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Thread: Epi vs natural

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    New Member kcdreyer's Avatar
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    Default Epi vs natural

    I'm going back and forth on this one. I've always said that I wanted to do it naturally with no epi... we struggled to get pregnant for 5 years, and I always thought I wanted to feel and remember every second of it.

    But as the due date gets closer - (29 weeks pregnant now!) I'm rethinking that. Some days I think, definately, give me the epi. Other days I still think I can handle natural.

    I also have to admit, I don't know much about it. When do they usually give you the epi? Is it to help with the pain of contractions? or the dialating pain? How effective is it?

    Is a natural birth as bad as the stories I've heard? If you've done a natural - would you do it again?
    ~~ Kat ~~



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    Expert Forum User MrsKK's Avatar
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    They'll give you the epi I think it's after you're 3 cm dilated? I could be wrong though. I walked around 4 cm dilated for a week before I went into labour so I just waited until I was in a heck of a lot of pain In a lot of women it slows things down, so I think they want to make sure you're making some progress on your own before they give it to you. Also, after you get it you're confined to the bed, so I'd wait until you're ready to not move around anymore if you get one.

    It's for all kinds of pain, I had hideous back labour with DD1 (she was OT - facing sideways). I'm lucky I had the epi with her, because if I hadn't had it I would have been put under general anesthesia and missed everything. I came very close to that anyway, but ended up numb from about my collarbone down...they had to jack it up for a c-section.

    With DD2, I was very close to a natural birth. I barely had enough time to get the epi, and it really didn't work well anyway. It just took the edge off. If I had more faith in myself, and listened to the nurse (she thought for sure I could do it because of the amount of pain I'd already been through) I would have been drug-free. The epi basically made me comfortable while they moved me to the OR (just in case I needed another c-section). DD2 decided to be sunny-side-up, but the OB was able to get her to turn, epi didn't help. They had to use the vacuum to get her out quicker because she was having heart rate decelerations, so I had a tear...and let me tell you stitching that up hurt much worse than the actual delivery. My epi wasn't working at all by then, and it hurt like crazy, but nothing that couldn't be handled.

    Moral of my stories: sometimes epis work, sometimes they don't. If I had to do it again, I'd have gone drug-free, or tried the laughing gas.

    ETA: I forgot to mention in my blabfest of up there that I didn't have any ill-effects of having the epidural either time. I know some people complain of back pain (my back was already effed) and headaches, etc...I didn't have any of that.
    Last edited by MrsKK; 09-23-2010 at 07:21 AM.

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    There are many many horror stories out there, so first off. Talk to the nuirses that are with you at the time.

    They want to make sure you are progressing well before they give it to you. ANd if by chance you go too fast, they won't give it to you after you are 7cm.

    I have done natural with all 3, with a little help of the laughing gas. That takes the edge off of things real well.
    And yes I would do it again. But then my labors aren't THAT bad, longest being 6 hours, and only 5-10 minutes of pushing.
    Love isn't love till you give it away.



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    I had horrible back labor too, so I just did it for as long as I could. When the nurse said she was getting me my epi, I didn't argue. It was a lifesaver. I was in labor a long time and was able to sleep once I got it. If you want to enjoy the experience and it is going to be long I would recommend it but you have to do what you think is right for you.

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    I have no basis of comparison but I had two natural births and I only found the last 20 minutes to be truly horrible. And then I was holding my baby! And right after both births I could walk around, go to the bathroom, take a shower. I only pushed for 20 mins the first time and 10 the second and I recovered very quickly. I'm glad I went drug free, I think that is why I recovered so quickly.

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    First - you don't have to decide now. It's not something you can know until you're in labour experiencing the contractions. And even then, it's different for everyone. How intense the contractions are, how long your labour will be, how able you are to cope - all things you won't know in advance. My advice is to plan for natural, take an epi if you feel you need one.

    I've had both a natural and an epidural (and a c/s!) and the natural birth was by far my favourite. BUT I was only in the hard labour/pain for under 2 hours and it was my second birth so I knew more about what I was doing

    An epidural is a long needle that goes in your spine in the lumbar region. It stays there with a long tube that drugs go in. You can lie down once it's in. In fact, you sort of have to since your lower body will lose all feeling.

    For me, it worked perfectly, but I know a lot of people say it doesn't take or it only does on one side or something like that. It hurts going in, but at the point that you get one your contractions will be the worst pain ever and this will not register as that painful. I also didn't have any side effects afterward, but they can be bruttal as well. It did make me horribly itchy while it wore off. I didn't feel birth at all, which turns out to be a pretty amazing feeling despite the pain.

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    I've done it both ways and vastly prefer natural. I'm not going to tell you it's not painful because of course it is, but the recovery from an epidural for me was not great. I didn't like that I couldn't move and it only worked on one side. Epidurals also do nothing for pressure, as you can imagine pressure is a big part of birth. The iv, the loss of feeling afterward were not worth it for me.

    After my natural births I felt fantastic. They had to tell me to slow down repeatedly. Also, what I find they don't tell you is that the pain of birth gets worse before it gets better. There's like a build up until 7 or so centimetres where it hurts but you can breathe through it, from 7-10 is the strongest pain where you feel like it you can't cope (but you can) because it is one contraction after another, BUT that phase is typically very short and then the urge to push takes over your body. For me I don't find the pushing phase all that painful, just burning and pressure, it's the getting there that takes work.

    With all that said, if it's your first time I think you need to be very commited to a natural birth if that is what you choose. It can seem overwhelming because you don't know what to expect next, and hospital will ask you if you want an epi(IME). It's really easy and understandable in such a situation to give up your plans and want some relief. If you do decide natural is for you, do lots of research on how to cope with contractions and be sure everyone knows not to ask you if you want an epidural. Maybe even put your dh in charge of quietly telling the hospital staff not to ask. If you need it, it's always there, but if you have the attitude oh I'll get an epi if it gets too bad, odds are you'll end up with one.

    ETA: Back labour with all my deliveries too. Hard Counterpressure on the small of your back works so well for this.
    Last edited by Carol; 09-23-2010 at 07:40 AM.
    Cole is 8 years old! January, 2005
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    weird double post
    Last edited by Carol; 09-23-2010 at 07:36 AM.
    Cole is 8 years old! January, 2005
    Nate is 5 years old! January, 2008
    Judah is 2 years old! October, 2010
    Avery Grace born & passed Feb 4, 2007.

    "Why did I not know that birth is the pinnacle where women discover the courage to become mothers?"
    Anita Diamant (The Red Tent)

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    With my first I went in with the philosophy that I was going to try for natural but if it got really bad I'd accept an epi.

    His birth wasn't typical.

    With my second I was more firm with the concept that intervention brings more intervention. I wanted to go natural if posisble. At one point I thought I couldn't last another contraction but I got past it and had my natural birth.

    With my third things went so well with my second I really wanted to go natural again. I was induced (12 days late) and it was long. At one point I was tired and brought up the idea of an epidural. Again I got past that point and had a natural birth.

    Someone explained birth to me like running a marathon. There may be times when you want to give up, but you just keep going until you reach the finish line.

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    I agree with turtle. I went into dd 2's birth with the idea of using everything natural and avoiding the epi. I had horrible back labour. Had an epi at 6cm and it was awesome. I was able to push and felt pressure, but no pain from contractions. No more babies for me, but I'd do an epi again if I needed it.
    Proud mom of 3 wonderful children


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    I had 2 natural births, One 4 hours long the other 21 hours. With DS I didn't even really have time to think during the 4 hours. lol.
    With DD I figured her birth would be short and sweet too so I opted not to have the epi. Well about 18 hours in I had really wished I had one but was given laughing gas.
    I'm very glad I made the choice not to have it for either but I think it's one of those things that you need to wait and see how your body does and if you feel you need one at the time of labour.








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    We were undecided, but when we got to the hospital, I was 8cm, so there was no time for an epi. It honestly wasnt that bad. Yes it hurt, but it was over soon enough and I was holding my little boy. As pp said, the recovery was much quicker and I felt great. I only ended up taking two tylenols right after, and that was it for drugs . For the next one, I think we would plan for natural, and see how it goes.

    Good luck!

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    I will tell yo my experiences; however, I do not think they are typical so take them for what its worth.

    With my first, I did it naturally as there was no option for an Epi at the hospital I was giving birth at. I was in labour for 36 hours (4hrs pushing) and it was not a great experience for me. The drug they gave me to take the edge off was Nubain which made me throw up, so I only had it once. I was so extremely exhausted by the end that I had little interest in my DS (which still upsets me to this day) and could not even attempt to breast feed. I also suffered a 3rd degree tare.

    With DS2, I had him in a hospital where I had the option of an Epi but I choose to do a partial one because I was concerned about the lack of ability to feel how to push properly. I got it at about 4cm dilated and after about an 2hrs of feeling fabulous, it stopped working for me because baby was posterior....and the worst part was that since I had this Epi, I was unable to move or change position to try to get some relief. They ended up giving me 4shots of another drug (I can't remember the name) to help take the edge off and although each shot lasted about 30 mins, they couldn't give me more than four. My labour lasted 16hrs but pushing was only 25mins for me....it was the best feeling in the world to push those contractions away and best of all, no taring.

    So, now with this third one, I am back int he situation of delivering at a hospital that does not offer the Epi and honestly, I am ok with that. I will be more prepared this time and I know the pain.

    You have to do whats right for you. Find out your options about the different types of epidurals that are available for you before hand. Talk to the anesthesiologist before you are in labour so that you know what to expect and so on....be informed. When you go into labour be open....if you think you can do it on your own, that's excellent....if you need the pain relief, that's ok too.
    Last edited by Sdiana78; 09-23-2010 at 09:03 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    First - you don't have to decide now. It's not something you can know until you're in labour experiencing the contractions. And even then, it's different for everyone. How intense the contractions are, how long your labour will be, how able you are to cope - all things you won't know in advance. My advice is to plan for natural, take an epi if you feel you need one.
    I agree completely.

    I had both types of delivery. An epi after an induction and a natural with my second. Both were excellent experiences for me. They were completely different deliveries but I can't say a bad thing about either (the epi took for me and my contractions were off the charts).

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    This is one of those questions that you wont know until you're in the midst of it. You don't know how much pain you can handle or even how painful it may be. Without knowing either, you can't decide now. I'd be open to either but I wouldn't make a decision now.
    My first was induced and I got an epidural. Second was induced and epidural. Third was on his own and I had an epidural that didn't work. It was the worst one. I could handle the contractions but because I technically had an epidural in my back, I couldn't get up. So I squirmed in the bed much to my nurses dismay. I could have kicked her whenever she told me to lay on my side. Thinking back, I could have done it natural if I could have moved.
    For this one, I'm going to try natural since I had a good taste of it last time. Like other posters said, the worst is for the shortest time and by the time you think you can't take anymore, the baby is here!
    Mom to 4 kiddies
    DD(9 yrs) & DS#1(6 yrs) & DS#2(4 yrs)
    & DD#2(1 yr)

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