Let’s talk about a possible painless delivery
I SKIPPED my Labor pains, really!
I wanted to start this post by telling how painful labor or child-birth is and for sure I can express this I have recently had a baby. ..but hold on …I don’t remember the pain.. I don’t remember any of it!! In fact if I look back I forgot most about it in around 2-4 days and I forgot ‘all’ about it shortly after that. How can I forget all this excruciating pain?? You know how…by totally skipping it …yep! Keep reading to know how I did that…
The labor pains
For most of the people the understanding is that labor pain is extremely agonizing and unbearable, especially in the first time. Well the truth is labor pain could be different for different women. Many factors influence this discomfort like weight of the baby and its position, even the hormones that body is producing to deal with the pain count, but the most important one is the pain endurance of the woman. What could hurt you at 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 could be a 7 or 3 for someone else, but it would be already 15 for me, as my pain endurance is super low!
One of my friends whom I have known as the most soft-spoken person confessed that labor pain really got the best of her and she was not only shouting and screaming on people, during her 9 hours long labor, she was saying all kinds of swear words and held her husband by the collar and said to him “do something, or I’ll kill you”..hehe. Yeah this can happen too. But for some women it’s not that harsh and they dilate so fast that the duration of taking pain is lowered up to quiet an extent. I was the first child of my mom and I was a breach baby, she tells me that she had me in her hands in 2 hours, while I had around 12 hours in labor. That’s another thing that I signed up for total medical intervention and had a super easy delivery, some people might say that it’s not like the ‘real’ natural process and maybe I haven’t proven a point of being that ultimate powerful woman who can take all that pain and give birth but it really is a matter of choice. It was clear for me that pain endurance is not my forte and I wanted my delivery to be as tranquil as possible, at least I wanted to take measures to make it so. Since years natural deliveries are happening, women are doing it so, it’s doable but this fact doesn’t reduce the pain for any woman. I have not just respect but also lot of admiration for women who choose/have to take the full pains and have natural birth but I couldn’t have been one of them and I have no guilt of having used the options available to me.
The painless delivery
“Painless delivery” we have heard about this phrase in India, but really how many of you have seen in your family or amongst your friends someone really having this? No no ..please don’t start counting the C-sections, we are talking only about ‘Normal delivery’ right now. Well there could be another reason why you don’t know anyone in India who had a ‘Painless normal delivery’ because many doctors these days are only indulging themselves in the benign(read lucrative) process of C-sections and not bothering themselves or the patients with a long process of normal delivery, but that’s another topic all together. In the meanwhile, if you do know a woman who had ‘normal painless delivery’ please call her and take her doctor’s number, many other women need it! In India normal delivery means taking the full labor pain and then the delivery part combined, because Epidural is not very common. Epidural ? ..ah what’s that…
What is an Epidural?
For me it is the god of all ‘Pain relievers’ during labor and delivery. The ‘Epidural’ is like a Brahmastra in the child-birth arena. Epidural is a kind of local anesthesia that delivers continuous pain relief to the woman in labor. It works in a way that only pain sensation is subdued in the lower body but you are fully awake and conscious, you can talk and totally participate in your delivery process, just your belly area and legs would be numb from the medication.
What is the procedure?
A very thin wire like tube is inserted in the small of your back, outside the spinal cord membrane and secured with a tape, medication is then delivered through this tube. The tube secretes the medication slowly to spinal nerves and reduces the sensation. The doctor can control the amount, type and flow of medication that you need. This procedure is completed within 10 minutes but the whole preparation and start of effect can take around 30 minutes. After delivery the tube is removed.
So, what is the theater about Epidural?
Since this procedure is involves activities around spinal cord many people have a fear that it can mess around with the nerves which is a very very rare thing to happen, but since one in a million chance, it can, epidural enjoys the status of taboo in many countries. Another problem is that not all women are potentially good candidates for it. Low blood pressure and/or a history of an infection from anesthesia previously can take you off the anesthetist’s list. Also some women have reported about lingering back pain after the use of epidural, but so many changes happen in the body during pregnancy and delivery that you never know what triggered it, such fast gain of weight in pregnancy can cause that back pain but epidural gets the blame.
But at this point we also cannot deny some potential risks around epidural, such as:
– Epidural can lengthen labor because the woman doesn’t feel the final strong contractions and doesn’t get much help from them and has to push entirely using her own effort .
– Chances of perineal tear increases as the right hormones are sometimes not produced because the stretching receptors are sitting numb.
– The chances of instrument delivery increase (forceps, vacuum pump etc. to pull the baby out)
The doctor mostly also explains the possible effects and what you are choosing, they might even make to you sign a paper which tells about the possible negative effects of epidural. However at that time in the labor, one is not in a situation of taking much education, so the point is women should make themselves informed of unintended effects of epidural clearly in advance. Do your homework ladies. Read. Consult. Discuss.
Why I chose to take the Epidural?
Well.. because I also don’t go for a tooth extraction without an anesthetic..
I have said this before that I can’t boast about my pain endurance. So before my delivery I decided completely in my mind that I wanted an epidural, if something can save me from all that labor pain, which had been my biggest concern about child-birth, why not! I read about the epidural and discussed with my doctor that I wanted to have this and she totally supported my decision and she literally said ‘We are not living in 20th century or older that we must take this pain, now we have solutions’ this sentence made complete sense to me. I thought, when we have a headache we do take a pain reliever.. or when there is pain somewhere in the body we do use pain relieving methods then why should we say no to a medication that can bring us relief from the biggest physical pain known to woman kind. I held the feeling that my baby needs me to feel good as soon as possible so that I can draw all my attention and energy to him/her.
To be honest, I am happy epidural totally worked for me, I am happy that I was well-informed and clear about it in my mind and I am happy I took it very early in my labor. I relieved myself from pain quiet earlier on and saved my energy for the ‘push-time’ when I really needed it.
Saying yes or no to an epidural is purely a choice, this process is completely elective. Now be clear in your mind there is nothing wrong in taking it or not taking it, because it’s your choice if you want to accept this method of medical intervention for pain relief.
In case you do say ‘yes’ to the epidural below are some best practices that I can suggest, that I followed and can swear by:
– So three weeks before my due date I went to my hospital and created my birth plan. No, I am not a very finicky person and I didn’t want to wear a special gown when I delivered or a special sort of lighting. My birth plan had only one thing in it ‘I want an epidural when I ask for it’ (meaning, no arguments with me at that time).
– This is very very important, I did this and so should you, ask for an epidural when you are 2 cm dilated, by this time you have seen pain and experienced the kind of pain that you might have to bear for hours in case you don’t take one. Usually the hospital staff nurses/doctors would ask you to wait for 2 more hours and be more dilated or keep going on the natural track., but hello! If I wanted a natural birth I would go to a forest and sit in a squat position, but I am in the hospital and have signed up for intervention. So why not give me the intervention that can relieve me of all this pain?
– Keep your husband prepped up for standing by you when you say you want the epidural, you will not be in a position to argue with or convincing the hospital staff. Your hubby should do all that talking. I told my husband clearly that in case I want the epidural and they are asking me to wait and all, you have to talk to them and get me one.
– Don’t be confused or double-minded when your turn comes and the anesthetist is available. Seema my friend said ‘no’ when then anesthetist was around thinking she could probably handle a bit longer until she’s slightly more dilated before taking the epidural but later in about half an hour she was done with the pain but the anesthetist had four other women in the queue to handle and the she could reach her only after two hours. So imagine 2.5 hours of pain of additional pain just because of being unsure at the right moment.
– When you are being given the epidural the doc will ask you to sit in a crawl position or a cat curve, just hold tight to that position and don’t make any sudden movement, at this time usually they stop the contractions or make that area numb so that you don’t have the contraction pains when the epidural setting is being made. Once that’s done then you cannot move around the room, but the trade-off is that there would be no pain after that, so you can relax or even sleep. I was literally cracking jokes lying on my delivery table and laughing. I asked my mom and husband to go and have dinner and take it easy because I was feeling so well, when they went I just closed my eyes and slept for two hours, nurse was coming to check on me every now and then, but I was literally sleeping on my delivery table!
A note to the NRI Bride
We are not living in 20th century or older that we must take this pain, now we have solutions, nothing bad in looking at your options!
I do not know when will the taboo be raised from the name of Epidural and when will it be considered a good pain reliever during labor in all the countries, but in the mean while our lovely NRI bride might have this advantage of being in a country where this is a commonly used method of pain relief, and if it is, I would say with all motivation from my side to you that you should read about it and consider it, start with a small reason “Because its available!”
If you are in India and your hospital has this option, awesome! Discuss about this with your doctor, collect a couple of reviews about the anesthetist if you can. When you decide in your mind that you are fine with it, definitely say yes!
Be informed, make your choice and win
This post is not meant to give medical advice, I am only trying to create awareness about Epidural. I am just expressing my views and sharing my experience. Epidural is a purely elective intervention, there is nothing wrong in deciding ‘for’ or ‘against’ it. The key point is that you should make yourself well-informed about it and make a cognizant choice.
May you have it really easy. Happy Motherhood!