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.

More Answers

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.


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