Labor and delivery can be a roller coaster of emotions. I for one, spent my whole pregnancy researching the best ways to manage pain and how to get it over with quickly. Although labor can have a mind of its own and can be quick or feel like it's something that is taking forever.
I chose not to get the epidural with my first born because I was uneducated on the epidural process and the thought of a needle going close to my spine absolutely terrified me. Having my daughter, changed my mind when I was educated on the epidural process. Listening to your body is the most important thing in these precious moments. You do not get a medal for not getting an epidural. Choose your birth story and make decisions that feel right for you in that moment. Here is my best advice to those who are expecting:
Give into the pain.
This was the best advice that my midwife gave me. When you run from the pain, it makes the whole experience worse and kicks up the pain like ten notches. Let your body feel everything. If you have a low pain tolerance and feel like getting an epidural for pain management is the best choice, ask your nurse and doctor about the process and ask any questions you may have.
Practice and maintain a steady breathing technique.
In through the nose and out through the mouth. This was the BEST thing that got me through labor and delivery. Every time I managed to get unfocused from my breathing I noticed that the pain just felt worse. There are many other breathing techniques that you can research and use for reference if you'd like to have options, this is just what worked for me.
Drink lots of water.
I made the mistake of not drinking a lot of water in between pushes and ended up being dehydrated after giving birth for the first time. I had cracked lips and a fever due to dehydration, so drink in between your pushing and throughout your early labor! With my second baby, I made sure water was by my bedside and didn't experience any dehydration scares. It also made pushing time lessen. I pushed for 70 minutes with my first born and 15 minutes with my second.
Sleep through early labor.
I wish I had done this. My little guy wasn’t in the right position so I wasn’t able to sleep through my contractions. I will tell you, early labor contractions are nothing like the ones that come after your water breaks. So getting as much sleep as you can before your water breaks is so important. You also might not be able to sleep as much as you’d like once little one is here. With my daughter, I received the epidural and was able to sleep through my early labor. It was so peaceful compared to my first pregnancy. I was so well rested and able to enjoy the lasting moments of her being in the womb.
Both of my pregnancies were so different as were their labor and delivery experiences. Not every pregnancy is the same and I didn't realize that until it was time to have my second baby. I was not induced with my first and induces 2 week before my due date with my second due to IUGR. Also understand that your birth story may not look like what you thought it would, and that is okay! Make the decisions that feel right in the moment and listen to your body.