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Water birth vs epidural

(31 Posts)
iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 20:20:32

I'm 38 weeks pregnant on Sunday and the past few days have found myself getting really anxious about the birth. Originally always wanted a water birth but then changed my mind after watching too many episodes if OBEM and decided an epidural because I just think ill be awful with the pain and won't cope and will make a fool of myself which won't be good for baby. However a good friend recently had a water birth which she said she would recommend to anyone now I'm thinking I might want to try that ... But is the pain just unbearable?? Is it silly to go through all that pain when I could have an epidural ? But is the recovery time with an epidural much longer? Someone please help, I haven't been sleeping lately anyway and was awake most if just night worrying, feel like I'm going to burst into tears at the thought of it! I just would like someone to tell me what to do.

Flisspaps Sun 17-Mar-13 14:22:44

I had an epidural first time but only because I had a synto induction.

With DS I had a pool and gas and air and was perfectly happy with that (until I transferred to hospital and had a spinal as they thought I'd need EMCS)

I much preferred the pool/g&a. Fewer risk of further interventions.

LeBFG Sun 17-Mar-13 13:24:25

I had an epi the first time and although great for contractions, was not great for the pushing stage. You have to force the pushes with the midwife getting terribly energetic 'go on, you can do it - just one more push'. I felt like thumping her and almost gave up before being threatened with the forceps. Second time, had natural birth and no gas - I was pleased as I decided beforehand I didn't want the distraction of inhaling the gas and then possibly feeling sick on it. The pushing stage was MUCH better - made little pushes about three per contraction. Much quicker. I could also move into a great position for the pushing - with epis you're obliged to lie down.

The second went really well I think because of good baby position etc but also because I was really calm beforehand - almost serene about the impending birth. I can't explain it as I was worrying a lot about how I would cope at 7 months (I'm a total woss with pain). I looked forward to the pain as this is a sign that the body is working as it should and started thinking about the pain releasing endomorphins into the bloodstream. Like you, I had asked all the questions about when I could ask to have the epi etc so planning for the eventuality that I couldn't cope with the pain. This helped too. I felt very much in control and this contributed to helping me cope.

WRt OBEM, I heard another lady giving birth just after me - screaming blue murder - sounded excrutiating. I realised this is just what I had done but the sounds that had come out of me were more a physiological response than pain response iyswim. It didn't feel nearly as bad as it probably sounded grin.

stargirl1701 Sat 16-Mar-13 20:16:01

I planned an epidural in the CLU.

I ended up in a birth pool at the local MLU. It really wasn't as bad as I thought. I actually kinda enjoyed it. Certainly, it was very empowering.

But, DD was in a good position. Labour & birth are really down to luck.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Sat 16-Mar-13 20:12:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 22:13:40

Thanks hufflepup smile

hufflepup Fri 15-Mar-13 22:08:46

You sound very sensible OP. Just focus on that baby and you'll be fine whether its a water birth or an epidural- you'll know what's right for the 2 of you when the time comes. Good luck!

AmandaCooper Fri 15-Mar-13 21:54:50

I was fully prepared to have an epidural if the pool didn't work out but once I got settled in the water and had some gas and air it honestly never crossed my mind to have any more pain relief. It was completely manageable. I had been in agony beforehand and was very skeptical about the pool at the point I got in.

iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:54:36

Thank you for all your advice. I really am going to try to calm down a bit and just go with the flow when it happens and see how I get on. It's been really helpful hearing everyone's different stories, I suppose in the long run a healthy baby is all that matters . I might try the water birth at first, see how I get on with it and if I can't deal with it then ill ask for the epidural, hoping its one of those things where the thought of it is a lot worse than it actually turns out to be .

Phineyj Fri 15-Mar-13 21:53:18

I did both, water birth pool at home then when I had to transfer to hospital I had a spinal block (not quite the same as epidural but similar effect) before an EMCS. The pool was effective in relieving pain but I have to say the spinal block was astonishingly brilliant by the stage I needed it, it was like magic!

My midwife explained to me that labour pain is not like other types of pain in the sense it is there to achieve something, builds up gradually etc. I found I was very 'in the moment' and kind of disappeared into my own world.

I am a planner too and it was about as unplan-y a situation as possible (for one thing it was on Xmas Day which was definitely not part of the plan) and it was all fine.

My top tip would be to stop watching OBEM and similar, as obviously they pick the most dramatic bits for telly!

OrganixAddict Fri 15-Mar-13 21:45:19

If it helps, I was terrified before I had my first. Was expecting huge pain and hours of trauma. Birthplan was all active birth and gas and air only because I'd been told it was the "right" way - epudural likely to make labour longer etc - but didn't think I would do it.
Turns out I was lucky and by time I felt need to go to hospital I was 10cm and baby born 45mins later.
Hard when you are a planner, but accept you can't plan this and just see what happens. If you want pain relief have it, if not don't. Just know what your options are and if there are any definite nos.
Labour is unlikely to be fun but it won't necessarily be traumatic or agony. Arm yourself with some info, breathe, relax and see how you go, you can always change your mind.
Good luck and enjoy your baby when they arrive.

TheYamiOfYawn Fri 15-Mar-13 21:44:00

I found that a birthing pool felt far more private and less exposed than a dry land birth.

With regard to pain relief, if you are a planner, you could maybe plan for if I feel Luke this, I will ask for x, so that you can be flexible, but have thought through your decisions in advance so you aren't totally winging it on the day.

I think that being open minded about pain relief is the best option. With my first baby, it never got to the stage of hurting more than period pains, so I even turned down gas and air. The only time the pain was bad was when I lay on my back for one contraction, when I screamed and jumped straight back up again.

Second time round was more painful, but the pool was blissful relief.

If your baby is in a good position, you are free to move around and you aren't all tensed up with fear, then you might well not need any pain relief at all. On the other hand, if your body is trying to turn a baby round as well as pushing, or you have the more intense contractions of an induction, or you have a long and tiring labour, or there is something else that makes your labour hard, then an epidural can be exactly what you need.

Talk it through with audwife or antenatal teacher, or look at the NCT webpages on pain relief.

Labour really isn't a one size fits all type of thing. Try out water first if you want to, and if hat doesn't feel right, go for an epidural. It's how you feel on the day that will probably matter most.

Lampfamm Fri 15-Mar-13 21:27:27

I just want to add another vote for a birthing pool. Even if you just sit in it for a bit, I think you'll love it. I floated about in one for hours....made labour much easier smile

Snowgirl1 Fri 15-Mar-13 21:26:46

I hadn't planned to have an epidural, but ended up having one as I was induced and all the midwives kept telling me how intense the pain was when induced. Having started out not wanting an epidural, it would be high on my list if we have another DC. I was walking about within a few hours. In fact, the midwife had me crouching upright on the bed (supporting myself on the midwife and DH who were on either side of the bed) during the birth, so was still able to move around a bit while the epidural was in effect - but believe that varies a lot from person to person.

I wouldn't worry about being exposed in a water birth, you'll end up pretty exposed if you give birth on a bed - and all you'll care about is getting to meet your little one.

Hope your birth goes how you want it to.

iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:26:07

not at all, I have a similar fear of someone giving DH some form of net and telling him to get it out!!

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 21:21:58

Sorry, that poo thing was probably a really unhelpful thing to say. I don't think that's a likely occurrence. Sorry!

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 21:21:10

We're all different. I didn't care about being exposed as such, but I always feared a poo would escape without me realising and float past. I had visions of DH having to scoop it out with a fishing net. You can wear a tshirt in the water as you can walking round or on a bed, though.

I read a comment on here the other day about how someone was surprised midwives on OBEM weren't encouraging people to walk around more. All of the midwives I met wanted me to walk around, but it got to a certain point for me where no fucker was moving me from my bed until there was a baby and that was well before the epidural!!

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 21:15:28

Sorry, just to clarify - I meant that DD needed to stay in hospital a little while. She was in SCBU for 5 days as she was 5 weeks prem and was a bit jaundiced, among other things. But her little stay (well, our little stay - we roomed together in a little room in SCBU) sorted out her out and she is now a totally bonkers 20 month old. And the epidural made no difference to any of it at all!

iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:13:20

Yeah I am not one for holding back on complaining, in sure by lots if womens standards this pregnancy has been very straightforward but I have just found it flipping hard going to be honest. Up until a couple if weeks ago I wasn't too fazed about the whole giving birth thing, just thought I wanted to meet my baby but now I just seem to be thinking about it loads !! I've seen they do tours round the birthing centre there so I'm going to try and pop along next week. I just wish someone could tell me what to do and just to guarantee its all going to be alright. This may also sound silly but part if what I wasn't sure on re the water birth is that from videos I have seen it all looks very "public" and that everyone can see all your lady parts ! I am quite self conscious and whilst I want my DH and mum in with me I don't know if I want them seeing me like that and don't know if I might feel to exposed in the pool, but are y exposed no matter how you give birth so is that just a ridiculous consideration ?!

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 21:12:15

Sorry, xpost! I was up walking about 3 hours after both births. It does vary from person to person and how close to the actual birth you had the epidural, though.

I don't know about leaving hospital as both of my babies required a short stay - but this definitely had nothing to do with the epidural.

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 21:07:09

It's not pathetic at all - it's a perfectly natural reaction to the prospect of your first childbirth! FWIW, I was in a lot of pain and, as I said, had two epidurals, but I never felt out of control and I wasn't a screamer at all. Funny, really, as I complain and shout a fair bit in my normal life!!

Have you looked round your local hospital? I felt that helped me to feel more in control - I knew where I was going and what my options were. Ok, so I didn't know how it was going to go exactly, but I had the tools I needed, so to speak.

iheartshoes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:04:40

Hi Judith, can I ask how long it took you to be able to walk around again and that after your epidurals? Does an epidural mean u have to stay in hospital for longer or is that not necessarily the case? Thank you x

SirBoobAlot Fri 15-Mar-13 21:04:27

Try to avoid the epidural. It can make things more complicated on several levels, and I am still having problems with my back nearly four years on, despite it not even being hooked up in time to get any relief.

If you like being in control, have you thought of getting a TENS machine? The labour ones have a boost button so you can control the surges. Wish I'd stuck with that and not taken it off in the end.

melliebobs Fri 15-Mar-13 21:02:54

Id say go into it with your mind open. I really wanted a water birth but as soon as my waters broke and there was meconium the decisions was taken away from me. In the end I I'd have an epidural. Being on a monitor and told to stay on the bed was down right miserable

Ohhelpohnoitsa Fri 15-Mar-13 21:02:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JudithOfThePeace Fri 15-Mar-13 20:59:34

I've heard many wonderful things about water births, but didn't fancy it myself. Personally, I had an epidural with each of my two labours and, for me, they were fantastic. I was up walking about a few hours after the birth and had no problems or issues of any kind. Without giving you my entire birth history, let me say there was a fair few hours of pain involved before each epidural but it certainly didn't seem pointless having one. DS was born by ventouse and DD just popped out. I didnt need stitches and I felt normal again very quickly. I am perfectly well aware of the potential downsides of an epidural, but I tell ya, if I was having a third, I'd bloody well want another one.

One of my friends says she hardly felt any pain and didn't even want gas and air. Another swore by standing up and bouncing on a ball. I found sitting on a ball really uncomfortable after a while. Some of it even depends on how your baby is lying. Be aware of all the possible things you can try and just see what works for you. I don't think you can know beforehand what you like most until you're doing it.

Some people who spend part of their labour in a pool still go on to have epidurals, so if things go on a while then it can be still an option.

I know it's a cliche, but do try to remember how many women go on to do it a second, third time etc - if it was that awful, there would be more only children in the world!! I won't lie, it's more fun getting the baby in than getting it out, but holding your newborn baby is the most wonderful feeling in the world - so try to think about that!

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