-1-(Click for Part 1 and Part 2 of Anne's birth story.) I'm glad this wasn't my first labor. From Peter, I knew contractions weren't supposed to hurt. Uncomfortable, yes, but bearable. Pain is your body saying something is wrong - in this case, that Anne was not "lined up" to come out properly. (Unfortunately, I couldn't fix it, so knowing was not particularly useful... oh well.) So when I chose to have an epidural, it was an informed decision.
-2-I'm happy I had a midwife. It's unfair to characterize all doctors as promoting medical procedures rather than letting nature take its course, but that has been my experience. My midwives were willing to wait if that's what I chose, to not check my pain level every hour, and let me decide what pain relief I might want and when.
-3-I've spent a lot of time thinking about the epidural I got and whether I would want one if God sends us another child. The possible advantage of the epidural (beyond pain blocking) was a faster recovery time. Since there was no feeling of urgency to push, I pushed as directed. This meant that the midwife could hold the baby just inside to allow my perineum to stretch without hurting me. The very small tear I had required no pain medication, which made breastfeeding much easier.
-4-On the flip side, I don't know if the minimal tearing can be attributed to the epidural. It could be because I had a midwife who knew techniques to minimize tearing. (My doctor with Peter did nothing.) It could be because Anne has a much smaller head than Peter did; certainly that is a major factor.
|Anne also looks much less like Batman. ;-)|
-5-If I become pregnant again, I will definitely discuss with my midwives how to best minimize tearing. The outcome of that conversation will be an important factor in whether or not I choose an epidural again.
-6-If I do choose an epidural in the future, it won't be until labor is well underway. I want to be able to walk and change position during most of labor to help it progress. I know the difference between normal and painful contractions; if there is pain, I want to know why my body is sending me the signal that something is wrong. I don't want an epidural until I'm certain that labor isn't going to stall and require further interventions.
-7-Of course, if I have awful back labor again, I might choose it earlier. That's another reason I'm glad this wasn't my first labor - now that I know how comfortable delivery can be with an epidural, it's harder to consider going natural again. But I know Peter's labor was much easier, so I have confidence in myself that I can do it again. Time will tell!