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Natural birth/epidural

(45 Posts)
WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 02:28:18

Where I live, there are three options: C section, epidural or natural birth. No other pain relief is available, not gas and air, no other pain killers, nothing.

This is my first baby and I have no idea how the pain will be. I could say I have a high pain threshold (I never take pain killers in any situation) but obviously that is pretty meaningless when it comes to labour.

It's so hard to know what to do. I can't decide if I should just take the epidural or if I should try for a natural birth.

Does anyone have any advice either way?

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AvengerDanvers95 Wed 11-Sep-19 02:30:50

Having an epidural doesn't mean you don't have a 'natural' birth hmm

WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 02:46:57

Where I live, that is the term that is used for an unmedicated birth. It is not interchangeable with vaginal birth.

If I caused any offence, that was not my intent.

OP’s posts: |
WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 02:47:37

But maybe you could be a little less snippy with a first time mother who is worried about her choices? There's no need, is there? You can ask or comment without putting arsey little emojis.

OP’s posts: |
AvengerDanvers95 Wed 11-Sep-19 02:50:36

I wouldn't go straight for a CS. Surely you can labour for a while and go for the epidural if you feel you need it? That was basically my entire birth plan since gas and air makes me sick and I hate the feeling of being on opiates so pethidine was out.

As it turned out I managed the first 20ish hours ok but when they said they would put me on a drip to speed things up (meconium in the waters) I decided enough was enough and got an epidural. Low dose so I could still move around. Fucking brilliant.

spottygymbag Wed 11-Sep-19 02:51:28

Just be prepared for it to go either way. Where I am you need bloods done before an epidural so if that's the same where you are then make sure you request them done on arrival at hospital. Doesn't mean you have to go through with an epidural but does mean if you decide you would like it then there is less delay from that point. Also make sure your midwife/dr is aware that you would like it kept open as an option.
For me it was amazing. Gas wasn't cutting it and I had been in early labor for 24hrs before getting to hospital. Having the epidural meant I was rested and it was just wearing off enough that I could feel to push but had no pain. I wasn't interested in walking around by that point because I had been up and moving for almost the whole time with little rest. It was also the last few hours of solid sleep I got for the next 4-5 days!

WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 02:54:13

"I wouldn't go straight for a CS. Surely you can labour for a while and go for the epidural if you feel you need it? "

I have no intention of getting a C section unless it's necessary.

It's not necessarily that simple to just get an epidural where I am. A lot of anesthetists go home at 5 o'clock unless you've scheduled it. So you have to decide in advance. Plus, I want to stay at home for as long as possible which obviously gives less time.

spottygymbag thanks for the advice!

OP’s posts: |
AvengerDanvers95 Wed 11-Sep-19 02:56:53

What was that you meant to post? Thanks for sharing your experience? You're so welcome.

If you can't even cope with a hmm then book an epidural because actual pain is going to come as one big shock.

Stephminx Wed 11-Sep-19 02:57:25

I got through two inductions on gas and air alone (including one back to back and the other 10 lbs plus).
So in my experience the pain was manageable. I was open minded about drugs though and would have gone through each stage (e.g. Pethidine, then epidural etc) if needed.
I didn't want a section myself unless medically required (major surgery, recovery etc) so I wouldn't go straight for that. Why not go in with an open mind, try nothing then get epidural if needed.
How come there is no option for gas/air or pethidine - I thought medical gases were pumped round wards as standard ?

Stephminx Wed 11-Sep-19 02:59:43

Sorry - just seen your update on the epidural.
It's still odd there's no gas or drug option - I thought you got those offered even in home births or MLUs.

AvengerDanvers95 Wed 11-Sep-19 03:00:17

@Stephminx i know a lot of countries don't have g&a, I think the UK is in the minority offering it. I've heard that in France its epidural or nothing in terms of pain relief so I don't think the OPs situation is unusual.

WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 03:01:11

avenger Maybe you're not in the mood for posting, but I can do without this today, so let's just leave it. Thanks for your input.

steph I'm not in the UK. I'm definitely not interested in a C section unless necessary.

As stated above, getting an epidural is not really that simple here and often needs to be scheduled.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

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20viona Wed 11-Sep-19 03:19:32

I'd get epidural. I had my first 9 weeks ago with gas and air and it was fucking horrendous.

WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 03:21:40

20viona I know it can be hard to talk about but could you explain a bit more what 'horrendous' actually means? I have no point of reference for labour and how the pain is.

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20viona Wed 11-Sep-19 03:30:10

I used to think I had quite a high pain threshold but i Was open to the idea of any pain relief during labour. I was induced and once my waters were broken I went from 3-10cm in 2 hours and she was born after 20 mins of pushing. Nothing can prepare you for that pain I had a crazy transition and I just felt like a mooing cow 🤣. There was no time for anything expect gas and air which made me really sick and dizzy. take the epidural.

BertieBotts Wed 11-Sep-19 03:42:42

I have always thought I'd rather not have an epidural because I preferred the idea of moving around etc (also a needle in the back isn't especially appealing) but in reality in both births the pain has been enough to make me panic and once you're panicking there is not much you can do. I didn't have the option of gas and air for my second and I did opt for the epidural. I had the choice to decide on the day though which is what I did, more of a wait and see approach. I'd book it but also stay at home as long as you can. If it turns out you can't get one in the end because you get so far without it that it's too late then no worries, but if it does turn out that you need it, you have the option available. IME there is nothing worse than deciding you really do need pain relief now and then not being able to get it. That is really frightening and awful.

coffeeaddiction Wed 11-Sep-19 03:47:05

I would go for an epidural if I was in your position , my baby got stuck and ended up with a forceps delivery but was prepped for a c-section in case forceps didn't work and I cannot describe just how amazing the relief was when I had the spinal block !

When I was pregnant I was very much wanting a birth with minimal pain relief but I definitely think if I was lucky enough to have another baby I would take all I could get .
The way I think of it is that you wouldn't have a tooth removed without pain relief so why go through birth in pain when there is an option not to .

Obviously there are risks with epidurals which you need to consider and I think I'm right in saying that epidurals can lead to needed a little bit of help during birth ( ventouse/forceps ) although I'm no expert so do your research !

WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 03:57:45

20 thank you for your experience.

bertie I am not so much worried about moving but more about having more and more interventions. You're right that I could just book it and then stay away for as long as possible. Thanks so much for your comment.

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WatchingTheMoon Wed 11-Sep-19 04:01:46

"The way I think of it is that you wouldn't have a tooth removed without pain relief so why go through birth in pain when there is an option not to"

I also used to think like that but I've changed my mind a lot in the last few months. Especially when faced with the choice of epidural or nothing! I really don't want one, because I don't want more and more interventions.

Anyway, thanks for your opinion, it's helpful.

OP’s posts: |
Tulio Wed 11-Sep-19 04:13:26


I’ve had both! First was no pain relief whatsoever and it was intense but really not as bad as I thought it would be. I had built up
Labour in my head as a movie scene with screaming and drama. But I only swore at the very end haha. I just focused on my breathing and got to 10cm without realising.

However I decided to get an epidural with my next one (2 weeks ago) because I reached a point in my first labour where I started to panic because of the pain. I went from coping really well to just not at all during the pushing (it’s a scary prospect pushing out a baby!)

My epidural experience was glorious, got it at 6cm, and again got there using breathing techniques (don’t get on with Gas and Air). I could still feel the contractions they just didn’t hurt anymore! I could still move my legs so it wasn’t claustrophobic. It was a very chilled labour and we just sat and chatted until it was push time.

With both I needed an episiotomy (just little ones) but they were both pretty straightforward as births go. Having the catheter removed the day after the epidural hurt like a bitch. But on balance I would absolutely, 100%, get another epidural! I’m glad I’ve had both experiences. But the epidural was bloody lovely!

Mybobowler Wed 11-Sep-19 04:38:45

Can you book the epidural and then change your mind if you find that you're coping ok without it? I ended up with an unmedicated birth because, like another PP, gas and air made me feel sick and I didn't want the high-as-a-kite feeling of opiates. Still, in your situation I'd probably go for an epidural if I was being compelled to make the choice ahead of time. I think I'd rather have an epidural I didnt need than risk a difficult labour without any pain relief at all. Good luck, whatever you decide!

DinoDansMum Wed 11-Sep-19 04:40:27

Epidurals both times. With my first I did want a home birth but glad in the end I had an epidural half way through as we had a few complications which meant having the line in made a potential c-section more straightforward. Luckily it wasn't needed but both times I did need an episiotomy and it was nice to have a cup of tea whilst they were sorting my bits out! I would say from talking to friends some of their experiences after the birth was the reason I was glad I had an epidural. Either way, labour somehow just happens second by second and you get swept along with the process so try not to worry too much and good luck!

MalSundance Wed 11-Sep-19 04:51:35

I had a homebirth as like you didn’t fancy the interventions which tend to lead to more interventions (have so many friends with intervention heavy births). Antenatal education was key for me, to keep calm to keep the oxytocin flowing and know what my body was doing / what I was feeling and plan for the different stages of labour. Also my partner being well informed about all of the above and my wishes.

Could you look into alternatives you could bring into hospital / do yourself? So you feel you have some options before epidural?

Tens machine
Breathing techniques from antenatal classes

Could you have a water birth which acts as great pain relief?

Obviously any safe birth is a great birth whatever choice you make.

LovingLivingLife Wed 11-Sep-19 05:10:03

I would also look at it from a different angle. Why would you not want the epidural?

No badges for surviving without it, so what would be the negatives that you are trying to avoid? Anything about it specifically putting you off. I had one after 36 hrs labor, and not entirely sure what would have happened if that wasn't an option.

Personally I would say if you can't decide on the day, I would go for getting it. You have to keep in mind both a straightforward, short-ish delivery, but also the chance that it could take longer. Are you prepared to deal with all options without painkillers at all?

KT2019 Wed 11-Sep-19 05:31:01

Epidurals are amazing IMO, I gave birth 2 weeks ago (first baby) and it really was the best thing. I didn't like the idea of it on the lead up to birth but then had a bloods issue 2 weeks before which meant that I was potentially facing labour without it or straight c section, and all of a sudden I was panicked because the choice wasn't really there! In the end I was only just cleared to have it, but it was all dependent on the bloods result when I went into hosp.

In the end I laboured on nothing but paracetamol for 3 days, had gas and air to get me through the epidural, was prepped for section but in the end gave birth vaginally with the help of forceps. Although I was coping OK with the pain to start, after so long in labour the tiredness kicked in and natural adrenaline was running low, I was exhausted just as I needed the most energy to push.

You can have the epidural in and then not press for more /make proper use of it, so if it's that or nothing I'd opt to have it.

Good luck when the time comes! flowers

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