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Week 37: To epidural or not to epidural

I know what you are thinking … Oh geez, a post about some pregnant lady’s quest to make me agree with her stance on using or not using pain medication for delivering MY baby! She’s either going to call it mindless poison or the best thing since slice bread … here we go. No thanks,...

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On the left, Emily talks to her mom to tell her she’s in labor. On the right, she is heavily considering whether to have an epidural this time around.


I know what you are thinking … Oh geez, a post about some pregnant lady’s quest to make me agree with her stance on using or not using pain medication for delivering MY baby! She’s either going to call it mindless poison or the best thing since slice bread … here we go. No thanks, crazy lady!
Now wait just one second, and hear me out, people! Let me reassure you, that is NOT what this post is about. I recently saw Kristen Bell on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” rehashing her recent birth and use (and love) of the epidural, and it got me thinking. Most of us are confronted with the decision when we go in to have our babies—and we all make different choices, so let me take you a bit through my thought process.
As I’ve written about before, my first pregnancy resulted in a pre-term birth. Labor progressed pretty quickly (well, it was seven hours, but hey, seven is a lot better than the 30 that I know some of you have endured), and my baby was pretty small. I went for an unmedicated birth and with the encouragement of my labor nurse I was able to deliver without an epidural. Let it be known, though, there were several times I second guessed my decision and asked through the pain if it was too late. (It was.)
This time around, I’ve already had a few random contractions that sent me into full panic mode. Boy, they were SO painful, and I wondered how I was going to survive these coming at me over and over again when I can barely move during this one. And since I’ve already reached 37 weeks, I can pretty safely assume that this baby will be bigger than my first, so it may be a bit more difficult to get her out.
I will say though, the first time around I felt so great once the baby was out. It was my own personal marathon finish, and I was basking in the glory. Literally, my baby had just been whisked out of the room after a few minutes of skin-to-skin to be checked out by the NICU. (The doctor had already told me he looked great and was doing well). All I could do was smile and chomp down on what I was sure was the world’s most gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwich and the most thirst-quenching orange juice I’ve ever had in my life. I was on top of the world. I was tired and sweaty, but after a few minutes I was able to jump up and take a quick shower. Then I walked by myself to the NICU to see my baby, like a champ.
So I’m not sure I want to give up that control and mobility if I don’t have to. But on the other hand, I’m already exhausted thinking about the pain that is headed my way if I opt out of the epidural. So, I guess the best thing I can do is just to take it one centimeter by one centimeter and see how it plays out. So, I guess that would be my advice for any first-timers out there. Go with your ideas, but be flexible and willing to listen to your body—no matter what it is telling you, medicine or no medicine.
What do you ladies think? Any mamas out there who have done it both ways?

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