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I just wrote a post on reasons to NOT get an epidural, so today I thought I’d share the reasons TO get an epidural. There’s lots of those reasons to as well — be it pain, rest, or you just want to enjoy your birth more. All are valid.
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have helped thousands of families get their epidural — and I’ve also had three of my own — so I’m a pretty great resource on this. 🙂
Reasons To Get an Epidural
Before we get started, I want to remind everyone that people’s choices are valid. You aren’t them, you don’t have their live and you’re not in their body. I am a believer that the pain of birth feels different for everyone. SO, let people make the choices that are best for them.
There is a reason that epidurals are done so frequently in the US. They are done with very few side effects or complications, in general.
That doesn’t mean they’re risk-free (nothing in birth is) but mostly they’re fairly low risk (depending on you and your circumstances, of course).
Baby Gets Less Medicine
An un-heard fact for many people is that some IV pain medicine does get to the baby. Not much, and it’s not harmful that we know of — but you can tell on the monitor that baby often also gets sleepy just like mom.
I’m not saying it’s a reason to NOT get IV pain medicine, it’s just something to know.
You Want to Be Numb
Most other pain management options provide some relief, but they don’t really take away the pain.
Both Nitrous Oxide and IV pain medicine take the “edge” off — which is great for a lot of people.
But some people don’t want to feel it at all. In that case an epidural is for you.
You’re Having a Long Labor
People who have a REALLY long labor often get an epidural because they see no end in sight for the pains. That makes sense.
Vs a Labor where you’re progressing quickly and tolerating it OK. It’s just different.
Often people who get induced get an epidural (especially early inductions) simply because it’s long. Their cervix wasn’t very ready to start with and it is just a long process.
The Idea of a Catheter Isn’t So Bad
This one’s a funny one — but sometimes people just LOVE that they don’t have to get up and pee every hour. Once you get an epidural we insert a catheter to drain your urine. So…. we take care of that for you.
In fact, I’d often get jealous of people getting catheters when I was very pregnant myself. I longed for a night of sleep with no breaks to pee.
Also, some people HATE the idea of a catheter, and that’s fine too. Everyone is different!
Maybe you’ve labored for a while at home, or you haven’t been sleeping well. Either way — some people just need some REST — and they’ aren’t able to get it with the contractions.
This is valid. We all know that after baby you won’t get a ton of sleep either, so get that sleep while you can!
You Hate Vaginal Exams
If you hate vaginal exams, having an epidural can take away a lot of that with exam checks. You really won’t feel them — and people really enjoy that fact as well.
This is extra important on inductions where we do have to check your cervix more frequently… just FYI.
Yes, in some cases you can refuse vaginal exams, but sometimes they’re necessary (and also the baby is coming out that way…).
You Want To Enjoy Your Birth
A friend of mine was going in to have her 10th baby. Most of her children were born naturally, but this time she just wanted to enjoy this birth. No concentrating or pressure on her to endure the pain. Just enjoying it. I thought that was cold, and a very valid reason.
You’re Freaking Out
If you find yourself truly out of control and huge amounts of stress hormones dumping in your body it’s probably best to get the epidural.
Those same stress hormones are dumping into the baby and they have a hard time tolerating it. I talk about this in my post on stress at delivery. I also did a podcast on it:
I didn’t really think of this until I was about 10 years into my career but I noticed that moms that were just out of control ended-up having babies who weren’t in the mood to breathe when they came out….
You Didn’t Prepare Otherwise
If you’re planning on using natural pain management, I always recommend preparing in advance. I recommend taking a prenatal class, and often something like Hypnobabies as well (I have a great combo with Hypnobabies).
Whatever you do — make sure you’re getting prepared before your birth. Take fear our of this decision by taking a great prenatal class like The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. In just a few hours we can have you BOTH prepared to be a great birth TEAM (instead of a player and a “cheerleader”).
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
She is also the curly head behind the website Pulling Curls and is the creator of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples — the #1 hospital-based prenatal class on the internet.