"I have always had faith in nature..."

I had been thinking about the pros and cons of getting an epidural for a couple weeks now. And although I may change my mind when I actually journey through labor, I am fairly confident that I have made a decision on the subject. First, I decided to gather more information on getting an epidural and sort out all of my options. This is what I have gathered about getting an epidural for pain relief during labor (from babycenter).

The procedure: You will most likely need to be in active labor (4 or 5 centimeters dilated with regular contractions) before starting epidural pain relief. It is never too late to get an epidural unless the baby's head is crowning. You lie curled on your side or sit on the edge of the bed while an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist injects numbing medicine to the area and guides a needle into your lower back, through which a catheter is passed and the needle is then removed. A "test dose" is given to ensure correct placement and your baby's heartbeat is monitored continuously, as well as your blood pressure. It takes about 10-20 minutes to feel the numbing effect, but numbing in the uterus may begin within just a few minutes. After delivery, the catheter will be removed, but may remain in a little longer if you've had a c-section.


  • Potentially very effective pain relief than can be used throughout your labor
  • The type, amount, and strength of the medication can be adjusted at any time
  • It will keep you awake and alert during labor and birth
  • Being pain-free during labor could help save your energy for when it comes time to push
  • A smaller amount of medication reaches your baby than using systemic narcotics
  • It can provide anesthesia if you need a c-section or your tubes tied after delivery
  • You can have the epidural dose lowered while you're pushing so you can participate more actively in your baby's delivery, but there's no evidence that reducing the dose actually shortens this stage of labor
  • Depending on the type and amount of medication, you may lose some sensation in your legs and be unable to stand
  • Most practitioners won't allow you to get out of bed once you've had an epidural
  • An IV, frequent blood pressure monitoring, and continuous fetal monitoring is required
  • The pushing stage of labor can be prolonged due to the loss of sensation in your lower body, which weakens your bearing-down reflex to push your baby out
  • It is more likely you will have a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery, which increases your risk for serious lacerations and the risk of bruising your baby
  • In some cases, the epidural only provides spotty pain relief or the catheter can "drift" slightly, causing a need for the catheter to be reinserted for another try (which may also be spotty)
  • The drugs can temporarily lower your blood pressure, reducing blood flow to your baby and reducing her heart rate (which has to be treated with fluids and medication)
  • Narcotics delivered through the epidural can cause your face to become itchy, or bring on nausea
  • Anesthetics delivered through an epidural can make it more difficult to tell when you need to pee (if you cannot pee on your own, you may need to have a catheter inserted into your urethra)
  • An epidural raises your risk of running a fever in labor, possibly because you pant and sweat less (since you're not in pain), so it's harder for your body to give off the heat generated by labor (and since it's unclear at first whether the fever is from the epidural or an infection, you and your baby could wind up getting unnecessary antibiotics)
  • Epidurals are associated with a higher rate of babies in the posterior or "face up" position at delivery--which will cause you to have a longer labor and run a greater risk of needing a c-section
  • In 1 in 100 women, an epidural causes a bad headache that may last for days, due to a leakage of spinal fluid (you can reduce the risk of headache by lying as still as possible while the needle is being placed)
  • In very rare cases, an epidural affects your breathing, and in extremely rare cases it causes nerve injury or infection
My decision: If you know me at all or have been following my blog, isn't it quite obvious by now?! While I have yet to experience the astonishing and painful experience of going through a labor and delivery, I definitely don't think any of the "pros" are worth arguing about. It is said that labor and delivery is one of the most painful experiences that anyone can go through, so why wouldn't you want to be able to ease some of that pain, be entirely alert for the birth of your child, and be able to control the medicine when you see fit? Well, as with any medical invention (as scientifically sound as we may think it is), there come risks that we have to be willing to face. In this case that includes a prolonged "pushing" stage of labor, the need for a vacuum extraction or forceps delivery, bruising to my baby, the lowering of my blood pressure and baby's heart rate, nausea spells, the need for a urinary catheter, running a fever and receiving potentially unnecessary antibiotics, a posterior delivery, a headache spanning several days post-delivery, and potential nerve injury or infection. Yikes! Of course I know these are all risks that may not occur during my labor/delivery, but I have always had faith in nature don't feel like putting my body and my baby in the hands of science. In the end, I have decided to include a natural non-epidural labor and birth in my birth plan.

Lastly, I wanted to share this video of a natural labor and delivery, that I have found to be very inspiring. It does show everything, so if you don't want to see a baby coming out, don't watch it!! If you are willing to be enlightened, click here. :)



  1. Have you seen this one.. its a waterbirth.. its so clear to see x http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOjCvSN5zss

    1. I just watched this. I think I'd really enjoy a water birth, but I was at first concerned about drowning the baby.... I know that is an irrational fear since the baby's lungs down start inflating until they hit oxygen though!

  2. Good choice Danielle, you have always been a tuff girl I know you can handle it. Great mommy you are going to be. After you have her you won't remember any pain you will just be so excited to be holding your little sugarbaby. love you lots

    1. I know, I can't wait already and I still have MONTHS to go. But I'm also super happy carrying her around too. I'm so torn!

  3. i am replying on here as i was worried you might not get the notification if i write on your comment. i see you are 24 weeks!!! just like me!!! and i LOVE your posts! you are literally going through everything im going through! im glad i found your blog and am glad you like mine. can not wait to come back and read all your posts :D xxx


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