The Epidural.

I stupidly began reading about my birthing options yesterday evening. Gave myself nightmares, I did. My birthing classes don’t start for another month but I figured I’d read up on some stuff, get to know it a little more, figure out what, exactly, might happen to me on the day I go into labor. Is it too late to turn back?

I like the idea of a natural childbirth. I really do. I give a great big round of applause to all the ladies who have done such a thing. Giving birth to a baby in a great big tub of water using nothing more than a relaxing breathing technique and some yoga chants, well, that just sounds awesome. (And a little crazy.) But I’d be kidding myself if I tried to be one of those women. I’m entirely too terrified of the whole situation, which is why I’m going for the epidural.

So, last night I read up on it. I knew they inserted a needle into a woman’s back but I wasn’t aware of how big the thing was. And I wasn’t aware of the fact that they leave a tube inside of you much like what’s done with an IV. And had no idea they give you a catheter. It makes sense, given you’re basically numb from the waist down. And since I sneezed the other night and peed myself, it’s probably best the doctors regulate such a thing. Certainly, things will tear and bleed down there during delivery. I read somewhere that some women poop themselves, which sounds downright humiliating to me. Also humiliating is that if the epidural makes me numb from the waist down, I read that the doctors, nurses, and significant others will have to move my body for me. All of it makes sense when you actually think about it, but I never really thought about it until last night.

Sometimes, when I’m standing in the middle of Grand Central Station, I’ll think, “So much happens here. So many things come and go at once! How does this place function at all?” That’s how I picture my body during delivery – like Grand Central Station.

But I’m still too much of a pussy to go through this naturally.


  1. guilty of poopin’. lots of poopin’.
    trust me, you’ll get over it.

    it will take your husband a little longer though…


  2. I had the epidural, and it wasn’t that bad for me. I didn’t look at or feel the needle going in. I could still move my own legs, and yes the nurse put a catheter in to empty my bladder but it was quick and didn’t stay in. I could still feel the pressure of the contractions and knew when it was time to push and I was up and walking within the hour. Of course everyone is different and you have to do what is best for you.

    And the peeing when you sneeze thing, you might want to get used to that…5 years later and it still happens sometimes.


  3. So, people do poop. We have gotten mixed reviews on the pooping matter. Thanks for your honesty, Autumn. I have heard it’s more common than women let on. Also, if there is poop involved, Tobyjoe might not EVER look at me the same way. I may need to hire a doula after all.

    Jen, did you get worked up beforehand? I have heard some horror stories but for the most part most (like 90+%) seem to go so, so well. That’s good to hear, that yours went so well.


  4. Honey, if you want to be scared you should ask me to tell you my daughter’s birth story (or is that my birth story?) LOL!
    No poop, though, but that’s because I hardly ate anything the day before because I was being monitored and then knew I was getting induced the next day.

    But seriously, there are a lot of things people just don’t tell you. I will tell you if you want to know. :-)

    Also, an epidural does NOT mean it isn’t a “natural childbirth” in my opinion (there are various arguments on this). They take that out when it is time to push, so you get to feel ALL of that. It is just a temporary spinal block, and you don’t feel the needle going in at all.
    I was in horrible pain and only 2cm dilated. That epidural saved my life. I wanted to marry the anesthesiologist who gave it to me.

    I’m assuming they took the catheter out during actual childbirth, but it was in later and only hurt a bit when they took it out because I was so sore down there.

    Two important things I discovered that I truly think every woman about to give birth should know (assuming you will be pushing it out and not getting a c-section for whatever reason):
    1. When they ask if you feel like pushing, what they MEAN is does it feel like you have to poop. When they say it’s okay to push, that is the feeling you ‘go’ with, and I was terrified of pooping on the table. As far as I know, I didn’t.
    2. Again about pooping, funnily enough. LOL. When all is said and done, you will be putting ice packs down there and rinsing with a squirt bottle instead of wiping if you have stitches. You will be absolutely terrified to poop. This is normal to be afraid, but trust me: It is NO BIG DEAL. The nurse swore this to me and I didn’t believe her, but she was right.

    Anything else you would like to know, please feel free to invite me to tell. I love telling. :0

    Oh, and the most important thing to remember? Don’t be rigid about your birth plan, because it almost never goes as the mother wants it to exactly.


  5. Sarah, you’re the best. Really.

    I brought up the whole scared to poop after childbirth thing recently and everyone i was with just kind of went quiet. Granted, no one there had ever given birth and most were boys if I remember correctly, but still. I figured it’d be a pretty horribly terrifying thing to do for the first time after pushing a baby through your vagina AND having it tear all the hell. I only imagined, it, however. Until you came along, no one confirmed this bit.

    Maybe I should invest in a bidet?


  6. You can move your legs and feel pressure with an epidural for normal delivery. You just don’t feel pain. You have to be able to feel something to be able to get that baby out:) It is the spinal block epidural they do for a c-section that you can’t move anything from the waist down. I’ve had both kinds. The needle didn’t bother me at all either time. It was just like getting a really hard pinch.


  7. Michael Pappas May 10, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    This is totally fascinating. Thank you for this frank discussion. I’m going to go buy a hat so I can take it off to Mothers everywhere. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!


  8. just think, you can tell your son, “i pooped myself recently too.”


  9. You are awesome for putting all of this stuff out there. I mean it.


  10. I didn’t want to get an epidural, but after 8 hours of contractions I was still only 4 cm dialated. It was 2am, and I was exhausted and too tired to focus on NOT feeling so much pain. So I had it and, as everyone has said, it wasn’t such a big deal. The needle didn’t hurt so much, it was just a relief not to have to deal with the pain (of the contractions). Back in our room my boyfriend and I both fell semi-asleep until 3 hours later when the midwife woke us up to check on me and said “OK, it’s time!” (I had reached 10cm). But yeah, the pushing still hurt and was uncomfortable as hell.

    Epidurals affect women in different ways, as all drugs do. I think one common side effect is feeling cold. I had that, though only one one leg (like it had had ice applied to it and was slightly numb). I have read where other women have shivered uncontrollably, thrown up, etc. You will have to get blood taken out a week or two before your due date and sign a release form for the anaesthesia, which doesn’t inspire much confidence, but the doctors need to cover themselves in case of something going wrong (which is I believe is extremely rare).

    You’ll just have to see how your labor goes. Maybe you’ll be lucky, dialate very quickly, and not need an epidural – though I think this is more common with 2nd births. But I wouldn’t recommend rushing into the epidural. Just see how things go first. It really is an individual experience.


  11. Something else that never occurred to me is that after I push out the baby, I’ll also be giving birth to a 1.5 pound placenta. (Too bad you can’t do that first to loosen things up a bit.) heh


  12. Let’s just schedule the c-section.


  13. I have no idea if there was pooping happening during labour, I wasn’t paying THAT much attention! But the nurses make such a big deal about the pooping AFTER, I was given stool softeners even. However, since I can’t swallow pills, I didn’t take them, and it wasn’t a big deal at all.

    Usually the doctor or nurse gives you a shot of oxytocin (I think) in your hip as the baby is crowning, to help the placenta come out in a timely manner. I didn’t feel the shot at all-that crowning was something else…. I think the placenta just kind of whooshed out after. Sorry, was that too many details??? ;) If you want to see it, you can ask, as they have to inspect it to make sure everything came out. I would rather not thanks!

    What kind of surprised me about labour is how quickly they had me up walking after I was stitched up, within the hour. (Not from a C-section, but from tearing).


  14. I planned to get an epidural for both of my children’s births and don’t regret it. I have a lot of respect for women who don’t use anything for the pain, but I figured if it was available I was going to take advantage of it. I didn’t dialate too quickly with either labor and spent a lot of time at home breathing though the contractions until they were about 5 minutes apart. That’s when my doctor said it would be time to go to the hospital. I’m glad I waited b/c I had contractions for about 12 hours with my first. I would not have enjoyed being in the hospital that long. Also, the epidural can slow down the labor. Once I got to that point I was ready to get it over with.
    Once you get to the hospital my advice is to ask for the anesthesiologist right away. They may have to page someone and once you get to the point of needing the pain to go away you don’t want to wait longer than necessary. I also found it interesting that you can also arrive too late for them to give you an epidural. Hopefully, if you are dialated enough for them to turn you down your labor will be fast enough, but I was terrified of having to find out if that would be true.
    I did have the shakes after my first delivery, but I pushed for 3 hours and I could have just been weak. I also had a catheter after my first because of the extended time pushing. I was too swollen to go by myself. I found it to be no big deal. I did vomit briefly during one of my labors but I can’t even remember which one. I guess you do forget the bad stuff that happens. I thought I may have pooped during labor the 2nd time, but my husband swears I didn’t. Sometimes I think he’s humoring me.
    Sarah’s description of pushing is dead on. I think it took me a while to figure it out the first time & that’s why I pushed for so long. The 2nd time I pushed 3 times, so I guess I learned. The placenta is no big deal, except after I pushed the baby out I couldn’t believe I had to push one more time. I didn’t even feel it. My husband did take a picture of my 2nd placenta. (looks like a piece of bloody liver or steak.) He was bummed out about all the things he missed the first time around that he didn’t want to miss anything. The nurses never had anyone ask to take a picture of it before. (I think I just shared a month’s worth of comments. oops.)


  15. I find all of these comments so cool! you know as they say each pregnancy is different and each delivery is just as different.
    Mine? Well my plan was to go natural but Isabel, my first daughter, did not want to cooperate. AFter being two weeks late I had to be induced. That meant having the pitocin, which from what i have been told makes the contractions even harder than normal. After no progression in 9 hours I finally decided to have some sort of narcotic (I don’t remember the name) to take the edge off and make me relax. That didn’t really help as an hour later and after they had broken my water later in the day the Dr. decided to do the C-section.

    Yeah, they numb you from the waist down. I mean really numb you. You are paralyzed. I really freaky, scary sensation. Plus I was awake the whole procedure. Mike was in the room with me but he was to chicken to watch the whole thing!

    As for my second birth with Aubrey things went a bit different. I wanted to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after a C-section). I had a plan with my DR. that if I didn’t go into labor she would do a slight induction. It can be dangerous to induce labor in a VBAC due to a high risk of uterine rupture. After my water broke and I went to the hospital the next morning I was informed that I would not be induced due to hospital policy.
    Something my Dr. and I was not aware of. I was quite pissed. B/c I didn’t go into labor after my water broke I was sent home to go walk to start my labor. Nothing happened so I was told to come back and they would do another c-section. Again I was given the numbing medicine (I can’t remember the name) and they performed my second c-section. This time around it was kinda strange as I basically walked into the operating room and hopped up on the table myself. Talk about a surreal experience. 20 minutes later Aubrey was born!

    I really kinda wish I could have gone through the whole labor thing but in the end I have two amazing girls.

    One more thing, As far as everyone doing stuff to your body, at that point you really just get used to it. I mean at that point in your pregnancy you kinda just want things to be over and you don’t really care who sees what. Plus, the way I figure it is everyone who works in this field has seen it all so you really shouldn’t get embarrassed about anything!

    I hope this helps! :o)


  16. I love first time mother’s birth plans. The focus on romantic mood music, candle light, hubby gazing into eyes. I had this too….I was going to have the perfect births.

    I didn’t. I learned a) shit happens literally and figuratively) b) yours and babies health is all that really matters c) some point in labour you don’t care who sees your vagina or who sees you shit d) no gold medals are given too women who birth without meds, tearing, screaming pooping etc.
    the only prize is a baby and it doesn’t really matter how you get it.



  17. babies like you are having a litter. I meant baby’s.


  18. I’m ready to adopt now.


  19. Nico, I’d say you could adopt Ndugu but that doesn’t get me out of giving birth, does it?


  20. No, but I’d happily pay for you do to it for me anothe time. I am afraid of the all of the above.

    Besides, I think Toby is attached to Ndugu at this point.


  21. Late to posting but I thought I’d add my 2 cents.

    The epidural is nice to have, as a matter of fact my OB strongly recommended it (I had twins). I was really nervous about getting the epidural put in but I just relaxed and it was over before I knew it. I was induced due to high blood pressure and the oxytocin can make for some really intense contractions so having the epidural is nice because it means that you can rest and let your body do the work it needs to do and you can save your energy for pushing.

    The one thing about getting an epidural that I wasn’t prepared for is that while it numbs you for the contractions, you feel the baby crowning. It burns like fire. My OB had a warm compress that made it less burny but it was uncomfortable all the same.

    As for the pooping, well, poop happens. Yes, I pooped but I couldn’t have cared less.

    The postpartum poop can be scary but it is manageable as long as you drink lots of water and eat the right stuff.

    I agree with Meghan you don’t care who sees you when you are pushing. I had a room full of people, I think there were about eight with a bunch more waiting in the connecting room and I tuned all of them out except my husband and my doula.

    Hope this helps :)


  22. They had to call an ambulance for me the night they talked about pain management and labour in our prenatal class. I thought I was having a diabetic coma or something was wrong with the baby, I was certain I was going to die or pass out. I have a panic disorder, but NOTHING like that had ever happened. Ambulance came, told me to relax, and left. I asked my OB if I was allowed to get light sedation while in labour in case I freaked out in panic and she said YES! bring on the ativan. I didn’t need it, but knowing it was there was awesome.

    My other biggest fear was people seeing my boobies while labouring. I am silly, but still, I wore a comfort bra thing the whole time.


  23. Ooooooo a bidet would have been awesome. Add it to your registry.


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