On Pain Meds During Labor
NOTE: Are you expecting your first child? Please feel free to skip this post. It’s not horrible and it all ends well, but I don’t think it’s typical. So why have it in your head?
Here was my entire birth plan:
1) Avoid pain meds if at all possible.
2) Do not have labor induced.
3) Do not get episiotomy.
4) Do not have c-section.
Long story short? I batted .250.
Long story long? Keep reading.
My doctor sent me home from work four weeks ahead of schedule due to edema. It took me about a week before I realized that he knew what he was doing.
The official (or as I referred to it, “alleged”) due date was April 8, 2010. On Saturday, April 10, my doctor had me come to Labor and Delivery for a non-stress test, which went fine. Afterward, he said, “Well, you have an appointment with me Monday morning. Let’s see how you’re doing then, but if you haven’t gone into active labor, we’ll have you come back to the hospital on Tuesday and we’ll induce.”
At about 3:30 a.m. on Monday, I woke up feeling lousy, in an indeterminate way. I sat on the couch for a while and eventually went back to bed. After I woke up again, I realized that I had been having a four-hour contraction.
Flash-forward through a phone call to the doctor and a hurried closing-up of the house (we had been using a checklist every time we left for a couple of weeks, because we were very aware that if we left, we might not come back for a few days), and I was at the hospital at 10:30. Mid-afternoon, they administered Cervidil, and an hour later I got to eat for the first time since dinner the night before.
At about 9:00, I decided that I had been at Personal Pain Level (henceforth referred to here as PPL) 8-9 for long enough and asked for meds. By 9:50, the Fentanyl had worn off and I was back at PPL9. Then they gave me intramuscular morphine and an Ambien, to cut the pain and help me sleep.
Some time around 4:30 a.m., after they’d removed the Cervedil and started me on Pitocin, I got an epidural. It worked for a while, and it wore off. I was back at PPL9. The anesthesiologist “topped it off.” No effect. He upped it again. Nothing.
At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the nurse said, “I’m going to teach you how to push.” I pushed for two hours, and at noon–nearly 33 hours after I’d had my first major contraction–Baguette was born. But to avoid a C-section, we had to use suction, and I had to get an episiotomy.
So most of this did not follow my “birth plan.” But I didn’t have a C-section, and I did–and this is really the point–have a healthy baby. So I’m not complaining.
Since then, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:
1) If I have another baby, I’ll just refuse pain meds. I got no benefit from taking them, and everything worked out fine. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t. This is about me and my body chemistry.
2) Nine months later, I had a kidney stone. Labor was definitely not PPL9. Not even close.
Photo by jonathan percy, via Flickr.