That Mother Lifestyle

Labor and birth stories – Epidural vs Un-Medicated

So I thought it would be fitting to blog about my previous birth stories seeing as I will soon be going through another labor and birth within the next week or so. And what I want to hit on with this topic is the differences and my personal experience with having an un-medicated vaginal birth and a vaginal birth with an epidural, because I have had both so far and each journey was day and night different. This is not to persuade anyone, or scare anyone, I am just doing what I have always done with my blogs and that is being honest, real, raw, and not hold anything back when it comes to parts of my life as a mom. 

Birth story #1 – Evie ( 40 weeks 2 days)

At about 7pm on July 25, I was just about to get ready to go to bed, when what I thought was a very strong braxton hicks contraction was actually a real labor contraction….aka the beginning of labor. I remember getting off the bed and having to walk around and breath to get through it, and just feeling so uncomfortable. The contraction lasted for a few minutes and once it was gone I knew that it was the real deal, but also I wouldn’t let my mind think that this was actually it, that I was actually in labor and I would be meeting my baby girl very soon. It was kind of a surreal moment, every moment I had in the last 9 months of being pregnant just flashed through my head like a movie scene. I didn’t want to believe this was the end. I laid back down in bed only to be woken up every 20 minutes or so with another contraction. This went on all night long, and by 4 am I was completely exhausted. I called my midwife around that time to fill her in on what was going on. I took a bath and was able to lay in the tub and rest for a little bit before I called my mom who came over, she told me this is it, you’re in labor 100%. My mom and I decided to walk around my neighborhood to help distract me from the growing pain, stopping every 7-10 min for me to lean on her as I went through a contraction. Each one getting more unbearable, stronger, and closer together. Once they were about 4-5 min apart we headed to the hospital. When we got there things got pretty intense, it was about 10am now, I was dilated to about a 7 or 8 and the contractions were the worst thing in the world! I remember telling my aunt (who was acting as my doula pretty much) that I can’t do another one. I was so tired, in horrible pain, sweating, I could barely take it anymore. I had moved into a bunch of different positions, one being in the tub where my water broke. Shortly after that I was out on the bed getting ready to push, with each push I could feel my body exert an excruciating pain that I had never felt before. I thought every muscle was being torn apart, pushing was the worst part, I could feel things tearing. I was terrified and in shock from how bad it all felt. With one final push she was here, 2 in the afternoon, right under 7 lbs, tons of hair and healthy she was placed on my chest. I couldn’t believe I did it. 
When making a plan for this pregnancy regarding labor and delivery, I had planned on a non medicated birth. I did however mention that if I needed or wanted the epidural at some point that that was ok to do. I went into it trusting my body and really relying on myself to make a decision based on how labor was going. If i could go back i think i would have done things differently, because personally for me having an un-medicated birth for my first was traumatizing. I didn’t feel strong, or empowered…that came months later. I was in the worst pain of my life, I was tired, I was having a baby with someone who treated me terribly, I tore so bad I couldn’t sit down without feeling in pain for weeks following, I bled so much and so badly it affected my hormones and affected my postpartum journey more than I thought it could.  Yeah, my body eventually healed, and I felt confident and proud of what my body had done, but even though I did it that way, you can still feel all those things and then some. The thing I take away from having a birth experience like this one is to trust our bodies and feel confident that our bodies know what to do, they can handle so much more than we could ever imagine. 

Birth story #2 – Harrison ( 41 weeks)

For about a week and a half leading up to finally going into actual labor with Harrison, I would get woken up by contractions early in the morning and by the afternoon they would subside after I would lay down and take a nap. So you could imagine how annoying and exhausted I was at that point, still pregnant, and 2-3 false alarms. But the morning of October 20th I was woken up around 430/5 am by a strong contraction that shot me up out of bed. The contractions I would continue to have throughout the morning were definitely on a different level than the ones I had during the previous few weeks. These were the real deal, it’s crazy how our bodys can just know. We headed over to my parents’ apartment where I could walk the halls and stairs to ensure that my contractions would continue and not go away this time! Me and my hubby even went down to their apartment gym where I walked on the treadmill and would hope off to push through each contraction. After doing that for pretty much all day long by 5 that night my contractions had gotten to the point where I would have to get on my knees to push through and they were close enough that my midwife said for us to head to the hospital. I was dilated to about a 6 when we arrived and would continue to labor with the help of my husband, mom, midwife and amazing nurses. At 1030/11 pm we decided it was time for the epidural. Going into it we knew this was the plan but I still felt nervous and scared to get one. But as soon as that epidural hit I knew I had made the best decision for me. For the next hour I was able to lay down and rest and even sleep a little. I was so exhausted, because by that point I had almost been up for 24 hours…in labor. Little did I know the next 45 minutes or so would be some of the scariest moments of our lives…on the monitors Harrison’s heartbeat began to slow way down and then all the sudden nothing. Next thing I knew more nurses showed up in my room, and they were helping me get on my hands and knees, butt in the air with them pushing on my stomach and trying to move Harrison around on the inside of my belly. The umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck and they spent the next few minutes ( which seemed like hours to me ) getting him moved and loosening the cord to where we could hear his heartbeat again. As they turned me over my midwife checked to see where he was and told me, “let’s have a baby” I pushed for about 10-15 minutes and shortly before 1 am our little buddy was here. I know for a fact if i didn’t get that epidural and was able to rest my body, I wouldn’t have had enough strength, stamina, and stayed as calm as I did to deliver Harrison. It took all the pain and pure agony of the contractions away. 
Now I am blessed beyond belief to have the labor and deliveries that I did. I had an amazing family, midwives and nurses helping and supporting me through every part, knowing exactly what to do, and knowing exactly what I and my body needed. Even though I had made plans of how I wanted my birth to go, I think it’s important to take into account and know that your “plan” could go completely out the window and to prepare yourself for anything and everything to happen. At times during labor and delivery things can be out of your hands, at the end of the day what is safest for baby and mama is clearly the most important. If the nurses were not able to move Harrison enough to get the cord loosened enough for me to deliver, I would have had to get a c-section. My pregnancies have all been low-risk with zero problems, so I was a perfect candidate for an at home birth or delivering at the birth center I go through. But even though I fell in that category, deciding to have my births at the hospital helped when things got intense. 

I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but my decision about getting the epidural was not solely based on the pain part. I wanted to enjoy my birth experience more, not feel how i did the first go around. I felt confident going into labor knowing that was my decision and my choice, you should never let someone else dictate your choice or tell you what’s best for you. Reading through this post the differences between epidural and un-medicated are pretty clear. I’m not saying one is better than the other, or ones worse than the other. I’ve heard amazing stories from women about both! This is just based on my feelings and experience with both, if you ask me I would say get an epidural every time! Haha but that’s just me! Every mom’s journey and every mom’s story and opinions are different. And that’s what’s great, we all have different birth experiences and it’s pretty cool we can share them and learn so much through one another. We are truly superheroes.