To Epidural or not to epidural

Who here loves an epidural? I do! I do!

Speaking about drugs during childbirth is always a contentious issue I have found. It seems to be an ugly competition that lies deep within conversations around topics such as bottle feeding versus breastfeeding or vaginal birth versus C-section, drugs versus no drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I never have, nor will I ever proclaim to be perfect and as an adult, mother and human being I have an opinion on what I believe is best for me, but to put that on someone else in a form of guilt, or that ‘my way is better’, no. I’ll never do that.

So that’s why I am here to shout from the roof tops, ‘I LOVE DRUGS IN CHILDBIRTH.’ Do I fall to my knees and bow down to the women who can endure childbirth drug free? ABSOLUTELY. You are amazing and I have so much respect and admiration for you. But have I wanted that for myself? No. And have I come a little too close for comfort? YES! And I still have nightmares about it!

I gave birth to my firstborn at the age of 23 and despite considering myself a real tough-nut and a person with an overall high pain threshold, I was legitimately petrified of giving birth without pain relief. It wasn’t so much the contractions, because I didn’t know how or what they would feel like given it was my first labour. It was more the visual and overall idea of pushing a watermelon out. I was scared.

I went in with a really strong view of when I wanted to have my epidural. I wanted it quite early. However, I suddenly found myself enjoying my contractions. I embraced the pain, the timings, the breathing and feeling every niggle (ok, every HOLY CRAP moment!). But I was a step closer to meeting my baby. My whole theory of ‘embracing’ the moment, lasted a few hours until I reached a point where I simply didn’t think I could go on. For those who haven’t had a baby, it is quite hard to comprehend. For those that have, you’ll get me!! I WAS DONE! Physically but probably more mentally. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and knowing what I know now, I would absolutely have asked for that epidural earlier because I had over 3 hours of pushing in order to meet my baby. I realised all the labouring and contracting I had allowed my body to do drug free, made this process extremely difficult. I simply didn’t have the energy. I can’t fathom having to give birth with no drugs. The pain. The exhaustion. The lack of rest.

Fast forward to labour number 2 and I went in with more knowledge. I knew the labour pains. I recognised the signs. The advanced contractions. I was aware when things were getting closer. So this time I asked for the epidural much earlier. I thought I was being really smart you know? Trying to be one step ahead in order to allow my body to rest before push came to shove. HA! Well, didn’t life have a different plan for me! With four (you read correctly) FOUR failed epidural attempts, I went from 4 to 10cm in just over an hour. Let’s just say the joke was on me!

We got there in the end and my greatest fear of pushing a baby out with no pain relief was avoided. Looking back now I ask myself ‘could I have possibly given birth to Flossy without it?’ Yeah. Sure I could have. That’s what our bodies are naturally built for. But does it mean I wanted to? Nope. Not me. No thanks. OUCH. Am I still 100% unequivocally proud of my efforts? Absolutely! I did what worked for me.

Childbirth still seems to be a taboo subject and I feel there is still so much judgement around how you give birth. To the women who give birth naturally, I applaud you. To the women who used gas, or the women who needed forceps, or the women who had either an emergency or elective C-section, I salute you. We are all unique individuals and we all make decisions based on what is best for ourselves. What matters most is that your baby arrives in this world safely. However you get there, doesn’t matter. Every mum is a hero!

Written by Sophie Cachia.

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