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Nothing risked is nothing gained.

“Nothing risked is nothing gained. The euphoria of conquering your fears and other’s doubts wouldn’t be so powerful if it was an easy, sure thing. Its facing that dragon that makes you a hero, not just slaying it.”

This is so true.  When I was pregnant with my daughter and people found out I was planning an unmedicated birth, the responses I received were so sad.  Women looked at me as if I was crazy and told me, with complete confidence in their voice, that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I would be asking for the drugs, or they would just give me this knowing look as if to say, “This is your first child, you don’t know what you are in for.” Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I was in for, as that single footling breech pregnancy ended with a cesarean surgery for single footling breech.  And let me tell you, that sucked.

When I was pregnant with my son three years later, and planning a homebirth VBAC, I got the same responses. 

I really wish I could go back to those women and tell them that I did it.  That yes, it did hurt.  Especially that last 90 minutes – that hurt like hell.  But you know what?  It was manageable and I did it.

A couple weeks ago, I had to get a root canal.  The pain I had for two days before that root canal was horrific.  It was worse than my unmedicated birth primarily because the pain was unrelenting.  There was no break and I was try to sleep during the night and care for two small kids during the day while enduring this pain.

Labor is different.  Yes, the contractions hurt.  Yes, there are contractions that are horribly painful.  But, between contractions there is no pain.  Women who are in labor for 24 hours, are not in continuous pain.  Nature was very kind.  You get a break.  And once you enter second stage, when you are pushing, your contractions space out even more, giving you time to catch your breath, relax, regroup, and regain your strength for that next push.

I suspect that if I was in the hospital, I would have consented to receive drugs and my experience would have been very different. 

Epidurals increase your risk of blood pressure drops (30%) or fevers (15%) increasing your risk for a cesarean section.  They also make your labor longer since your uterus isn’t able to contract as effectively since the drugs do relax it.  They also make it harder for you to push because you are entirely or partially numb.  They also make it practically impossible to get into more vertical positions.  Pushing in bed on your back is hard.  I couldn’t even push my placenta out lying in bed.  My son was born as I sat on a birth stool.  If you have an epidural, your pushing positions are limited.  Once you combine your inability to effectively push with your inability to move into alternative positions, your risk for episiotomy as well as vacuum and forceps assisted birth increase.  Narcotics are no better.  They numb the pain for a while and make you feel drunk.  I was high from narcotics when my daughter was born and it was horrible.  How can anyone take in the intensity of the moment when your child is born when you are high?  Finally, anything that is pumping through you body goes to your baby.  It amazes me how women will not use artificial sweeteners or drink caffeine their entire pregnancy but then consent to drugs during labor.

Now that I’ve experienced a cesarean section as well as a vaginal birth, I can tell you without a doubt what I’m planning for any future children – a vaginal birth.  It was less painful, the recovery was amazing, I was mentally clear the entire time, my son was born drug-free, and I was able to hold and nurse my son immediately after birth.  It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.  And I honestly can’t wait to do it again!

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2 comments to Nothing risked is nothing gained.

  • “Epidurals increase your risk of blood pressure drops (30%) or fevers (15%) increasing your risk for a cesarean section.”
    This I did NOT know though it makes sense.

    “They also make your labor longer since your uterus isn’t able to contract as effectively since the drugs do relax it.”
    Perhaps this is the typical response, but I do know women who progress faster with epidurals. A friend of mine went from 2-10 in 1.5hrs once the epi was in place. Would that have happened if she hadn’t been tampered with? Hard to say.

    “You get a break. And once you enter second stage, when you are pushing, your contractions space out even more, giving you time to catch your breath, relax, regroup, and regain your strength for that next push.”
    My experience was quite different. I arrived at the hospital at 9cm and stupidly agreed to having the CNM break my water. My contrax immediately became incredibly difficult. I was NOT receiving any break (though the monitor indicated that I was having time in between contractions – hated that lying b*st*rd of a monitor) even when I was at the stage of pushing. Ugh.

    Hoping to have a reason to HBAC in 2008! Happy New Year!!
    ~ Kimberly

  • admin

    This is a great website on the risks of epidurals: http://www.kimjames.net/epidural_risks_and_side_effects.htm which gives citations for the 30% and 15% numbers… it also lists prolonged first stage as one of the side effects: “The anesthetic in epidurals weakens all the muscles below the epidural site. This can dampen the strength of uterine contractions.”

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