The decision to get an epidural during labor is not taken lightly. Informed women weigh the risks and the benefits and make the decision that is best for them and their baby, with input from their doctors and/or midwives. There is, however, a misconception that women who choose epidurals have chosen to go the "easy route," but there are real struggles only moms who had an epidural truly know. Those struggles make it obvious that an epidural, while helpful, isn't all unicorns and clouds and rainbows.
I was terrified of the process of getting an epidural; from the scary ass needle to the fact that I would have to remain still (I'm not a "still" type of person), to the possible side effects. I felt like I was stuck in a catch 22. I didn't want to experience the full wrath of seismic contractions, nor did I want to experience the pressure and sting of an epidural near my spine. The idea of a needle anywhere near my back made me want to vomit. There were nights when I lay awake thinking that maybe this whole getting pregnant thing had been a very, very bad idea. Then, of course, there were days toward the end of my pregnancy (usually after Googling the hell out of "epidurals" and "what contractions feel like") that I wished the baby could stay inside of me forever.
By the time I finally made it to the hospital, I had decided that I would see how far I could get enduring contractions without pain relief. I labored for several hours, assessing my pain on a pain scale. My nurses checked in on me often, asking me where the pain registered, and reminding me that at whatever point I asked for the epidural, it would take about half an hour more for the anesthesiologist to arrive. That meant that I would have to think about the fact that the contractions could be even stronger by the time he would get there, which would make it harder for me to be still enough for him to administer the epidural. In the end, I decided to play it safe (by my book) and not to go too far on my pain scale before calling for the good stuff.
The "good stuff," however, is certainly not without its own challenges. There are fears attached to getting the drug, things that could go wrong, side effects, those pesky insecurities we have about not having had a "natural birth," and the following: