Do you think that you'll beg for an epidural during labor? I did! I knew I would beg for one because I was warned that the baby I was carrying was very large. By the time I went into labor, I was certain that there was no way that I'd get through it without that type of pain relief. I had plenty of pain before I got the epidural! I think I actually had to have two epidurals.
Of course, it was so worth it! My baby was over nine pounds and healthy. He was beautiful. I mean, handsome.
Today, we're going to talk about 15 signals that you'll beg for an epidural, too. If you do beg for one, do not feel bad about it. Epidurals are there to make things easier for women in labor.
An epidural happens when pain-killing medications are put into the lower backs of laboring women, through narrow tubes. Epidurals are also known as regional anesthetic. The drugs are injected into the nerves that send pain signals during labor. Once you get your epidural, you'll find that your belly becomes numb. The pain relief is profound.
To give you an epidural, an anesthesiologist will inject a local anesthetic into the small of your back. Then, he or she will guide a needle that's hollow between the tinier bones within your spine.
Epidurals are a little scary. There is a bit of risk. Some women don't want them. However, a lot changes their minds, for reasons that I'm about to go into!
15 It’s Your First Baby
If this is your first baby, it's probable that your labor will be harder than it is for baby number two or three. Your body hasn't been through labor before, so it's got to go through some extreme adjustments.
A lot of dilation has to happen before your baby can come out. It's your first time and you may find that you need to deal with long hours of painful labor before you can finally meet your baby.
If your labor is very long because it's your very first labor, you're probably going to beg for an epidural. It's an effective form of pain relief. It's a way to take away severe labor pain which isn't manageable.
A lot of pregnant women who are in labor for the first time do decide to beg for the epidural. It's a modern way to make labor more bearable. While there are risks, including drops in blood pressure and leaks of spinal fluid (these leaks may cause terrible headaches), most moms-to-be find that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
14 You Have Small Hips
There are so many jokes and comments about child-bearing hips. The jokes and comments keep coming throughout the decades because there is something to it. If you have narrow hips, you do not have "child-bearing hips". This means that getting the baby out during labor may be a rough process.
Sometimes, babies can't fit through the pelvises of their mommies. When this happens, it's known as CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion). It's actually quite a rare condition these days, because modern medicine means that doctors know how to handle it for patients.
However, in the old days (18th, 19th centuries), it was more common and was sometimes linked with malnutrition or polio, both of which caused anomalies in the pelvises of women.
Keep in mind that your baby's skull will have a soft spot, called a fontanel. That will help he or she to get through. However, you may still need to beg for an epidural!
13 You’re Anxious About Labor
I think that every woman is afraid of labor. No one really welcomes pain. Also, women worry about the babies that they are carrying in their wombs. Will they be healthy when they are born? It's just human nature to feel anxious about it.
However, some women worry a lot more than others. If you find that you think about labor a lot and have a lot of anxiety about it, you're probably going to beg for the epidural. You'll be expecting the worst. Labor always hurts, so you're not wrong to worry about it. It's not really something that can be explained too well. It's something that you learn about by going through it.
Also, you'll forget about the pain when you hold your new baby. I had a hard labor and I'm always amazed by how I've basically forgotten the pain. I did beg for the epidural but I had plenty of discomfort before that happened. Now, it's like it's been erased from my mind, except for right now!
12 You’re Not That Active
If you want to avoid begging for the epidural, be sure to do gentle, doctor-recommend exercise throughout your pregnancy, or until your doctor tells you not to.
Prenatal Yoga is great. I live in a neighborhood where women do prenatal Yoga right down the street. I can see them in there (stretching, chatting and showing off their baby bumps in the latest maternity athleisure) while I walk by on my way to grab a coffee or get groceries.
These women are smart. They are toning their muscles, learning soothing breathing techniques and also managing the stress of pregnancy.
It doesn't have to be Yoga. It can be gentle walks around the block. It can be swimming. Just do something. The fitter you are, the easier labor will be. You're not going to have a pain-free labor because you worked out while you were pregnant. However, you may find that getting through labor drug-free is a lot easier when you pay attention to fitness before labor begins.
11 A Great Big Baby Bump
If your baby bump is massive, there's likely a very big baby inside. Getting him or her out is probably going to take some time and a whole lot of effort. Some women have massive baby bumps and they are more likely to beg for epidurals during labor.
If your bump is a little smaller, it's possible that you'll be able to avoid an epidural. Every woman is different.
Overall, a mega-bump is a pretty clear indication that you're going to have a tough labor. You may be tough enough to handle it without pain relief. There are other pain relief methods that you can try first, from breathing techniques for pain control to a pudendal block to a shot of pain reliever to the buttocks! Your doctor will know what's right for you.
An epidural is usually administered later in labor, so you may try other labor pain relief methods first. If you need more help later on, your doctor will suggest the epidural.
10 You Don’t Want A Drug-Free Labor
You may beg for an epidural because you don't have any issues with epidurals, anyway. In other words, you don't think that there's a single thing wrong with getting an epidural. You are pro-pain relief and you're going to beg for the epidural because it's right there for the taking.
Everyone has their own views about labor. It's like the breastfeeding debate. Sure, breast milk is the natural choice. However, some women don't find breastfeeding easy. So, they bottle-feed, with formula.
It's the same deal with epidurals. It's better to go drug-free, as there's no risk of epidural side effects or complications. However, some women just can't handle labor without epidurals. So, why judge anyone?
If you've already decided to have an epidural, you should read up on the pros and cons beforehand. I talked about some possible drawbacks already, as well as one big advantage (amazing pain relief).
Educate yourself. Then, do what's best for you.
9 You Didn’t Take Lamaze Classes
Lamaze classes help women to feel more confident as they prepare for labor. Most communities do have Lamaze classes and they are something that you should consider if you're pregnant. When you attend Lamaze class, you'll learn how to handle pain in a way that helps your labor to move along...and keeps you more comfortable!
The "Holy Trinity' of Lamaze is movement, relaxation techniques and massage.
If you haven't taken Lamaze classes, you're not alone. I didn't take them and I survived. However, I bet I would have felt more confident if I had taken them. It would have been nice to learn how to move, relax and massage. It certainly wouldn't have hurt to learn these things before the big day. Lots of women attend these classes with their partner or with a friend or family member.
Lamaze philosophy is that childbirth is a natural thing that women are inherently able to handle. It supports drug-free childbirth.
8 You Need A C-section
If you need a C-section, you're going to get an epidural whether you beg for one or not. An epidural is "standard issue". It's good to know this, just in case. In my situation, I was prepped for a C-section at the end of labor, but ended up giving birth the old-fashioned way, right there in the operating room.
It's always hard to say what's going to happen in labor, so it's wise to read up on C-sections and what's involved with getting them. One aspect of a C-section is the epidural. It allows the woman in labor to get pain relief and also remain awake to watch the miracle of birth.
There's no right or wrong way to give birth under a doctor's care. A C-section may be the best choice for you and your baby. I got prepped for one because the labor was going on for too long. Your doctor will know exactly what is right for you, whether you beg for an epidural or not.
7 You’re A Natural Ginger
Red hair is so beautiful. If you're a natural ginger, congratulations! Does anyone have more beautiful hair than Rose Leslie from Game of Thrones (who just got engaged to Kit Harington) or Isla Fisher, who was as cute as a button in Confessions of a Shopaholic? I don't think so! Guys with red hair can be pretty dazzling, too...like Damian Lewis from Billions and Homeland!
The thing is, gingers of both sexes are believed to be more sensitive to pain. Redheads may feel pain more deeply just because they are gingers. This is why redheaded women who get their ginger tresses from Mother Nature, rather than a bottle, may have a harder time in labor...and beg for the epidural! Redheads may also be more sensitive to temperature changes.
That's not to say that plenty of blondes and brunettes don't start begging for the epidural when the going gets tough in the delivery room.
6 Other Labor Pain Relief Methods Aren’t Working
If you've tried all of the other labor pain relief methods, from breathing to Demerol shots and beyond, and nothing is helping, you're probably going to beg for the epidural.
If you want to get through the transition part of your labor without begging for the epidural, you should know that the transition phase is tough. It's extremely intense. It's the portion of labor where women move from stage one to the second stage.
During stage two, there is pushing. So, transition happens right before pushing begins. Transition is when most ladies get their epidurals.
Experts who want to help women that don't wish to get epidurals encourage ladies to change positions frequently during transition, to stay hydrated and to seek out emotional support during this tough time.
This may or may not be enough to get you through transition, epidural-free.
5 An Anesthesiologist Is Close By
If your doctor tells you that an anesthesiologist is around while you're suffering through labor (and entering the intense transition phase), you may feel like a genie has just emerged from a magic bottle to make your wish (total lack of pain) come true!
Anesthesiologists are busy people and the work that they do is very difficult. If one of them happens to be around while you're moving into the "push" stage of labor, then you may start begging for the epidural as soon as you can get one.
You may not be the only woman in labor who starts begging for an epidural when an anesthesiologist is in the vicinity.
It's best to catch this person while he or she is making the rounds. Otherwise, your doctor may need to find an anesthesiologist who is on-call...and this "epidural doctor" may need more time to get to you.
You wouldn't believe how much training most anesthesiologists have. If you feel you need an epidural, you'll be in good hands.
4 You Have A Low Pain Tolerance
You probably already know whether you have a low pain tolerance or a good pain tolerance. Some people freak out when they get a tiny splinter, while others can tough out the worst, from chemotherapy to amputations and beyond, without breaking down mentally. If you feel that you have a low pain tolerance, it's really probable that you'll beg for a epidural. It's something that you will feel is a necessity.
Labor hurts every woman. A baby is coming out and her body needs to accommodate the baby. This means stretching of sensitive tissue and so many other massive changes. It hurts. If your history has shown that you struggle with pain, whether it's menstrual cramps or headaches or anything else, you're unlikely to sail through labor. You're going to find that it's just too hard to do it without the epidural.
Talk to your obgyn beforehand. Explain that you think that epidural will probably be necessary. It's good to have a conversation about it.
3 You’re Dilated Enough To Get One
Usually, women have to be four to five centimeters dilated to "qualify" for epidurals. They generally hit this range of dilation while going into the "transition" phase of labor. Before transition, there is no pushing. After transition, the pushing starts. Does it ever.
While you're in labor, you'll hear some chatter from doctors and nurses about your level of dilation. Your doc may talk to you about it directly or you may hear about it while you're experiencing contractions and so on.
Labor is often a long process and it may take quite a while for you to get to the appropriate level of dilation. This is when it's safe to do the epidural. You'll find that you go through quite a bit before you get to transition.
With this in mind, you may be more than ready to beg for the epidural when you're four or five centimeters dilated.
2 Your Friends Had Epidurals
Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen were pregnant at the same time and they probably exchanged a lot of tips and advice. Did they talk about epidurals? If your friends have talked you to about their own epidurals, you may be more likely to get one yourself.
Knowing women who've had epidurals (and had healthy babies) may be enough to sell you on the idea of begging for your very own epidural!
It's always helpful to hear about labor first-hand, from women who've been through it and really care about you. A friend won't talk to you about epidurals to scare you. She'll want you to know what she went through so you'll be able to decide if an epidural is right for you. It's the opposite of telling a woman "horror stories" about childbirth.
If you don't have a friend who's had an epidural, check out some message boards online for expecting moms and new moms. You should be able to find out a lot about what epidurals are like from these online channels.
1 You’ve Heard Horror Stories
Labor is tough and some women overshare about it. Maybe I've overshared. I always say, "labor hurts", because it does. However, I try not to get too gruesome in terms of the details. As I've said, women need to go through it before they understand. It's a bridge that women need to cross on their own, no matter how much advice they get or how many labor stories they hear or read.
As long as you're with a good doctor, you will do fine.
However, if you have heard a ton of horror stories about labor, you may be psyched out. This means that you'll grab at an epidural injection like Gollum from Lord of the Rings grabbing for his "Precious".
If you do beg for the epidural, and you're not denied, expect some blissful pain relief in the near future. Women beg for the epidural because it really, really works. The moment when it kicks in is...so amazing.
Sources: WebMd.com, Motherrisingbirth.com, Mamanatural.com