Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the post where I talk about epidurals & stuff

Natural childbirth. With no Pitocin. And no epidural.

What the fudge?!? No way. That CANNOT be done. That would be absurd. No one can really do that. Okay, whatever - but your labor will last 30 hours. You'll end up with a C-section. Why would you WANT to experience pain!? You're crazy. Good luck.

And so it continues. When it comes to child birth, suddenly people think they know it all. If they've got 3 kids or 0 - if they've had a vaginal birth or 2 C-sections. It doesn't matter. Suddenly, they're the labor experts, and they're shovin' their opinions down your throat!

I'm currently reading one of the most thrilling books that is chuck-full of information. Annnnd it was written by a talk show host, to boot!

In all honesty, if you're a woman, you should read this. It's packed full of useful information on inducing, locations of giving birth, options on doctors, and the list goes on. Contrary to popular belief, this book is not just advocating for natural childbirth, but it urges you to explore all the options. Since, on average, most women go to their physician and obey every command that is given. And they don't put an ounce of thought into what they're doing.

What? You want to induce me? Okie dokie!
Mhmm, Pitocin? Okay, sure!
My contractions aren't strong enough? Oh dear.. well, ok.
More Pitocin? Really?
Oh, crap - this hurts.
An epidural? Why, I thought you'd never ask!
Argh - the epidural didn't work? I need a higher dosage? Alrighty.
I'm not progressing? Stuck at 6? ...
It's been too long since my membranes ruptured? Oh no..
A C-section? Well, if that's what you think...

And before you know it, you're lying on the table, and you're being sliced open. Oh, alright - you think I'm being dramatic. But the 31% of women who undergo Cesareans each year might not think I'm dramatic. Yep. This means that if you walk into a delivery ward, you have a 1/3 chance of having a C-section.

Not a pretty picture for the expectant, joyful, excited new mother. Not at all.

But our bodies were built for so much more. Our bodies were created to handle labor! In the American culture, we are taught to believe that we cannot do it. That labor is too painful and an epidural is expected. Movies portray scary labors full of screaming, sweaty women who slightly resemble the girl from The Exorcist. And that's all we imagine. These days, epidurals are handed out like candy!

And, yes, the hospitals push epidurals. After your anesthesiologist meets you, he urges you to "let him know" when you are ready for your epidural. Each time a contraction peeks, the nurse reminds you of the pain medication that is ready at your beckon call. The doctor notifies you that an epidural would allow you to rest and become rejuvenated. And, suddenly, an epidural looks like the Holy Grail. And all you have to do is sign the release form...

But what they don't tell you is that epidurals slow down labor. That accepting an epidural increases your chances for C-sections by half. That the chances of maternal death increase. That your baby WILL be affected by the shot. That your baby will have to be coaxed much harder to latch on to breastfeed. That you have a slight chance of detrimental (and permanent) side effects. That you won't know when to push or how hard to push, because you won't feel a darn thing. That you'll lose all control - and suddenly the doctor and nurses are running the ballgame. That you can no longer listen to your body because you're too freakin numb to even pee straight. That bad reactions to the shot are common and you might feel like you're dying. That an epidural is not the "easy way out" of labor - and that it just might make things a whole lot more complicated.

Because a 20 minute C-section is a whole lot more convenient for a doctor than 2 hours of pushing.

And all other options are thrown out the window. Hypnobirthing, the use of equipment such as straddle bars and birthing balls, and jacuzzis aren't even thought of. You're lucky if your hospital even offers them. So you'd better do your homework before you end up sharing a room full of 3 strange women, also laboring at different stages.

Now, I'm not trying to scare you out of an epidural or pitocin. And I'm not trying to make you feel guilty for being pro-medication. Not at all! What I am stressing is this:

Be informed.

Know what you want and how you want it. Go in with a plan. Write a birthing plan. Search for your doctor. Don't settle for one, and don't compromise what you had planned all along. I'm not blaming doctors - they have a lot on their plates. But, in all honesty, they have a lot of patients. You are not their world. You have to fend for yourself and your baby - even when you're 8cm and transitioning into hell. For more support, midwives and doulas are available (and recommended!).

God made us. He made women, and I do believe that he does know a thing or two. While labor isn't meant to be a carnival ride, it shouldn't be feared, and you should never doubt your abilities. You can do it. You were made to. Don't let cultured fears creep up on you and tell you that you can't do it. Pushing your baby out of you all on your own and working with your body - why, that's a gift. It is the most beautiful thing in all creation. In that moment, when you did it all on your own, and you pull your baby out of you, connect eye-to-eye, and instantly bond with your child -- that makes the pain worth it. You are instantly connected with every woman who has come before you. You are overcome with self-confidence, and you prove yourself.

There is nothing more amazing than God growing a baby inside a woman - and then, together, bringing that baby into this world. Nothing. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

*Note: I've never given birth, so I don't really know what I'm talking about.


  1. Like you mentioned, I think it is a great thing for every woman to DO THEIR RESEARCH in order to decide what is best for them. I know a lady that scheduled BOTH of her children to be C-Section babies simply for the quickness and convenience. Crazy, right?! I think it's nuts, I'm sure you would think it's nuts, but for some reason, that worked for her. However, I'm not sure if she did her research before making that decision, and she should have! Stay true to what you feel is best for your baby (when the time comes!), Shannie, and don't worry about all those doctors and people that will throw those rocks at you! :)

  2. chuck norris can do everything without effort. :)

  3. my favorite line of the whole thing is "8cm and transitioning into hell" HA HA!!! You are SO right, thank goodness it's short lived (relatively!) and SO worth it at the end!! I know we have a bit to wait, but when your time comes, I can't wait to read about it!!!!

  4. thankssss!! :] ya'll are the best bloggy readers ever!!!

  5. I TOTALLY agree with you Shannon! And I have had not one but 2 csections (both medically neccessary)! You should always do your research! Also after having 2 sections I am still planning on having completely natural child birth with my next child! No epi, no nothing!!! It is so rewarding to know that you did it with out the help of drugs!!! WAY TO GO Shannon!!!!

  6. PS...People think "once a csection, always a csection" and that is so NOT true. THere is something called a VBAC (vaginal birth after ceserean) and in a few year I will be going for an all natural VBA2C!!! Can you tell this is one of my favorite subjects!!! Oh and also when you and hubby start TTC (trying to conceive) you should head on over to http://www.babycenter.com, they have boards just for people TTC and natural childbirth supporteers, and so forth...very helpful!

  7. Totally agree with you too :) You made me want to read that book!

  8. I'm going to be the devil's advocate here (just because I can). I've read this book as well. There's a lot of gross generalizations in this book. My birthing stories were nothing like Rikki Lake were generalizing. I pushed for over 2 hours- and I was NEVER pushed the epidural. I had to ask for it (YES, I asked for it! You try pushing out a 14 inch head that's transverse and grinding on your pelvic bone so hard he came out with contusions). My goal? A healthy baby- that's OUT. My hospital is very homeopathic, but also does do c-sections when medically necessary. They do not induce until it is bad for the baby to stay inside, etc. Yes, I'm lucky...but even with all my information, everyone is different. Every birth is different. It's good to be informed- but stay open to options as God can cause things to change in a heartbeat.

  9. 1) Daaaaaang, Ricki Lake is skinny.
    2) I agree 7 million percent. I hate it when people try and go all expert when something like this is brought up. It's your body, do what you want.
    3) I'm doing natural too. You already know that, but yea.
    4) I'm gonna guess that Eve went naturally (hehe) without medicine or anything. Yes, like you said, we are created for this!! :)
    5) I am woman. Hear me roar. :)

  10. LOVE #5. Did you ever have Mrs. Winfrey in high school?! :] That was her motto!

    yes, something tells me that Adam didn't have an epidural in his pocket. If he had a pocket. which, he probably didn't. since he was nekkie.

    Ricki shed all her weight off after giving birth naturally!! it gave her the self-confidence and the boost to do it!! :D she had been abused as a child, and the weight piled on due to all the stuff that came along with it. but, anyway, GO RICKI!

  11. Shannon- I agree. If I could give birth naturally I would, but sometimes God just doesn't build your body to be able to do that. And if it's going to either injure/kill my baby or injure/kill me, I'm going to have to do the other way. It's sad but true.

  12. Just so you know, too, some women-including me- would like to avoid C-section, but for several reasons (which are too personal to go into on here....) it is the best option. Just like there are many desperately want to breastfeed and are not able to.