As an anesthesiologist I have placed hundreds of epidural catheters for labor. I have recommended them to both of my daughters for their deliveries. The data is overwhelmingly in favor of the safety of this mode of analgesia for labor. There is no data to support an increase in the frequency of instrument assisted deliveries or c-sections The choice is one that is best left up to the woman and the medical professionals advising her.
You're right on SS--I was in a squat when my son was born, and think it was totally the best position for me! (I moved into many different positions while pushing--hands and knees, on my side, half standing, etc., and squatting was certainly just right for me. It was the way I had always envisioned myself doing it too, which was cool.)
Some info on squatting: http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/laborbasics/a/squatting.htm
Benefits of squatting include:
-Shortens the second stage of labor (pushing phase)
-Decreases the need for forcep deliveries
-Reduces the need for episiotomy
-Shortens the depth of your birth canal
-Works with gravity
-Increases pelvic diameter by 10+%
These benefits are there because squatting tilts the uterus and pelvis forward, placing the baby in proper alignment for birth. It also encourages and strengthens the intensity of contractions, while reliving back pressure. In the case of reduced need for episiotomy, it actually helps relax and stretch the pelvic floor muscle.</blockquote>
Here are some more positions that can be helpful in labor/birth: http://www.givingbirthnaturally.com/...positions.html
Been there, done that. (Squatting, that is.) It still hurt like hell!
Thank you all for every single comment. This thread is in my favorites. Because of time-constraints, I'm not able to respond to your comments individually but I want you to know that your input is much appreciated.
It sounds like you know what you want already, but i want to echo the sentiment that it's good to have a plan, but also stay flexible! There are good and bad points to both ways.
When i had my first baby, i was barely 18 and completely terrified; i planned to have an all-natural birth, but after several hours of pushing, the doctor got frustrated with me, and said i "needed" to have a partial epidural (it was too late for a full one, apparently). I was already upset and confused, but she seemed convinced it would help, so i agreed. No real complications, but it took the anesthesiologist a couple of jabs to get it right, and the cold pain on my spine made me puke. To add insult to injury, it decided to kick in right about the time the doc finished sewing my episiotomy :/
Two years later, birth #2, i went in making it clear that i wanted the epidural as soon as it was offered. Apparently the doc thought that since i "wasn't in too much pain" she didn't have to hurry to the delivery room (she was in the hospital, but making her rounds instead), and the nurses left me alone during a stage of labor they really shouldn't have. (I didn't go to that doctor, or that hospital, again.) The epidural certainly helped take the edge off the pain, but again, the numbness set in after the main event, and for the next several hours, i couldn't walk or use the bathroom by myself, which was many levels of humiliating while i was already swimming in a birth-hormone fog. The helplessness was quite terrifying.
Baby #3, i was more mature at 22 and figured i could handle anything nature threw at me. My doc was a huge jerk (the white-haired male type that seems to think he knows your body better than you do--ha!), but i didn't let him talk me into anything during the whole pregnancy. Besides, i was a pro at this stuff! Well, a few hours into labor, contractions stopped completely, and we lived too far away from the hospital to go home (it was the only reason we hadn't done a homebirth in the first place), so i ended up getting meds to help restart contractions, continuing to refuse the epidural until the end. I really don't think i can describe the pain; what i can say though, is that it caused my mind to retreat to a very dark place i decided then and there i never wanted to return to. I felt strong and brave when it was over, but it is not a state of mind i think i could have ever been ready for.
Hippie mama, you are the first person to describe the same dark place in your mind that I try to tell people about. I felt like I was being buried alive while people were just saying, "hey, good job, you." Pain causes crazy stuff.
And yeah, squatting was fine, but I don't remember anything really affecting my mind numbing pain. Well, except the epidural. And I hated the whirlpool- I was so cold, slippery, and I felt like I was thrashing around like a dying whale. Strangely enough, my husband remembers me being really calm and quiet during labor but that is not how I felt. To each her own, for sure.
Birth stories are amazing. There is no experience more primal than giving birth.
I used to be a labor-and-delivery-room nurse. I've seen a lot in my time. I have two children, both born in hospitals, uncomplicated, unmedicated. Took Bradley classes prior to my first birthing experience.
Approaching the time of birth, you can do all the preparation in the world---reading, classes, relaxation, etc.----and yet all you can do in the end is to surrender to the powerful forces moving through you when the time comes. That means moving with and through any glitches to your birth plan.
As to epidurals?
They can slow labor. They do increase the changes of needing pitocin to augment contractions. This can increase fetal distress....(Pitocin contractions are NOTHING like natural contractions. They are not physiologic, and I have not seen many women able to birth without medications or epidural while on a Pitocin drip.)
On the other hand, if you are out of your mind with pain and traumatized by the labor process, they can be incredible blessings.
I remember my two births as two of the most relaxed days of my life. I was completely suspended in the moment, moment by moment, contraction by contraction. I was spacy as anything---floating away through most of it. The hardest parts for me were transition and pushing. I remember breaking out into a cold sweat with my first child at transition. I looked up at the nurse who was with me and said, "I'm not prepared for this." She replied, "Nobody is." That's the truth. It's overwhelming.
I went in to both labors wanting a natural childbirth but being psychologically prepared to request meds, an epidural, whatever was necessary to get me through if I experienced endurable agony. What it was was so far from unedurable, it shocked me the first time. But I was truly prepared to experience agony.
Whether or not those powerful sensations surging through you, taking you into a place of NO CONTROL, are experienced as awe-inspiring or just plain terrifying, have a lot to do with your personality, pain thresholds, etc.
So whether or not to have a 'routine' epidural depends a lot on your self-knowledge. You don't have control of the process during childbirth, so the best attitude is one of being flexible, and being okay with yourself no matter what choices you make at the time.
Birth is a powerful, primal experience---and you just can't know ahead of time how it will be for you. You can only surrender.
One more thing. After going through natural childbirth, you feel totally powerful, like you can handle ANYTHING. I don't think the effect it has on your psyche can be underestimated.
It still hurt like hell!</blockquote>
One more thing. After going through natural childbirth, you feel totally powerful, like you can handle ANYTHING. I don't think the effect it has on your psyche can be underestimated.</blockquote>
Almost any time I'm faced w/ any kind of challenge, no matter how difficult it *seems*, I always think "I've given birth, this is nothing." This thought comes to my mind just about weekly in yoga class when the teacher starts talking about how a pose we're holding for a long time hurts etc., and I just laugh in my mind, thinking I've done much harder...
I hope mamas who have other types of birth have this too, and I think, *for me*, it goes beyond having given birth, but is also related to just becoming a parent. There is something about that huge transition that creates challenges/fears/worries--things you have never had to deal w/ before, because you are suddenly in charge of this little helpless being who is outside of you, and what happens to him or her in some ways is not completely in your control. The tough choices you are faced w/ daily regarding a new baby, IMO, force you to grow up in ways you just couldn't have before. I think of my nursing problems, vaxxing decisions, and just some of the little choices I've made and experiences I've gone through as a parent that, in my mind, were as tough emotionally/mentally as my birth. For example, I really really really struggled w/ nursing, and recall, on multiple occasions, just wishing/praying I could trade in my breastfeeding and milk supply problems by going through a 3 day labor again, in return for an easy and smooth nursing relationship. Nursing, which took me 3 months to fully establish--3 months of depression and mental hell--was WAY harder than birth *for me*. We each have our own experiences and 'demons', you know? (Not to spark fear around nursing for anyone--my nursing issues were caused in part by ignorance and poor advice...following your baby's cues and making sure your latch is good is typically all you'll need to do to build and maintain a good supply...)
Again, birth is so individual, as is parenting--our experiences will all differ greatly...
Birth is a powerful, primal experience---and you just can't know ahead of time how it will be for you. You can only surrender.</blockquote>
I think that's fabulous advice.
Surrender was my favorite word at the time of my labor/birth. I had it written on sticky notes and hung all over the place. I drew some pictures w/ the word surrender floating on ocean waves and hung them around my apt, in preparation for the labor/birth. I honestly don't remember *looking* at any of them during the labor, but that idea was huge in helping me just go where my body and labor took me...