Water Birth Vs. Epidural REVISED

Updated on June 23, 2009
S.L. asks from El Paso, TX
29 answers

Hey ladies, I have about 3 weeks left until my due date and have always been set on an epidural...but lately I have been interested in water birth. Have any of you done it and what have you heard about it? I have had a very healthy pregnancy so far with no complications. Tell me your stories about epidurals and water births so I can make a better educated decision. Feel free to include any other labor/delivery advice! I appreciate it all.Thanks in advance!

Thanks for all the responses so far. I'd like to add that my husband probably wont be there for the birth since he will be gone training for Iraq, and I dont know anyone else here at all, as Im from Indiana. So I will be going at this alone! I'd also like to add that when I got a tour of the labor/delivery dept at the hosp, they showed me a tub..(they just built this dept brand new and opened it last week I think)Now after reading some responses, I wonder if it is just for pain managemnt and maybe Im confused thinking they offered water births..?? I will ask the dr. tmrw. Thanks again for all your help!

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So What Happened?

I first just wanted to think everyone for their help, support, and personal stories. I really appreciate it. It seems like I can google things and learn about them, but I get better advice from just asking on here. I talked to the dr. today and she said the tub they offer at the Army hospital is mostly just for pain, but if the baby just happens to come out in there...then it comes out. I will have to think more about it, but I think that maybe I will try to use the water for pain an then get out and have the baby. Thanks again for all your help! Im sure Ill have many more questions as time goes on.

More Answers

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J.C.

answers from San Antonio on

Get the epidural. Enough said.

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K.B.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.-

I've had 3 births with epidurals. For my first I went in with the attitude that I will try to go natural as long as I could. Well once the pain was so intense that I asked for the epidural I then had to wait for the doctor to be available to do it. I was miserable, scared and was scaring my husband to death. With the 2nd and 3rd I went in knowing that I would have the epidural and was calm the entire time. None of my children required any extra help being born and they were all big (nearly 10 lbs, 8 lbs, and 9 lbs).

I have not experienced a water birth so I don't want to speak out of turn, but my best friend had her first completely naturally in a hospital and her second was a water birth with a midwife. She loved her water birth. From talking with her I would say that if you are committed to going all natural then definitely the water helps with the pain. If you're trying to compare the pain relief of a water birth to the pain relief of an epidural there is no comparison, an epidural will eliminate the pain, the water is comforting but there is still a lot of pain.

Good luck,
K.

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T.E.

answers from Houston on

I have 2 kids and had an epidural with both.
I enjoyed pain free laboring and I still felt pressure when it was time to push and deliver.
You are going to get a lot of moms with different opinions just like bottle vs. breast.
I read the other post regarding epis cause vaccum and forcep delivery... a large baby does that.
I don't like pain ,so an epidural was the way for me to go.
Good luck!

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M.N.

answers from Austin on

I had a water birth with my 2nd child. My labor and dilivery with my 1st child was a drug free all, natural birth. The water birth was much more comforable than the water birth, but was by no means pain free. If you are going to have a natural birth, you need to be fully committed to it! If not, you will end up with an epidural. My advice, the goal is to end up with a happy and health momma and baby regardless of what method you choose! Good luck!

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K.K.

answers from Killeen on

I love how a good portion of the responses to your request are spouting "facts"...some of them are facts...that are biased to what they believe.

The actual facts are that NO TWO DELIEVERIES ARE THE SAME...especially from woman to woman.

It does not matter what you want or plan for when it comes down to it, a million things can go right or wrong and require a different decision to be made. What you have to do is choose what you would like (should all the stars align for your child's birth) and have acceptable back up plans for each possible problem that could occur. Who knows...Your child may come so fast that you don't even have the time to get into a tub let alone have a water birth.

Also keep in mind that while there are many horrible, this went wrong stories for epidurals and C-sections...there are currently very few if any alternatives to each when a problem occurs...

And let me nip one little myth in the bud here and now...Epidurals do not CAUSE the use of suction or forceps...SIZE of the child does. Epidurals can cause several medical problems afterwards and if improperly introduced can cause enough problems during to warrant a C-section...but there are just as many success stories (if not more) as that of the ones where a problem occurred.

Please keep all of this in mind as you read some of the horror stories you have received as well as some of the very biased opinions one way or the other.

I personally have spent a lot of time watching the WE, DISC, DISHL, and OXYG when they show all the birthing shows...They show a WIDE range of birthing techniques including when something goes wrong what they did as a back up...I found it highly informative and fascinating...This can help you make an informed decision as well..

There is a lot to offer in many of the newly offered ways to give birth nowadays...But I happen to be a HUGE wimp when it comes to pain...and I had to decide between long term pain or short term pain...

With my first child I wanted to try all natural...But I went into labor a month early and was placed on bed rest...I spent the entire time having labor pains until my water finally broke two weeks prior to her due date...On top of this, one week prior to my water breaking she decided to sit on my ureter, effectively blocking wast travel between my kidneys and my bladder and causing a whoppping kidney infection. I was still in a bit of pain from this when the back labor started at 2 cm...I got a call from my doctor telling me he felt that I should have an epidural to alleviate the pain...especially as at 2cm I was scaringthe other patients on in the ward and there was a possibility of another 12-14 mor hours ahead of me. I agreed...Unfortunately, my contractions were already less than one min apart (thanks to three prior weeks of labor) and they had to medicate me to allow me to relax enought o get the epidural in safely... I ended up needing her to be suctioned out because it turned out, my birth canal was too small to allow the passage of a normal size baby (she was 6lbs 4.5oz) and I was crushing her at fully dialated...I should have prepared for a C-section, but because it was too late and there was no way to know before hand that my birthcanal would not accommodate her easily, it was too late...She came out perfect despite all of the problems I had. she was a calm quiet baby who slept through the night nearly from birth...from beginning (water breaking) to end the entire thing (my first birth) was 9 hours.

My twins were 7 weeks early and I knew they would come fast...just as we had already planned on them being a bit early...I also told my doctor that if they weighed ANYTHING over 5lbs a piece that he needed to plan for a C-section as I refused to nearly crush them as had happened with my first child. When my water broke the doctors decided to have a debate 2 hours later on whether to keep me at the hospital I was at or send me to another as the one I was in MIGHT not have enough room for two babies I NICU...I informed them they needed to make a decision soon or it would be too late.

The ended up shipping me off to Scott and White...I told the nurse to give me lots of drugs (the contractions had started in the ambulance over) and I slept through the worst of the pain...at 8cm I woke up, they gave me my epidural and started to get the birth room ready...unfortunately for them they didn't have time to finish...I had to go into the first available room to deliver...The twins popped out like the sound a cork makes coming off a champagne bottle (no joke, that was the exact feeling)...they were a mere 8 min apart and total time from when my water broke to when I had two squirming bundles of joy was 7 hours...

I have not suffered any from the epidurals I received and my children have suffered no ill effects from the drugs I was given to make me more comfortable through hard and fast deliveries...

Like I said...every delivery is different and every woman is different. You need to plan for the best and the worst of cases to be sure that you have as much say in what happens as humanly possible...

Good Luck and congratulations... ;-)

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S.H.

answers from Austin on

Please make sure that a licensed anesthesiologist administers your epidural if you choose that route. A student in training was allowed to do mine after I made it clear in my birth plan that no students were to be present during my labor and delivery. It didn't take and the regular anesthesiologist had to come in and do mine a second time. Neither time was painful, just a little uncomfortable, but I wouldn't want someone in training anywhere near my spine again. I have back pain now that I never had before and I often wonder if it was because of an error on the student's part. Don't want you to have that regret.

I would think through the process with your husband and decide how many and which interventions you would be okay with in the event of any emergencies. At the time of the emergency, you will not be thinking clearly. Someone told me that before I had my son and it gave me piece of mind to know what I would and would not do.

I had little to no pain during my entire experience and have a very healthy happy little boy to love and hold. I hope that for you as well. Blessings to you and your growing family and may God keep your husband safe.

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M.S.

answers from San Antonio on

Okay this is a hot button topic...I will tell you about my births.

I had an epidural both times.

First my son was induced a week early due to gestational diabetes. I had pictocin (sp) and the contractions went from nothing to full blast. Within 30 minutes I was in a lot of pain and really ready for some relief. They gave me Nubain (I regret that now because it made me so groggy), then the epidural. It didn't hurt at all, the contractions were very intense. The epidural was a true blessing.

Second my daughter...I went into labor on my own. I labored about 2 hours before I got to the hospital. The contractions were intense but bearable. I was walking and "swaying" back and forth through them. I arrived in L&D, was checked and was at 4.5cm. My water had already broken. They said they needed to monitor the baby for about 30 minutes and put me in the bed...once I stopped being able to rock myself though them the contractions got hard fast. I wanted an epidural (I knew this before I got to the hospital). Those 30 minutes were very long and hard (turns out I was in transition). I got the epidural and once again it was wonderful. This time it was very light, I could move my legs and toes, but couldn't feel the contractions. They checked me right after it was in place and I was at 9.5, and then 30 minutes after that I was more than ready to push her out. Here is the kicker it took the doctor on call another 1.5 HOURS to arrive) it was half past midnight. She was born on the second push the first being a "practice" one, once the doctor was there. With out the epidural I could not have held off pushing her out and I would have been so stressed out having her with just my husband and the nurse.

I loved my epidural both times for different reasons. I didn't have any side effects from them. I was able to hold my sweet baby right away in both cases. Both my children were awake and alert...

If we have another I am planning on another epidural...if I have time to get one. HUGS!!

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T.L.

answers from Austin on

You could always have the epidural to get you through the transition period and have them turn it down or off when you begin pushing so you can feel what you are doing. I had an epidural and was really happy I did, I felt what the contractions felt like after he broke my water and no thank you I did not want to have that pain. Always talk with the anesthesia staff (you may have an anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist placing the epidural cath) about your options. Good luck.

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L.W.

answers from Austin on

I haven't read the other responses, but in my experience the use of very warm water in a birthing tub(pool) was very effective in managing birthing pain, without the side effects that are possible from epidural use. I can't compare with epidural, because I never had one, but with our last three babies I labored at least part of the time in a birthing pool. One word of advice is to use very warm water but not scalding...one of our birth was a little too hot to handle...but baby and I were fine. We had to add some cold water though :) It really took away pain, helped to relax and brought on the urge to push earlier, because I was so relaxed. Good luck to you! Another question for dr. is how much monitoring they do for heart rate etc. and if this will interfere with you moving and using water to help with labor. Make sure he knows what you'd like to do.

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S.W.

answers from Austin on

I have had two children, both at home with midwives. I wanted a water birth the first time, but the way the labor went it never happended. I didn't really ever think about it with the second one. Childbirth was the greatest experience of my life. People who have only done chldbirth with pain medication cannot say how much better it is with the drugs. It isn't all that bad. Neither childbirth is on my top 5 list of most painful things I have experienced in life. I am a true believer in "if you believe it is going to be painful...it will be".
What I don't understand is why you "have always been set" on having to have medical intervention during delivery. Please go into your childbirthing experience with a positive outlook. Who told you what to make you decide that having babies was so awful that you needed an epidural? Pleas rethink this. If childbirth was sooo diffucult, why would intelligent women have more than one? If you are not prepared for natural childbirth already, please read up on the Bradley Method. He studied the birthing patterns of all mammals and outlined how humans could go back to our natural instincts to make childbirth the normal, natural, non-medical thing that it is. Have a beautiful birth!!

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J.D.

answers from San Antonio on

S.,
I am a midwife in SA and have done a lot of waterbirths. I think the thing to address is whether or not you are having a hospital birth, birth center, or home birth. The hospitals are not well set up for waterbirths. If you can find one I'd go for it. They call waterbirths a natural epidural.
The thing about waterbirths is that they really take the weight off your abdomen releiving the pressure. Also, when you are in the tub the natural thing to do is relax making labor so much easier.
I would almost never recommend an epidural. I know that there are certain circumstances that would merit having one but the thing to remember is that with the numbing effect of an epidural you will miss out on the incredible sensation of delivery. That "I can't believe I just did that" feeling.
However, if you are delivering in the hospital it is quite a challenge because the things they do create more pain making natural birth difficult. Think about it! They put belts (2) on the body part that hurts the worst, they refuse to let you eat or drink, they won't let you out of the bed and move around, you get IV's and, usually, a cathather, etc. Also, an epidural makes pushing a bit more difficult because you can't feel the sensations as well.
With any luck, if you are having a hospital birth, you have a doctor who will work with you on your wishes.
I hope this helps. I wish you the best with your upcoming blessing!
J. Dirmeyer

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D.M.

answers from Houston on

Hi S.,

Congratulations! I don't know if you live in Houston or not, and if so, in what part of town. But there's a birthing center on Red Oak called "Nativity" where I had my daughter. I know two other couples who went there as well. All successful and gratifying water births. They do have things at the ready for pain if you need them and they are situated right behind Houston North West for immediate transport. I have three kids, my last was the only one born in water and I loved the experience much more than the others. It was calm and peaceful, it was intimate and rewarding. My husband and I loved it! My daughter was also the most calm birth and calm child out of all three. There was nothing about it that I wouldn't recommend - it was wonderful and I hope you try it.
My sister had the epidural and loved to have the experience of childbirth pain free ~ I've never tried that. I kinda feel like I wear a little invisible medal for toughing it out in the most beautiful and peaceful way possible.
If you are able to go to Nativity, the mid-wives there are wonderful and you'll truly enjoy the experience and also telling your child about it later. My daughter LOVES to hear that she was born in water!
God bless and good luck no matter how you do this.
D.

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V.B.

answers from Houston on

I had 2 children that were both induced, so I had an epidural both times. I had different experiences with both, but neither were bad. With my daughter (my first), I got my epidural very early because the hospital was really busy and they had aready given me the pitocin and the anesthesiologist wasn't sure when he would be able to make it back to give it to me. I had heard that pitocin contractions could be really harsh, so I opted to get it then. I actually only felt about 2 contractions with her and in a way, felt like I had been robbed of the labor experience a little bit. Like I said, I had no complications from it and I could still actually move my legs with that epidural, so I was still able to feel and have a little bit of control, but the pain wasn't there.

With my son, he was also induced (a decision I now regret....they said they thought he was going to be too big and I may end up with a c-section...he was born at 6lbs. 9 oz....not big at all!). Anyway, I decided to wait a bit before getting the epidural this time so that I could at least feel some of my labor. I made it to about 6cm before I got the epidural and the contractions were pretty painful by that point, but I was also on Pitocin again. Again, I had no complications from it. I couldn't move this time, which was a little bit strange (I didn't like that feeling), but I did great at pushing and he was out in about 3-4 pushes!

I haven't had a waterbirth and would probably never have considered it because I am a chicken and don't like pain, but I think if you're open to it, then you should look at it as an option. I would, however, agree with one of the other posters that said you should be prepared for anything because you never know what can happen during your labor that may change your mind. Congrats on your upcoming baby and thank you for your and your husband's service to our country. You guys make such huge sacrifices (i.e. missing the birth of your baby!) for us and I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate that. Best of luck to you in whatever you decide to do!

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J.

answers from Houston on

I had both of my children in a hospital but without drugs - I felt it was the best compromise to be in a medical facility just in case, but still have drug free labor. Yes, it hurt, but I felt that it was the best decision for me as I had heard many more horror stories of complications from using epidurals than without. I think the most important thing you can do is choose the best doctor/midwife that works for you - and make sure it is someone you trust. My current OB/GYN has a midwife on staff so patients can choose to birth unmedicated with a midwife (or change their minds mid-stream) and the key is that neither the doctor nor the midwife will judge either decision you make. Best of luck.

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C.

answers from Houston on

WATER BIRTH...ALL THE WAY, GIRLY!!!!!! I have had 3 children. The first was in the hospital. My water broke, no contractions, so they put me on pitocin. I figured natural birth was out the window, but I worked with my body, I told the nurse to quit turning up the pitocin when I felt my cotractions getting strong & we pulled it off...no pain meds.

With my second, I labored at home as long as possible...well, a little too long. My water broke in the tub at home & I immediately began pushing uncontrollably. We almost had a, unplanned home water birth that day! But when I realized my unprepared husband was about to pass out on me & my pushing contraction wouldn't stop, I had him call for an ambulance. I knew he couldn't juggle a pushing wife & my 2-yr-old & get us to the hospital without passing out on me. But I got there just in time & never even had time to remember or care that pain meds existed.

So after those two went so well, my husband finally decided that a water birth at the birthing center didn't freak him out so badly. And that was the GREATEST experience EVER!! My water broke at home, but didn't start pushing right away like last time (even though my midwife had assured me that if that happened again, she would come to my house to deliver the baby). So we went to the birthing center & I was 7 cm. I labored comfortably in the tub for about 1 1/2 hours, then delivered him with the most controlled pushing I had experienced. The midwife walked me through it to slow the pushing, and between that the effects of the water, I FINALLY got to bring home a baby without bringing home stitches in my kazoo!! It was also the first time I got to hold my baby right away. Actually, I delivered him and pulled him up to my chest with just a little help from the midwife. Then I got to hold him as long as I wanted, without anyone whisking him away to suction and poke and prod. It was absolutely wonderful. It makes me want to have another baby, just to experience another water birth!

I know every birth is different, and every woman labors differently. But I think natural childbirth is amazing. I also think you have to go into labor completely informed and prepared for natural childbirth, or the fear alone can make it a bad experience. At this late date in your pregnancy, you'll need to cram if you haven't researched this already. You'll have a find a water birth facility that will take an 8-month pregnancy. And I recommend reading "Natural Childbirth, the Bradley Way." I didn't use the Bradly Method, but I think this book is so informative and descriptive of the labor and birthing process. It helped me really understand what my body was doing. And for me...with all 3 births, I HONESTLY would describe the whole process as uncomfortable, but not painful until the pushing. It's really only in my last 30 minutes of labor & delivery that I am thinking "Oh my gosh...THIS HURTS!" And them boom, it's over. My first one was the most uncomfortable with the pitocin. But with the other 2, I pretty much laughed and talked and even walked around between contractions through most of my labor. I just get serious and down to business during transition and pushing. It's awesome. Childbirth ROCKS!!!!!!!

I hope you have a beautiful experience, no matter how that sweet baby makes it's entrance into the world. Congratulations!!

C.

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H.P.

answers from Corpus Christi on

I know you've had a lot of responses already but I just had to get my two cents in. In a hospital setting the tubs are just for laboring. Unfortunate I know. But if you just happend to deliver in the tub there's no a whole lot they can do about that. Water is natures epidural, even know if you get into a bath or go swimming I'm sure you feel one hundred times better as all the pressure is been lifted of your body- this is the same idea. Water birth also benefits baby. To go from warm, dark and floating to the cold air is not a normal tranistion for baby. But to go to water is a much smoother transition, and makes for a happier baby in the long run. I would also suggest meeting with a midwife. Tricare does pay for them as long as they are Nurse midwives, nont professional ones. And depending on the area they will also cover a birthing center in lieu of a hospital. It's never too late to change your OB care.

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A.C.

answers from Houston on

S.-I think it is SO fantastic that you are looking at other options for your labor and delivery. I used a midwife in a freestanding birth center (Bay Area Birth Center in Pasadena) for my daughter's birth two years ago. I opted for the birth center since the costs of home birth (although very reasonable) are not covered by insurance. The next one, should I get the chance, will be a home birth for sure! I became interested in natural birth long before I was even considering having babies.

Are you asking about a true water birth? Or using water as a pain management tool? There are few practitioners (mostly midwives) who offer a true water birth--baby born under water--vs. laboring in water which is more widely available but "rules" may vary from facility to facility and caregiver to caregiver.

If you would like to go drug-free, look at all the options for pain management during labor--massage, breathing/visualization, movement, position, stretching. Have a couple of options at the ready--and practice before you go into labor. I was so focused on using the tub as a tool, I felt like it took me a little longer to find something to ease my discomfort once I was in labor. My labor pains were 99% back labor and the tub did little to soothe me--though it was chance to cool off! Seriously, I have not one single memory of any abdominal pain during contractions. I spend most of my 19 hours in labor on my hands and knees or straddling the toilet/chair backwards.

My advice is to have someone in addition to your husband there to support you. A doula is a great asset for both the birthing mother and the father-to-be. She can be your advocate in a hospital, a source of information during labor and delivery, and a comfort when you need it. Your husband will get tired--first babies are often long labors--and her will need to take breaks to be there when you need him the most. He'll feel better about leaving if he knows there is someone with you all the time. I had a doula, a husband, and two friends besides my midwife and student midwife...and they all needed a rest at some point, but I was never alone.

I never even considered the hospital. My midwife had seen me through a miscarriage and I knew she would be the one to deliver my babies. I just knew it was the thing to do...my body could do it and there was no reason to interfere with the natural process.

Was it painful? Yep. Did I cry for my mommy at some point? Most certainly. Did I think it was never going to end? Sure. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I woke up the next day feeling like Wonderwoman! A slightly sore, disheveled Wonderwoman...but knew that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

You are going to get a lot of responses on both sides of the fence...of course, we all think we did it the "right" way! Take all of it in and make the decision that YOU can live with--this is your personal responsibility.

And this response was rambling, but I am jetlagged and need to stay awake a few more hours! I am trying to keep my brain working!

One last piece of advice...get everything ready NOW (if you haven't already). I was so imprinted with the whole "first babies are always late" thing that I was caught completely off guard when I went into labor 2.5 weeks before my due date. The baby was good to go (mostly) but I was doing laundry between contractions because I didn't have my things ready to go!

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J.T.

answers from College Station on

If the hospital would have let me giver birth in the shower I would not have needed an epidural :)

I had and epi with all 3 of mine. They were huge. I tried to do the middle one without drugs but I chickened out!

Go with your gut and if you go with a water birth, make sure you have a back-up plan incase anything goes wrong.

Good Luck and COngrats!

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K.W.

answers from Houston on

Hey S. - I have had both a water birth and a fully medical epidurl birth. I preferred my waterbirth so much. It was so much more intimate and I felt I really had athe opportunity to bond with my baby and my husband. It is true that it will not make the pain go away, but I felt the water eased the pain and made things easier. As a doula, I would recommend the water over an epidural, simply because you have less chance of continuing interventions and problems with labor if you do not have an epidural. The experience is much more REAL when you do not have drugs. Please let me know if I can help or answer any other questions. I hope you make the best decision for you and have a greeat birth. Congratulations!

[email protected]____.com

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U.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi S.,

I was in and out of the tub with the birth of my second baby, no drugs. I was a complete participant in the birth of my child,and it did hurt, but it ended in a beautiful birth.

An epidural greatly increases the chances of an otherwise unnecesary cesarean section. I had a c-section with my first and I could not walk around the block for a YEAR without intense pain in my abdomen. It is still numb and will be forever. It has limited the number of children and the circumstances in which I can have them. That kind of pain, I now know, is not actually uncommon. No one tells you that before hand, though. (And I've since run a marathon. It isn't that I'm wimpy.)

Please Please Please watch "The Business of Being Born" (available via NetFlix) and read "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer. They both talk about interventions and the statistics attached to them.

Epidurals can lead to major surgery and that surgery is not as simple a thing as people talk about it being. The World Health Organziation says no more than 4-10% of births should by by C-section, yet in the US, between 25-47% is normal, depending on the region, and we have the SECOND hightest infant mortality rate among developed nations. All of that is due to unnecessary medical intervention in birth -- and most all of it starts with an epidural.

Epidurals also greatly increase the use of vacuum and forcep extraction, as well as internal fetal monitoring. All of which are very dangerous and painful for your baby.

Normal, natural birth is very very safe. Statistically, there is no safer place to give birth (in a low-risk preg.) than at home with a licensed midwife. No joke.

I encourage you to go for the water birth. It was calming to me to be in the warm water. Sitting in a water tub is a better position for your pelvis to be in in order to expand to let the baby out.

I wish you peace and a healthy pregnancy and a joyful birth!

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J.T.

answers from Victoria on

i had an epidural. the shot did not hurt at all as i had been told. the birth was fine and after delivering our 9lbs. 1 oz son i thought it wasnt that bad at all and i could definatly have another child. my body is very sensitive to medications. if i take a pain pill i am out for the next several hours. so the meds i was given pretty much wiped me out for the next several days. i think about doing a natural birth but i will probably chicken out by the time it comes around. Congrats on your baby. God bless.if you have any other questions for me feel free. my son was induced.

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W.R.

answers from Austin on

S.,

There is a huge difference in having an epidural or a water birth. I commend you for looking into a water birth. My best friend had both of her children in the water. I would HIGHLY recommend you contact a qualified midwife now (yesterday, hee, hee!!) and talk to her about this option and how appropriate it would be for your situation. I know they like to have plenty of time to meet with their clients.
Best of luck to you!

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D.A.

answers from Houston on

I have 5 kids. I had an epidural with the first one because the pain was intense during transition, and I panicked. The epidural essentially numbs you from the waist down. Labor slowed down, I was not able to help push, and the baby wound up being delivered with forceps. I didn't like the feeling of not having control of my lower body, which lasted for over a day after the birth. The next time, I had a natural birth. I knew what to expect, and that transition wouldn't last long. I felt much better about that birth. I've had 5 kids total. When I had the youngest (7), there was a tub in the birthing center I used that was so relaxing. It helped ease out the contractions. They weren't set up for a full-fledged water birth at that time, so I had to reluctantly get out when the water got cold, but I wish I had been able to.

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S.T.

answers from Houston on

Well, to me, epidurals are as much 'personal choice' as a c-section. I don't believe that epidurals should ever be used unless medically indicated. But then, I also have 5 children, all c-sections, and have plenty of experience with epidurals.

Watch Youtube water births. Hypno birthing is interesting to watch as well. I am very good at self hypnosis/withdrawing and meditating. See about getting Gentle Birth Choices on Amazon with the accompanied DVD (some of the books come with it.) that shows lots of different natural methods of birth!

I have delivered at three different hospitals. Each anesthesiologist gave me high promises and toted their vast experience. And yet each time I have had major complications (all DIFFERENT.) I woke up in the middle of the night paralyzed. I have experienced severe sciatica and other nerve problems as a result of the spinal/epidural. I have had the spinal migraine which is NOT just a headache. A hole they accidentally puncture in the dura of the spinal chord leaks all the spinal fluid from your brain. Your brain rattles around in your skull, causing bruising and possible permanent damage. I was bed ridden for 6 weeks and had to hire people to care for my family and home while recovering from the spinal migraine. They do have a blood patch procedure where they try to patch the hole (another eipdural) with blood from your arm. But it can pop out again and some of the women I've talked to had more problems so I opted on waiting it out.

Of course, I was having c-sections so I don't know what it would have been like if I was in labor. But I have known too many women who had an epidural and it slowed their labor down and they had to have pitocin which is not good (50% of malpractice lawsuits include pitocin.) Some of them had c-sections. I have also talked to women who had fetal decels right after the epiural was placed and then had a c-section.

Epidurals, although called 'walking' restrict your movement and force you to stay monitored and have an IV. IF you do NOT have an epidural then you can move round and get the baby in a good position for birthing, moving helps with pain relief as well.

Feel free to PM me. The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth is excellent.

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S.N.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi S.,

I don't know much about water births...but I did have an epidural birth. I have two kids, my first, now 3 yrs. old, was an epidural. And my second, 2 months now, was natural (no drugs). But I do have to say, I was extremely lucky to have an epidural and have not one bad thing to say about it. After 15 hours of labor with no drugs, i wasn't sure how much longer i could go, so i got the epi. It numbs you from the waist down, but you can still feel contractions (feel like period cramps) so that you can push. My point? You never know how your birth is going to turn out in the end. Have an idea of what you want, but be FLEXIBLE. Maybe you want to try water birth but at some point realize you need an epidural, and just be OK with that. The most important thing is a healthy you and a healthy baby. Good luck!!

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A.M.

answers from El Paso on

Hi S.! I was interested in water birth too, but didn't think that was an option at Beaumont. Yay if it is! I was going to try to go natural but they put me on pitosin and that was the end of that. I ended up with the epidural and am grateful for it. I've heard from several people that I could've done it natural without the pitosin--pitosin skyrocketed the pain to unbearable for me. My son was not in any hurry, but my water had broken, so the doc deemed the pitosin necessary for my case. Regardless, the umbilical cord was around my son's neck and the doc was able to cut it and he is just fine and healthy and I don't know how that might've gone down with a water birth. I was very comfortable with the anesthesiologist at Beaumont and had no residual problems with the epidural. Hope this helps! I did think my son's birth was peaceful, despite the setting. Everyone was calm, including me when he was born.. They gave himto me after about 30 minutes and then let us be. I would've liked to have held him immediately, but I know they needed to check him thoroughly and I appreciated not having to let him go once they handed him to me.

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R.M.

answers from Austin on

Hi Stacey,
My mother had 6 natural child births: 5 at home and all of the last three in water. I highly encourage you to go natural if at all possible although I do think epidurals can be useful in circumstances of prolonged labor. Natural birth is a rewarding and empowering experience for a new mother. I just recently wrote a paper on the health risks posed to the mother, the infant, and the birthing process when an epidural is used. Unfortunately it is too long to post here. Please e-mail me at [email protected]____.com, or send me a message here on mamasource, if you would like to read it. (Anyone else who wants it is also free to write me.) Good for you for considering your options, and taking the time to become educated about important medical decisions!

R.G.

answers from Austin on

Hi S.! I had an epidural with my son (he's 8 months) and I am soooo glad that I did! I tried an IV pain killer first (Stadol) and it made me hallucinate like crazy and then I got my epidural. I was still able to push and feel the sensation of my son being born but the pain was substantially decreased. I'll be honest though...it was not altogether gone. Especially toward the end, I could feel right through the epidural but it helped a LOT! I was in labor for about 20 hours and had to push for 4 of them (my boy was face up) and I broke my tail bone. I know that if I hadn't had the epidural, I would have ended up with a C-section. You are the only one who can make this decision and its wonderful to get other moms' advice, but ultimately you have to go with your gut! Good luck and Congratulations on your little one!

P.S. Thank you for your service in the military. Soldiers are my favorite super-heros!

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J.M.

answers from Austin on

Hi S.,
I have gone both routes and personally, I would pick water birth if I had it to over again. Bear in mind that MOST hospitals will not do water births, and most OBs will only deliver in a hospital. Some hospitals (at least in my experience) would offer tubs until your water breaks and then it was time to get out.
My first child was born in a hospital and they induced. I had to get pitocin, which meant I couldn't get in a tub at all. I got an epidural and while there were no real complications, it was a horrible experience for me all the way around. I ended up having a c-section and I believe it was completely unnecessary, but I also couldn't feel what was happening, and they had to coach me how to push properly, which is something you do NOT need help with when you can feel what is happening. I also had the epidural wear off, and THREE nurses AND the doctor all told me I was imagining things, while the anesthesiologist was doing a crossword puzzle.
My second child was born in a birth center (austin birth center) and while I did not intend for him to be a water birth, the tub made the pain A LOT easier to bear, and before I knew it, he was in my arms while I was still in the tub! Going with a water birth does mean delivering naturally, and many of my friends swear that epidurals are the best. They had completely normal deliveries and all without pain. I, however, would go natural any day! It is the most intense pain, the water does help, but it is still very intense, but the emotions after delivering my second child made every second of pain worth it! I felt like my first child had been robbed!
I was a little worried about a water birth because I didn't like the idea of him being under water after being out of the birth canal, but it was so brief, that I didn't even realize he had been underwater until after I was reflecting on the delivery. Also, if you do decide to go with a water birth, spend a lot of time working on relaxation techniques. I am not so great at relaxing and when you feel the pain, if you haven't practiced enough, you will forget everything!
Good luck in your decision!

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