Pain Relief

At 1:30 AM Monday morning I woke up with a splitting headache. I lay awake for a couple of minutes and then decided to go downstairs, drink some tea and read a book while hoping the headache would dissipate on its own. An hour later, the pain seemed better so I decided it was time to try bed again. As soon as I lay down, the pain was back. I thrashed around a little bit more. Eventually, I decided to give up and take some acetaminophen (Tylenol). For some reason, I tend to be a little resistant to taking medication to deal with pain. I don’t know why. I’m not scared of pain medication, but I would prefer if the pain would go away on its own. The pain started lessening within the next half hour and eventually I dropped off to sleep. I woke up at 6:00 AM almost giddy with the realization that the pain was completely gone.

Ever since I started researching pregnancy, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not I would want to get an epidural. Pain medication for labor has evolved immensely in the last decade and many of the concerns that were valid a couple of decades ago aren’t as much of an issue anymore (btw, I’m still researching the pros and cons of epidurals/pain medications so feel free to post links to research you’ve found in the comments below). As I mentioned in my previous post, I really enjoyed reading The Best Birth book. When talking about natural childbirth, McMoyler said something that resonated with me, “I believe that avoiding epidurals and medical interventions is an excellent goal–but only in the same way that climbing a very tall mountain is an excellent goal: For some people, it’s great; for others it simply isn’t doable” (p. 167).

As I mentioned above, I tend to be a little resistant to taking pain medication and I do like a challenge. However, lying in bed pain-free at 6AM Monday morning I couldn’t think of any good reason why I should refuse an epidural. If it felt this good being pain-free after a minor headache, why would I consider going through labor without pain medication? Again, if I find good research studies indicating that pain medication is likely to negatively effect my baby or me in the long term, I’ll reconsider. However, for now, I’m strongly leaning towards getting an epidural at some point during my labor.

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