Now that I've got both feet (and a belly) firmly in the 3rd trimester, I'm realizing I have a lot of decisions to make about the big D-day.
I've always assumed that somewhere between 38 and 42 weeks, contractions will start, my water will break, and off to the hospital we'll go. I'll be whisked away to my room, and for the next 12-20 hours, the doctors will deal with my obscenities, my darling husband will deal with a bruised hand, and I'll do my best to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, cracking some inappropriate jokes about finally finding out who the father is in order to keep myself sane. The doctors will do their thing, I'll hate the world, and then, finally, the little one will finally break into the world and ensure we don't get any sleep for the next 18 years.
If I listen to what seems like the rest of the universe, however, I need a "birth plan." Something that outlines exactly what I want, when I want it, and pinpoints how to control every detail I've always assumed I won't have any control over.
While I see the advantage in specifying what I want for some details (I want the baby cleaned off before it's on my chest. I'm serious. No slime. It was in me. I can wait those extra 30 seconds, I promise.), I'm not completely buying the whole thing. Am I really going to care what music is playing? What happens if there are complications and the 18 page, finely crafted instruction plan I stressed over for a week has to go straight out the window?
The most important benefit to a birth plan that I see deals with pain meds. The problem, however, is that I can't decide on what I want. Natural? Totally medicated? Somewhere in between? I just don't know, and I'm not sure I can be sure without truly knowing what I'm in for.
The curious superwoman in me wants to try the all natural approach. I mean, women have been giving birth without modern pain meds for hundreds of thousands of year. The epidural wasn't even introduced to the U.S. until the 1930s. Our bodies are designed for it, and I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I know I will survive pushing out a kid without an epidural, so why not?
Why not? Because it's going to hurt. And as my girlfriend and sister both like to remind me, no one's giving out awards to epidural-free moms. There's no reason to be a hero, and if it's available, I should take it. It'll make an episiotomy and stitches (ack!) easier, and I'll obviously be in less pain over all.
Then again, epidurals can make labor longer, and I'm not really going for marathon status if I can help it. You're also immobile, which makes me nervous—I think I'd like the option of walking around that giant labor and delivery suite if I'm allowed to. They can also cause other complications for both mom and baby, though most of those stem from doctor error. (Just Google it.)
So as of right now, my goal is to try it medication-free for as long as my body and I can take it. I've told my husband (and suppose I should write it down for the doc, I guess the Birth Plan idea wins) that if I want an epidural, I will ask for it. But I can only ask for it while I'm not having a contraction—I feel like that will make my decision a little more reasonable and less spur-of-the-painful-moment. And of course, if the doctor finds it medically necessary, I'm going to listen to them. They've done this a few more times than I have.
I'd love to hear from some of you that have actually been through this. Am I being naive? What were your experiences? Did you go natural and wish you'd been medicated or vice versa? And most importantly, if there is a bad-ass, pain-med-free mom award and I don't know about it, now's the time to let. me. know.
~ Pam Huber of Seriously Yum