I always imagined that I would want an epidural when it came time to give birth to our kids. Who wants the pain when you can sit comfortably, maybe even nap some while your body labors, and push when you're told to do so. But now that giving birth is not just a thought, but something that is inevitably happening in about 5 months (which by the way, is CRAZY that our baby will be ready to greet the world in just 5 months!), I've begun reading and researching and learning more about birth. And I've realized that there are options out there - lots of options. And you know what, I like options.
Through that research, I've learned about others experiences. Those who got an epidural, those who got nothing, those who received some form of pain medicine, those who had c-sections - I've been looking into all of their experiences. Then, I've been thinking a lot about who I am, what type of person I am when it comes to medical situations, and what is best for me. On top of that, I've tried thinking about what Ian will handle best, even though I know he'll support any decision I make because he wants me to be as comfortable as possible, both physically and mentally. Here's what I've learned:
I have had a lot of medical weirdness happen in my life. I was in intensive care cardiac unit for almost a week when I was 19 years old. That experience has enabled me to understand my tolerance for pain, and having to play the waiting game. I've also had 4 ankle surgeries - 2 that involved some pretty crazy stuff like drilling through my bones and growth plates. Not that I can compare these situations to pushing a melon out my hoo-ha because honestly, I don't think anything can be compared to that, but I'd like to think that I've gone through enough painful experiences to know that sometimes, you just have to work through the pain.
Also, these experiences have taught me that the fewer medical interventions needed, the better I do mentally. I have major anxiety - about hospitals, germs, etc. So already going into the hospital to have our baby will likely raise my anxiety. I've decided the less needles in my body, including IVs, pain medication, and epidural, the more calm I will be. And being calm is incredibly important to me as we welcome our baby.
I hate feeling out of control. I've heard stories about women who HATE the way the epidural made them feel - they shook uncontrollably, their legs felt weird, and they didn't like not feeling what was going on with their bodies. When I heard such stories, it reminded me of myself. When I went through all of those surgeries and hospitalizations, I refused pain medication except for basic motrin, advil or tylenol. I don't like the way pain medication makes me feel. And I can guarantee that if my body shakes, or I don't like the way an epidural makes me feel, that my anxiety will sky rocket.
The fact that I have bad asthma also plays into my decision. Remaining as calm as possible helps keep my asthma in check. And the fewer medications in my body, the less likely I'll have an adverse or freak reaction that will cause my asthma to act up.
All of these explanations lead me to say, that at this point, it is our goal to have a completely natural birth, free of unnecessary interventions. But along with that goal, I have the goal to try to be as comfortable as possible. I am researching other birthing methods that help with pain management. We're looking into hiring a doula to help us through the process. And we're trying to learn as much as possible about the birthing process from a medical perspective. However, I am fully aware that anything can happen during labor, and that if my health or the baby's health is in jeapordy, I am completely willing to allow the hospital to do whatever necessary to keep us healthy.
This weekend, we are attending a class on cesarean prevention. It's being hosted by a birthing awareness organization whose primary goal is to educate people about the decisions that may lead to cesareans, and to help people avoid unnecessary c-sections (obviously, a very high goal on my list). We ordered some books about maternity care and delivery options. We are most certainly trying to do our research so we can make the best decision for our situation.
Part of that learning process, is hearing about others experiences with giving birth. Did you have an epidural? Did you do things naturally? What are your thoughts on the subject? And for those who haven't had kids yet and are either planning to one day, or are expectant moms-to-be currently, what are you thinking about doing?