Pregnancy & Motherhood: How I Dealt With Pain During My Delivery
A WOMAN’S PAIN THRESHOLD
Maybe you’re pregnant, maybe you’re planning on becoming pregnant, or maybe you have no intentions of ever having a baby. Regardless of what category you fall under, you’re likely curious about the pain us women so fortunately get to endure during childbirth. I know every woman’s experience with the pain of childbirth is different, but today I’m sharing mine.
Before I begin, I want to make one thing clear – I believe whether you had an epidural or delivered drug-free, a C-section or VBAC, you are a boss. One method is not better than another nor does one make you any better or worse of a mother. You created a life and then successfully brought it into this world. Boss.
SO WHAT DID I DO TO DEAL WITH THE PAIN?
I chose without hesitation or regret to get an epidural. The way I see it – we live in 2018. I’m not much of a gambler, but I truly believe if you went back in time and polled women in the 1800’s who used to have 6,7,8,9 or 10+ children in their lifetime if they would opt-in to NOT feeling pain during the delivery of their babies, I’d bet the majority of them would gladly risk burning at the stake for access to that kind of witchcraft.
I had to be medically induced at 38.5 weeks due to high blood pressure. Before they artificially broke my water (with what looks like a giant crochet needle, cool cool cool) my nurse asked me what my birth plan was. I jokingly but not jokingly told her the only birth plan I had was for both my baby and me to survive and to feel as little as pain as possible. She informed me that since I was being induced, my chances of getting a C-section were significantly higher than if I went into labour naturally. She went on to say that if I got an epidural too early, I’d pretty much be guaranteeing myself surgery. I was trying to avoid a C-section at all costs because of the longer recovery time required due to the abdominal incision. I told her to just tell me when the safest but earliest time for me to get an epidural was – and boom, I had my birth plan.
START THE CAR/LABOUR
Shortly after they broke my water, I was given an IV with Pitocin, a synthetic form of Oxytocin, the natural hormone your body releases during labour to help the uterus contract. It turns out contractions caused by Pitocin come on much more aggressively and almost violently compared to going into natural labour. Fun! The hour of contractions I felt before getting my epidural was easily the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Nonetheless, I must say that the female brain is a miraculous thing because I can honestly say I forget what the pain felt like. Clearly, the female species is hardwired to either forget or minimize the pain of childbirth because I plan on going through it all over again to make my little guy a sibling. Mother Nature wipes the memories-of-childbirth-pain slate clean in order to propagate the human race, I’m sure of it.
About 40 minutes into level 1 of the drip, my nurse told me that I was able to get an epidural whenever I wanted it, but that the longer I waited before getting it, the better my chances were of not needing a C-section. I decided to try and wait a bit longer because I was still able to be up and walk around and the nurse upped my Pitocin to level 2. I lasted approximately 4 contractions (45 seconds of pain, 1.5 minutes of rest so a total of maybe of 8 minutes) on level 2 before I asked, nay, pleaded, for my epidural.
HERE COME THE DRUGS
Anesthesiologists are a gift from the heavens. Seriously. To this day when I discuss my delivery with anyone, I get butterflies at the thought of my mine. Before I got my epidural the Anesthesiologist told me to go to the bathroom. I was in so much pain during a contraction after getting off the toilet that I remember feeling like I had Hulk-like strength and was going to rip the sink out of the wall. That’s how hard it made me bear down.
Once I finally managed to get myself out of the bathroom she had me positioned sitting on the edge of the bed hunched over with my feet resting on my husband, Chris’, thighs. Even though she put a needle into my spine, all I felt was a little bit of pressure and then within a minute… nothing. No pain. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. The pain, all the pain, was gone. GONE. I was elated. I am pretty sure she gave me a CSE, a combined spinal epidural that works way faster than a traditional epidural. I think my conversation with her went something like this:
“Oh my God thank you. Thank you! I feel like I need to give you something. But, I’ve already eaten most of my snacks. All I have left is my last Bounty bar, would you like my Bounty bar? No? Chris, go buy her flowers. Do you like flowers? What are your favourite kinds? Chris, please go buy her some flowers from the gift shop!”
As previously mentioned, my Anesthesiologist was an angel and told me that knowing I was no longer in pain was more than enough of a reward for her. Do you know how much it means for a pregnant person to offer you her favourite snacks? A lot. It means a lot.
About half an hour after my epidural I started to get the chills, which is a common side effect. Visualize me wearing only wearing a hospital gown, my husband’s toque, and fuzzy pink and purple socks. So glam. I could see the contractions as they happened on the monitor beside me, which was cool to watch for a couple minutes, but since I couldn’t feel anything the novelty of staring at my contractions wore off pretty quickly and I ended up alternating between watching Netflix, napping, and changing positions for the next 7.5 hours. Around that 7.5-hour mark, I started to feel like I was getting an odd pressure sensation in my butt, but still no pain, which was GREAT. Apparently, that butt pressure meant the baby’s head had dropped and our little guy was ready to make his exit. Even though it felt like I was going to straight up poop my baby out of my body, I was excited and ready to push. 25 minutes later he was in my arms. I’ve been told that’s pretty fast, but his heart rate kept dropping and I was extremely, extremely motivated to get him out of me ASAP. It also probably helped that I didn’t have to deal with 8 hours of contractions on and off until it was time to push. I didn’t feel any discomfort until the epidural wore off. Recovery after delivery, friends, is a story for another day.
WHAT WERE MY OTHER OPTIONS?
Around my 32 week check up I left my OB’s office with a pamphlet to review entitled “Pain Relief Options During Labour.” There were medicated and non-medicated “relaxation” options. I kid you not; listening to music was listed as a non-medicated option. Listening to music? I’m sorry but there was no way DMX yelling at me to deal with a contraction or any sounds from an apple music meditation playlist that would calm me down enough to get through a true contraction. Before my epidural, I wanted to retreat into a dark cave by myself like a wounded animal until it was all over. I totally get why they do that now.
Omg. I can’t imagine delivering another baby without an epidural. I’m sure I could do it if I really had to, but given the choice, of course, I would get an epidural again. My little guy is happy and healthy and didn’t look “drugged” at delivery the way some baby community boards alleged he would be. Plus, I didn’t have to call my husband all the names I had prepared him to be called during delivery! A stab in the spine so I didn’t feel a 7lb baby exiting my vagina? Worth it.
– Aneeka Ward
What were your delivery experiences like? Epidural or drug-free? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.