Thursday, April 21, 2011
Upon arrival at the hospital...
Think you want an epidural? Here's a picture of what 'you'll' look like in a typical hospital labor and delivery unit after an epidural. What you may not know is that when an epidural is given before the active phase (2nd stage when you're dilated between 4-7 centimeters) of labor, your chances of having a cesarean section doubles. Epidurals commonly slow down labor, so you'll be put on a synthetic hormone called pitocin to speed up contractions. Since you can't feel your lower half, you'll be bed bound and need a urinary catheter put in. They'll routinely put in a intrauterine pressure catheter to "better" monitor how your uterus is contracting and this requires breaking your bag of water if it hasn't already. Now that you're all 'hooked up' you'll be left alone to be periodically checked on, otherwise nurses will be watching your progress on a screen at the nurses station.
Does this snapshot seem ideal? I recognize that for some women this common scenario is just fine and needed in high risk pregnancies, but for many others considered low risk this is invasive and induces powerlessness and fear. The best thing you can do for yourself and baby is to educate yourself on each of these interventions before arriving to the hospital and ask your OB about each one. We'll first take a look at epidurals. Since I'm no expert and there's no need to re-invent the wheel, here's a site that presents the risks and benefits along with questions to ask your provider in a nice chart...
I also liked this video: