a nap. In that hour I was asleep I dialated from 5-10 cm and my daughter was basically crowing on her own when my doctor got there. I pushed twice and she was born, as one of the most alert and healthy babies the nursing staff had ever seen. I did not tear at all and I had no side effects from the epidural and neither did the baby. On the contrary, by taking it my OB/GYN explained that I atuakky helped the baby have a much less traumatic deliver because it allowed my body to relax enough to speed the process along and keep her from being trapped in the birth canal for an unreasonable amount of time. She even told me had I taken it sooner I would not have had to be in labor for 24 hrs. I had an excellent birth experience and learned that epidural me are nothing to fear and resist in certain situations. I really am a true beleiver in listening to your doctor/caregiver because if you are not going to then why even rely on them to deliver your baby in the first place. My next child hopefully I'll be able to get the opportunity to experience a drug free birth.

  6. I had a bad epidural in 2005, the anesthesiologist did something wrong and the medicine wasn't doing anything, I have scoliosis (slightly curved spine) he took out catheter and re-inserted it, as I lay back on the bed I felt pain rack over my body but I was gasping for air I could think what I wanted to say but my body was in shock like flopping around like a fish out of water, it felt like forever but I think it was 20-30 seconds, turns out it was like a seizure although it took me 10 years to figure it out. A nurse realized I was in distress because one of the monitors went crazy, they turned off the epidural and I was able to say "bad" they took out the epidural and went to fetch the same guy again. I refused to let him touch me again, they said they would find someone else so someone else showed up. Apologized to me, said the other guy was still learning, assured me he could properly insert the catheter and I let him and it seemed to work, I couldn't feel my legs. The next day I couldn't walk w/o using the IV pole as a brace and had a headache that lasted for a month, I had to go to Physical therapy because picking up my newborn was too much for my back afterward. Now fast forward 11 years later, I found out I also was born with Spina Bifida and this contributed greatly to this going so badly for me. I am still trying to figure out if I will ever be the same. They really should not be doing these blind in my opinion, especially if they are not well trained, when you sign that waiver stating you might have nerve damage and complications after an epidural you sign your rights away. Think about whether you are willing to have migraines everyday, urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, IBS, Sciatic Nerve Pain, Back pain, abdominal pain, dizzy spells, etc, so you don't have to be in pain for one day. Think if it is worth that risk, especially if you have a back problem, or find out who will be doing the procedure and make sure they are good.

  7. I had an epidural with both of my children. At 42 weeks, I went for 13 hours with terrible back pain and contractions with my first and then opted for an epidural. I felt amazing! I got to rest for 5 hours until it was time to push. It took me 25 minutes to push and I loved not being in pain so I could experience everything. It was a wonderful feeling.

    My second came on her due date! I was in labor half the time so contractions seemed to be way stronger and faster than my first. I asked for an epidural right when I got to the hospital so I didn't have to experience the hellish pain like the first time around. The epidural numbed me from my pelvic area down, but I still felt the contractions. 2 hours after I got the epidural it was time to push. It only took 25 minutes to push, just like my first. My labor progressed so quickly that the epidural didn't work to the full effect.

    I have no regrets with my decision and had great recoveries.

  8. The united states has the highest newborn mortality rate, and one of the highest maternal mortality rates... I don't think that that is coincidence considering we have the highest percentage of C-Sections and drug use during labor. I am just saying, you can research those statistics, it's factual.

  9. I HAD an epidural with my son and was extremely pleased with his birth, even though it ended in a c-section. We were both healthy and happy and thats really the most important thing. Reading articles like this make me feel like i made a wrong decision or like i am looked down upon by lots of you for the choice i made.

  10. While there are risks associated with any procedure, labor epidurals are by and large safe. They are very easy to do and placed by an extremely highly skilled physician. In fact, it is safer to have a labor epidural than it is to be pregnant and birth a baby. There are many risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth; stroke, PE, heart attack, amniotic fluid embolism, hemorrhage, death, to name a few. Don't criticize something that is and can be very effective and safe pain relief for many woman. In terms of pitocin; pitocin is only the synthetic form of the natural hormone Oxytocin that your body produces. Labor hurts whether you have pitocin or not.

  11. I love reading about people's birth stories everyone always have different experiences. Both my kids labor and pregnancy were very different. My son I had problems the entire pregnancy I got very high blood pressure and went into labor 2 months early. So I was put on bed rest and had lots of testing done to make sure everything was fine. I had him 2 weeks early and after being in labor for 5 hours and having 2 minute contractions and 30 seconds apart. I got an epidural I was dilated to a 3 but then it slowed the labor down a lot and didn't help with pain. I was in labor for 21 hours in pain the whole time. Then I couldn't nurse. And I was in a lot of pain for a long time. Then when I had my second the pregnancy went great no problems. Then the labor came and I slept through most of it and when I got closer I got an epidural and ten minutes later I was at a ten but she wasn't turned the right way so I had to wait until she turned and it took an hour. Then she came out smooth and then nursed wonderfully and I had no problems either. It was still a 14 hour delivery . Who knows why they were so different

  12. I don't entirely agree with the 10 reasons not to have epidural. I had epidural with first. I didn't feel a thing and it felt so nice as I was up all night. I went to the hospital only to be sent home and coming back in half hour later to give birth. My labor was totally of 8 hours. I loved everything about the epidural. I'm the type of person that can't stand pain so I decided to have epidural. Even tho I couldn't feel a thing I new exactly when I was supposed to push even without the doc telling me. I did not tair so I'm not sure we're she got the thing about tairing with an epidural. I recovered just as fast as I didn't without epidural. My breastfeeding was amazing just like with my other three. So o strongly disagree with alot about why epidural is bad. With my other 3 I gave natural only b'cuz there was no time for epidural. My labors are really fast 45 min 40 min and the last one was 38 min. I recovered with all 4 labors the same. Quickly and was on my feet in no time. I understand that if a woman is in labor for days or for 12 hour I honestly don't know how long but not taking epidural during those kinds of labors would be really exhausting and when it would be time to push the pushing would be weak and other complications could arise. That's why back in the day lots of women died during labor or right after. I also never heard of having to get a c-section from an epidural. Now anything could go wrong an any labor no matter how fast or slow it is. Labors are unpredictable. So I believe a woman in labor has a right to choice epidural or none and I think it's wrong to write blogs about how epidural is wrong and so bad for you baby and labor. Yes it's fine to write the experience you had with or without epidural but trying to prove a point about something that cleary is waist of time and it's pointless. It annoys be greatly and I always wanted to write a comment about this. I'm not trying to be rude or anything just stating a fact. Have a great day!

  13. I personally don't care how women choose to have their babies...we all want the same end result -- a happy, healthy baby...correct?

    I guess I don't understand why women feel ashamed of how they decide to push a baby out their lady bits. oh you felt every contraction and tear in your hoo-ha? Awesome. I'll bring you a cookie. You had an elective CS? Awesome, more power to ya!

    I had an epidural before my contractions even hurt that bad. The whole process was glorious and I mean GLORIOUS. My hubby and I were joking and goofing off. The whole experience was awesome and now I don't have fear going into the next one (if I decide to have another baby). And for the record, my labor was only 5 hrs and I breastfed as soon as they laid him on my chest with zero issues.

    If you want to share your experience, more power to you. But let's quit with the fear-mongering tactics!!!

  14. My daughter is nearly 3 and I had an emergency C-section. My waters never broke. From first contractions to birth was 24hrs. I was at 9cm but when the doctor checked internally, they could feel the bridge of her nose. I had to have an epidural followed by cesarean. I did also have the gas available for about 5hrs before the operation. My plan was to give birth naturally but it was safest to have the C-section. I do wish that I could've had her naturall, but at least she is here alive and well.

  15. this article is stupid and disgusting just another way for all of you 100% natural birth mamas to rub in the faces of women who often have no choice but to get an epi that you are more woman and that your kids will far excel ours. grow up you arent special bc you had your babies natural you arent superwoman women who have to have epi for emergency are whats special!

  16. I'm 23 weeks along and very scared about giving birth because of stories I've seen or heard. I'm glad I've heard these stories so I know it can be easy or it can be extremely painful. Me being a first time mom of course I'm going to worry about what can go wrong, but if this was my second child I wouldn't be so worrisome. I'm glad I can read all of your experiences to help me get a better idea of what I want.

  17. There is no black and white answer. Every labour has many variables going on and therefore the management of each labour will vary and with any option there are pros, cons and risks. My first labour would not progress and after nearly 32 hrs after my water broke but I would not dilate further I got an epidural. I was able to get up after giving birth, shower, breastfeed etc and my son was the easiest baby on earth. So I had more but decided to go natural in a birthing centre...oh the pain makes me cringe to think about...he came out screaming and is still a screamer at 5...not the easiest baby on earth!!! 3rd labour natural again and I managed not too turn into a possessed demon this time and breath through most of it...although she was my smallest. Now I'm pregnant with my fourth and so so tired and want an epidural but knowing my luck I probably will get to the hospital and will be too far dilated. Note all 3 labours were not quick and I hated breastfeeding with all 3 as it really hurts (big boobs and little baby mouth makes it fun) and takes about a month or 2 for the latching pain to go away for all 3...but the first 2 were exclusively breast fed until 14 mths and 3rd is still going and nearly 2 (not by my choice...she is a bossy boots!). Be informed (although Google seems to be our fountain of info (good or bad?), follow your gut instinct and take into account what the hospital staff recommend too...we should just be happy we wnd up with a healthy bub whichever way you get there when so many people have lost there babies for other reasons.

  18. I think many people in favor of epidurals are taking offense to this article unnecessarily. It's only right to point out that there are risks associated with any method of delivery - whether it's natural or a medical intervention. How else can a woman make an informed decision as to the best options for her? I don't get the impression of superiority here, I get a feeling of candor. When you look at the percentages of American births that are aided by epidurals, it seems safe just because it's so commonplace. But commonplace or not, there is always going to be a risk involved in epidural use. One would be remiss to -not- point out the possibility, the potential, of side effects. That kind of candor is the education women need to be able to decide for themselves what they want to do. Let them weigh all risks. There is plenty of information that points out (and often exaggerates) the risks of natural, unmedicated births, so there can certainly be a dissenting article on epidurals. It's all for the sake of being able to choose for oneself.

  19. I had an epidural and for me it was awesome. Went into labor October 2nd around 10 got the epidural around 3 and I was able to get some rest, by 6:52am October 3rd my little one was born with two pushes and only 4 stitches . She latched on immediately and with no problems. And within an hour I was able to stand. My recovery was quick, I was walking around the next day, within a week I was able to do almost everything. One thing that women need to educate themselves on is how to push correctly, as one of my friends told me, push like you are having a bowel movement, a lot of women push with their abdomen. And yes I needed help with breastfeeding, being a first time mom, and since I was adopted my mother didn't know anything about how to breastfeed and no family around, I needed help, anyway, I digress. Regardless if you choose epidural or not or any other type of pain management, it doesn't make you any less of a mother or a bad one either.

  20. I had a wonderful experience with my epidural as well. I was so scared to give birth naturally. Honestly, I really believe I would have passed out from the pain & would have had major complications if it wasn't for my epidural. I don't regret a thing. I'm 5'2" & pretty tiny pre pregnancy. My son came out 9.4 lbs & has a pretty large head. So thankful for modern medicine! I had none of these problems listed either. The only back ache I get is from carrying a 20 lb 5-month-old around all day. I was also induced. Went through labor 5 hours & pushed 35 minutes. It was fantastic compared to stories I've heard! If only the epidural could have stopped the labor pains as well! If they ever come up with anything for that, I'm taking it!

  21. What a poorly written article. Anyone with education in their background can see the glaring lack of reputable sources. She quotes a single CRNA (which is not a physician) as a source that epidurals lead to increased c-sections. Shame on you.

  22. Going in I knew I wanted an epidural. I'd seen videos of women before an epi and after. They seemed relaxed and I wanted that. I entered the hospital at midnight. I have a high tolerance for pain but contractions were a whole new ball game I wasn't ready for. I felt it everywhere and because I was dilated only three centimeters going in, I had to do a lot of walking. I couldn't even do that. The pain was unbearable. I honestly thought I would faint at any moment. I had to wait until I was five or seven centimeters dilated (can't remember which) for the epi. I wanted it now! But had to wait. Once I reached the appropriate dilation I eagerly accepted the epi. Once it was done I didn't feel my next contraction. A monitor was measuring my contractions. I was so happy. At 3 pm I started pushing. I think I pushed for about 15-20 minutes then my baby was born. I had no issues with him feeding. I had some shooting back pain from the epi but that went away after a few days. When the catheter from my urethra was removed there was some bleeding and a tear but that went away after a few days. I would choose an epi again. I might not choose the catheter though. It really stung when I had to pee because of the year there. I know there was a tear there because I had a nurse check for me. All in all, for me, contractions were too intense for me to go natural. I do not regret my decision.

  23. I was induced at noon, had an epidural, pushed 3 times and had a healthy baby girl. The entire thing lasted 5 hours. Afterwards I was up and walking within a few hours and my recovery was easy peasy!

  24. i had natural birth with my first two, and an epidural for my third. I am still undecided about my fourth. The first natural birth was 21 hours, contractions 10 min apart, even while pushing. It was hellish but an expericence i treasure, including feeling my son's head like an egg between my legs, and his body unfold as he slid out. Second time, was much shorter and harder, and she came out in one awful push. With my first, i wasnt prepared for post-birth labor pains (passing the placenta, getting stitched for 2-tear) and so was put of it for the first half hour. I was determined to to better and held my little girl immediately for the first hour. Then i started to hemorage as the placenta wasnt detaching. A long story short: i went in for manual removal surgery, my daughter was left unwashed and unfed for two hours, and wound up in NICU. Third time there was concern for a similar placenta complication and an epidural was chosen bc if i'd have had it for my daughter the entire drama would have been avoided, as they could have simply pulled it out without me feeling it. My epidural experience: i had too much meds, left me feeling like i was buried in snow. I had them back it off twice and it was still too much. I got a bladder infection which im told is common concern when you have a catheter. I had some labor slow down, and some fetal distress, to which i applied my natural methods of calming down, oxytocin encouragment, changing position to my side etc. So my end take is this: do your homework. Take good natural birth classes (i used bradley, worked great for me) even if you know youll be using drugs. Allow your body as much time and flexibility as you can. There really are benefits and risks to all options, and having a provider who understands what you want is key. So is then releasing your plan for the sake of a healthy delivery, bc that is still the ultimate goal. <3

  25. I will dispute that epidural slows labor. My sister had an epidural, and reported she was then able to relax to where her labor progressed.

    I did not have an epidural, I was induced & it was TERRIBLE!! I recommend an epidural when talking with others. However, I do give them all my personal facts, and remind them it is unique to me. 1. I was induced, which, is reported to be more painful. 2. I was coupling: I was having 2 contractions back to back & then not another contraction for several (sometimes over 5) minutes (this resulted in my dtr's head being partially out & then waiting, for what seemed like forever for the next one). Typically coupling means the child is to large to fit through your pelvis: my dtr was only 6 lb 1 oz, so, no, she wasn't big, I'm just not very big. This combination resulted in terrible pain that I still remember pretty clearly, 4.5 years later.

    So, yes, there are complications and risks, but, these complications do not occur with everyone. Many women who have an epidural come out afterwards with great ease & enjoyment. It is something that needs to be approached with full education, not just one sided information.

  26. I gave birth to 3 beautiful, happy, healthy babies! All with the help of an epidural. All 3 were born alert and eager to breastfeed. My 1st birthing experience was long, 12 hours. The other 2 were 7 and 8 hours respectively. The epidural did wear off with baby #3. So I did end up feeling EVERYTHING! For me personally, the epi was the way to go! I really have a problem with woman who push their views/options and put down the choices of other mothers. Each birth experience and pain tolerance is different for every woman. Why judge? Woman should building each other up. Not tearing each other down.

  27. I had wonderful experiences with epidurals and would never, ever consider doing it again without one. Modern medicine exists for a reason! I would never put myself through that pain again without one. So happy to have 2 healthy boys (big boys!) and so happy an epidural was an option for me, and countless others.

  28. I had a 100% natural, no-intervention labor and birth with my first pregnancy. I was in labor for only 8 hours - and 4 of those hours were spent pushing. I could not handle the pain and my body would not completely "give in" to the sensation of needing to push because of the extreme pain. My son came out with bleeding sores on his head because he was crowned for so long. Afterwards I could barely walk for almost a week, and my son never did successfully latch and breastfeed, no matter how many months we tried (not that that was directly related to the birth, I assume, but it just goes to show that it can go either way regardless of giving birth naturally or not). For this second birth, I plan on getting the epidural, even though I am trepidatious - I do NOT want to repeat my first experience and I trust my doctor's advice in the matter, and will hope for the best. Just want to share my own story as NOT all births are created equal and sometimes some interventions ARE best ultilized.

  29. I'm 5"2 and 100lbs
    I had an epidural with both my births
    The first was fine no bad reactions and could still move my legs, recovered quickly and my son was very alert and breastfeed good as well. Same with my daughter, except I had a handful of fries before the epidural so I ended up puking right before delivery. And I now have bad back pain in the spot of the needle. I'm hoping therapy will make it go away, that and time. It's been four months.

  30. I have a friend who had a epidural a few years ago with her last child. She now has more issues than I can list due to it! She is constantly in pain, body is swollen, has a hard time walking, it hurts for her to pick her child up or do pretty much anything. It has been horrible seeing her go down hill because of the epidural. I was on the fence before about getting an epidural when I have my child but that made up my mind. It is unnatural and many women have done it before and I know I can. I refuse to be possibly paralyzed or considered handicapped because I wanted pain relief for something I chose to happen! My friends ordeal has changed some peoples minds after watching her go through what she will have to deal with the rest of her life and she isn't even 30 yet!

    1. your friend was possibly unhealthy before and possibly not in the best of shape before either. so you my dear may shut up and sit down

      1. Sandra, your comment became harsh as you approached the second sentence. Emily was simply telling a story & voicing her personal opinion. She has the right to have one, as do you.

  31. My birth story is interesting. I was 17 when i gave birth to my daughter and from the very beginning i knew i wanted everything as natural as possible.I was looking into water births, home births, all natural births. Even natural pregnancy's i didn't want my baby having anything in it system that didn't need to be. I was admitted at 37 weeks 5 days due to pregnancy related hypertension. The pregnancy was sucking the life out of me. I had gotten a rash all over my back that would never go away. I had swollen gums, back ache, muscle weakness, hypertension, bruised ribs, chest pains/heaviness, you name it i had it. Once they admitted me to the hospital they decided it was best to induce me for the both of our health's. I was nervous and excited. But i wasn't scared. They started the induction at 10:00 pm with a small tiny pill that sits behind the cervix to soften it up. Im unsure of the name. Just two hours later i was having contractions. Four hours after the first pill they decided to give me a second one and my last one. The contractions just sped up from there. They came in and had me sign a paper for a epidural. I signed it but also mentioned i didnt plan on getting one. As hours went by the pain increased and i just wanted sleep. So i asked for iv pain medication. They gave it to me a half hour after asking. An IT DIDNT work for me, it made me exhausted yes, but i still felt everything. It reminded me of the scene from twilight when bella was transitioning into a vampire. She felt every bit of pain but couldnt tell ANYONE. It was horrible. When i was finally able to get up and tell my family we tried many positions to help with the pain. None of them were helping. I asked for another bag of medicine i rather have iv medication then get the epidural i didnt wanna give in. They told me it was too soon to get another bag but i could get the epidural. I said no and kept asking. Finally i just said fine give me the epidural. They told me i would be in labor for three days as this would be my first child birth and the medication usually takes a while to get things started. They got everyone out of the room as the anesthesiologist entered the room. At this point the contractions were back to back i had NO break. I had about a 30 second break i believed that what i timed anyways. They told me to pay attention to them as they showed me what position to get in and that i had to stay still. I told them i couldnt pay attention i was in to much pain. Me going to my happy place was getting harder and harder. They sat me up at the end of the bed as they set the mat up. Once they were done the have me stand up and sit on top of it. I had another contraction and at the end of it i looked up and hurried up and said "I think i got to push" She said you sure and i was already in the next contraction so i had to shake my head. It was so hard not to be rude and just scream at them. They called in another nurse and by the next contraction i couldnt hold it in any longer i finally screamed. I screamed as if someone murdered me. I hurried up and laid back and ask her if it was okay to push. She said no dont push. I told her it was happening on its on. They hurried me up to the top of the bed and got me into position. They looked in and told me to push the next time i feel a contraction, at this point a bunch of nurses and students were flooding in. And the anesthesiologist was just shocked standing at the bottom of my bed. I was calm even laughing , my family claim it was all the adrenalin i believe god was with me making me feel safe and relaxed. At this point my family were still out of the room waiting for me to get done with the epidural. I just wanted them in there. Out of everything going on i thought i felt a contraction coming on and told them. They told me to push. An i said i cant. They said yes you can . I said no im not having a contraction they all looked at me and said "Oh" and i just laughed. I thought it was funny. Right after i felt the beginning of the next contraction and said okay and started pushing, I manged to push two times. before they asked me if i wanted to feel her head. I looked at them confused my exact words were "Her head? Already?" and they said yes its right here. I nodded my head and went to touch her head I was amazed it didnt feel like a head to me. The next contraction i pushed once and my baby girl came flying out. I was shocked and relieved. She was so tiny. 4lbs 60z 16 inches long. She was so perfect. She was born 11 hours after being induced. The doctors, nurses, even family were all shocked it was so easy and fast. I loved it and will always go natural with child births.

  32. I wanted a natural birth but in my 24th hour of labor which put me at about 40 hours with no sleep I was losing steam quickly and had only progressed to 4 cm dialated. I was afraid I would end up too exhausted and weak to push when the time finally came. I chose an epidural to lessen my chance of having a csection and for me it worked. After the epidural I got 3 heavenly hours of sleep. During my sleep the wonderful nurses came every 30 mins and rotated me onto my opposite side. They wedged this foam device they called the peanut between my thighs too to keep my hips open so my labor wouldn't stall. After 3 hours I was fully dilated and I was able to begin pushing. It wasn't the birth I had hoped for, but it was close. I would like to try for natural birth with my next baby, but now I'm much more comfortable with getting an epidural if I need to.

  33. I had my first son natural birth. Although it was not easy to go through the process of it all, I actually did it. I was happy. He was born 7.3 lbs. when it came to having my second son, it was a hard pregnancy from the beginning I was always getting sick and at two months, I was put on bed rest. 30 weeks into pregnancy, I find out I had gestational diabetes, 35 weeks baby was breeched, no matter what the doctor tried it didn't solve anything. Then my water broke, baby couldn't breathe, I was having problems breathing, and I was highly anemic so they had to rush and get that baby out. And so, I had to get an epidural. I must say I wish I could do things differently because this epidural is killing me. I'm always having back pain now and it's taking over my life.

  34. I didn't want an epidural, but when my contractions became stronger and stronger, to the point that I couldn't stand anymore (even while holding myself against my bed), my already low blood pressure was dropping and I felt my life force leaving me (I described it as "fading"). I can take a lot of pain, but somehow this one was defeating me and I seriously feared for my life. While I'm not proud, part of me thinks I may not have made it if they hadn't given me that emergency epidural. And I wouldn't want my husband to raise our kid alone. Drugs (mainly sedatives based on past surgeries), alcohol, etc flush through me quickly, so I didn't suffer many of the bad side-effects like numbness, can't walk (I was able to take different positions and walk around my room), stuck in bed (I walked a few times after the delivery to change the baby and get myself breakfast in the morning). It did slow down the delivery as I lost my contractions, but they came back an hour or two later. They also, says my chiro, messed up the removal as the first time I tried to walk without the epidural in place, I huge shock in my lower back made me fall to my knees. I've had some lower bad pain, but it's getting better after 2 years, thanks to my chiro!

    1. Also, breastfeeding didn't go so well, so if that is true, that would be my real beef against epidural.
      Frankly, I think that without the epidural, they might have had to give me a C-section... That's even worst!

  35. I'm always so put off when someone says I need to be educated! Do you think that just because I did have an epidural I am uneducated? What I have learned after having two children and my sisters each having two kids, all within the last 5 years, is that this is a personal choice and their needs to be less judgment on moms by other moms. Moms who breast feed judge moms who use formula. Moms who put their babies in their nursery when they get home judge moms who co-sleep. And moms who don't get epidualrs judge those who do. Instead of trying to "educate me" why don't you try supporting me? If it was really that big of a risk, do you think I would risk the life of my child and self?
    As far as recovery, I felt just fine after giving birth with both of my children. I nursed them immediately and had no trouble whatsoever. The nurses and doctor were great about helping me with whatever I needed. I was up, taking a shower and walking the halls later that day.
    And as far as the running a week after giving birth, you should probably hold off on that. There's a reason why your doctor wants you to wait six weeks!

    1. I don't think she is putting anyone down. I think there are some parents out there who do what they are told by hospitals and doctors when there are other options out there. Some parents chose not to inform themselves and it is an important event to learn about all options, no matter which option they chose. No one is judging you because you decided to have an epidural. It is a personal choice for everyone. The author has their opinion and so do you.

  36. My epidural caused me to die on the delivery table. I hope more people read this and think before they decide.

    1. I am not trying to be argumentative just interested, I had some bad surgery complications from a "safe" surgery method and now my bladder doesn't work. I'm small like very small my body didn't handle labor and delivery well and I ended up needing a hysterectomy. It was done robotically I was not informed of anything until the day of the surgery the robot arm bumped my bladder. That's why I wonder was it the epidural or an error by the surgeon or dr who administered the epidural. Glad you made it through I hope you see this, since this an old post.

  37. The research in your article is outdated. Epidurals now do NOT restrict you to bed. There are epidurals available (at least in Canada). called "walking" epidurals and you can move, walk, even urinate with it in. I know because I had three.

    Some of these facts are fear mongering, not "educating". A lot of women who choose epidurals also are induced - and induction has been proven to increase interventions. Where is the reaearch cited on that? How can it be proven that it is the epidural and not the induction drugs causing these interventions?

    Epidurals are a GOOD choice for pain management - they do not cross the placenta whereas drugs such as morphine do.

    From a mother who has had 3 epidurals, 3 intervention FREE births, and three BREASTFED babies who latched IMMEDIATELY.

    Every baby and every mother is different. Don't scare a mother into a drug free birth with posts like this.

  38. I believe that everybody should watch "The Business of Being Born." It feathres many trained medical professionals from across the world who actually provide statistics and real medical evidence about the cons towards epidurals. Men and women who have been in the medical industry delivering uncoutable children for 20+ years. It really talks about how child birth is in the new age, and how different it really is. It is an amazing documentary. I encourage everybody to watch it! It is very true based on every expierience I have known of while being induced and receiving the epidural. It goes over almost every point that was made above, and if you don't believe her based on her perfession, then I'm sure you will Elise them.

    1. Damn iPhone. Still getting use to this phone. Fill in the awkwardly placed words with your best guess to what the actual word it... Madlibs everybody!

  39. As an anesthesiologist, I would caution anyone to take this authors opinions with a grain of salt. It's a good idea for any mother to have a discussion with her physicians before making any decisions regarding your medical care. I would certainly not let the blog post of a "writer, traveler, entrepreneur" (i.e. someone who has zero medical training whatsoever) influence your decision making.

    1. Let's hear it for Eric the anesthesiologist! There is more than one way for pain management in childbirth. And natural childbirth is just fine as well. For this author who says, "I'm not against epidural but...." she sure seems to be REALLY against epidurals.

      Personally, I had 2 epidurals. The only trouble was on the first one she didn't get it in the right place and had to do it again. Oops. Big deal. Sometimes I miss when I start iv's on my patients too. I survived.

      I think people get worked up too easily. Discuss what is best with your doctor, then relax.

  40. I want to give a positive epidural story. My total time in labor was 2.5 days, I went into labor naturally but my body didn't want to progress. I originally planned to have an all natural childbirth. After a day and a half of labor and constant pain I was given an epidural. With having this they were able to monitor my baby internally which was quite necessary and enabled me to not have ac-section. Long story sorry I had the epi, petocin, and iv drugs. When it came time to push I could still feel what I was doing just not the pain. I had no adverse side effects, my daughter was breast feeding within minutes of being born and I was walking around that day. I am glad that I had the epi and was able to experience c hild birth without all the pain I had in the beginning. Also I think a lot if women should realize that just because an ob recommends a c-section doesn't mean you have to have one. The dr wanted me to have one but I refused because my baby was not in distress.

  41. I can't say I had any negative side effects caused by the epidural. It was the nurses who were in control of it who were the problem. The drip rate was way too high, preventing me from feeling the urge to push. I was told I should be sble to feel pressure but not pain. Despite repeatedly saying I couldn't feel anything, they did not turn off the epidural flow. Only once all else had failed (trying different pushing positions) did she think to turn it down. Once it started to wear off, my daughter was born in 3 pushes. Never getting one again with my next baby. I vowed that night that I would go drug free so the nurses couldn't tell me it was my inability to push properly slowing things down. Before I got to pushing, I was just forgotten about in the hospital room. They pushed the dose too high, and left me alone, unable to feel if I should call the nurse because it was time. Things started stalling as a result of being fully dilated and just left there, not even knowing I was dilated. Only after my second complaint of starting to throw up, did anyone decide to listen and check me.

  42. Yeah, that wasn't my epidural experience(s) at all. I appreciated my pain-free labors.Though I will say, I felt like Xena Warrior Princess after having my third son without an epidural (esp. at 10 lb 8 oz., yikes.) And I guess I had an unpleasant experience with the anesthesiologist continually hitting a nerve during placement of my epidural for my second birth, I was scared to death she was going to leave me paralyzed!

  43. I am a CRNA, and this "Scientist" chick that wrote this story, is VERY ambiguous. I could offer up the statement, "If I play on the freeway, I will get hit by a milk truck!" Blood patches are shown to be 99.9% effective in curing the post-dural puncture headache. Also, I guess "inducing" labor is the natural way to go? More like get 'em in, pop it out, ship them out! bill their asses!

    1. Blood patches may be effective. In fact, they were effective for me both times I had to have the procedure done after spinal taps. That being said, it is a pain in the butt to be forced to have an additional procedure done after living in agony from a horrendous headache where your brain is literally being squished. You are also required to lay flat after a blood patch to ensure its efficacy.

      I'm assuming from your name that you are not a mother. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that you have a justifiable position on how effective a "cure" is to a debilitating condition for a brand new mother.

      In general, I'm blown away by all the hateful and angry comments. If a woman takes an article like this as gospel without doing further research, she is naive. Period. At the same time, this article is full of great ideas for further research for mothers who want to know more about likely one of the most intense experiences she will ever have. Without citations of specific research, nothing should be taken as fact.

  44. Such minimal research gathered by you yet you have such an expert opinion! Do more reading and research. Then you can come lecture us on epidural cons. Going all natural doesn't work for some people. Due to mental health conditions, unrelaxed pelvic floors which can obstruct labour. Try studying at uni and then lecture us or talk to Anaesthetists!

  45. I think it is unwise to quote a Lamaze educator (who may be very good at her job but is clearly not a scientist) when trying to state scientific evidence. It is a little like asking a former Playboy Playmate to weigh in on her opinion about vaccines.

    “...it can release spinal fluid up to the brain, causing a spinal headache." anyone who knows anything about medicine can tell you that this statement doesn't even make sense. Spinal fluid continuously surrounds the brain. That is why its proper term is cerebrospinal fluid. Headaches are an unfortunate possibility of epidurals when the dura is punctured during the procedure (which is done purposely for spinal anesthesia - similar but different).

    “use of the epidural can be a direct cause of c-section.” There is no proof of this. It is complete hearsay.

    What good is it to live in 2013 if you want to have the same experience as women giving birth in the year 13? Child birth is often the measurement used to compare all other painful experiences, and if you really want to impress someone, you state "my pain is worse than childbirth." Perhaps the woman who was up and running within a week enjoys pain - most people do not. It is true that virtually all medical procedures involve some risk, although the risk associated with epidurals is small. We will expose ourselves and our children to a countless number of potentially unhealthy things over the course of a lifetime, many of them completely avoidable, but to do otherwise would be inconvenient. For instance, motor vehicle accidents are a major source of injury and death, but will you never allow your child to drive in a car? Will you grow all your own food to avoid the problems of that particular industry? Will you move to the country to avoid pollution? The use of an epidural should involve an informed decision by the mother. I think it is unfair to give them bogus information from biased sources to influence this choice.

  46. Thank you for the information, not everybody's body will act the same way but from what I heard and this article I know some to be true so I'll go for the natural now, I just don't want any back problems lol

  47. Awesome post Stephanie! I had the same experience as Jen. I wish I had known how awful Pitocin makes your contractions. I felt like my spinal cord was being electrocuted for over 8 excruciating hours. So with baby #2 I opted for the epidural immediately! However, it did slow down my labor, they had to use "the vacuum", and my recovery was longer......but NO PAIN! I am not that tough. :)

  48. I had my first baby naturally and I was very against any pain management. I AM SO GLAD. He was born beautifully, naturally, and with no complications in a wonderful water birth. When my next one arrives, please G-d, in a couple of months, I cannot wait to have him/her in a natural water birth, too. I am so grateful to my doula for keeping me so informed and teaching me so much about the risks of epidurals and other painkillers, so that I was able to make this informed decision for myself! (Thank you also to the midwives who attended my birth, who were so supportive and attentive to my birth plan, and never tried to tempt me with painkillers... midwives and doulas are the best!)

  49. I had a spinal headache for a week after my epi. I had to go back to the hospital for an epidural blood patch. So, two babies,three epis. Also, my epi went up and down so my WHOLE entire body was numb including my throat. I could not swallow and started having a panic attack. It was awful and stalled labor tremendously. I will NOT have do it again!!

    1. This happened to me too. My first son my epidural was beautiful and my experience was great. My 2nd child was natural because the anesthesiologist couldn't get to me in time. My third child, total nightmare. Panic attack from too much numbing then a week long spinal migraine. They didn't give me a blood patch but I was back in the hospital on IV narcotics, making me unable to nurse my baby. I'm currently pregnant with baby #4 and will not be having one this time.

      1. I had an epidural with my daughter I had been in preterm labor for over 2 months and was almost halfway there, after weeks of having my labor stopped, it was decided that I was far enough to deliver. I was glad to have an epidural and some pain relief, no one really told me anything about the procedure and honestly in that kind of pain it would have been pointless anyway, the epidural went great I started feeling like my chest and throat were going numb but once they sat me up I was fine. When I had my son he was early and it should have been easier he was quite small, I again opted for an epidural it didn't work the dr had to come back and do it again. It still didn't work I was crying it was terrible and my back pain was horrific. I couldn't feel my legs at all but I could feel everything in my pelvis and back. I am sensitive to surgical tape I didn't know at the time, they covered me in tape the excuse was my size being 110 pounds (I have a hard time gaining weight due to gi problems) it was hard to find the right spot and needed anchoring. It seems that having a lean back would make positioning easier, all the tape irritated my skin so badly that I looked like a burn victim. Thankfully 3 yrs later the scars are almost completely gone. The male dr doing the epidural just said the vaginal area was hard to get to sit up straight maybe some of the medicine would go were I needed it, it didn't work. The male dr who delivered my son got annoyed when I cried while he was stitching me no shot or anything I would have greatly appreciated it, he simply didn't believe the epidural didn't work. I ended up with a large episiotomy that was just as bad as my much larger daughter for a 5 pound 1 oz baby. The nurses tried desperately to help me and kept mashing the med button but all it did was numb the wrong places and slow down delivery. My catheter was removed and I was told to go urinate I could barely walk my legs were so numb and when I couldn't urinate they had to re insert the catheter after I had just been stitched and I was extremely swollen I have to straight cath now, it is nothing like that experience it was extremely painful. I had very different experiences with epidurals during the birth of my children. They can be great and they can be horrible I would definitely think about the pros and cons and the fact that it could possibly fail, also do not use male drs they will think you're dramatic and have never had to experience the pain. My previous gyn had left the practice, she was a great dr. The male anesthesiologist and gyn obviously were not concerned with the level of pain I was in, I have a heart condition and the extreme pain definitely could have caused my heart rate to skyrocket. An epidural will lessen the strain on your heart, but not if it doesn't work it will just make things worse. I'm not against epidurals I just know from experience that just because it worked before doesn't mean it will work again. The pain from my second delivery was terrible but it was a much quicker recovery, and I breastfed my second child as well, he came out ready to nurse. My epidural disaster with my second child obvious didn't effect him despite the tremendous amount of medication injected to try and get the epidural to work effectively, he was nursing vigorously within 30 minutes of delivery. My mom was never offered an epidural and she had 4 children despite what a lot of people say, she would have loved an epidural, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't it's up to us as an individual to choose, and nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of the problems associated with epidurals come from the skill level of the person administering them, obviously the man doing mine with my son should not have been doing them. What dr performing epidurals for delivery would use the excuse that the vaginal area is hard to get?!

  50. I had many of the same experiences you stated above, happen to me. First time, had horrible back labor, fetal distress, dilated to 8ish and they insisted a C-section cause the epidural had stopped my contractions from being effective. I was also never able to rest with the epidural, for some reason, it kept me awake. 2nd kid, I waited and walked...and cried in pain!! I finally let them give it to me at 6 centimeters, then labor slowed and the epidural only took on one side. Argh!! I finally had her with help from a vacuum! Poor thing! 3rd child, I said NOOOO! I got demurral twice and had no problem. I was able to sleep and my body did it all by itself. She came out almost 2 lbs bigger then her siblings and were shocked! I should also point out, the staff bullied me repeatedly to have a epidural! Finally, a great anesthesiologist came in. ( He had 4 children of his own. ) He said that no woman chooses painful labor after 3 children unless they have had a horrible experience so I let him give me one when I was dilated to 9 and a half since they kept bulling me. He gave me a quick boost at first so it would tapper off quick. It was great! I was walking 2 hours later!
    Everyone is different. For me, I always seem to react different then they say on any medicine. I would take that into consideration when deciding what to do.

  51. Thanks for your comment, Stephanie.

    There have been several studies on the link between epidurals and a decrease in oxytocin levels:
    * Oxytocin deficiency at delivery with epidural analgesia http://1.usa.gov/XfoyQK
    * Plasma oxytocin levels in women during labor with or without epidural analgesia http://1.usa.gov/YshfIa

    Childbirth Connection also suggests that one way to "promote your body's production of oxytocin during labor and delivery" is to "avoid epidural anaglesia." http://bit.ly/A4fCd

    Perhaps other doctors, midwives, nurses, researchers, and/or mothers will weigh in with links as well. Stay tuned as the conversation continues.

    1. Way to knock a womans experience down, Stephanie. You just gotta be right, dont you, no matter what positive experiences women have. Disgraceful.

  52. Wow - I had a completely different experience. My first son was born naturally, and the pain was terrible. I was so weak afterward that I could not even hold my new baby as they wheeled me into the recovery room. With my second son, I opted for the epidural before the pain from the contractions even began. The whole experience was amazing. I was completely pain-free and enjoyed every minute. My labor was short and both the baby and I did great! I did not notice any negative side-effects what-so-ever. Breastfeeding went well. Just another perspective - I feel like there is so much negative attention re: epidurals.

    1. That was my experience also. I had an epidural with both of my children and it was great I wasn't in pain, enjoyed my labor. With my second I was up and about with an hour or so. I nursed immediately. I did not have any of the above problems. I believe this blog is very one sided. I respect woman who it it natural but I wanted to enjoy the day my children where and not have a blurred memory because of the pain.

      1. I'll add to that I felt everything but pain. It was definitely not like that with my first I was numb but my second I felt everything but pain and it was a great experience. Epidural have come a long way even within the last 8 years

        1. As a labor and delivery nurse and an epidural user, this is the experience I typically see. The reasons not to get an epidural are pretty exaggerated and not explained well here, but I cannot deny her experience. The thing I do see in favor of epidurals that happens most of the time is the speeding up if the first stage of labor because of the ability for mom to relax and stop fighting the process. I like epidurals but see a lot of freaked out moms come in scarred about the "dangers", they don't know how drastically slim of a chance there is that any of these will be caused by an epidural. The meds barely reach the baby as they are mostly contained in the epidural space. I want the moms to get the experience they want, and am all for no interventions childbirth when possible, but I hate to see ladies suffer unecisarilly.

          1. Yes!! I'm also a LDR nurse and feel the same as you. Epidurals aren't for everyone, but I've seen them actually work to the moms advantage and prevent assisted births and c-sections in moms(especially first time moms!) who are tense or involuntarily pushing on a cervix that then swells( like mine). again, they aren't for everyone, but for those who desire a somewhat pain free birth, they can be lifesavers!

    2. They wheeled you into recovery? Weird I didn't have a epi. And was up walking within minutes of having my baby. So great full I said NO epi!!!

    3. Same experience here. Epidural wasn't so bad... Didn't have a problem either.. I slept through everything and woke up to deliver... I recovered much faster than when my first child (no epidural) was born felt like a train hit me. And with my second I was up in running in no time.

    4. Same here! 7 years later with not one side effect! I felt no pain at all, just pressure while pushing, which helped me to control what was going on. My daughter came out fine and I walked to my recovery room right after. I am currently 8 months pregnant and I've included an epidural in my birth plan this go around as well.

  53. I think it is good to have a discussion. I ended up have an epidural and then a c-section when I was dilated to 8 and felt a little pressured by the medical staff. I am also very petite 4'11 and though the contractions were manageable, the back pain was intense for me. I do regret having done this, but am so glad the baby was healthy and I was able to breastfeed, and was up and walking within a few hours. I think the recovery time may have to do with being in good health too.

    1. Excellent points, Janette. Good health (regular exercise, nutritious diet, low stress level, adequate rest) or lack thereof is sure to have a significant effect on labor, delivery, and recovery outcomes.

  54. Both my children were born without epidurals. And my labor time was semi lengthy. ( 11hrs the first time from the start of hard labor.) the second baby they gave me pitocin against my desire bc 15 hours after my water breaking I stalled at 5 cm. I had no midwife bc none of them were on call that night! Next time I am getting a doula to advocate for me. After the pitocin, WOW the contractions started in seconds and were so incredibly intense, that I don't think I could have even had a coherent thought to ASK for an epidural! LOL...my baby was born 90 minutes later. Yay!!

    I have never wanted an epidural for all the reasons listed above! But yeah, childbirth is excruciating!!! LOL so I can see why women want it!

  55. I delivered all four of my children natural. My deliveries were fast and I was up moving around immediately. That was long ago. My youngest is 31 years old. I'm actually surprised with the amount of people having epidurals. But I've been out of the loop for 30 years. We had to wait for the epidural to wear off before my daughter-in-law could start pushing with our second grandchild. And I have a friend who is the lactation consultant for our local hospitals. She's an RN and mentioned that its because of epidurals that she has the job of lactation consultant. I do understand why people choose epidurals though. Let's face it. Labor and delivery hurts. The reward is mighty precious though! ;)

  56. I don't remember an epidural even being an option with either of my 2 children. Might have been policy of military hospitals back then. I also had relatively short labors and used midwives and Lamaze for the first and hypnosis for the second.

    1. Tell us about Lamaze versus hypnosis. Did you take classes for either of those approaches or did you "teach yourself" through a book? Which pain management technique "worked" more effectively?

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