Ante-Natal Class

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Our first ante-natal class is over and done with and it turns out it wasn't as scary as I was anticipating.

The class was focused on labour, when to know you are in labour and pain relief. All the things I am nervous about! Before the class I hadn't really thought much about having a birth plan, but now that I am armed with so much (too much!) knowledge I think I have a better idea of the way we would like things to go (if all goes to plan).

The one thing I am still really unsure about is an epidural. We were told at the class that only 50% of epidurals actually have the desired effect, the other 50% may work but are patchy, or may not work at all. And then there is also the (very slim) risk of paraplegia or death..... I think I would be all for it if they could offer me a 90% success rate, but a one in two chance that it won't take the pain away doesn't really seem like good odds. If someone told me that there was a 50% chance of getting food poisoning if I ate a piece of chicken, I definitely wouldn't eat it.

The other aspect that is bothering me about epidurals is the whole catheter thing. They passed one around for us to have a look at, and it completely freaked me out. I don't want to be stuck in bed, with a catheter, unable to move around due to the epidural, but still in agony! Don't get me wrong, I know that labour is going to be painful and hard work, but if I am going to be in all sorts of pain I think that I want to have the option to move around and change positions as I need to.

On the other hand, if I had an epi and it did work. I would probably be really, really happy about that! The midwife that ran our class did say that the majority of women that give birth at the hospital I am going to, choose to have either a caesar or an epidural. So maybe I am just over thinking it all and should just go with the flow.

This decision would be so much easier if this was my second time and I knew what to expect....

T xx

5 comments:

Fern said...

Okay, my take on this (and it might be long!)

I was induced both times, with D I wanted to go natural and ended up asking for an epi, the epi didnt take and I ended up going completely naturally. Pushing him out wasn't terrible, but the contractions were. Although a lot of that can be blamed on he induction and the way my body works (with both of them I went 5cm-9cm within 45 minutes, very intense very quickly).

With Conman I had a lot of birthing fears and as I went privately they had a lot more time for me. I had the epidural at the same time I started the induction drugs, it was VERY different, Dan even complained that he was bored! I had no sensation of contractions at all and it was a complete shock when the midwife announced that Connor was crowning. I didn't feel anything at any stage and felt very disconnected from the whole thing - although that was probably made worse by him being rushed to the NICU before I'd even seen him. It took me a long time to really click that I'd even had a baby.

Sooo... after experiencing both ways, despite the feelings (or lack of!) associated with Connor's birth, I will have an epidural with this baby if I'm induced. If I ever went in to labour naturally then I would chose not to have an epidural as from what I understand the contractions are more bareable, or at least there is a slower build instead of going 0-60.

nomesquefiction said...

One of my issues with antenatal classes is that so often they're taught by someone with an agenda. Doesn't matter what the agenda - both the natural-birthing and the medical-intervention-everywhere crowds tend to have their over-aggressive proponents. And often there's an irritating amount of bias involved. I'm not saying that's what you've gotten at this class, just - be wary :-)

My advice? Chat to a medical professional who you trust, someone you've got a good rapport with, and ask about epidurals etc.

For what it's worth, here's my experience - two labours. One completely natural except for gas, one induced with an epidural. My first was fast - about 3 hours from first contraction to "it's a boy!" Cripes. I spent far too long in the 'transition' type phase which is supposed to be over quickly, and it put me off having more children for YEARS. Misdiagnosed heart problems really didn't help there though. The second was induced due to (now properly diagnosed) heart problems. I was advised to have an epidural, pretty please, because the pain would exacerbate the heart issues. Sigh. I really REALLY didn't want to, I've always been a natural birthing kinda gal... but I did. I was surprised - labour went quite fast again, the epi went a bit wonky and one leg went completely limp/numb, but it was quick and painless and I could feel the contractions so as to push with them. Beautiful. I was happy with the experience.

Interestingly, my epidural would probably be classed in with the 50% that don't have the 'desired effect' ... which is part of the reason I suggest talking to a medical person you trust - you may find that the statistics were presented with a bit of bias.

Tamsyn said...

Thank you so much Fern and Nomes, your stories are exactly the kind of thing I need to hear. Actual opinions from people who have actually been there :)

Induction is one of the things that I am worried about, because I am due so close to Christmas, my Ob has said that I will be induced if I even go a couple of days over....

I am going to have a chat with him about epi's on Wednesday and if I still need someone else to talk to after that I will make an appointment to see my GP. She is exactly the type of person you described Nomes, so at least I know she will take the time to talk to me and listen to my fears etc.

Thank again for your stories :)

jeanie said...

Tamsyn

I second what nomesque said about the agendas of people pushing (or not pushing - ha ha little joke there) for drugs.

I did have an epidural with 'Salina, mainly because I was advised the odds on having an emergency ceasar with the way things were progressing was high - in which case I would have required and epi anyway.

For me it worked - I honestly didn't notice the catheter, to be frank, as the cessation of pain was bliss (I had a posterior position) and the knowledge that the baby had turned and ended up being born naturally put it out of my priorities.

I am not opting for anything up front - for me, labour is very much going to be a play it by ear thing - but its nice to know its and option.

BTW - what date are you actually due? I think being dictated to by the OB because of Christmas is ridiculous, but I am very much a crunchy granola hippy when it comes to intervention without need...

Tamsyn said...

Thanks Jeanie, I am meeting with the Ob this afternoon... But at this stage I think I am going to take the same approach and just take it as it comes. I will be open to my options, but I want to see how I cope before committing to any particular form of pain relief.

I am due on the 15th. Normally I would be against being induced too, but I really want to be home by Christmas as all of the family will be here and I would love to be at home with them on Christmas Day. So I am going to let the doctor get away with it this time!