Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Business of Being Born and Epidurals

wikipedia.com
Last week I finally sat down to watch The Business of Being Born and 2 of the 4 episodes that comprised More Business of Being Born (hoping to finish the other two this week)! These had been recommended to me time and time again and were very interesting. Ricki Lake and her videographer friend (who happens to get pregnant during their time filming) take us through the world of hospitals, midwives, doulas, and all the different options available to women during childbirth. Whether you are hard-core for or against medical intervention in pregnancy, I think it's an important video to watch to see both sides of things.

They focus a lot on Ina May Gaskin, whose book The Guide to Natural Childbirth I read and reviewed over the summer. In the first episode of More Business of Being Born, Ricki and her friends visit the Farm where Ina May lives and delivers babies naturally every day. Seeing what the birthing process is like there, was very interesting. After watching and hearing stories from these women who are so gung-ho for natural childbirth, I was feeling very torn (no pun intended...ok...intended...bleh!) on the subject of epidurals last week, so I listened to the Pregtastic Podcast entitled "Everything Epidurals"

"According to the doctor in this podcast", epidurals are now considered "patient-controlled." Before, it used to be "This is the dosage and this is what you get when you get an epidural" but if someone wants a tiny bit of pain medication to "take the edge off" or if someone wants the full dosage to completely numb their legs and not feel anything...it's up to you. It's all controlled by you. I heard this and thought "Great! Fantastic! How wonderful!"
Source
From the beginning of pregnancy my stance has been "I would love a natural childbirth, but I am open to an epidural." I don't want to go into it really set on one specific way only to be let down if it doesn't go that one specific way. I'm going in with an open mind. In High School and College I experienced a handful of times when my menstrual cramps were of the "throwing-up-knock-me-to-my-knees-writhing-in-pain" variety, and it was pretty terrible. I remember the time I was sprawled out on the floor of the bathroom at my piano teacher's house waiting for my mom to come pick me up, only to end up throwing up in her toilet. Or the time in college during my FIRST EVER COLLEGE FINAL, unable to go back to the classroom to finish because I was on the bathroom floor of the college building (grosss) and a sweet girl had to go tell my professor what was going on with me. According to my mother, who also experienced this growing up, those cramps were pretty much about the same amount of pain I could one day expect from childbirth, and so I should have an indication of what to expect (just like...triple the time) But, I can't help but think...getting the minimum dosage of pain meds...just a little bit to, as they say, "take the edge off" would be nice.

So when I asked my doctor about this so-called "patient-controlled epidural" on Tuesday, she seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. Epidurals, at least at my hospital, are not patient controlled. You either get the dosage, or you don't. Ugh...I was a bit dismayed to hear this.

So what is your stance, for or against, epidurals? Did/Will you have an epidural? Were you planning or not planning to have one?


19 comments:

  1. EDUCATE your doctor!!! It's NYC for heaven's sake not some back woods PA village you're living in! If I could get patient controlled meds (sort of) back in the day you should be able to also. Tell your doctor everything you put in this post. Tell her that research shows the majority of patients do not need the full dose of pain meds in any situation. Tell her if you are controlling the meds but she controls the total amount of medication available there's no way you could overdose. If it doesn't get you satisfaction you've at least opened her mind to the possibility for the next mother in labor to have that option. There are midwives in hospitals now because women in my generation asked for them and although most didn't get to have a midwife in the delivery room it started a conversation between doctors, patients, and midwives that eventually led to them being an option for women. You need to let at least educate your doctor if not for your sake than for the sake of women and babies in the future. Remember, your hired your doctor not the other way around. She is supposed to be working for you so tell her what you want not what you're "hoping" she'll do. Ahh...I feel better! Can you feel my passion about this? Please report back on the outcome. (No pun intended...bleh!)

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  2. Watching that movie completely changed my mindset on birth. And our Lamaze class last night made me feel better in my hopes for birth. I'm by no means opposed to an epidural but if everything is fine with the baby I want to labor how I choose and hopefully deliver without an epidural. But if I end up needing one? No big deal. Not having been through it I can't say "I'll do this, won't have that". You just never know what you'll experience because it can be so different for everyone. I've heard of friends having their epidural turned down when it came time to push so they could feel a bit so maybe ask about that?

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    1. I'm so glad your Lamaze class last night was so far a positive experience! I have the exact same feelings as you: "would love to deliver without, but totally fine if I decide to get it" I will ask about "turning it down" but she really seemed to be like "well...you just get it, it's how it is" which was very disheartening to say the least.

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  3. I commend women that have natural births...but I knew that wasn't me. If I was going to push this baby out, I was going to need pain meds...I'm a wuss, and I know it. That said, I have no regrets about my epidural. It really helped me so much, but I could still feel the pressure of contractions and knew when to push. It's a really personal decision, and it's your body and your baby. I really feel any decision is right if it gets the baby out safely.

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    1. I agree, there is certainly no right or wrong here. Very good to know that even with the epidural you could still feel the pressure - I was worried that I would really feel absolutely nothing and have no idea what was going on.

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  4. Girlfriend I could talk about this for days. I watched BOBB and loved it and desperately wanted a natural childbirth. When it came down to it, I needed some relief and ended up getting an epidural. I think all mamas can do is go in with an open mind. Every labor experience is SO different and until you go through it yourself you really don't know what to expect, or how you're going to handle it. I would say that you should absolutely try to labor as long as you can possibly stand it without drugs. The longer you go, the further you progress and hopefully the less pitocin you will need to keep your labor going after the epidural. It's that epidural + pitocin that is the brutal combo and can become a vicious cycle that eventually sends you to the operating table. The good news is, now matter which route you take the prize at the end is the same. :)

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    1. I agree - going in with an open mind is the best way to do it, and what I intend to do. I really don't want them to have to induce or use any pitocin so the longest i can go without it is what I am hoping to do.

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  5. I always knew I wanted an epidural, I'm not down with pain and I don't think it hurts the baby so why not. Here's what I will say, getting the epidural itself was INCREDIBLY painful for me. I cried. Most people don't seem to mind it and I think my doctor just sucked. Once it kicked in it was great and I was happy I had it. It did wear off at one point so I did get to experience really bad labor contractions at about 7cm and there is NO WAY I could have done that the whole time. I would say see how long you can go without but don't wait TOO long or you may not be able to get one, which is what happened to my mom when having me. Also, patient controlled epidurals was not an option at my hospital either.

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    1. That's so scary that the epidural was that painful! I really hope (for my sake at least) that it was a sucky doctor and this fluke thing. I mean..I'm sure it's not a walk in the park for anybody, but yours sounds like a very stressful situation! did it hurt for a long period of time or just the initial injection?! I def. will try to hold out on getting it as long as I can. thanks for the advice!

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  6. Hey Laura, great post. I seen this video on Netflix but haven't watched it yet. I think I will. We are aiming for a natural birth but I am prepared for the alternative.

    I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you as one of my favorite blogs. It's for the Liebster award.

    You can check out the details here if you would like to accept :)

    http://thelittlebutton.blogspot.ca/2013/09/the-liebster-award.html

    Hope your having a great day :)

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    1. I highly recommend, especially if you are preparing for a natural birth. It was informative and very real. Thanks so much for the Liebster nomination!! It's so great to have such loyal and sweet followers, thank you! I'm heading over there now to check it out!

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  7. I have such a low tolerance for pain of any kind and will probably choose to have an epidural someday. I really think it's every woman's choice and that there's no right or wrong decision as long as it's an educated one. That sucks you had such severe cramping in high school and college, too. I know someone who has those types of cramps and was recently diagnosed with endometriosis. I've experienced that type of pain and think there's a possibility I may have it, too. There are other symptoms for it, as well, but a lot of people who have it don't realize they do.

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    1. Huh..very interesting. I've actually never looked into the possibility that I may have it and I"ve never been told that I do....once I went on the pill my cramps were really non-existent and everything was fine. I will certainly look into endometriosis symptoms and signs.

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  8. I think you are being very smart about it by having negotiable expectations! I think most people want to gravitate towards natural ways, but when do things ever go as planned, right? I say just trust your instincts and everything will work out fine :)

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    1. Yep, thanks for the vote of confidence in my wishy-washy on-the-fence sort of decision to just see how it goes! haha but you're absolutely right, you can't plan everything!

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  9. What a wonderful woman-empowering discussion - kudos to you and commenters! You're all awesome!

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    1. spanx! Yea..it's good to all talk about this and offer in our two cents..otherwise we're all just walking around blindly wondering what the heck do i do?!

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  10. I am pro-epidural all the way! I had appendicitis when I was 13 and if giving birth is anywhere near as painful as that...well yes, please, I will take the pain meds!! That said, of course it is a decision that each woman has to make for themselves. And this is coming from a perspective of someone who isn't pregnant either and has yet to have kids, so there's that. But I'm very impressed by the amount of research you're doing on everything - thanks for sharing what you've found!!

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    1. thanks..there is def. a lot to research when pregnant (if the topic is of interest). I'm def. someone to likes to have allllll my options and possibilities layed out in front of me before I proceed with things - it's also probably why I tried on like, 75 wedding dresses, before deciding on one! It can be both a blessing a curse, haha!

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