Thoughts from a labour ward midwife….. Epidurals – good or bad?
So in this country, in this day and age, epidurals are a pretty common part of having a baby, right? If you’re a first-time mum, for sure! Last count, about 70% of first-time mum’s were getting epidurals, but is it a good idea or not?
Realistically, not many people walk onto the labour ward with a plan to get an epidural – the idea of a big old needle going anywhere near your spine is enough to put even the bravest off!
Having a birth plan that doesn’t involve an epidural is great, and with the right support, situation and coping mechanisms (see our Hypnobirthing courses for some great tips!) is totally possible! Staying upright, water immersion and other forms of pain relief are all great options. Any intervention like an epidural can interfere with your body’s natural ability to give birth – contractions can slow down, and you might not be able to push properly, therefore you’re more likely to need a forceps or ventouse delivery. Any medical procedure comes with risks, and as long as you’re well informed (see our antenatal education options), making a decision is entirely up to you, and your midwife will support you all the way.
But wait! There’s more! That rumoured ‘’gold star’’ you get for not having an epidural… yeah it doesn’t exist. The fact is, everyone is different! Yes there are risks to epidurals, but there is also a major advantage… no pain! Not all epidurals work perfectly, but for those that do, they can be a godsend. If your labour turns out to be very long, you’re exhausted or you don’t feel you can cope any longer, for you, an epidural could be the perfect decision! Sometimes, you might even be advised by your midwife to have one – for example, if you have very high blood pressure, it can help it come back to a normal level.
So to conclude, my advice? Keep an open mind! Be confident with yourself and your body’s ability to give birth, but also be aware that if things don’t go to plan, there are plenty of options.