FRANK PREGNANCY TALK Frank discussion of pregnancy symptoms, emotions, side-effects and oddities.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Fear of Pain

Pain. The pain of labor and delivery was number three on the top ten fears list. Who the heck doesn’t fear pain? Of course there are ways to control pain, and sometimes even stop it but, chances are, during labor and delivery you will experience some pain. To what degree is one part up to you, one part up to circumstance, and one part up to your doctor. Knowing what to expect and having a pain management plan is a good start. If you’ve never given birth before, I suggest taking some kind of Lamaze or labor and delivery class. They can educate you on what to expect during the stages of labor and advise you on what techniques are available to alleviate pain, such as: Lamaze breathing, meditation, hypnosis, distraction stimuli and drugs (Demerol, Nubane, Phenergan, Vistaril, and the oh, so glorious epidural!)

During my births I tried a combo of Lamaze breathing, meditation, squeezing the shit out of my husband’s arm and drugs. Yes, I admit it- I did drugs during labor! Personally, I am all for accepting pain medication during labor and delivery. It’s good to be able to relax and save your strength for the pushing stages. Some women get so physically exhausted during labor that they have no strength left to push the baby out.

Some of the drugs can make you sleepy or groggy, which may be a good thing if you need to get some rest. But, as with any drug, these can also have adverse effects like vomiting or creating feelings of excitability or anxiety. These depressant drugs can also have similar effects on the baby.

My all-time favorite pain medication is the epidural. What a wonderful invention! Within seconds, the body-traumatizing contractions fizzle into minor pressure cramps. The epidural can save you (and your partner) hours of physical and mental anguish. But, if you are going to have the epidural, you have to face that big, ol’ needle in the spine. Right? The thought of how creepy and painful it would be is a big concern, not to mention the fear of possible paralysis. My fear of paralysis diminished quickly when I found that the chances of that actually happening were just about the same as if a house fell from the sky and flattened me.

And, the creepy and painful part was really not bad at all. Contractions, and getting relief from contractions, were the only thing that I could focus on during labor. Having a needle put into my spine seemed so trivial at the time. I didn’t care if the needle had to be administered through my eyeball. I wanted it!

Every woman I know who has had the epidural cannot praise it enough and admits she would take the needle anywhere the doctor wanted to stick it. But it is a personal choice.

One more note on the epidural: if you do decide you want one, it should be one of the first things you tell the admitting nurse, so that preparations can get underway ASAP. If your labor is too far along or you are progressing too quickly, you may not be an epidural candidate.

Some women don’t require or want any pain medication at all. My friends Tammy and Bridget delivered all seven (between them) of their babies without any medications at all. They both claim that they never needed or wanted them. I wish all of us could be that lucky!


Blogger halloweenlover said...

Ooh, me too! Me too! I want to be that lucky!

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Nell said...

I had an eppy with both and with both it didn't work well. For my first son it only worked right for 2 hours of the 21 and for my second it worked well for about that long, but my labor was only 9 hours.

For some reason it is just never powerful enough for my pain. lol It is painful, but it obviously didn't keep me from having another one. ;)

3:43 PM  
Blogger Queenie said...

when I went in to the maternity ward, I was already at 7 cm, and I started flagging people down and pointing out that DANGIT, I wanted an eppy at FIVE CENTIMETERS but I SLEPT THROUGH that part and I would like one NOW, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I was lucky, too, because I had debated the natural childbirth thing but there turned out to be complications and if I'd gone without I would have had to wait for an hour before they gave me a c-section. And that could have been bad for the kid, so things worked out nicely. I was like, "thank you, and I'll have one to go." I was tired.

2:48 PM  
Blogger mrsmogul said...

I needed an epidural at the last minute. It was too painful..IF I ever am nuts enough to have a second child then I might try to do the natural thing as I now know what to expect.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Demeter said...

I will order two epidurals as I run into L&D! Promise! (one for me and the second one for XP in case he drives me insane)

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Lil said...

The only times I "needed" an epidural were when the doctors and nurses were doing evil stuff to me. The 20 minute session of fetal monitoring with the huge belly-attacking band? The "lay down on the bed so we can check your dilation? The "Let us pry you open with our hands" thing?

When I was left to my own devices, the only pain killer I wanted/needed was the ability to rock on my legs, and move around. Movement was bliss. When I wasn't in motion, the contractions hit me like a brick wall.

I didn't opt for an epi, though. Next time around I'll do things differently. I'll have a home birth with a midwife who understands the need to move around so that the brick wall doesn't hit me!

11:31 AM  
Blogger christie said...

I'm expecting my first baby in October and was just searching the web for info on the etiquette for determining who gets to be at the hospital during and after labor and delivery and came across this site. I'm hoping you'll have some thoughts to share. My husband and I are currently disagreeing over who should be present - I want to make calls after the baby is delivered and I've had some time to recover. My husband would like to have his family present. Neither of us - we have four months to go so there is time to hone our arguments and come to a decision - seem willing to bend right now. What do you recommend? I'm trying to balance his need for support with my need for privacy and space. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the frank discussions.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...


I think ultimately the woman in labor should have the final say over who's there and who's not.

For more details, check out my book, Frankly Pregnant. It's available on

11:00 AM  
Blogger Lily of the Valley said...

Yay for epidurals! Once my obstetrician broke my water, the contractions came hard and fast. Who ever said you're not a real woman if you don't do it "naturally," without pain medication. That person needs a reality check. The epidural was GREAT! I was crying so hard prior to the epidural because the contractions were so intense and painful.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't have an eppy because I was only 18 weeks preggo. I received pain meds through my IV. The pain meds just too the edge off, but overall the contractions were really not that bad:-) For my next vaginal delivery, I will not get an eppy either because I am so superstitious about everything.

10:03 PM  
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