When my son was born I screamed like I was being torn in half. It never occurred to me to ask for drugs (too busy screaming I guess) so I had no ‘plan’ in place when my body went in to shock. The midwives gave me pethidine because they had no choice, my body was shutting down extremities and they had to do something. My son was born half an hour later, the pethidine barley kicked in till after, I don’t remember anything but the pain. My point of sharing this is to say you never really know what your body will do, some things are just primal and out of our control.
So when I had my second child (a beautiful baby girl), aware of my body’s limits, I planned to have an epidural. It was a drastically different experience, I had little to no feeling below my waist, and the midwives ‘tutted’ and shook their heads before turning it off because I was taking so long to start pushing! As the feeling began to return, I knew I had better get on with it before the full on pain was back, so I started to push… as her head came out (rather quickly) the midwives said “Hold it! Hold it! Don’t push the baby is coming too fast!”. I stopped pushing and they said “Are you pushing still?” I replied “No”. The midwives and my husband began to laugh… I HAD to see what they were laughing at, so I attempted to sit up… There was my daughter, wriggling and kicking her way out of me. I started laughing, which only seemed to make matters worse, she shimmied out on her own rather easily, then looked up at me with the most undignified expression (what took you so long?!) As an experience it was the biggest crack up ever, especially when compared to the gruesome agony that was my first birth! Epidurals are not for everyone, and there is the chance you won’t feel yourself push, but for me, the painless happy labour verses the excruciating one is a no brainer.
I’m having my third in three months and I will definitely be having an epidural again. Just remember everyone is different, and there’s no right or wrong way for your body to react… And yes, my daughter is still an impatient little miss; we should have known she would be a handful.