Epidurals can Fail - These 3 Pain Management Back up Plans Can't

by Natalie McBride

Epidurals can Fail - These 3 Pain Management Back-Up Plans Can't

Having an expert-packed birth bag is one way to prepare and ensure more comfortability while at the hospital or birth center, but having a birth plan tailored to your needs is also essential. There are many ways to approach birth, and if you’re planning on an epidural for a more comfortable birth experience, you may want to consider a pain management back-up plan. Why? Did you know that the epidural could fail you? While unlikely, it’s empowering to go into birth knowing you’ve got options that you can rely on for your comfort.  

1. Intentional Breathing Techniques

Breathing isn’t just a necessity for living, it can mediate pain. Yes, focused breath work can reduce the experience of pain. When you take a birth class that focuses on breath work, such as Lamaze or Bradley Method, you learn that intentional breathing can mean the difference between managed pain and unbearable pain. Focused breathing takes the attention off of pain felt during labor and birth, and allows the rest of the body to function at its best. Some are better at intentional breathing than others, but at the pace we tend to live our lives, practice is necessary for mastery. God forbid your planned or unplanned epidural fails you, having an understanding of intentional breath work can help you through the ebbs and flow of labor and birth pain. 

2. Hire a Birth Support Professional

Can you do this on your own? Of course you can. Would it be a better experience with more support? Absolutely. Birth professionals such as doulas and midwives exist for the purpose of supporting birthing women. Their expertise has been around for centuries and remains relevant to today. Taking the time to source, interview and hire a birth pro is a worthwhile investment in your energy and money. Can you imagine having someone completely dedicated to you and your birth experience? She will prepare you for birth, be on-call for you, and stay by your side through the extent of your labor and birth. Nurses, doctors and partners can come and go - birth professionals are there for you through the duration. Choosing an epidural is very common today, but knowing you have a dedicated birth professional by your side, even if the pain-killer fails you, is a great choice. 

3. Endow your Partner as Birth Support

If you’re able to have your partner with you for your labor and birth, he/she can be of great comfort during your discomfort. He/ she will want nothing but the best for you, and if you discuss your wishes and solidify those wishes in a birth plan ahead of your expected birth, then you’re setting yourself up for a much better birth experience. Your birth partner can be your advocate when you’re out of breath, focusing through a contraction, or god-forbid incapacitated. Many doctors are delivering babies all day and are tired, which can lead them to making decisions that are tailored to their needs and not yours if you lack a birth plan or a birth advocate. Take a class together, practice comfort measures together, get on the same page, become your own birth team before labor commences, and if your epidural fails you, he/she is there to advocate for you throughout birth.

Epidurals were first used to ease the pain of laboring mothers in the mid-20th century. As hospitals became a more popular place to give birth, the demand for epidural-based pain relief increased. Not without risks, when properly administered it can help laboring mommas through birth.

Whether you’re still considering an epidural or are set on the idea, would you consider any of these back-up plan pain management options? What other options would you add to this list? #babyboldly

Bold Momma Author

Natalie is co-founder of Baby Boldly, wife to James and mom to Abigail (5 years) and Mabel (2 years). Her passion is to empower new parents for improved birth and postpartum experiences and changing the way society relates to new moms’ and dads’ unique needs.

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