Epidural | Fit Pregnancy


Epidurals: fact vs. fiction


Considering that at least 60 percent of American women today have an epidural for pain relief during labor, it’s surprising how misunderstood this procedure is. For starters, even doctors use the word “epidural” generically, to encompass three similar yet distinct procedures: epidurals, spinals and the combined spinal epidural (CSE), or “walking” epidural.

Since deciding whether or not to have an epidural means becoming informed about the benefits and risks well before labor begins, here are the facts to help you make sense of some common misconceptions.

Avoid Intervention

When it comes to natural childbirth, knowledge really is power. If you're hoping to avoid interventions such as induction, episiotomy, or C-section, it’s important to be informed and to ask questions.

You can increase your odds of having a natural delivery, starting here:

It's Only Natural
Want a drug-free delivery? Here are 5 ways to increase your chances.

The Perfect Partner

When Christina Carey, 40, imagined her baby’s birth, she pictured her husband by her side, lovingly supporting her throughout labor and delivery. But when showtime arrived, she was surprised to see an entirely different side of him.

Birthing Tips

1. Get to know yourself Think about what makes you tick and what you really want. Are you skeptical or respectful of the medical establishment? Ask yourself, if you had no constraints, how would you want to give birth? Does one option make you say: “Yes! That makes total sense!” Do others make you squirm and think: “Yikes! I would never do that in a million years.” Your gut reaction tells you which choice is right for you.

The Myth of the Perfect Birth

Childbirth has become super competitive.  I don’t know if this is new to the last 50 years or if women have always judged how and where they give birth as a measure of maternal perfection.  Maybe the Stone Age woman bragged her birth was better than some other cave woman’s birth because she pushed her little Neanderthal out on a rock; clearly making her more bad-ass, natural, and a better mother than those wimp moms who delivered in a cave. 

Birth Complications

“After my emergency Cesarean section, I was shell-shocked that I wasn’t pregnant anymore.” Jennifer O’Brien, East Greenbush, N.Y.

Be Prepared

You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. Such an intense athletic event requires mental, physical and emotional preparation. The same is true for childbirth: Knowing what can happen during labor and delivery—and your options for pain relief—can alleviate your fears and boost your confidence. “Knowledge is power,” says Sheri Bayles, R.N., a certified Lamaze instructor who taught childbirth classes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for more than 20 years.

Labor Lite

The words “easy labor” may seem like an oxymoron, but there are steps you can take, both throughout pregnancy and during labor, to make your experience less stressful and more comfortable, less clinical and more joyful. And although the following tips won’t guarantee you’ll have a sweat-free, pang-free birth, they can help make your labor and delivery more manageable.

What No One Tells You (But You Need to Know) About Birth

‘‘I don't remember my early contractions being painful. But midway through my labor, the baby shifted and I started to have back labor. It felt like somebody was slamming a machete into my back. The pain was very sharp and nonstop. I wasn’t dilated enough for an epidural yet, so the nurse and my husband were applying counterpressure to my back. I remember my husband bracing his legs against the wall and almost climbing up it to keep enough pressure on me.’’ — Jaime Pruitt, mother of two, Kansas City, M.O.

Your Birth Plan

Remember: it's really more of a wish list. It's best to keep your birth plan short and sweet, and to really think through a few key questions which will help you communicate your wishes. Use this form to write open-ended answers to five crucial questions. Then, print it out and share it with your healthcare provider.