Getting an epidural during labor can give birth to a lot of thoughts. There are the procedural thoughts which hint towards wanting to get things going (like NOW!), and the thoughts about following instructions to make sure that the procedure is as successful as possible (no whammy, no whammy.)
Hopefully women are also able to do the breathing and relaxation techniques while they move through the pregame to the epidural. Having made the decision to get an epidural may make the pain a little more bearable for a bit. The pre-epidural thoughts might include things like: try thinking of the baby moving into position gently with every contraction that comes through. Do some He-he and Ha-ha breaths. Take the contractions one at a time.
Have no fear, things are about to improve significantly after the epidural process begins. There is light at the end of the tunnel. As well as drinks and food, and of course a baby.
The "getting an epidural" thoughts are broken down in chronological order below. From the time the decision is made until the moment it is placed. This should sum up the experience.
15 Yeah, Hand The Pen Over
There is of course paperwork when you decide to have an epidural. In this situation they will likely hand you something that lists the possible side effects to the epidural. Hopefully you reviewed this prior to this point because I'm not sure you are going to give a flying gerbil about it now. While they are explaining, you are going to be fixated on the pen in the pocket of the doctor's coat. Trying to figure out how to move it with your mind. Eventually you will debate on whether it's rude to reach for the pen from their pocket? You will calculate the time it will take to apologize for your inappropriate behavior as opposed to the time remaining for listening to the rest of the risks. From my point of view, I calculated the apology would take longer. I tend to be super wordy with apologies. You will have to do your own calculations. Regardless of which way you choose to move on this the talking will end and you will sign papers jubilantly.
14 Don't Move, Don't Move
You will be asked to sit up on the edge of the bed and they will take a look at your back. They will give you some directions on what you should do. Mainly that you shouldn't move once they have you in position.
Say, question for you. Do you have that thing where when someone tells you not to move, you suddenly feel the overwhelming need to move? You start to repeat over and over to yourself that you must not move under any circumstances. The more you tell yourself stay still, the more you think that you might be part shark. Because some sharks have to move constantly to have water flow through their gills and stay alive. Sure, you are on land and so it doesn't totally check out. Don't beat yourself up too much on the analogy though because any sort of movement to beat yourself will be against the one thing you were told not to do. Don't move.
13 Please Work, Please Work
Guys, sometimes epidurals don't work for some people. Whether they are misplaced or they only work on one side. Having read about this before getting an epidural, if you are anything like me you would then silently repeat over and over again "please work for me, please work for me."
Now, I don't want to brag, but both of mine worked. I can't promise that it's because during the 20 minutes it took for this epidural to be placed I repeated that mantra to myself 100,007 times. It sure didn't hurt to repeat it though. You can use that little tip if you'd like. So you might come up with a little song in your head that goes "Don't Move, Please Work, Please work for me. I will not Move, No Moving Work, Work, Work." You could see if your significant other can beat box for you to add to the song.
12 Measure Twice, Poke Once
Obviously we want this thing to work. We have already made up a song about it. Therefore another thought that likely is going to run through your head is for the doctor to measure twice and poke once. This indicated that the placement is correct. You probably don't want to say it out loud to the doctor, only because it seems like they probably know what they are doing. You wouldn't want to make the feel like you don't trust them. Not only that, you speaking could distract them from the placement of the epidural, and you want the doctor to have his concentration on point. Lastly if you were to say something, you might lose focus of where you are in the song about not moving and hoping that it works. Best to just let this one be a fleeting thought on the radar.
11 Well, That's Not So Bad (Oh, That Was Cleaning?)
Like most procedures requiring there to be a needle placed, there is going to be some cleaning prior to insertion. Therefore, do not get too cocky when there is a stinging sensation of coldness on your back. That is probably the cleaning of the area. It's not the end of the procedure and you should still not move. Look, we all have different levels of pain and depending on how hard they cleaned that space, it very well could have given you a little bit of a tinge of slight annoyance. There is no shame in that. Honestly, it's going to hurt a little more than the cleaning but you will get through it. You know how you are going to get through it? By not moving. What is that epidural going to do once it's in? It's going to work.
10 Hope He/She Likes My Tattoo
What? Doctors can appreciate artwork too. Women might feel a little nervous to expose their back if they've got some serious ink hidden under their gowns - especially if there's an audience.
Depending on how many people get to be an audience of the procedure, you may be anxious to get more opinions on the work you commissioned at the tattoo parlor. I might not ask their thoughts on the tat until the epidural was entirely placed. If they don't like it, there might be some trust issues that occur, and who needs that additional conflict? Then again, if they like it too much there could be distraction from their purpose.
Best to table the ink talk until you get through the hard parts of this. My doctor did mention my tattoo before placing my epidural. I can't remember exactly what they said about it because my focus was divided. I do know it wasn't in regards to the actual artwork, but something to do with if the tattoo's placement would hinder the epidural? Has anyone heard of such a thing? Maybe that was just a way to say "not a fan."
9 Did My Significant Other Just Move?
When they set you up for the epidural, they will have you scoot over to the side of the bed. They will have your significant other be there and have you lean over on them so that they support you. Aww, so sweet. UNLESS, you have a significant other who is as anxious and prone to idiotic mantras as you are. In that case you will spend a lot of time questioning whether they are moving. Whether they are focused enough on not moving. Whether their song to not move is comparable to yours. Whether they can stop breathing so loud. Whether they can stop blinking because that could seriously mess this up for you. Blaming them for moving, even that contraction could have caused you to shift a little bit is a lesson we can take from this.
8 Ugh, Great! My Nose Itches
Of course your nose is going to itch when you are getting this done. It's really not fair because tons of people are likely thinking of you if they know you are in labor. What's that ol' wives tale? If your nose itches someone is thinking about you. Dangit you guys. Stop it. Also, if your nose didn't itch before and you start to think about it now, it will automatically start to itch. It's kind of like when someone brings up lice and you automatically feel the little crawlies on your scalp. You can almost imagine them jumping from one hair to the next. The might even have a diving board on one of your hair shafts that they dive off into your scalp, That's a bit of a tangent, but your nose is also going to feel like it requires your attention once you think about it. Is the hospital room too dry? Feels a little dry causing the inside of the nostrils to itch. Hold still and wait it out. You can do it.
7 Don't Punch Him, Don't Punch Him
Sometimes when people cause us pain our first instinct is to hit them. This can be physical pain or emotional pain. This can apply to either the significant other or the doctor. The significant other is probably driving you nuts by now if you have had to lean over on him very long and watch him blink his eyes with no worries. Look at him, over there, able to blink without worrying about a needle going into his back. Stupid blinker. Then there is also the doctor getting ready to physically hurt you a little bit. You want to remember to not punch him either. You want the epidural to work properly. Therefore, my advice will be to not punch any of the people in the hospital. There could be exceptions to any rule, but I'm hard pressed to come up with anything here. You can add a line to the "Please work" song to cover having kind hands and not hitting.
6 Can There Be A Timeout? Looking At You Contractions
The part that was really a bummer during the epidural was when there were contractions and you had to stay still. You may find yourself wondering if there is a timeout option for that. There isn't really. You have to kind of suck it up and deal with it. It's not good. Try to think of rainbows and kittens. Go to your happy place. Something that I thought about to keep busy during that contraction was whether a unicorn was born with a horn or does it grow in later? Or you can think about why a 35-year old woman would be thinking about unicorns at all. I prefer the first one be the focus, but this is to help you anyway I can. I'm thinking it has to grow in after the fact. Birth would be almost impossible with a horn. Contraction still going or did it subside? Good deal. If you are scared that the contraction might make you move, you can give the doctor a heads up that it is happening.
5 What Will My First Meal Be After This?
This is such an important thought throughout labor, not even just during the epidural placement. If you battled gestational diabetes or the like you might be especially gleeful in your meal planning. That's good. Go to your happy place on this. Drooling doesn't count as moving as long as you don't try to use your hand to stop it. It's a hospital floor. They mop it. If worst comes to worst they can put one of those "Slippery" yellow signs with the guy falling. No judgement here.
Are you going to go with something sweet or savory? Or is there something that falls in both categories that you are dreaming about? There isn't really a wrong answer here. There are a whole lot of "right" answers in fact. Endless options.
4 OHH, What Is My First Drink Going To Be?
Another great thing to occupy your time. What is going to be the drink that you are most excited to have again after this baby? Are you a caffeine freak that needs some Starbucks or are we going with some wine. You probably have to wait until you are out of the hospital for the wine. Well, unless your friends sneak it in. That's none of my business though.
Something else to think about is how pretty soon you are going to be able to drink things and not have a baby squeezing your bladder until you scream mercy and waddle to the bathroom in distress. Things are going to be good. You still singing your song? "Don't Move, Please work, not moving."
Son of a Beast! Don't move, it's going in. The doctor will likely say something like "you're going to feel a small poke" when they are ready to insert. You might find yourself tempted to throw out a "That's what she said." Don't do it. It's ran it's course. I'm sad about it too. Also, you are going to be a mother for goodness sack. Mind out of gutter!
Any hoot! Finally! At least it's done now. Did it hurt? Yeah, a little bit. Like most things in life it's the actual anticipation that is the worst part of the whole thing. If you were unlucky enough to be on the top of a contraction when the needle went in that was likely pretty nasty too. At this point talk yourself down and start looking for small differences in the pain. This contraction hurts less than the last one, this one even less... etc until you aren't in agony.
2 Will That Tape Hold?
Now that things are placed there is no doubt you want this son of a gun to hold it's place. No moving around. This needs to stay put. Therefore, when you see the way they are securing it to your back, you might question if that is going to be enough to hold it there. Keep in mind you aren't going to be running a marathon here. Also, keep in mind they have been through a few of these rodeo births and likely know better. They use excellent tape so don't worry, the epidural is not going anywhere. If you have any concerns do voice them to make sure. The other idea is to bring duct tape in your hospital bag and have your husband do some extra securing after the fact. They will find out and explanations are going to be awkward. Probably don't do the duct tape thing.
1 Will He/She Marry Me?
Once you start to feel the epidural begin to take the pain away you may be tempted to ask the doctor to marry you. After all they took away your pain instead of being a pain in your a$# like your husband (I'm assuming.) I bet the doctor could have stood still while holding you. I bet the doctor doesn't breath loudly. All the while realizing that you don't even remember what the doctor looks like. In your memory there is just a white bright light and than the pain started to dissipate.
This wanting to marry them is a natural thought and reaction to someone that just made your life bearable... is what I tell myself. I also tell myself at least I didn't get down on one knee, because that would have been nearly impossible to get up after the epidural kicked in fully.