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Some silly questions

(28 Posts)
macdat Fri 23-Oct-15 20:02:03

These questions will probably seem stupid, but I've been wondering...

Is an epidural really better? Is it way too painful without one?

I hear stories of women actually tearing during birth, and I'm petrified of this. Is it true there are massages to avoid this?

How embarrassing is it when during labour, doctors are coming to just have a look down there and poking around?

Is it better to have your partner at the top end, instead of him watching the baby coming out? I hear it's horrible to see that.

I've got a while to go, but honestly, I'm not looking forward to it. I'm petrified and considering trying to ask for a c-section. How do women psych themselves up to actually go through with it? I'm a wimp at the best of times and have a low pain threshold, I can't even imagine having to push this baby out. I mean, their heads are massive!

PotteringAlong Fri 23-Oct-15 20:07:29

It's not embarrassing at all when people look! I didn't even notice who was in the room! I was so keen on getting the baby out I didn't notice.

I've given birth with an epidural and without and without was better. If I have a 3rd baby I won't have an epidural.

My DH stayed at my head but watched them both come out. He said it was pretty weird in an awesome kind if way!

Pointlessfan Fri 23-Oct-15 20:12:33

I wanted DH at the head end!
I was induced which I wouldn't recommend. I ended up having an epidural and it was just like switching off the pain. However I had complications and ended up with an emergency c-section. I've felt ever since that if I hadn't have let them pressure me into the induction and nature had taken its course I might have managed without all the intervention during labour.
The epidural made it very hard push, the midwife was telling me when but I couldn't feel anything.

Pointlessfan Fri 23-Oct-15 20:13:19

*hard to push I mean.

LillyBugg Fri 23-Oct-15 20:15:14

I can't answer all your questions but a couple...

Embarrassing? No, definitely not. I could have given birth in the hospital corridor and I wouldn't have cared. According to my notes there were 8 people in the room when I gave birth. You really won't care, I can promise you that.

Epidural - I didn't have one, and yes it was painful. But I don't think I would have one next time either. To be fair, I didn't have time anyway, I laboured quickly. But my body knew what it was doing, and I think if I had an epidural then it may have taken longer.

DH held my hand the whole time, but did have a look and see the baby come out. I'm glad he did, when he said 'I can see the head' it made me remember what I was doing. That probably sounds a bit odd, but I had a bit of an outer body experience during labour and didn't really understand what was going on. He is really squeamish to but he said it was ok.

Psyching myself up - I very much went with, this is going to happen and I don't have any choice. I was scared but willing to accept what will be will be.

Good luck OP, it is a wonderful thing and you will be so proud of yourself afterwards.

techgirl Fri 23-Oct-15 20:21:28

OK I've had 2 so will give you the benefit of my experience. It is a very individual experience though and so this can only be my experience. 2nd baby also was so quickly we only just got to hospital in time so was a whole other ballgame.
I didn't want an epidural and found the whole thing unpleasant but no more than that - I had gas and air and a lot of time in the birthing pool plus walking. Main issue was how long it took first time round. Gas and air was lovely, just like a few glasses of wine, pool fab but slowed labour so I had to get out. I could have had pethidine but didn't want or need. Ask your midwife what the options are, do you need to book an epidural etc.
Tearing sounds awful but my experience was (and I tore enough to need a fair few stitches) you don't notice it amid the contractions. And all healed up fine afterwards. You can try rubbing the perineal area with oil beforehand but don't know how effective it is, others could advise.
Hardly anyone has a look around unless they think there might be a problem e.g. things are very slow, and it will be a midwife unless again there seems to be a problem. Really no embarrassment.
Leave it up to your other half where they want to sit and tell them what you want them to do- mine was most use handing me water as I wanted it.
Things stretch quite a bit and contractions usually do a good job of pushing things along but do talk to your midwife if you are really getting anxious. Others here will have suggestions as well.

TaliZorah Fri 23-Oct-15 20:27:00

1) I had a spinal not an epidural but they're similar. Mine was a cesarean but I went into labour beforehand. The pain was horrible, I ended up rolling on the floor screaming. The spinal felt really nice and completely got rid of the pain.

2) it's not embarrassing. I had loads of people doing it from 30 weeks onwards, not embarrassing at all

Can't answer the others as I didn't have a natural birth. If you're considering a c section I can only tell you my experience was that it wasn't painful at all really. It ended up saving my son's life (and I'd asked for it because of a history of difficult births in the family not medical need) and was a good experience on the whole except for my son being unwell.

MargaretCabbage Fri 23-Oct-15 20:32:09

Accidentally posted early.

I had a third degree tear that had to be repaired in theatre. They did an excellent job and I have no problems at all. I also got a lovely spinal block so no pain.

I felt no embarrassment whatsoever. I ended up giving birth naked and afterwards a lot of people came to look at me because of the tear (student midwife, midwife, doctor, surgeon, etc...). Because of the gas and air I found it completely hilarious and offered to sell tickets for people to come and look at my bum as it was obviously such a big draw.

My husband stayed at the top end, encouraging me, but did have a look at the head being born. Ask your partner to do whatever you need him to do.

annatha Fri 23-Oct-15 20:32:48

Your questions aren't silly at all, I bet most women wonder exactly the same things at some point in their pregnancy.

Epidurals come with their own pros and con's but aren't essential. I had my first baby in Cumbria where epidurals aren't available anywhere in the county and plenty of women have babies there. Your best bet is to have a look into various methods of pain relief available where you are and have a think about what you would prefer.

Tearing does happen occasionally, and while periniel (sp) massage can lower the chances of it happening it isn't a failsafe and it depends more on your body, size of the baby, how the labour is going etc, whether you've had an epidural (and therefore can't feel your pushes) etc. When you get to the pushing stage your midwife will coach you to push or pant so baby's head comes out gradually to avoid tears, or if a tear looks to be unavoidable she might offer an epidostomy to control the tear.

To be honest the closer I got to labour, I was more worried about the amount of strangers peering up my vagina than I was about the birth! Honestly though once things get moving you won't care at all. The doctors and midwives see a million fannies in their line of work and unless you're planning an elaborate vajazzle they'll forget yours as soon as they see it.

As for your partner, it depends entirely on what you both feel comfortable with. You might want him up top to support you, or he might want to see his child being born.

I won't lie, it is painful but its a different kind of pain to say, breaking your leg or something. Its for a positive reason, and each contraction brings you closer to meeting your baby. There are loads of ways of managing the pain ranging from epidurals to water births to hypnobirthing. Your midwife and any antenatal classes on offer in your area will help you prepare for labour. Sadly elective c-sections aren't often granted without a medical reason and a c-section is major surgery in itself which involves a longer recovery time to a standard vaginal birth. You'll be absolutely fine, we wouldn't keep having babies if it was unbearable!

badg3r Fri 23-Oct-15 20:45:14

Re tearing, I was worried about this too but had a second degree tear and honestly didn't feel a thing. It sounds like it should be really sore but it is the bit between the baby and bum hole that rips and there is way less sensation down there than the fun end anyway wink

Once it all got going I didn't even notice who was in the room. I can remember after ds was born looking up at my midwife as she was talking and thinking "oh that's what you look like"!

The most important thing is to be aware of the options and to discuss your wishes with your partner beforehand.

enjoyingscience Fri 23-Oct-15 20:45:37

I didn't have an epidural either time (two quick labours, no chance for anything either time, but did manage to stick a tens machine on which I loved).

I had no complications in pregnancy, and my experience was that the midwives were very keen to be as hands off as possible. I had one examination when I arrived at hospital with my first and then no more (I gave birth about 3 hours after arriving), and none at all second time (though to be fair, the midwife didn't arrive until after the birth, but that's another story).

I tore first time, but honestly didn't notice at the time. The stitching was a bit yuk, but they give you gas and air for it, and it didn't take long.

The thing that struck me about both births was that I wasn't in control - it was about both of us. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, but the position and size of the baby, hormones etc have a huge, huge influence over the process, and I really felt like I was embarking on a massive journey but I wasn't taking it on my own. Honestly, they were the two most amazing experiences of my life.

fearsomepixie Fri 23-Oct-15 20:47:34

I've given birth three times so I will answer,but it truly is different for everyone and you won't know until it happens! Oh and with childbirth,there's no such thing as a silly question!

Is an epidural really better? Is it way too painful without one? I've had one with an epidural and two without. The epidural was amazing (but be warned it doesn't always work, can make things go slower also) I didn't feel any pain at all. I did get very tired because I was pushing for quite a while, I think this is because I was just waiting to be told to push rather than doing what my body was telling me. Baby was fine and I had no side effects, was just a bit annoying when I needed to get up and get cleaned up but I couldn't walk because it hadn't worn off! I preferred my other two births to be honest as I felt more in control. And they were quicker!

I hear stories of women actually tearing during birth, and I'm petrified of this. Is it true there are massages to avoid this? I've never done the perineal massage that's supposed to help prevent tearing, but I've never torn either. Vagina of iron. It can't hurt to try but its not guaranteed to prevent it.

*How embarrassing is it when during labour, doctors are coming to just have a look down there and poking around?Is an epidural really better? Is it way too painful without one?

I hear stories of women actually tearing during birth, and I'm petrified of this. Is it true there are massages to avoid this?

How embarrassing is it when during labour, doctors are coming to just have a look down there and poking around? Meh, I wasn't that bothered. Nobody ever did anything without my consent and they were very clear that if I felt uncomfortable at any time I could ask them to stop and they would. It didn't happen that much to be honest. But you most likely really won't care once you're in labour.I found I became very focused on what I was doing and everybody else sort of took a back seat.

Is it better to have your partner at the top end, instead of him watching the baby coming out? I hear it's horrible to see that. Personal my opinion if a bloke can't deal with watching your baby being born he shouldn't have impregnated you in the first place! My dh was fine with it, he wasn't exactly staring up my vagina but he wasn't strictly head end only. He did a lot of hand holding.

I've got a while to go, but honestly, I'm not looking forward to it. I'm petrified and considering trying to ask for a c-section. How do women psych themselves up to actually go through with it? I'm a wimp at the best of times and have a low pain threshold, I can't even imagine having to push this baby out. I mean, their heads are massive! The best advice I have is try NOT to overthink it. Basically the baby is going to come out one way or another. Yes it hurts but it's gone as soon as the baby is out, and it's a useful pain. You know with every contraction that passes you're another step closer to meeting your child. You are entitled to ask for a section but you may be in for a fight, it really depends on your hospital.
I really am a wuss with pain. I cry having blood tests, I just don't deal with it at all. But birth for me was different. As I said it definitely hurts but you know why it hurts,and you know it will stop hurting when the baby comes. I'd give birth again tomorrow if I could!

Good luck ,you'll be fine flowers

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Fri 23-Oct-15 20:48:13

I tore but I swear I didn't notice. By the point that I tore I was just so away with the fairies and concentrating on getting the baby out that there was no extra pain iyswim.
I didn't have an epidural- if I ever do it again I will choose not to have one again. Make of that what you will.
I am not a confident person with nudity and normally quite self conscious but I couldn't have given less of a fuck about people poking about or seeing me naked. At one point I took my trousers off to be examined and was about to leave the room to go for a wee in just a t shirt. Into the ward. The midwife wrapped a sheet round my middle and walked me to the lop holding it for me as I was too focused on peeing to bother putting clothes on.
The pain is bad but it's just...natural I guess: it's a healthy, adrenaline producing, productive pain. Plus something weird happens to your brain and you dissociate in a way, it's not like if you break your leg or something.

Scattymum101 Fri 23-Oct-15 20:53:23

I've had two babies now.

First was in hospital. Baby back to back so long early labour. No epidural. Very painful but manageable. Baby came out facing up with arm around her neck so tore and needed stitches but honestly never noticed and never noticed the stitches being done as was holding my perfect baby girl and was on top of the world. Only was examined twice so only two midwives were 'looking'. No Drs came in and out. I had wanted hubby to stay near my head but he ended up being excited about telling me he could see her head that I left him to it.

Second time around I had a home birth and midwives never arrived with my gas and air til I was already 10cm so had just a tens machine and then the pool for pain relief. Much less painful second time around as baby was in good position, very slight graze and no stitches. Being upright in water definitely helped delivery. Also far less 'visible' so more privacy and hubby caught baby as she was being born and passed her through my knees to me which was lovely for him.

I'm not going to lie, it is painful and at the time there are parts where you feel you can't do it but you will and if you can't manage then that's what pain relief is for.

I had no doubt I would have had an epidural had I had an induction as that's a very different labour experience.

I did hypnobirthing which really helped keep me calm and relaxed about the unknown of birth. It is scary when you don't know what to expect.

AGrinWithoutACat Fri 23-Oct-15 20:59:37

Not silly at all they are the type of question it's hard to get a straight answer to though as everyone and every labour is different, I have 3 DCs so this is my experience

1) epidural, didn't have one and survived smile, DC1 gas and air, birthing pool and zoned out, DCs 2&3 didn't want the G&A and had diamorphine and spaced out!! Found a lot of things funny that wouldn't normally including the fact that my nose itched which is a common side effect.

2) tearing, I tore with DC1 and needed stitches, 'grazed' with DC2 and nothing at all with DC3 which I put down to positioning as was bent over DH and the midwife caught her from behind

3) the first checks you might find embarrassing/difficult/uncomfortable but there are so many that it becomes routine, like the doctor checking your arm or ear, plus you are that focused on having the baby that you don't tend to pay as much attention

4) have your partner where you want them, do they want to see? Do you want them to see? Do you want to see? I didn't and DH was firmly at the head end, he didn't want to see or cut the cord however you and your partner may feel differently. Go with the flow and what you want at the time (have heard of woman using mirrors to have a look at what's going on). I had a curiosity about the placenta, just what it looked like when it was out but it was a quick look as the midwives checked it was all there and that was my curiosity over, too busy cooing over the DC

In regards to your anxiety try not to listen to too many birth stories as some woman love giving the gory details of what they experienced in a way that will make it worse (yes Aunty 13 year old me does still remember quite clearly thank you), Speak to your midwife, learn about the different pain management options and remember that your body is designed for this, it will stretch and the baby will come out ok. The midwives are there to help you and baby as needed.

macdat Fri 23-Oct-15 21:18:38

Thank you all so much! Really. You've all made it sound difficult, but definitely bearable. It's really helped to put my mind at ease. I'm actually going to keep coming back and rereading these if I start to feel too scared again haha.

OhMakeMeOver Sat 24-Oct-15 16:57:30

While in labour you really don't care what they're looking at - you just want the baby out! It was after baby was out that I stressed "No men in the room!" when they were checking me. (luckily none of the 3 in the room were male!)

I didn't have an epidural because I wanted to feel the pain. Had gas and air but it was crap. Didn't really need anything, it just gives you something to do through contractions. The worst pain out of all of it though was DEFINITELY having stitches and being checked afterwards! Now THAT was horrendous because they didn't even warn me about what they were doing!

You can massage but it doesn't necessarily do anything to prevent tears. I did it a bit, but still ended up with lacerations and tears and a cut. sad

Just for your knowledge if anyone tells you "We need to do an episiotomy because you're getting tight" tell them to fuck off! Unless of course you're having a big baby, assisted delivery, or an emergency to delivery baby quickly. There's no need for an episiotomy with first births at all!

Dixiechick17 Sat 24-Oct-15 21:30:08

I was only examined once and that was by a midwife, she explained that they examined every four hours, but my DD had arrived before that, I wouldn't have noticed much really.

I had a small tear, didn't notice it happen and having stitches after was fine as they numbed the area and got the gas and air out. Recovery was also fine. I did the perineal massage prior to giving birth, the midwife also bathed that area with a warm cloth in between pushes which I think helped.

I'd recommend getting a hypnobirthing CD, not because it's pain relief as it wasn't for me, but it kept me calm in the last six weeks or so of pregnancy and kept me fairly calm during birth and kept me focussed.

My DH stayed at head end, his choice.

LoadsaBlusher Sun 25-Oct-15 06:26:35

1. Didn't have epidural with VB , only gas and air , I could feel everything and yes it is very painful but I felt much better as I could judge when to push / stop pushing at crowning etc.
2. I didn't massage perineal area and I didn't tear. I think this would totally depend on size of baby / speed of birth . My VB baby was 8lb1
3. I didn't care who was in the room , was not remotely embarrassed who was poking around as long as they were involved in helping to get baby out. You get so caught up in the process you get oblivious .

4. My DP was at head end, he cut the cord though and had a few peeks when head was crowning etc to tell me " nearly there " grin

ACatCalledFang Sun 25-Oct-15 21:03:04

I was induced and didn't have an epidural. It was painful but manageable; however, despite regular contractions, I failed to dilate beyond 2 cm and ended up with a C-section.

Induction meant pessaries and several examinations, following a couple of attempted sweeps in the weeks before; a C-section meant everyone in theatre saw everything (a fact which only occurred to me some weeks after the event blush), including shaving down there, and various midwives had to check bleeding/change pads afterwards. I can honestly say I really didn't care who saw what as long as no photos ended up on Facebook wink. You will have other things on your mind!

As for DP, he remained at the head end throughout. His choice!

ACatCalledFang Sun 25-Oct-15 21:03:52

Oh, and good luck! You can do it, and newborns are amazingsmile.

pinguina16 Mon 26-Oct-15 11:06:45

I’m sorry this is a long post.

Here’s what I think I would have liked someone to explain to me about tearing before I gave birth.
Tearing in childbirth is common. 85% of women tear during birth (or have an episiotomy).
However there is tearing and tearing. 6% of first time mums suffer a severe tear (3d and 4th degree tear) and more rarely in the UK, some women suffer a fistula. These are serious injuries that may lead to anal and urinary incontinence (fistula will definitely lead to these problems).

Now the pelvic floor is complex and depending on what has happened and on luck, symptoms may be more or less severe. Let me give 3 real life examples.

First time mum in my NCT did labour on gas and air and suffered a 3d degree tear at the end. Baby came out quickly. It is the only damage she sustained, the tear was detected and repaired straight away. She’s now fine. No anal incontinence. No urinary incontinence. She was obviously in a lot of pain after the birth and for a few months she complained of things not quite being the same but she’s fine. She is continent and she can run, jump and be pretty much the same as before birth. The only caveat is that she now carries an increased risk of a severe tear for her second birth (and if that happened, her pelvic floor outcome might not be as good as first time round).

Friend of a friend. Very long labour (3 days in total I think). I pass the details but baby was delivered by forceps in the end. She sustained a 3d degree tear which was not seen and therefore not repaired. She was anal and urinary incontinent after birth. She was told by midwives there was nothing to worry about and that things would get better. That stopped her from getting the specialist help she needed and only saw a women’s health physio after 6 months postpartum. She is now urinary incontinent (prolapsed bladder) and needs surgery (TVT). She wanted more children so she has had to wait (and live with the incontinence) until all her pregnancies are over.

My own case. Baby was stuck (prolonged second stage). Ventouse failed twice so doctors moved to episiotomy and forceps. Anal incontinent after birth, urine retention (although I never needed to be catheterised) and prolapse (bladder and uterus). At home I told the midwives straight away and they did their job and referred me to uro-gyneacology to be assessed. They suspected an unrepaired 3d degree tear. I was then also referred to the colorectal department. After looking at scans the colorectal surgeon declared that in their opinion I “only” had an unrepaired 2d degree tear. Almost 2 years on, I still have not been discharged from uro-gynae (I have been from the colorectal department with what they call a good outcome-I am continent). I had to have surgery to remove scar tissue (Fenton procedure) to have painfree sex again. Anyway I am continent although I cannot run nor do high impact sport (to preserve my pelvic floor) anymore. The menopause will be the next big test. No one knows for sure what will happen.

Now what to do to minimise a severe tear.
Do perineum massage during the last weeks of pregnancy.
Use an Epi-no to start stretching the perineum.
Do not have an epidural (yes, I know, that sucks)
Avoid instruments (particularly forceps or succession of instruments-they do the most damage statistically) by not having an epidural and by giving birth for the first time before you are 35 (probably too late to decide on this one now)
Listen to midwives when they tell you NOT TO PUSH/push (they are trying to allow the perineum to stretch and avoid a quick birth)
And generally, do pelvic floor exercises every day and drink lots of fluids to avoid constipation (and take the laxatives after birth).
Sadly there are things no one can control: back-to-back baby or very big baby. Crossing my fingers.

I hope I’ve given info rather than scare you and I wish you all the best.

macdat Wed 28-Oct-15 04:58:37

Thanks so much for all of these, and no they haven't scared me. It's actually put my mind at ease knowing the truth about things that can happen. Before, it was just a big mystery with horror stories mixed in. You never really hear the truth about birth and after the birth. And at least if anything does happen, I won't feel as abnormal. I felt really bad because I had hyperemesis until I read other women having the same problem on here. I think birth, including all the "bad" bits, should be spoken about more to help expectant mothers.
TV shows, even reality ones like one born every minute don't tell you the things I've read in this thread, so I really do appreciate it.

BathshebaDarkstone Wed 28-Oct-15 05:10:36

I've never had an epidural, pethidine with DS1, gas and air with DDs 1 and 2, water birth, gas and air and aromatherapy with DS2.

It's not remotely embarrassing, you don't notice.

My water birth was by far the best experience of the 4.

I tore for DS1 but didn't notice and apparently it heals better than a cut.

Try not to worry. flowers

Friendlystories Wed 28-Oct-15 05:33:38

I had a horrible back to back labour (top tip move around as much as possible in the weeks coming up to your due date, don't sit about all day like I did!) was very painful but quick once I got to hospital so no time for pain relief, did the lot on 2 paracetamol. All went a bit wrong in the end and I ended up with a 3rd degree tear, an episiotomy and forceps, none of which I actually felt, I think I was so focused on the contraction pain I was numb everywhere else. Couldn't have cared less who looked at my bits and DH alternated between head and 'business' end, brave man as it was all quite unpleasant by the time DD arrived by all accounts. Had a spinal for the stitch up afterwards which was fine but would have been more appreciated an hour earlier wink No lasting damage and a gorgeous DD to show for it so worth every second, best advice I can give you is keep active if you can, go with the flow and try to adopt a 'what will be will be' attitude as things rarely go to plan. You will get through it whatever happens and it's true what they say, none of it will matter once your baby is in your arms.

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