Second time around moms-epidural

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2007
Second time around moms-epidural
Mon, 03-10-2008 - 1:21am

I have 3 children from my 20's. With all 3, I never had an epidural, pain meds...anything. I did everything all natural.

This time, since I'm "much older" (42), I'm thinking I'm going to be a wuss and I want pain relief. I'm too old for this. lol

However, it scares me TO DEATH!! I just don't understand it. When I was in my 20's, I was told if you had the epidural, it had to be while you were in the middle of a contraction when they did it. Then if you were to move, it could paralize you. Now, I've had people tell me that they weren't having a contraction when they did theirs and never heard anything about being paralyzed. I'm confused.

I also can't figure out what goes on after you get the epidural. If you can't feel anything from the belly down...does someone actually pick up your feet/legs to put them in the stirrups? How do you feel the contractions


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-24-2006
Mon, 03-10-2008 - 9:10am

I didnt have the epidural the first time around either (and my labour was short and bearable, like yours). I have no intention of having one this time either and all the nasties you mention confirm this for me! I was almost 41 when I had my first baby and am 43 now.

I just wonder why you think you would need an epidural now that you are older. I actually think women become more immune to pain as they age. If your labour is worse than last time, (a big if) you are probably better armed to cope with it anyhow.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Mon, 03-10-2008 - 2:35pm
I only had an epidural during the birth of my third child (he was induced.) As they were doing it, I was having contractions and found it difficult to bend forward like they instructed so it took longer. I don't think it mattered in my case whether I was contracting or not, but it took a long time (with me moving through contractions and them asking if I had scolisis - apparently, my spine wasn't too straight.) I was grateful because later, I was moved to OR for a c/s (fetal distress) and having had it made it go that much quicker. I don't remember exactly how far along in dialation you had to be or any other details.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2003
Mon, 03-10-2008 - 5:53pm

I haven't had an epidural, but did take the class before my 1st DD and they didn't say anything about having to be having a contraction to get one. I also have heard that they can adjust the level so you can still feel to push, and not be totally numb.

That being said, with your history of short labors, why not go for it without again?? I had my first DD at 37 - was in labor for 8 hours, and had her 2 hours after getting to the hospital, without an epidural. I had my second in January, at 41 - was in labor for 4 hours, and had her 1 hour after getting to the hospital. I don't think my pain tolerance was any less this time, and with the even shorter period of painful contractions, I was once again glad I didn't get an epidural, though they were offering it to me even though I was already 7 cm when they first checked me.

I'm sure you can get more info on the pros and cons, if you still want to keep your options open (which is never a bad idea), but I bet you can do it again, if you did it 3 times before! :-)


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Sister Siggy Fall 08
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-22-2008
Tue, 03-11-2008 - 10:52am

Whether 42, 22, or 102, I'm right there with you in the wuss-line, so much so that I've gotten drugs all 3 times now. My thought (and the fact that I'm a pansy) is that someone was given the knowledge to create these medications that provide me with almost immediate comfort - who am I to not take advantage of that. :o)

The epidural is a very safe, VERY widely used analgesic. Every hospital is different so I can only tell you what I know to be the policy at my hospital. Double check with your doc re: specifics for where you are going to deliver.

Where I work (and where have delivered all 3 of my kids and will deliver #4), when you present to L&D in labor, you don't necessarily have to be a magical # of centimeters, you just have to show them that you are in active labor by making progress (it just usually happens to be about 4cm.) When the epidural is being administered, you have to hunch around your belly (like an angry cat arching it's back). This opens up your epidural cavity in your back so the anethesiologist can feel and find the right spot. A shot of lidocaine (or some other 'caine) will be put in to numb the area). It doesn't hurt any worse than a flu shot or any other vaccination. Really, it's no big deal. Then the epidural will be administered. It doesn't have to be administered during contraction - in fact, a lot of anestheologists will ask that you let them know if you are getting a contractions so they can stop and wait for it to pass.

After the initial shot, a very thin flexible tubing (catheder) is thread through and the needle comes out so it's really only in you a short time. The cathedar will be taped securely down to your back and that is how the medicine will be continuously administered for the remainder of your labor.

While on board, an epidural doesn't completely numb you - it just affects the muscles. You'll still be able to move your legs. You'll probably be confined to bed from that point forward though because you won't have the muscle strength in your legs to hold up your body weight.

When delivery is nearing, they'll actually stop the flow of medicine and in no time, it will be completely out of your system.

Sorry if that falls under the category of "tmi" but it's the childbirth educator in me coming out. :o)

If you do have any other questions, definitely let me know.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2008
Tue, 03-11-2008 - 2:02pm

I'm with Kitty.


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-01-2008
Tue, 03-11-2008 - 5:32pm

I agree that epidurals are widely used and for most people very safe, but I also think women should be fully informed before deciding to get one.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2007
Fri, 03-14-2008 - 3:35pm

So is there a magic number that they "won't" do epi's after dilating?

I just took out all my children's baby books and re-read everything pertaining to my notes I wrote about being in labor. I found that every time I went to the hospital, I was already dilated at 7cm. So, I'm thinking if this happens again, it may be too late to even get an epi. Am I right?

They say every pregnancy is different...but I hope that since I have been pregnant 3 times before, that this one won't be so different that I'm in labor for ever. I will of course play it by ear and see what happens. If I arrive at the hospital and find that I'm already around 7cm dilated, I will probably go ahead and have the baby naturally. If I get there and find that I'm only in the beginning stages of labor, then I guess I'll see just how bad the pain is before deciding.

I'm just really really freaked out about it this time around for some reason.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-01-2006
Sat, 03-15-2008 - 6:38pm

I had my first at 39 and 2nd at 41.

stellasiggy.jpg picture by estellaberg

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-15-2007
Sat, 03-15-2008 - 9:17pm

Thanks for everyone's responses and encouragement. I hope that this 4th time around is yet easier than my others and my body remembers what to do like it has before.

The reason I'm considering the epi is for several reasons...

When I had my other children, I was in my 20's. I was in perfect health, very thin and didn't gain but the recommended amount (other than my 3rd child, which I gained 68 pounds due to bed rest because the baby was laying on a nerve which caused my entire left side of my body to be numb the last 2-3 months of pregnancy). I could tolerate pain VERY well back then and NEVER ever got sick.

Now that I'm in my 40's, I've found that the older I get, the harder it is to cope with pain and all the aches, sickness etc. that comes my way.
Also, when I was in my 30's, they discovered that I have MVP (mitral valve prolapse) which causes me problems the older I get. My blood and valve's do not flow like they use to. They also discovered that my heart stops and skips beats every so often. I took a stress test back around 38 years old and literally watched the monitor flat line and jump start back up. Needless to say, it was very scary.
One of my biggest concerns (and I know everyone will flame me for this one) is that I'm a smoker. I've smoked for about 26 years. My parents smoke, everyone in the family smoked and I took up the habit young and no matter what the circumstances and the risk's not that easy to just quit as everyone tries to convince me of.
Also, I've gained 36 pounds already with this pregnancy and I was already about 35 pounds over weight when I got pregnant. So, this added weight with this pregnancy wears me out and keeps me out of breath.

With all these issue's, I just kinda feel like anything that is going to help me be a little more comfortable during the delivery would be an added plus.

Continue with your thoughts, encouragement on this subject. I very much appreciate it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-02-2006
Wed, 03-19-2008 - 2:35pm

I had one although I wanted a med-free birth. I had a very looooong labor (and dilated only 1 cm in 15 hrs). My MW said we needed pit at 30+ hrs after my water broke. I knew I needed to sleep so I asked for an epi while the pit dripped. I'd hoped it would be worn off in a couple of hours so I could feel the birth. I was numb from the waist down. Could not move my legs, could not feel them. Couldn't feel any contractions unless I put my hands on my belly. The MW had to tell me when to push. It took hours after birth for the epi to wear off. I couldn't pee without a catheter. Can you tell I hated the experience? I feel so unfulfilled that I couldn't feel my baby move down and out, that I couldn't listen to my body tell me when to push.

If I get a second chance, I will not take an epi, no matter how tired I get. I had endo, my periods used to be much more painful than labor.

That's my 2 cents.