Painless or Not?
I am 8 1/2 months (34 weeks) pregnant and I don't know if I would go for a 'painless' normal delivery or the natural way without anesthesia. This is my first pregnancy and I don't have any idea if I could tolerate much pain during childbirth. I heard several feedbacks from moms that had 'painless' delivery( with anesthesia) that they had short term memory loss or anxiety after child birth. which one to choose?
I'm glad you're thinking about your impending birth experience.
So your question is whether you should deliver naturally, without an epidural, or if you should have an epidural.
One of the things you'll want to do is stay home as long as you can before heading to the hospital. The reason this is beneficial is because you can eat and drink whatever and whenever you want when you're at home. You'll also tend to be more relaxed at home which will help contractions to be less painful and labour to progress faster (both very good things).
At home you can put your favorite music on (something that helps you relax) and you can burn candles if you like them. You can "slow dance" with your husband (a wonderful way to help baby become positioned properly in the birth canal for a faster delivery) and you can labour in whatever position you want. Take a look at this page that teaches you how to slow dance during labour.
Once you head to the hospital, hopefully you'll be well into active labour and well dilated so that you spend the shortest amount of time in the hospital.
Our resident midwife, Jane Palmer, has written an excellent article on epidurals. Here's an excerpt from it:
What are the disadvantages of an epidural anaesthetic?
The disadvantages of an epidural anaesthetic include: Being confined to bed, increases chance of a caesarean birth, increases chance of forceps or vacuum extraction by three times (around 50% of first time mothers will need this type of assistance - statistics between hospitals can vary), approximately 1:100 women will experience a severe headache afterwards, 1:550 women will experience small numb patches on their legs that persist after birth for up to three months, 1:4000 women will experience a life threatening emergency from an epidural (paralysis is extremely rare), labour can be longer (approximately three times more likely to need medication to speed labour up), more likely to need a catheter to help pass urine, some women experience itchy skin (as a result of some of the medication used), some women do not achieve adequate pain relief or partial relief on one side, mothers temperature can rise resulting in the need to give the baby antibiotics after birth... you can read the full article here.
I think it's always important to know as much as you possible can about birth so that you're not surprised and so that you're empowered to make decisions that are best for you and your baby.
One of the most important things is choosing who your primary caregiver will be, whether that's a midwife or a doctor. With a midwife, she will likely be with you for most of your labour and delivery. With a doctor they usually come in at the very end to "catch" the baby, but it's the nurses and other staff at the hospital that usually attend to you during your labour. The labour determines the birth outcome so make sure you create a birth plan detailing what you do and do not want.
The other thing that makes a big difference is where you choose to have your baby. If you're in the hospital you'll likely come under "protocol" which they do for every patient, no matter how individualized their situation may be. Often times they will put a hep-lock IV in your arm at admittance "just in case" you end up needing an IV. They'll monitor your baby a certain way and often times that monitoring means you have to labour and give birth on your back in bed. Giving birth in a squatting position can be advantageous for many mums because gravity helps to bring the baby down and out.
But back to your main question - to plan on having an epidural or not. I'd encourage you to plan on having an all natural birth. If you find that you want an epidural, you can always wait 30 minutes to see how things progress and then see how close you are to transition/pushing and delivering your baby.
Here's an animation showing you how the epidural is given which is important to know if you choose to have one.
ouch, i think getting an epidural hurts. I just can't stand needles!!
and thanks for the feedback. I think ill have the natural way of birth...