My maternal great-grandmother gave birth to 13 children. All but #13 were born at home and none of them were delivered with medicinal pain relief.
My maternal grandmother delivered 3 children without any medicinal pain relief.
My own mother delivered two out of three of her children without any medicinal pain relief.
That’s pretty awesome of them. But, as for me? Bring on the meds. Maybe.
I’m in the homestretch of my pregnancy and expect to meet baby #2 within 2 weeks (or possibly later tonight if that famous eggplant parmigiana recipe really works). If I were to have a birth plan, the only plan would be to ask for the epidural as soon as I check into the hospital. You see, my last labor and delivery, which was an induced labor at 41 weeks, was approximately 90 minutes from the time the pitocin hit to when my son made his entrance. Going from 0 to delivery in an hour and a half was excruciating and exhausting and the epidural that I managed to beg for when I could actually catch my breath came much too late. It was not the birth experience that I had wanted and certainly did not anticipate. Considering my doctor barely made it in time (and my doula never made it at all), no one anticipated it. In the end, all that mattered was that my son was born healthy and I was OK…but it would have been nice if our first introduction to one another was during a much less dramatic circumstance.
Whether it’s laboring for 24 hours without meds, as my own mother did with me, or having a planned and wanted C-section, it would be great if every mama could have the birthing experience that she wants. But we all know that’s not always possible. What I also know is that no one has the right to judge, criticize, or give otherwise self-righteous opinions to another woman for how she delivers her baby. If mama wants an epidural to help make her labor and delivery a more enjoyable and relaxing one, good for her. If she wants to go through labor and delivery at home, that’s fantastic. Mama should get what she wants and be given support from her doctor/midwife, partner, family, and friends. There is nothing wrong with a mom trying to make the best of her labor and delivery experience, in whatever capacity she sees fit. No one gets a cookie or gold star for delivering a baby a certain way. The only prize we could hope for with any delivery is that of a healthy baby and mama.
I was actually half-joking when I mentioned that epidural earlier. Unlike everything else in my somewhat orderly and planned everyday life, I’m more of a let’s what happens kinda gal when it comes to my labor. If I go into labor naturally and the pain is tolerable, I’ll try and go for it. I managed to get through 90 minutes of an induced labor and delivery without meds, so I have no doubt that I can do it. However, if the pain starts to wear on me and, in that moment I feel like meds will help me enjoy the process more, someone page the anesthesiologist. And fast.
This time around, no plan is my best birth plan…no matter what anyone else might think.