First off, I want to say that I have no judgement in this post on what any other person chooses to do for themselves. I just need a forum to vent my concerns because I'm honestly not sure how to mentally prepare. I would very much would love to hear what you plan to do if you are a first time mom or if you have had kids, your experiences with natural birth, medication of any kind, and c-sections, and whether or not you would choose differently if you could go back.
At this point, I have not decided exactly what I am going to do. I can see benefits to both having an epidural and having a natural birth. I'm going to try to post what I see as the pros and cons of each, but PLEASE comment and let me know if I missed anything or if you disagree. I would love all the information possible so I can make my decision for the big day!
Natural birth vs. Epidural
Natural birth pros:
-Being completely aware and in the moment without the fuzziness of drugs
-Lower chance of the use of forceps, vacuums and other tools
-Lower chance of C-Section
-Potentially faster labor than with epidural
-Ability to move around more freely (less wires)
-For some, a more spiritual experience. But I don't believe you can only have that experience with a natural birth.
Natural birth cons:
-Well, you will feel more pain during labor and during recovery
-Takes some serious will power
-Lamaze or Bradley techniques may go out the window in the moment!
-How it might mentally impact you if you plan a natural birth and end up needing or wanting medications & interventions
Epidural anesthesia pros:
-A potentially more positive birthing experience if dealing with the pain is too much. This is only one point but it's a BIG deal!
-The ability to ease into recovery since there will still be medication in your system
-There are many types of epidurals that may allow more movement
Epidural anesthesia cons:
-More monitoring & wires
-Feeling sleepy or drowsy
-Sudden drop in blood pressure, shivering, nausea, soreness & other adverse reactions to medications
-Makes pushing more difficult and may require Pitocin, forceps, vacuums, or a C-Section
-Feeling numb for several hours after delivery (though not necessarily "out of it")
-Can sometimes make breastfeeding more difficult, according to some studies
-May still feel pain when pushing (according to mom who has 5 kids - 2 natural, 3 epidurals) depending on the strength of the medication
As you may be able to tell, I am leaning towards a natural birth. I want to be flexible and open to an epidural if need be, but up until recently, my main concern has been avoiding a C-Section. This is especially a concern of mine because I will be delivering at a hospital that has one of the highest rates of cesareans in the state, which is one of the major scenarios to avoid if you can. Having a Cesarean terrifies me and its just not the ideal birthing experience for me, and I don't know if I am willing to increase my chances by getting an epidural.
Since I started researching more about birth options, I've began to see the birthing experience as something more spiritual. I don't mean spiritual in a religious sense, but spiritual in the sense that I want to connect to myself and have a deeply empowering experience. And I am not afraid - I am truly excited to go through this life changing experience. But won't it be life changing whether I have a natural birth or not, just getting to meet my son? Birthing and meeting my boy are two different experiences to me, but both are extremely important for me to soak in and remember clearly.
My issue with accepting an epidural is that if I mentally go into it thinking that medications are an option, I think it'll impact my ability to stick to my goal and continue having a natural childbirth. In order to have the will power to get through the toughest thing my body has ever experienced, a large part of me thinks that it's important to only consider an epidural as a last resort, meaning if my health or the health of my child is in danger. The only other circumstance where I would be more open to medications would be if I am in labor for several days and haven't been able to sleep. I know my body can handle a natural childbirth, but going into the experience with this type of "all in" mindset, I also don't want to be inflexible or disappointed if I end up getting an epidural.
So, how do you make a birth plan where you set realistic goals for yourself when you have no idea what the experience will be like for you? I am a goal oriented person and can stick to my goals, but I do feel disappointed when I fall short. How do you remain flexible while staying strong in your goals?
If you feel comfortable sharing, what type of birth experience have you had or do you plan on having? Do/did you believe things can go as planned when you're in labor? Do/did you want a "spiritual" birth experience? Are you as afraid of having a Cesarian as me? Do you believe it doesn't matter as long as you remember that you have a happy, healthy baby in the end?
So many questions! I'm very much interested in your feedback. I know the end goal is a healthy baby, but I also value birthing as a separate experience and would love to hear from others who have been through or are going through this decision. So please tell me what you think! :)
xo kristen genevieve
Photo credit: Active Birth by Janet Balaskas