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Hi Hotmama.. you are in the home stretch - so exciting! :)

I tend to agree with the saying 'There is no prize for suffering in childbirth'. In the end you're going to have a beautiful little baby regardless, and no one is going to pat you on the back because you went through more agony than the next woman, you know?

If you're not sure if you'll want pain medication, you can request that it at least be offered to you and then you can decide when you're in the throes of labor whether you need some relief or if you think you can forge on ahead without any intervention. Also, as you probably learned in your birth class, there is the option to try a narcotic first. My doctor said that it would "take the edge off" but I skipped this option because a friend told me that she had been given one during her labor and ended up hallucinating (my dr. said this is rare, but I didn't want to chance that). But, it is something you could try first before proceeding to an epidural if you wanted.

I was induced and did opt for an epidural. There were a lot of births in the hospital that day as well as some emergency c-sections, so I labored for quite a long time before the anesthesiologist was able to get to me. I did have some problems in that the anesthesiologist had to be called back to my room twice in order to get me on the proper dose for pain relief. At first I was still feeling pain as strongly as ever, so he came back and adjusted the dosage. Then I was feeling pain only on the right side of my body, so he came back and adjusted it again, and I had to make sure to flip back and forth from my left side to my right side every so often to keep the medicine distributed evenly. Labor was much easier after that (I could still feel the sensation of the contractions and managable pain during the most intense ones) and although some people say that epidurals slow things down - prior to mine I had progressed very slowly from 3 to 4 to 5 cm, but once the epidural was working I went from 5 cm to the next time they checked me, they could see the head and I was ready to push. That was quite interesting since I really couldn't feel a whole lot, but the doctor explained how I should push and also let me know when to push hard versus when to slow down and push gently so as to minimize tearing. If you have an attentive doctor like this, I'm not really sure how an epidural would increase your chance of tearing..?? I had just 3 rounds of pushing and she was out - so that part was far easier than I had anticipated. The epidural did not seem to slow anything down at all. Also, I had been worried about the sensation of being so numb, but it wasn't as bad as I thought.. it's hard to describe, but it was not complete numbness.. I still had some sensation and mobility. I'm not sure how quickly you can get up and walk around after they stop the epidural, but I think it's fairly quick, like within a couple of hours (I couldn't get out of bed for almost 24 hours after delivery because of an IV I had to be on due to my preeclampsia).

Like a previous poster said, thanks to the epi I definitely feel like I could do this all again someday.

I hope all goes smoothly whatever you decide to do.. I'll be anxiously awaiting your birth announcement post! :)

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