This has been a question I’ve been asking myself since for quite some time now. And here I am—38 weeks pregnant and still without an answer. It seems like most people I know who have had a natural birth definitely want another, but I’m not so sure that I feel the same way.
I blogged about Little Deer’s birth and our hospital stay, and to be honest, while I’m very grateful for how well everything turned out, the whole experience was a little traumatic. With every contraction I felt as though I was going to be sick. The pain during pushing was so much more intense than I could have ever imagined. And once she was born, I couldn’t stop bleeding. I had lost my IV during labor, so multiple people tried to get a new one in as they gave me Pitocin intramuscularly in my thigh. Meanwhile, during those eight IV attempts, I was having my second degree tear sewn up but wasn’t quite numb enough and could feel everything. And then they needed to put me on oxygen because I started to lose consciousness. All in all it was a little intense to say the least. I think in that moment, and even the months afterwards, I was still on a bit of a high with having a new baby to truly process it all. Now, as I approach labor again though, it’s all coming back to me.
Do I want to feel all of that pain again? Are my reasons for avoiding an epidural still applicable?
There were several reasons why I initially wanted to avoid an epidural when having Little Deer. They are as follows:
- I didn’t want to stall my labor and increase my chances of needing Pitocin and/or a C-section.
- I didn’t want to risk any complications from an epidural.
- I wanted the ability to move about the room, labor on a yoga ball, in the jacuzzi tub, etc.
- I hoped that with being more in control of the pushing I might be able to minimize tearing.
- I wanted to avoid extra interventions like needing IV fluids, a catheter, and extra monitoring.
- In case the epidural wasn’t effective, I didn’t want to solely rely on it.
I am grateful that my labor didn’t stall and progressed rather quickly, but in the end things were a little different than I expected. I thought being free to move about the room and such would allow me to find a good position to labor in, one that might ease the pain. Instead, I found the only way I could remotely tolerate a contraction was to sit on the birth ball hunched over the bed. I did get to labor in the tub for a bit, but because there was a problem getting it cleaned I only got to be in there for about 30 minutes before it was time to push. Being in control of the pushing was also something I looked forward to, but it turned out to be the most difficult part of all for me. And I still tore badly. Because of the bleeding, I ended up needing extra interventions anyway, including several IV’s, multiple liters of fluids, extra monitoring, and two doses of IV iron due to the blood loss.
I believe most of us go in to labor and delivery with expectations, ideas, and hopes for how it will go. And again, I think many of us experience something a little different than what we had expected. After having some time to reflect on my labor during this second pregnancy, I’ve realized that an epidural honestly doesn’t sound half bad. Getting to relax a bit during labor and let the contractions do their work sounds pretty good. Laboring down and hopefully avoiding a ton of pushing and tearing also sounds appealing. And now that my body has gone through labor and handled it well, I’m not so worried about stalling out if I were to receive an epidural. Also, I think an epidural may make that moment when sweet baby girl arrives a little calmer, allowing us to really enjoy our first snuggles.
I know that I have the strength to have another natural and unmedicated birth, but do I truly want one? These first two years of motherhood have been trying for sure. Between labor and delivery, difficulties breastfeeding, solo-parenting a newborn for 6 months with a deployed husband, moving away from our family, dealing with never ending sleep issues… it’s been a little rough. I so love being a mom to Little Deer but it’s been a difficult journey both physically and emotionally as well. Now, facing another big hurdle, I’m not sure how much strength I can muster.
To go back to my original question, do I want another unmedicated birth? Well, yes, I think I do. But my plan has also changed a bit. Isn’t that one of the biggest lessons we learn in parenting? To be flexible? So yes, I think my plan is to give it all I’ve got. I think my reasons for not wanting an epidural are still good ones, and if labor is even faster than it was last time I may be just fine. But if I find that it’s more intense this time around, or longer, or I’m really really struggling… I’m okay with getting an epidural too. There’s nothing wrong with that. Ultimately I just want a labor experience that best sets us up for the delivery of a happy and healthy baby. And hopefully, in a few short weeks here, we will have just that.
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What are you hoping for with your second labor? Moms of two or more, I’d love to hear how your second birth compared to your first!