When I was pregnant for the first time, I took the idea of a labour plan very seriously. I had very honourable and virtuous intentions of having no pain relief – after all, women have been having babies for thousands of years without any intervention. If a lady in Africa can squat beneath a tree to give birth I could easily do that in the comfort of a hospital delivery room!
My labour was induced so I had time to set up Kenny G music playing quietly in the background and as my labour pains began in earnest I was incredibly focused on breathing my way through the pain. I continued on my virtuous path for about half an hour, at which point my nervous excitement had turned into true gut wrenching pain that I couldn’t believe any human body could endure. At that point I requested a little bit of nitrous oxide gas to help me on my birthing journey.
That quickly escalated into a request for any drugs the nurse could put her hands on! I was given pethadine, which just made me nauseous. Eventually, as my original birth plan was completely shredded and incinerated, I requested an epidural. ‘No problems’ the kind midwife responded, then unbeknownst to me turned and whispered to my husband ‘We can’t find the anesthetist.’ In hindsight I was so glad she didn’t share that with me, as at least I felt there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Shortly thereafter I was told that my baby was crowning and that there was no time for any more drugs. The time had come for my bundle of joy (or wicked pain inducing monster as I thought of her at the time) to be born!
Four hours after being induced, my screams of pain, were replaced with cries of our beautiful newborn baby girl.
The next pregnancy I had to be induced again. This time when the midwives asked if I had a birthing plan, I responded, “As soon as I have any labour pains I want you to give me an epidural.” They laughed until I told them I was serious. I had tried the righteous path last time and this time I wanted an easy ride. I spent most of my second labour sipping tea and eating biscuits, feeling no pain as I watched my contractions on the print out from the machine attached to my belly. “Now, this is the way to do labour,” I thought!
I again chose to have an epidural with my third child, however the anesthetist had me lie on my side when he inserted the needle, so I was only numbed down one side. If you have excruciating pain ripping through one side of your body it defeats the whole purpose of having an epidural! My third daughter was born within an hour and half so I had no time for any further intervention.
I guess whole point of this post is to say that every labour is different and whilst it is a great idea to have a birth plan, the best plan is to be flexible and do what is right for you. At the end of the day, the only important thing is the health of the Mother and Child and not whether you ‘succumbed’ to pain relief in labour.
(Photo courtesy of Keerati, freedigitalphotos.net)