Birthing Experiences at Lutheran General Hospital?

Updated on September 09, 2008
M.P. asks from Chicago, IL
16 answers

Everyone I know has told me to get an epidural, and many of these woman have had both natural labor and epidural and know first hand and are able to rationally compare them.

However, I hate medication and am so freaked out by all the bad epidural experiences I've read on mamasource.

I talked to my o.b. and she said that at the hospital where I'm delivering, Lutheran in Park Ridge, there's a 98% epidural rate and this is a high-risk hospital, one of the best in the country, and here I shouldn't worry about any problems. I guess that does make sense; at a high-risk hospital they do more of these things, making some 60 deliveries a day, and they should know what they're doing. I've noticed a difference even in when they draw blood from me-- I can't feel it like I can at my regular doctor's office. These nurses seem to really know what they're doing.

Has anybody gone to Lutheran General for their delivery? What was your experience?

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answers from Chicago on

I didn't deliver at Lutheran but I did go in with some ambivalence to the epidural and decided to play it by ear. At a certain stage, pain relief seemed like a most welcome addition to the rest of the care and once it kicked in, boy was it fabulous. Everyone is different, but in my case, birthing turned out to be much better than I expected - maybe I had listened to too many scary nightmare experiences beforehand. you don't have to decide on whether to have the epidural until you are in labor, so you may want to give yourself the option. In my case, I had a lot of back surgery so I had to go for a consult beforehand and had to have an MRI to look at my spinal chord but I pressume with most others, you just discuss with your obstetrician. good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi M.. I gave birth at Lutheran General in Sept.2002 (emergency C-section) and May 2005 (scheduled c-section). I was SO SCARED in 2002, I had MANY of the same fears. Their anesthesiologists are awesome! You meet them ahead of time, they explain the procedure and give you tips on when and how to breathe to make it go as smooth as possible.
I looked forward to the epidural for my second delivery! I would never go without!
I'm sure you'll do fine. It really is a great place to have kids! Good Luck! -B.



answers from Chicago on


Hi I have 4 children and am an advocate for being as natural as possible. I have had one epidural and will never do it again and I do not ever recommend it. I am like you-hate medication. I do not know why more natural methods of birthing are not recommended. The anesthetic is a drug. Drugs are not natural had are not good for the body period. Birthing a child is a wonderful natural process. Lamaze, pain management, water birthing are all natural forms of delivery, very successful and better for baby.

You definitely have plenty of time to research this before you give birth. Yes-birth is painful and women have been doing it for thousands of years with no drugs and the euphoria when the baby is coming and being birthed is an amazing experience. The hospital makes a lot more money the more "medical intervention" they give you. Make the decision that is right for you!! You are the pioneer of your health and wellness NO ONE else. These are your choices and you can empower yourself with information.

I had an experience with Lutern General-had never been there before and I told them absolutely no drugs, no IV's, nothing. My wishes were respected because I was very upfront with my decision.

I wish you the best and congratulations on your first!!

Detox Coach



answers from Chicago on

Hi there.

I am not familiar with Lutheran General.

I do have 3 grown children. The first was born while I was under the effects of an epidural. The other 2 were born without the use of any pain medication.

Of course it hurt but I could FEEL the birth of my child. With the epidural, I lost all feeling in my pelvic area. It was difficult to push because I couldn't feel.

Personally, I think you should avoid the use of all drugs and don't let them give you an episiotomy. You will tear naturally and the tear will heal faster than the artificial cut of the perineum.

My first child was born with an episiotomy being performed on me. Of course I didn't feel it because I had an epidural going.

The other two were born without the episiotomy. In both cases I tore but I didn't feel the tear because it happened in the midst of the birth.

I had trouble with the episiotomy regarding pain and healing. There were no difficulties with the natural tear in terms of healing. Was I sore afterwards. Yes of course I was but after soaking in a tub with the herb Uva Ursi I just healed up.

FYI. My first child was born in a hospital environment when I was a teenager.

My second child was born at home.

My third child was born in a hospital.

I mention the above facts because you can get what you want if you and your partner know what you want in terms of your birthing experience. You and your partner must be real advocates for you and for your child. This is your birth experience, not anyone elses, and it should be what you want it to be, to the extent that is possible in the hospital environment.

One thing I would add is that the drugs can have an adverse reaction on the sensitive newborn system and can create a situation where mother-child bonding is interrupted because the child and mother are suffering the after effects of medication.

Peace and best wishes to you and your family.



answers from Chicago on

Wow, I am truly surprised at all the responses from people although they had not experience LG.
I had both of my children at LG and could not have been happier. My approach to both of my deliveries were to go natural. My first, I ended up getting the epidural at the last minute before the "window" was closed. Dr. Schwartz administered it and he was very comforting, he explained everything before, asked if I had questions, and then again, explained what he was doing every stop of the process and a great bedside manner. I appreciated every minute after that because I could concentrate on the process and not the pain. I could still feel the contractions and pushed for just about an hour.
My second child I was induced. I was very scared of being induced since I did not want a c section. The nurses talked me through every step of the induction. From start to finish, my daughter was born in just under 6 hours. No, not typical for being induced, but to be honest, that's the way the nurses called it. Again, I had the epidural and was happy for it. This time I had Dr. Rosen, who specializes in obstetric anesthesiology. When the nurse noticed that after a little while I was still breathing through the contractions, she had the Dr. return and check everything. After that I was fine. Again, I could feel the contractions enough to push, but not worrying over the pain.
Both times I walked in thinking I was going to do it "on my own" and completely afraid of the epidural. And both times I had the epidural and do not regret one bit of it.
LG is a great hospital with excellent care for you and your baby. I have visited friends at other hospitals and seen the type of care and support offered at other places. Where they leave you on your own and push their views and direction in terms of feeding, caring for you and your baby. LG is truly the way to go. They take and respect your philosophy and guide you along the way.
Good luck and feel confident in your choice of Lutheran General.



answers from Cincinnati on

I had both of my kids at Lutheran General, and I was born there as well! I felt very well taken care of during both of my deliveries. I had an epidural by choice for my first, but he ended up being delivered by c-section 21 hours later. I don't believe that this was because of the epidural, since I was already barely dilating before I got it and long labors run in my family. I did have a less than restful night, and I had a lot of heaviness in my left side, but I would not say my labor was terrible or that I had a bad epidural experience. I felt I got the best of care. My daughter was delivered by scheduled c-section in April and although I didn't get an epidural (I had a spinal block for that one), the anesthesiologist did a great job and the delivery was a piece of cake. Much better than my first!

If you are weighing the options between a natural birth vs. a medicated one, I can't give much of an opinion because of my experience. But LGH is one of the best hospitals in the country. We've just moved to Cincinnati and our hospital and doctors are some of the things we miss the most. I agree with your blood draw comment - sometimes I hardly knew there was a needle in my arm! That only comes with care and experience. LGH definitely provides them both. As far as the epidural experience goes, I am glad I did it. It doesn't tickle, but the way I see it, if you wait until your labor is uncomfortable enough it will come as a relief. And, your body is made to forget those experiences so you really won't remember how it feels once you hold your baby in your arms :)

And after reading the other moms' responses, I have to say that I've dealt with a lot of guilt after the birth of my son and I really struggled with the idea of a scheduled c-section for my daughter. Because of responses like theirs, I'd spent the last 2 1/2 years feeling like a failure, that my choice to have an epidural led to my c-section, like I didn't try hard enough or like I was a wimp because I couldn't endure the pain of a natural birth. When moms would write that the best bonding can only occur when no drugs are used, I felt like I'd cheated my son out of true love when he entered the world. But now that he's almost 3 and getting bigger, stronger and more independent each day, I believe that the right way to have a baby is the way that delivers a healthy baby. There is not just one way. After my stalled labor, I talked to my OB about how I felt and she reminded me that a hundred years ago, this is how mothers died in labor and how babies were stillborn. It really helped me to put things into perspective and not to feel guilty for putting the birth of my child into doctors' hands. I hope that you keep an open mind and don't let some moms scare you into doing what might not be right for your own experience. Because face it, once a baby is ready to come out of you, you're not the one in charge anymore ;)

Good luck and congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby!



answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,

I don't have experience with Lutheran, but there are a couple of things that come to mind when I read your post.

First, did you practise any kind of comfort measures, like Bradley or other relaxation techniques for this birth? Without it it might be difficult to go natural.

Second, at an epidural rate of 98% it is highly unlikely that you end up with a nurse with any experience on how to coach a natural birth, you would be considered a weirdo and let me tell you that doesn't help if you need all the support you can get. An epidural is just so much more convenient for them and they make a lot of money with it.

Third, epidurals can cause a labor to slow down for hours and very likely lead to other interventions, (other chemicals to speed things up again, breaking the bag, constant internal monitoring, pesky residents checking you seemingly all the time - not nice to have so many strangers fingers 'down there'...and most important baby's heart rate to drop which will get you on the road to c/s) besides lying flat on your back and having to push baby against gravity.

You can probably tell by now I wouldn't go with an epidural again, as mine worked so 'well' I couldn't feel anything and was not able to push Baby out or change positions for hours due to all the monitoring and being completely numb tummy-down.

However epidurals seem to work for other women and if you decide to have one, try to wait as long as possible - definitely not at 3 cm, you should still be at home at that stage, as that will increase your chances of having a faster birth and less interventions. I have also heard of 'walking epidurals' don't know exactly what that means, but maybe you could ask your care provider about it.

Have you hired a doula? If it is too expensive there are many student doulas out there who are cheap or free and can give you great support and advice in any case (natural or not)

I am due one month after you and planning for a natural birth at UIC. Good luck and all the best!



answers from Chicago on

I've had three children at Lutheran and have had great experiences there. I had epidurals with all three and the anesthesiologist was great. I had the same one for two of my girls and a different one w/ the third....all were great. My last two children had to spend a day or more in the NICU because of some breathing difficulties--nothing serious but I was very glad that I was there and not at a different hospital. The only negative about Lutheran was that you may end up with a roommate after delivery. My husband started asking (nicely) for a single room as soon as we arrived for delivery. We ended up w/ one every time--just lucky, I guess. I can't imagine having to share a room w/ someone else....hearing their visitors/not able to have your husband spend the night w/ you. Hope all goes well for you. Welcome to the adventure of motherhood!



answers from Chicago on

I delivered both of my boys at Prentice, so I'll keep it brief since you're looking for LGH info, but I just wanted to say that I've delivered both ways, and there is no doubt that natural was BRUTAL, and that I would greatly prefer the epidural in theory, but the reality doesn't always fit the perfect one-or-the-other answer.

I had an epidural with my first. It took the edge off, but I still had very intense pain, whereas I've talked to some women who've said they felt almost nothing. Recovery is slow; you can't walk for while; you are bloated from the IV they give you...etc., etc. You feel very much like a "patient". On the other hand, after my second and natural delivery, which admittedly was GOD-AWFUL in terms of pain, I got out of bed, went to bathroom, cleaned myself up, walked over to the baby, and carried him back to bed myself for am amazingly beautiful first nursing. I felt like a mom, not a patient at all. Of course, I also turned to my then-pregnant midwife and said, "Get the epidural when you deliver!" Again, I'm not pretending it was easy, but it was INCREDIBLY EMPOWERING, and I felt that I could do anything after that.

Having said all of that, since it's your first baby, consider the epidural, b/c you are going to be coping with fear of the unknown as much as the actual pain itself. The eipdural helps alleviate the pain so that you can use your energy to push the baby out, and calm yourself from any fears/anxiety. I favor natural delivery, but I think that's a lot easier to do the second time, when you have a clearer understanding of what the whole process is like.

Good luck!

THE BOTTOM LINE: if you're like 95% of women, you'll be begging for the epidural by about 2-3 cms dilation anyway...



answers from Chicago on

I've had 2 children at Lutheran and they were fabulous! We're due w/ #3 on the 27th. I don't think you could go wrong with the epidural there. Those nurses are tremendous as well as the doctors! Good luck and Congrats!



answers from Chicago on

Just because Lutheran General Hospital has a 98% rate does not mean that they will strap you down and shove the catheter in your back without your consent. It makes sense that Lutheran General, being a high-risk hospital with several deliveries each day, would have higher rates of epidural, c-sections, etc. due to the nature of the patient that arrives in their L&D department.

This is your birthing experience, so your choice. If you don't want an epidural be very clear about it, have your spouse or partner also be clear about your wishes, and follow through with your decision. However, there should absolutely be no shame in changing your mind if you so desire. No one gets a medal because they 'did it better' and gave birth without drugs. It's your body, your pain threshhold, your choice!



answers from Chicago on

Dear M.:

Though I can not speak to a natural child birth, I did have a vaginal delivery w/epidural at Lutheran. It was a very positive experience for the most part. I was induced, so I had additional medications to induce birth. All the nurses were kind, knowledgeable and very comforting. They even laughed at my homicidal jokes. The only complaint I had was when it was time for the epidural; I was between shifts and the doctor came in to explain that he preferred that I waited 15 min. until the new shift started so that I could have the same doctor for the next 12 hours. I was in no mood to have a doctor politely tell me he wasn't going to give me relief and preferred that I waited. Fortunately, I went into labor soon after and didn't feel the pain of pushing as I was still on the first dose.

I wish you all the best luck w/your delivery. Try not to worry and the best advice that was given to me (by my sister) is try not to work against the pain, but with it and embrace the moment!




answers from Chicago on

You might want to go in with the idea that an epidural is an option, but try an unmedicated labor at first. There is often plenty of time in first births to opt for pain relief. My DH is an anesthesiologist, and he is very popular when he works OB (not at Lutheran). I knew from my preterm labor episodes (no epidurals when they don't want to deliver!) that the pain was unpleasant enough before delivery for me, and when it turned out that at my actual delivery (2 days before EDD) that it would be a good idea to move things along by breaking the amniotic sac and giving pitocin, I was grateful to have asked to receive the epidural *first*. Did not deliver at LG, but I'm pretty confident you can have a good experience there from what I've heard. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I delivered both my babies there and had great delivery experiences.

I had an epidural my first time. I wasn't pressured into it, I knew I wasn't going to have a natural birth. I had to be given pitocin after my water broke and no labor came on. I had a great nurse who talked me through the whole thing and my fear of the pain was worse then the event. I ended up having an emergency c-section and a panic attack because of it ( I had been in L&D for almost 24 hours already) and everyone there was amazing through the whole thing.

My daughter was a scheduled c-section (due to the complications with my son) and again everyone in L&D and especially the anesthesiologist who did my block was awesome.

Lutherans L&D has an anesthesiologist on the floor at all times. So unless they are actively in with a c-section they are always right there to do it, answerer questions, adjust, etc.



answers from Chicago on

No experience there, but my friend just emailed me this article about natural birth and bonding:

Have you taken any classess to help prepare for a natural birth? Hypnobirthing? Bradley? Make sure you have a clearly written birth plan that states your wishes. If you want a sample birth plan, feel free to email me or you can google it as well.

Best wishes to you. There is power in what the mind and body can do!

Lifestyle and Wellness Consultant



answers from Chicago on


I had both of my children at Lutheran, although my youngest just turned 5. I was very happy with them. They did respect my wishes. I was actually going to try hypno birthing, but it just didn't work for me. My first was hard b/c my OB's partner was the one on call most of the day, and I didn't care for his approach. The hospital did respect my wishes on everything. My second came so fast that my husband had just gone to get lunch (after just arriving at the hospital) and he almost missed the birth. I ended up having epidurals with both, although I remember the one with my second didn't arms were numb, not the part that mattered! It worked out b/c my son was in a hurry!

As long as you're clear about what you want (and your OB or partner agrees) you should have no problems!

Good luck!

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