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Should I Get an Epidural?

Are you weighing out your pain management options for your upcoming labor and delivery?  An epidural, in my opinion, is the way to go!  But if you’re on the fence about whether an epidural is right for you and your baby, read on!

An epidural can make your labor and delivery a, dare I say, pleasant experience.  I went into labor planning on getting an epidural, even though I have a high pain tolerance.  I also had a very short labor, lasting just over 2 hours, but I was so happy I got an epidural.  Once the catheter was in place, it was almost instant relief from the painful contractions.  I felt good.  Really good!  I was able to rest and relax, and so was my husband.  I can honestly say I loved the entire birthing experience because of it.  I would definitely get an epidural again and recommend them to my friends who are looking at their options for pain relief during delivery.

So what makes an epidural better than other pain relief options?  First of all, epidurals are different than IV drugs.  IV pain relief drugs enter your blood stream, and therefore the baby’s, and your baby can be affected by this.  Since an epidural goes into your spine, the effect on the baby is different, although the baby can still have some physiological changes due to the epidural.  Just be informed and ask the doctor and anesthesiologist about the risks.  Also, IV drugs can make you groggy.  I know people who had IV drugs who were put into a kind of induced sleep because of them, and they weren’t all there when their baby was delivered.  Epidurals don’t mess with your brain chemistry so you will be fully awake and aware of everything during your labor and delivery, minus the pain.

Scared of needles?  I hear this one a lot.  Some women are deathly afraid of needles and the thought of one being put into your spine isn’t very pleasant.  Trust me, I’m not scared of needles but I still don’t like the thought.  There is some risk with the procedure.  The doctor could hit a nerve and do some damage.  But the risk is small, and it just may be worth it to you.  It was for me.  So to those who say they are afraid of needles, I say this.  If this is your first baby, you don’t know how bad the pain will be for you.  But you just may find in delivery that by the time you are in pain you won’t care about your fear of needles anymore. 

Want to do it all naturally?  Good for you!  There seems to be a big trend right now of women delivering naturally with no pain relief.  If this is something you want to do, go for it.  There is nothing wrong with that.  However, I do say don’t be completely close-minded to an epidural.  As mentioned before, if this is your first baby, you really don’t know what your pain levels are going to be until you’re actually in labor.  You may find your pain tolerance isn’t what you thought, or you may have a very long and grueling labor.  Just make sure you keep your options, and your  mind, open.

Are you like me and know before you even go into labor that you want an epidural?  Make sure you talk with you doctor about it so they know your plans.  Every hospital is different, and they may have a cut-off for when you can get your epidural in the labor and delivery process.  Don’t wait until it is too late and you can’t get one. 

If I was into bumper stickers, I would consider getting one that said “I Love My Epidural.”  It was truly that awesome and made the birth of my son the most enjoyable, pain-free experience!

Tell us about your epidural experience.  Would you have an epidural in the future?

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