Labor and Delivery: 11 Things No One Told Me About Epidurals

Please read this post with so many “grains of salt” that your able to enjoy a margarita (or virgin margarita). This is in no way, shape, or form, any type of medical advice. I am a teacher, not a doctor.  I’m not even a good candidate to administer first aid. I am the most squeamish person I know, not to mention that all this is a recollection of my birth story, when I was not at my sharpest.

1. Breaking your water before you have an epidural is not the smartest of moves.

This, pending the fact that you actually have control over how your labor is progressing, and let’s face it, once the baby comes, you won’t ever have control over anything for the rest of your life. But getting your water broken actually kind of hurts, and sitting up to have an epidural is very messy if your water has already been broken.

2. No one can stay with you when you have an epidural.

I had a major “I want my mama” moment when it was time for my epidural. My also very squeamish mom wanted no part of being in there for that anyway, but I was really scared to have to do that on my own. I told my nurse that I needed her to hug me and talk me through it. I squeezed her tight, digging my forehead into her shoulder, while my “water” continued to gush rivers all over the both of us.

3. Am I the only person on the planet that didn’t realize that an epidural is like an IV for your back?

I thought that an epidural was more like a shot, but its a completely separate IV that’s taped to your back so that it doesn’t move when you do. Ugh to this day I get light headed just thinking about it.

4. It comes with a pain management button.

I had access to a button that would “amp” up the epidural by giving me more “juice.” I used it quite a bit. No one explained it to me, but I’m assuming it had medicinal and placebo effects.

5. You can be “too numb.”

Just before it was time to push I was clinging to the bed rails begging someone to help me. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t describe or even pinpoint. My nurse calmly told me that any more “juice” from the epidural might make me too numb to push. Turns out more epidural juice wasn’t what I needed anyway, a few minutes into to pushing I barfed everywhere and felt ten times better.

6. It’s hard to be “lady like.”

As modestly as I can put this. When you have an epidural you’re completely unaware of feelings such as being gassy. So when the nurse suggests helping you roll to one side or the other be sure you’re comfortable farting in front of any guests you may have at the time.

7. It goes away quickly, yet stays with you for a while.

Moments, dare I say seconds after my son was born, they unhooked my epidural. I got sensation back so quickly that I could feel the doctor stitching me up…OUCH. And for a couple months after my son was born, if I bent down a certain way, this bolt of tingling lightning would shoot down my leg. It didn’t hurt, it just felt weird. I also felt like my back was just sort of separated into two halves, top and bottom. It’s so hard to explain, but I’ve had other women tell me that they understand what I mean.

8. Your blood pressure becomes a major concern.

Once I signed myself up for an epidural, I also signed up for a permanent blood pressure cuff.  This cuff would take my blood pressure automatically, every. 15. minutes.  Therefore sleep and rest was impossible because every 15 minutes it felt like my arm was going to explode.

9. You have to have an IV first.

I didn’t know that you have to have IV fluids for at least an hour prior to receiving an epidural.  I had IV fluids for 34 hours, I’m pretty sure I made sloshing sounds when I walked for a week.

10. It slows down progress.

I really wish that I would have known that epidurals slow down progress.  It’s almost as if epidurals and pitocin work against each other.

11. The numbing effect can change locations.

No idea why or how, but lets say you lay on your left side for too long, all of your numbness will be on the left side. Epic Epidural Fail.


11 Replies to “Labor and Delivery: 11 Things No One Told Me About Epidurals”

  1. I had an epidural for my first 2 deliveries and noticed that I developed pain at the site of insertion. I went natural for my 3rd baby and the recovery was so quick in comparison. I was out of the hospital as soon as they would release me!

    1. I’m currently 21 weeks pregnant with my second. I’m not quite brave enough to declare that I’m not going to get an epidural yet, but I have been reading up on natural deliveries.

  2. So no one told me it could cause shaking, like massive convulsions I could not control. It was terrifying, especially because I didn’t learn until later that it was entirely normal for some people. Thanks for the heads up doc.

  3. I wanted a natural delivery but ended up needing a c-section and so I got an epidural. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how much the numbing stuff BURNED before they even put the epidural needle in!

  4. I had everyone in the room for my epidural. My water was broken by the doctor befor I had the epidural. I had a great twin birth and didn’t feel a thing.

    1. I bet different hospitals have different policies. I’m starting to wonder if having my water broken hurt because I wasn’t dilated. Did your water gush everywhere when you were getting your epidural?

  5. I had an epidural and my husband was there with me. I also didn’t have to be on fluids for anytime prior. My water had already broken prior, though not by my doctor. I didn’t have any negative effects from the epidural. Everyone reacts differently. There is not guarantee you will have the shakes, or pain from and epidural. The epidural got me through intense contractions so that I had some time to rest and was able to push when was time.

  6. I never had an epidural instead i had an ITN with both my boys and plan to with my next babies. ITNs only numb your stomach from the pain of the contractions. It made me super itchy but that was better then the pain. I would never have an epidural due to all the crazy things it does to you. You still get stuck in the back but its a one time thing. No IV in your back.

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