Before actually giving birth, I had tons of preconceived notions about what I was sure to experience. My water would break in the night and we'd excitedly rush to the hospital, where I' probably choose the use of an epidural, though I could also tough it out with little-to-no complications. Now that I've come through to the other side of labor and delivery (twice), I'm acutely aware of the things people don't realize happen during a medicated birth because, well, I was one of those people.
I don't want to say I was naive in thinking labor and delivery would be easier than it actually was because we all know, no matter how you do it, it's work (after all, that's why they call it labor). Because I was induced for health reasons, medication was the path set out for me and I'm OK with that. Childbirth is the kind of thing that reminds us we are mortal and not, you know, the superwomen society continually convinces women they should be the moment they find out they're pregnant. Sometimes it's OK to utilize the things that make the pain a little less, well, painful. During both of my deliveries, I experienced a lack of numbness in the right places and total loss of control in others. It's a weird feeling to be strapped to a gurney in pain while you're legs and toes are rioting in a full fit of restlessness, I can tell you that.
Medicated births create a whole other set of issues I hadn't thought about beforehand. Below are a just few of the examples that being medicated doesn't always equate to an easier or more pleasant birth (oh, how I wish it did).
Your Epidural Might Not Take
I opted to get an epidural for both deliveries however, neither completely "took." I don't know if my body and medication didn't mesh or if I'm an anomaly. Either way, if you choose to go the pain-killer route, just know going in, while they typically do anesthetize your nether regions so you can "relax" a little, sometimes they don't.
Always have a backup plan (such as crying, screaming, and bartering for the contractions to ease).
The Catheter Can Hurt More Than Contractions
I've always been a haven for urinary tract infections so the slightest pinch and I'm burning for a month. (TMI? Oh well.) For this very specific reason, the catheter is my arch nemesis. I could have the gentlest nurse with the most delicate touch and, still, that pain will rival the strongest contraction I've ever experienced. I hate those damn catheters with a fiery passion and would probably rather push sans drugs, than deal with one ever again.
Pitocin Will Make You Lose All Control Of Your Body
Pitocin is used to speed up contractions and I had it administered for both of my births. The doctors and nurses warned that it could take awhile to really get working, or it could speed things up rather quickly.
For me, it was the latter and it was uncomfortable as hell. Without warning or build-up, my body went from the occasional contraction to, "Holy sh*t what in the hell is happening?" and in about 30 seconds. There's also quite a lengthy list of things that can go wrong when using Pitocin (which I discovered after), like the baby's heart rate dropping.
You Get The Shakes
At some point during a lot of deliveries, women get the shakes from all the adrenaline pumping through their bodies. However, when the nurse went over the side effects of Pitocin, shaking was one of them. (Only, she didn't inform me I'd shake so violently, I'd nearly rip the rails off the bed, but whatever.)
You Can No Longer Get Up To Relieve The Pain
In choosing the medicated route, you surrender all your rights to get up from the bed until baby is out (and for a while afterwards, too). I remember consenting to this inevitably both times, because I just wanted the pain to stop. Then the pain didn't stop and I was trapped for many, many hours after.
You May Get Sick
Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, dry mouth, and hallucination were all parts of my labor and delivery process. Sounds fun, right? While not a far cry from the nine months of morning sickness, the hospital was the last place I wanted to feel that awful. The irony of being in the very place that gave me the medicine, of course, was really an added slap in the face, if you ask me.
You Will Still Feel Pain
Medication isn't meant to void the pain of childbirth all together — it's meant to make it more manageable. And when I say "manageable," I mean it still hurts, but hopefully a little less. Just remember, at the other side of the pain is a baby. (And maybe cake.)
You Will Have Zero Control Over Bodily Functions
This is factual whether you're medicated or not, but once you've accepted medication it's magnified. You can't always feel what's happening down there (if you're lucky enough for the epidural to work). Seriously. It's not the kind of show you want your in-laws to witness but here we are, pooping on the table.
You May Still Need A C-Section
There's nothing wrong with needing a c-section but when you've been in labor for two days already (me), and you take the medication (me), and your doctor manually breaks your water because things "aren't progressing" (also me), there's always the chance you'll still have to go the surgical route. Toss out your birth plan, medication or not, because labor and delivery has plans of its own and you get little say. Ugh.
While you might experience some, or none, of the aforementioned, I'm a fan of being educated so you can make the best choice for you. Remember, whether you decide to have a medicated delivery or not, you're still a rockstar.