The Epidural Chronicles
Brenda*, a 47 year old woman blessed with a large family thinks back to her first pregnancy, 27 years ago and remarks, "Like everyone else, my husband and I took a childbirth preparation class. We were told that it's best to avoid epidurals because some women can't feel to push and they end up having a forceps or vacuum delivery. That kind of scared us off the idea.
My first labor was all back labor and took forever. I was in agony, but wouldn't let them give me that epidural. In fact, I refused epidurals for my first five pregnancies. Then, more and more of my friends started using epidurals and they seemed to really like them. None of them needed to have a forceps or vacuum delivery, so I decided to take a chance with my sixth birth."
"What can I say? It was awesome, just awesome. I felt absolutely no pain, but I was able to push perfectly well. Within fifteen minutes of having that epidural, it was time for me to push. The midwives told me it happens like that a lot; the sudden cessation of pain relaxes a woman so she can open up and gives birth.
It was so ridiculous--people want birth to be this like, really spiritual, or very personal time, but these midwives weren't too busy so they were all three of them attending to me and--I couldn't believe this--they were discussing chicken recipes as I was pushing. I started giggling because it just seemed so ludicrous. I pushed with no problem. That was the easiest of all my births.
That birth was so good I asked for epidurals for the next several births. I have to say, it was never as good as the first time. Once it felt like the anesthesiologist gave me too much of something and I had no control over myself. They had to raise the bars so I wouldn't fall out of the bed. Other times, it just didn't seem to block the pain so well."
"So, during another birth, I decided to go it without the epidural. Oh my God, it was awful. I felt I was being ripped apart. I'd forgotten how bad delivery could be without drugs. I never did that again.
In case you're wondering, I had twelve births altogether, six with, and six without epidural. I never had trouble pushing with the epidural, and I would definitely recommend them."
*Names have been changed.