This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Texas Health. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
The birth of my daughter and the birth of my son were as different as night and day. With our first pregnancy, I chose my doctor after doing hoards of research. I wanted the best person our insurance allowed possible in my corner. And, for that pregnancy, she was. She calmed my fears. (I had a lot.) She didn’t let me go too far down the “what if” rabbit hole. I didn’t know how I felt about being induced. I didn’t really want an epidural unless I needed one. And, through all of these decisions, she supported me. And, I trusted her completely with my care.
And then came those well-meaning attacks, er, I mean opinions. There was apparently no reason to be induced (not true). If they induced, they would have to give me an episiotomy (nope). And, if I got an epidural, I wouldn’t be able to feel when I needed to push (absolutely, 100 percent false). Also, I wouldn’t be able to walk around afterwards (turns out, this was a lie, too). I wouldn’t bond with my baby properly (nopers). Recovery would be so much worse (eh, okay, but since I went shopping for furniture two days later, I wouldn’t say it was THAT much worse). I would really regret not delivering “naturally” (unless someone grows my child to full term in a test tube, and the stork delivers him or her to my house in a cute little blanket, I’m going to stand by my opinion that no one really gets here unnaturally).
For multiple reasons, none of which included the quality of care I received from my doctor with Lillian, we decided to use the UNT Midwives for our son’s delivery. This meant that I had to prepare myself for delivering in a different hospital and for delivering without any medication. Again, I felt extremely comfortable and confident in the hands of the midwives.
Again came the opinions. If I was delivering with a midwife, why did I need a hospital? Shouldn’t I just have the kid at home? Nope. I felt safer and less stressed (emphasis on the less stressed) using a hospital. I should just get an epidural. There was no reason for me to be in pain (if only they could use the epidural for the next month).
In retrospect, I have all the perfect answers to these negative comments. But, while they were happening, I was dumbfounded, especially since they mostly came from people who had birthed children before.
As it turns out, both of my deliveries were absolutely perfect in their own right. Both deliveries went smoothly and resulted in beautiful, healthy children. BOTH styles of delivery had their pros and cons:
Pitocin vs. No Induction Medication
We set a date to induce Lillian: February 17. My husband was about to take the bar exam, and we wanted to give him a chance to spend time with our daughter, and I didn’t want him to worry that I was going into labor during the exam. We chose this date rather than February 16 because it would give me one last chance to mark some items off my to do list. So, of course, I started having contractions on the evening of February 15. Late that evening, I went to the hospital, and after a restless night of not much progression, we decided to speed up the process with Pitocin.
With our son, when we got to the hospital, we were told that my water hadn’t broken as I had previously thought (embarrassing), and they sent me on my merry little way. Before we got back home, the contractions started, and they felt less than amazing. We stayed at home long enough for me to sit on the couch and give Lillian another hug, and then we headed straight back to the hospital for a second time. By the time we got to the hospital, I could hardly talk through the contractions.
Pitocin Pro: You get to (sort of) plan the arrival of your child.
Pitocin Pro: You don’t get discharged from the hospital and get charged twice for admission.
Pitocin Con: Oh, my! Those Pitocin contractions are no joke.
No Induction Medication Pro: You let the child come when he or she is ready.
No Induction Medication (Possible) Con: You could be in the delivery room without your partner.
No Induction Medication Con: They might send you home from the hospital prematurely.
Epidural vs. No Epidural
With our daughter, my blood pressure spiked throughout the night. And, there was no relief in the morning. Family started gathering in the delivery room the next morning clad with opinions on my medical care. The great thing about having family in the delivery room prior to delivery is that they all get to be in on the experience. The bad thing about having them there is that you feel as if you constantly need to be entertaining them. Being basically naked on a hospital bed while in some amount of pain does not lend itself to entertaining — at least not for me. Combined with the pain of the contractions, having people other than my husband in the room during labor led me to get an epidural. It was magic. And, unlike people had told me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt when to push. And, I had a tear (not an episiotomy), but it was not complete. Because I was not in pain after the epidural, the postpartum pain came sort of like a flood after the epidural wore off. And, because of the tear, using the restroom was not my favorite.
With our son, we paid out of pocket for everything. I had a huge reason to skip the epidural, even though technically our midwives could get one administered. When we arrived at the hospital the second time, I was so far along that I couldn’t even speak through the contractions, let alone ask for an epidural. So, there was really never even a temptation to get one. I also knew exactly when to push, and I had a smaller tear (but still a tear) than with our daughter. Because I was in such pain during labor, the postpartum pain tapered off. I mean, it still wasn’t fun. And, using the restroom was definitely not my favorite.
Epidural Pro: Your pain during labor is diminished.
Epidural Pro: You are less likely to say something you’ll regret to other people in the room.
Epidural Pro: You will be more relaxed.
Epidural Con: Like with any medicine, there could be complications. Also, that needle is HUGE.
Epidural Con: Recovery will probably be at least a little worse.
No Pain Medication Pro: If you are paying out of pocket, there is a huge financial advantage to going epidural free.
No Pain Medication Pro: Recovery will probably be at least slightly better.
No Pain Medication Con: The pain is not pretty.
No Pain Medication Con: If your blood pressure is spiking, someone may recommend a C-section.
I am not a healthcare professional. And, I will never pretend to have all the answers. Nor will I pretend that my birth stories are the same as any other. These are just my observations about my experiences. I hope that they can provide some encouragement to new moms trying to figure out their birth plans. However your baby gets here, it is going to be your story and your beautiful little squish.