I had an epidural on my first two babies. I was a huge believer in pain relief, and I suppose looking back really didn't know too much about the side effects of having an epidural and really didn't care. I was too scared to do it without and totally thought there is nobody handing out medals at the end for bravery! I blame age, lack of education and definitely lack of explanation in my midwifery care and hospital.
On my first, Kyle in 2009 I had an epidural. He was a forceps delivery. Afterward I experienced horrific migraines to the point where I couldn't open my eyes... The epidural had gone too far and pierced my spinal cord. I had to have a blood patch done. Another epidural (basically) but it fed blood from my arm into my back to patch up the little tear. It worked immediately but I suffered with back pain for years as a result. And I was hospitalised again when he was 10 months old for horrific migraines again...
When I was having Noa I thought I could try do without but once in labour with her the fear took over and I asked for an epidural. I had a long labour. I got the epidural at 2cm and it slowed everything down. By the time I was 10cm 10 hours later the epidural had semi worn off and I couldn't get another. She was born "star gazing" and got into difficulty which resulted in an episiotomy.. I felt everything.
I had all intention of getting an epidural on Briar again mainly out of fear. That I wouldn't be strong enough, capable enough, brave enough to do it without. How wrong I was....
All my intentions went out the window when she decided to arrive 6 mins after I got to the hospital. No time to get an epidural, no time to take a Panadol, no time to take my clothes off!!!!
And what an easy birth hers was. Coincidence maybe but I think not.... I stayed at home doing things and walking around and this was my first pro during childbirth- gravity for sure helped my body with contracting effectively. When I was in transition I instinctively got onto all fours (in my hallway!!!) and this helped hugely with that...
Lying in a hospital bed on your back with your legs numb is really not how Mother Nature intended us to give birth.
I gave birth to her with one push and there was absolutely no intervention then or after. No stitches, no stinging, vertually no pain afterwards. I could walk, I could dance. I was on cloud nine!
Briar was my third time to give birth so that could have played a big role but I am so thrilled to have proven to myself and maybe others that you don't need an epidural to give birth and if you are planning on one just be completely informed on pros, cons and side effects.
Of course everyone is different. Every mothers preference and choice is different and no choice is right or wrong. The main thing is baby makes a safe arrival!