Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby Book Report - Easy Labor

The subtitle of this book is "Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Child Birth" but really it should have been "Ha! Just kidding".  The thesis is that childbirth is the most incredibly, indescribably painful experience a woman will probably have in her entire life, that even experienced mothers forget how bad labor and delivery is, but that you should somehow prepare yourself for this unimaginable experience and come to the hospital relaxed.  Um... I'll get right on that.

The author is an obstetric anesthesiologist but he includes information gathered from other professionals involved in the birth process such as labor and delivery nurses, midwives, and doulas (which the spell-check desperately wants to change to "Douglass").  The rest of the book describes methods for controlling labor pain from the ubiquitous epidural to breathing techniques, to hypnosis to nitrous oxide (really... evidently it's all the rage in Great Britain).

All I can say is: bring on the epidural.  From what was written in the book and what I've heard from friends who have had children is that - because epidurals are much easier, safer, and less confining than in years past- you can have an un-medicated childbirth, but you have to really really really really really really want it.  In fact, a major reason that women choose to give birth at a birth center or at home is to avoid the "temptation" of medical pain relief.

I can tell you now that I have no such dedication.  With the new epidurals, you can move around and even walk around in some cases.  Friends say that you experience every contraction, it just doesn't HURT anymore.  And while I don't feel like I need to have it inserted before I have a single contraction, I don't feel like being in pain - especially being in screaming, swearing out of control in pain- will add anything to the birth experience.  Plus the idea of laboring for many hours without pain relief and then having an episiotomy* without pain relief is truly terrifying.

So in summary, labor = painful, not easy.  Epidural = good.

*Look it up (no gross pictures, but not for the faint of heart, either), then go look at your kitchen shears and tell me the thought of having that happen wouldn't keep you awake at night.        


  1. Kristen LandrevilleOctober 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Chelsea, I think you should give yourself more credit: You run marathons! You know what pain is like! You know that feeling, that craving and wanting, of giving up and yet you still persevere. I remember that feeling as a runner and it's the same mental challenge while giving birth. By the way, I am not AT ALL against epidurals. I have always said, "We'll see what happens when I'm in labor and see if I need one." I was flexible about how things would progress. But, I approached labor and birth as a mental challenge. Sure there were times when I said, "And why didn't I get an epidural?", but those times were at the very end when it's too late to get an epidural, so there was no turning back. And I didn't have any screaming, swearing out of control moments either, mainly because I told myself that I was exerting/wasting energy by screaming. But, reflecting on the experiences, I'm happy with the decisions I made. I'm totally not trying to convince you to avoid an epidural. It's a very personal decision. I'm just sharing my thoughts and experiences because I think you are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. I'm confident you could do it if you wanted to. Last thought: After giving birth without an epidural, you barely feel the episiotomy (or tearing) and subsequent stitching. But, be prepared to be sore for like 2 weeks, no matter what happens. I remember being like, "Why didn't ANYONE tell me that it hurts to sit down for like 2 weeks after birth!". OK, perhaps TMI, but I'm just trying to be honest! :-)

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'll have a lot more information after going to the labor and delivery class tomorrow, but right now my plan is to go med free unless I decide I really need it. Meaning, not go into the experience thinking that I can't do it without an epidural or that I have to have one at a certain time but also not getting upset if I decide somewhere along the line that I do want one. Labor seems like one of those things that you can never really prepare for, no matter how much you try to learn ahead of time. I have heard that it's pretty painful afterward. At one of our classes the nurse showed us the pad-shaped ice packs... yikes.