27 answers

Expectant Mother Seeking Advice on Labor

I am expecting my first baby on January 7, 2007. However, I have a few questions pertaining to the different types of pain medication used during labor.

When I was 4-1/2 months pregnant I had a kidney stone removed because it was to large to pass. In order to avoid affecting the baby I chose to have a spinal anesthesia instead of going all the way out. Everyone has told me that an epidural (sp?) is much like a spinal anesthesia except for the fact that you are still able to feel some things; in order to push when the time comes. However, I did not do well with the spinal. I had really bad shakes which developed into an anxiety attack because I couldnít seem to relax. I have had anxiety attacks before but normally they are induced by driving because of a previous accident. I am worried that the epidural (sp?) will do the same thing to me. I know my husband will be with me every step of the way but I am still hesitant about getting an epidural (sp?). Can someone please give me an idea of what I may experience?

Thank you!

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Featured Answers

I know this may not be the most popular response, but if you've had trouble with anesthesia, why not plan on not having any? There are different ways to handle the pain of labor without going straight to the drugs.

Breathing, relaxation exercises, laboring in different positions all can greatly reduce the amount of pain you feel. I'm also a big fan of doulas, or labor assisstants. You can find local ones at doulaworld.com.

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In all reality, its totally up to you, no matter what people tell you....if you think you can't take it, then you won't be able to. If I were you I would discuss it with my doctor. I had an epidural during my amost 23 hours of labor and I was happy with it. I just kept the dosage on the lowest availiable (because they do give you control of your dosage with a little button to push to give you more) and I could still move my legs, set up, and feel the baby....I just wasn't as uncomfortable as I would have been. It was a blessing that I had already opted for it because I ended up having to have a C-section and they would have had to give me one anyway (my cervices is shaped wrong therefore it wouldn't open up completely for the babys head to go through). As for the initial pain of the needle....I actually got in trouble by the Anestisiologist (sp?) for laughing because all it felt like was him preparing the spot, but he had already stuck the needle in. Hope this helps!!! Congratulations by the way.

I know this may not be the most popular response, but if you've had trouble with anesthesia, why not plan on not having any? There are different ways to handle the pain of labor without going straight to the drugs.

Breathing, relaxation exercises, laboring in different positions all can greatly reduce the amount of pain you feel. I'm also a big fan of doulas, or labor assisstants. You can find local ones at doulaworld.com.


I had an epidural, and my labor (from admittance to the hospital and then birth of the baby) was 7 hours! I was so relaxed that I was about to take a nap when the nurse checked me and said "you're at 10 cm"! So, I think it really does depend on the person. I had no problems, and felt just fine. I couldn't feel much, even to push. But others may not like the fact that they can't feel anything.

The only weird thing that happened to me with the epidural was my right side "woke up" faster than my left, and I had a dead left leg for an extra few hours.

If you are really nervous about having an epidural, talk to your doctor. And, if you decide not to have one, don't let them push you into getting one!


shaking when you first get your epidural is normal. It is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. I too experienced this with my first child and had not been told it would happen so I freaked out. When It happened with my second, I expected it and it was no problem. Hope this is helpful.

J. P,
Congrats from me too! How exciting! First, I just want to say that you can get the "shakes" even when you don't use any drugs. It's just the adrenaline. I had them both times, and I went natural. It's pretty crazy not being able to control chattering teeth. :)

And second, I would also encourage (but not strongly - it's a personal decision) you to think about going natural. I did it two times, and wouldn't trade it for the world. Both of my labors were fast, and the pushing was very fast, b/c I was up and walking right before both babies were born. Yes, of course, it is painful. But there are natural ways of relieving pain. The first for me, was just realizing that the pain would come in waves. Sure, it's horrible during the contractions, but they go away and your body feels great. You just got to ride the waves. Then there's your support person. Undeniably, absolutely necessary when you're going natural. You need someone to speak for you when you're unable. And to reassure you that it's almost over, and you're doing great. And last, I was fortunate enough to give birth in a birthing suite hospital. They had jacuzzi tubs in private bathrooms, so during the worst of the labor pains, I got in with the jets at my lower back (where the pain was the worst), and amazingly, was actually able to talk through contractions! I was tempted to have a water birth the first time, b/c I just didn't want to get out!

At any rate, whatever you decide, your experience will be worth it - you will have a brand, new family member at the end. If you go with the epidural, the best thing you can do is trust your doctor, and think positive thoughts. Practice that beforehand, as well.

God bless!
M. B

PS. I also wanted to mention that surgery is very, very different than giving birth. There is simply a joy to it. A feeling that this is the way it's meant to be. So as far as the anxiety attack, just the occasion will probably be different enough that you will have an entirely different (and more positive) reaction.

I had an epidural and thought it was the best thing ever invented. =) I think you should talk with your doctor about your apprehensions. Good luck!

With my first baby I had an epidural, more or less got scared into it by the nurses. I had an induction and they said the petocin for that would make contractions stronger, blah blah. So I did it. I gained 70 lbs with both of my babies, and so when it comes time for them to insert the needle, they want you to curve your back to separate the vertebrae...well, I was so big in the belly that I really couldn't accomodate the doctor's wish and he had a hard time. So it was not a good experience for me. Then, during labor I was so numb I couldn't even tell if I was actually pushing. I knew I was tensing my abdominal muscles but as for the vaginal area, didn't have a clue. My pushing wasn't very effective and the doctor ended up using tongs to help out my baby. On my second baby, I went natural and it went relatively quickly. She was ready, I was ready and able to push...I wanted to know what natural childbirth felt like as this baby was our 2nd and last. I'm glad I did. As the other women have said, it is a personal choice. I took Bradley classes too but I just breathed how I wanted once I got into labor. You just do what makes you the most comfortable. There is no "correct" answer here. Maybe you can do an epidural where you can control how numb you get and you will still be able to feel some contractions and pain. I didn't have that option but since then I have read about it. I wish I would have had a doula as another woman suggested. Especially for the first baby. My husband was wonderful both times, but I think a doula could have helped with the various positions to make me more comfortable, etc.
Best wishes.

Hi J.,

Well I only have one child and when I had her I got the epidural and ofcourse I was scared because you never know what can happen but for me it was a great help in my labor I mean you can feel the contractions but they dont hurt as they should you know so I was not in pain and everything went right. So just know that not all people react the same to something so just think really about what you want to do. I was so scared about it too you know because they tell all the bad that could happen if you take it. Well I just hope that everything on your labor goes well and that you and your baby are healthy. I dont know if I helped you in anything.


don't have any experience with an epidural...main reason...it's extra money for me, and I can't afford it. but if you have had bad experiences with anisteisia in the past, I would definately talk to your dr. I know with me and IV anistetic I go out really quickly, and stay out longer than most. I have to be woken up... I don't know what will happen with this pregnancy, but with my son I didn't have time for the local for the episiotomy to kick in before the dr snipped...( of course he was 2 months early, and fairly small..4lbs.) I had either a really long labor (if you go by water breaking...5days bed rest) or a very short labor if you go by labor pains...(45 minuets accourding to what they wrote down in the record book that the hospital gave me)
Good luck with what ever you choose. God bless you with a healthy baby :)

Hi well on my first delivery I was scheduled to deliver normal, at first they gave me some type of medication they put on the I.V. that relaxes you (wont hur the baby) just cant remember wha it was. After every contraction I would fall asleep. But after lots of pain I decided to take the epidural. I ended up having a C-section so they put me the spinal anesthesia. I was fully dialated but my baby got stuck. Anyways, after the delivery i started getting like an anxiety attack, couldnt stop shaking like if i was freezing. But that lasted about 15-20 min. On my second delivery I had a c-section so I just got the spinal anesthesia and I was fine no bad reaction happened there. But before you deliver the anesthisiologist will go and talk to you and tell them how you felt with the spinal and he can tell you what is best for you. Good luck!

Yay for babies!! I was talked into an epidural with my first child, and to be honest when they did it I didn't really feel that I needed it. It worked great, no pain.......in fact, I actually took a nap at one point. I did end up with a raging headache though. With my daughter I decided to wait and see how I felt. By the time I started feeling "ouch" I asked for a shot of Nubain (great stuff, btw) which relaxed me enough to get through the last hour til I could push.

Don't decide on an epi right yet...I'd say wait til you're in labor, in the hospital. If its really unbearable then the benefits will much outweigh the side effects!!

I'm sure epidurals affect everyone a little differently, but my personal experience was very uncomfortable. I've given birth using 3 different methods, completely unmedicated, epidural and intravaneously medicated. The worst for me was the epidural because the amount of pressure you feel surpasses the labor pain any day. I felt like I was giving birth out of my back. The best for me ended up being the medication through the IV. You still feel pain but it's tolerable and it gives you the motivation to keep pushing once you realize that with every contraction you have once u start pushing, the pain is relieved. Good luck with your decision.

Go with the flow. You can't plan on a perfect labor. The best thing to do is what you are doing, ask questions! Have you talked to your Dr. about the different options of pain blockers? Is your Dr. aware of your reaction to the medication you used for your kidney stone removal procedure? While in labor (not delivery), you will be asked if you want the anesthesiologist to administer any medications. Some places allow you to change your mind, so ask about that too.
Try not to stress about that now (hard words to follow, I know). You may "be lucky" and have the perfect birthing process: quick and somewhat painless. Do like I did, pray for a healty baby and an easy delivery. Prayers are answered if asked in faith (my daughters name)!

First of all congrats on your soon to be bundle of joy. I had planned on having my son natural with no pain meds what so ever and everyone told me it would be a mistake. When the time came I barely knew that I was in labor and everything was going great. Unfrtunately my son was too big so we wound up doing a C-section so I had to have an epidural. My adivice to you is our bodies were made to have children and we are capable of going through it with no meds. With the proper coaching and support from your partner it will be easy. Also you might want to bring this concern up with your doctor he/she will know all the differnt types of meds out there and which one might be best for you. But just remember, no matter how uncomfortable the delivery may be. Once you hold that little baby in your arms you won't even remember any of the pain you felt. Good luck and Congrats.

J., I'm guessing your OB/GYN knows this story. I would suggest speaking to him/her about what he/she recommends. I had an epidural at Women's Hosp. downtown when I had my daughter. When it came time to push, I could feel pressure so I knew right where she was, but no pain. I developed "shakes" afterward but I attributed it to adrenaline and the "trauma" of childbirth on my body. It was scary but my husband was there and I just focused on my breathing and trying to relax. (easier said than done, I know!) Hope this helps.

Wait until you are in labor to make the final decision. There are two schools of though about epidurals and inform yourself about ALL of the options available to you before you decide on one. Talk to your OB/Gyn and ask for recommendations. Just remember that ultimately as long as the baby's health is not on the line the OB/Gyn has to respect your birthplan.

I can only mention the natural path because this is the method I personally chose for all three of my girls just because I am dead scared of needles and the thought of having a needle or tube in my back just makes me sick. This method does require practice and time to learn breathing and relaxation exercises. What I have found out is that it does give you more control over the labor because you control the pushing versus having your lower half numbed out and pushing on the blind. This method also allows you to be up and walking about an hour or two after delivery (if you are up to it). You are more aware of the pain, but having the hubbie help with the breathing and relaxation techniques during labor are experiences I would not trade for anything in the world. It made us work together as a team and enriched our relationship because I did not give birth to the girls by myself, he helped.

I can't exactly give you advice on pain medication, because I had my baby at a Birth Center and they don't do pain meds (the only anethsesia I got was a local for the stitches afterwards). I would say that if you have dealt with kidney stones, you might find that you can get through labor without pain meds. I am usually a wimp when it comes to pain, but I just yelled it out and had my husband push on my hips through most of the contractions (that helps a LOT--and the harder he pushed, the better), and once she was out it was over. About 48 hours later I walked into the birth center carrying the baby in the car seat--without help. So you might want to consider that. But don't feel bad if you can't, and it's good that you want to learn about different pain killing methods beforehand! That's very smart. Being educated is the way to go. :)

I am like you I have anxiety attacks and I do NOT like needles. However I opted for the epi during my delivery. I felt nothing when they were giving me the epi. Trust me your too busy concentrating on your contractions to even feel the needle going in. But something you do have to worry about is the epi wearing off. Mine wore off with in an hour. That does not always happen, but for me it did, so I ended up having my son naturally. Have faith and know that you will be strong enough to handle the delivery and the epi you will be fine.


Hi J.,

I was petrified about the epidural when I was pregnant. Just the thought of it made me queasy so my plan was to wait until the labor pains got bad enough that I wouldn't care. It didn't quite work out that way, though & I got my epidural when I wasn't in any pain. The actual administration of it wasn't even as bad as a mosquito bite & afterwards I was totally alert, but numb from the boobs down. The only thing that freaked me out at first was that I couldn't feel myself breath. I know it sounds crazy but it was disturbing at first. All in all, the epidural was painless, easy & wonderful! But let your nurse & attending anesthesiologist know about your apprehension & they'll talk you through it.

Best of luck,


With my second child I had what is called a walking epidural it makes it so that you don't have the pain but you can still walk and move your legs. It was much eaiser to relax than with my first child and it the effects were gone within an hour of deliver. It may be an option for you.

A. M

Dear J.,

I don't know what others have felt, but when I had my epidural I couldn't feel anything. Not even when it came time to push. I would recommend it to anyone, just cuz I did great with the delivery and everything. And as far as shakes go, they're not that bad. Some don't even have any. You probably won't feel much from the waste down anyways for a while.

First, CONGRATS! Babies are so much fun! I am due with my second on December 29th!

As far as the epidural, some people have different reactions. With my first, I had no problems but a friend of mine had the opposite. The epidural didn't take as it should and she was in labor for a really long time (not trying to scare you.)

You should discuss this with your doctor. I am not sure what medication is used in the procedure you had versus a typical epidural.

Hope you are feeling well!


You can get the shakes even if you don't use medication. But that will be the last thing that you will be thinking about cause you will be working on having your baby. The epidural will help you to calm down and have your body relax so you can dialate (sp?) more. You will want a epidural when the time comes cause you will want to beable to talk and relax. Good Luck and Congratulations.

I had my first child naturally, w/o any pain medications. I took Bradley Method classes w/ my husband. Everybody who was in that class was all into going natural, so it was easy to feel motivated to do it. I was able to do it, I also hired a doula to help me through. This is something for you to consider, as there is still time to sign up for a Bradley class. The classes are about 10 weeks long. I wouldn't recommend going natural w/o the class though, as you really need that confidence that you get through a class. W/ my 2nd, I thought I would go natural again, but didn't worry about it too much since I had "been there done that". By the time I was ready to have baby #2, I was just too tired to really be persistent about it, and I didn't take a Bradley refresher course. Fortunately, because I had a longer labor w/ #2 than w/ #1! All the doctors say that your 2nd will be a shorter labor, don't believe em! Anyway I had an epidural w/ #2, and it was very nice, but now I can say that I've done it both ways and don't feel like I've missed out on one or the other.

with my first i didn't have the epidural. with my second i didn't plan to have the epidural but did at the last moment. with the first i did have drugs though. if i'm not mistaken i believe it was demoral. great stuff. it didn't take away the pain just the anxiety associated with it. basically while i was on the meds it hurt like hell but i didn't care. my labor was long so it wore off before the baby came but even after it was easier to deal with because i knew what was coming and could brace for it. with my second the contractions came on alot quicker and more suddenly so it was much more difficult to supress the urge to push. when i realized how close she was and how little i had dialated i finally gave into getting the epidural. the reason i had hesitated in the first place was because of people i knew who had back problems after. but mine went off without a hitch. the most important thing is that you remain absolutely still during the procedure. it hurts less than the prick of a booster shot and takes effect almost imediately. you can still feel everything going on but it numbs the pain to almost non-existant and completely eliminates the urge to push. within 15 minutes after i had mine she just popped right out without me having to push at all because the muscles were allowed to relax and do what they needed to do. in both cases i did my best to focus on my breathing and use visualizations. the first time it was enough but the second i needed extra help. every delivery is different. the most important thing is that you can relax and supress the urge to push until its the right time. only you can judge how much your body can handle so i would do your best to go naturally if you can but have the epidural available if you change your mind. Make sure your husband knows he'll need to use tough love with you during the contractions and do whatever it takes to force you to focus. Try learning some meditation exercises you can use during the labor that can help. and a useful side tip, buy a pack of depends. you'll need them for at least the first week after.

I had three pregnacies. With the first two, they medicated me so i wouldn't be in pain. What a joke! I kept throwing up. I felt very graugy and dissy. I couldn't tell who was coming in and out of the room. I couldn't stop throwing up. With my third, I decided not to be medicated at all. All the doctors and nurses thought I was a freak for taking all that pain. I would do it again if I had too. I would rather take pain any day that go through constant throwing up. Believe me, being sick to your stomach and not being able to move and be very very weak is a whole lot worse than being in pain.

I have had the epidural twice and getting it wasn't bad and you will not feel any pain as a matter of fact you cant feel contractions so you will not know when to push. After the epidural I think all women experience the shakes there called the "epidural shakes". Try to relax and you will be fine.
P. G mother of 3

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