Epidurals are one of those things that most moms are either completely for or else completely against. Many moms swear by them and say there’s no way they could ever give birth without one. Prior to giving birth to my daughter, I was pretty anti-epidural. Where we live, we have an incredible birthing centre with very private birth rooms that are extremely spacious. I fully intended to have an all natural childbirth and deliver my baby girl in the birthing centre. The birthing centre is run by midwives and there are no doctors or nurses on site, so you don’t have the option to receive drugs, including epidural, which was fine by me since I was already planning to do natural childbirth.
However, when it came time to have Baby Elle, she did not want to come out! My midwives offered to put me on the induction wait list but I refused. I had been planning my daughters’ birth forever and the last thing I wanted was to give birth in a hospital, especially using synthetic oxytocin to go into labour. Several more days passed and I still wasn’t going into labour, and yes I tried all of the things… spicy foods, walking, having sex, etc. Once I was about 11 days overdue, I had an appointment with one of my midwives who had to put me on an induction wait list. On Sunday, January 7, I was called into the women’s hospital to be induced so I showered, grabbed my already packed hospital bag and my husband and we left.
Now, in Canada, it’s sort of cool that we have free health care but sometimes I wish we could pay for it because it kind of sucks. I waited for hours to be seen, then had to stay overnight in triage where the doctor placed my cervadil in to help dilate my cervix, then was left alone until 9 AM the next morning. At this time, I was being placed in a delivery room and when the nurse checked me, I found out that my cervadil was not even put in place properly and had done absolutely nothing. My nurse removed it entirely and set up my IV to begin administering my synthetic oxytocin (promise I’m getting to the epidural part soon). At first it was OK, just some light cramping and my mom was there with me so she helped to keep me distracted. The nurse came in every so often to continue increasing the amount of oxytocin. Pretty soon my contractions were only a couple of minutes apart, but my nurse didn’t seem too concerned, she said I was only 2 cm dilated and she just continued increasing the amount of oxytocin. After a while, my contractions got incredibly painful, I was in tears and gripping the bed rail. Still, my nurse was not concerned and she continued to increase the amount of oxytocin. It’s now around 2 pm, my pain is excruciating and I ask my mom to call my husband and get him to the hospital ASAP (he’s in school at this point, completing his last year to get his red seal for ironworking). After what feels like forever, my husband arrives and comes to sit on the bed with me. I sat up, wrapped my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder. I was so exhausted from the painful contractions, which are now only 1 minute apart, that in between each contraction I’m falling asleep on his shoulder.
After hours of increased oxytocin, excruciatingly painful contractions and still no more dilation, I reluctantly agree that an epidural would be the best route for me to go to cope with the pain and hopefully move things along. Around 6 or 7 pm, the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. It was uncomfortable, and I was grateful to have my husbands support. Once the epidural kicked in, my contractions were no longer painful and within an hour I was already 8 cm dilated! My nurse had to do a shift change and my new nurse’ name was Steph as well. At this point my midwife, Lindsay, was there and my mom was back from going home for a supper break. Around 9 pm I began pushing and at 10:36 pm Baby Elle was born! So while I was initially very anti-epidural, I do believe that if I didn’t get it, my labour would have been much longer, even more painful and my daughter could have ended up with a different birthday! I have to say that I do still wish that I would have been able to do a natural birth and I will continue to wonder, if I’d gone into labour on my own, would it have been easier for me to cope with my contractions without getting an epidural? I can’t deny that the epidural was a huge help for me in my labour though. So, mama, make sure you conduct thorough research so that you know all of the risks and benefits and if you decide that an epidural is right for you, I am not judging you!