Notice: All forums will be retired as of May 31st, 2016 and will not be archived. Thank you for your participation in this community, and we hope you continue to enjoy other content at

Epidural experiences

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Epidural experiences

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking to get a sense of the range of experiences with epidurals, from those who have already been there.  I'm particularly interested to know exactly how much/little feeling you had (and in how much of your torso/legs), and how much/little you were able to move around.  I'd be especially excited if anyone had what they call a "walking epidural" and how that went.

    By way of background, I have the second baby due in just under 3 months (holy cow), and I have been trying to prepare for no epidural, but due to the complications, I may end up with an induction and/or continuous fetal monitoring (and therefore tied to the monitors).  So I'm also trying to prep for the epidural scenario, and I have a consult appointment with anesthesiology next week.  I want to get a sense of others' experience before that appointment.  I had the epidural with DD but I really disliked it - couldn't move one iota from torso down, couldn't even roll onto my side.  It made me panicky, but I also felt like it inhibited my pushing, and it took a while for it to "pull back" after I started complaining about it.  I've since found out it's not like that for everybody, and I want to make a clear plan with anesthesiology to hopefully have "less" of an epidural - not even sure that's possible since I don't understand how it works!  Thanks for any insights!

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    I can't speak to the epidural experience, but I can say that having constant fetal monitoring and being tied to machines doesn't preclude you from moving around entirely and doesn't necessarily mean you'll need an epidural.  With my first I had constant fetal monitoring, an IV drip (I was strep B positive), and 3 cardiac leads to my chest, as well as O2 saturation monitoring (finger).  I couldn't go in the showers, which was a bummer, but because I didn't have an epi I could walk around (albeit on a leash of sorts), use the birthing ball, squat, etc.  From what I understand (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), an epidural means you HAVE to sit there.  You can't support your weight on your legs.  They call it a "walking epidural" but it's a misnomer--it just means you're not quite as completely numbed as they used to make you with a spinal block or whatever.  I could be wrong, though.

    With my second I was not positive for Strep B so I didn't need an IV.  I just had a port which they covered when I was in the shower.  I had fetal monitoring but they let me go in the shower the nurse would just stick her arm in and get a heart rate on the baby every few minutes or so. Same thing for my own heart rate.  That laxness might have been due to my success wtih my first (first time around they weren't sure if my heart could take it, etc.)

    Good luck!

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Thanks, Lissa!  I will make sure to check about that.  I already asked my doctor about having a hep lock to start so I wouldn't be tied to the IV (that was a 'yes'), but then when I heard "continuous fetal monitoring" and my hospital doesn't have wireless, I assumed that meant I'd have to stay by the machine.  I will look into whether or not I can drag it around.  (And I know it doesn't mean I have to have the epidural, but I suspect that if I can't move around, I won't be able to hack it without the epidural.)

    I think you're right about the 'walking' epidural.  I know at least at our hospital, they don't let you walk with one.  I'm just curious about how to obtain that level of pain relief crossed with some mobility.

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from luvRIboy. Show luvRIboy's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    I can only speak to my experience: I was in prodromal (sp?) labor for 3+ days before I was finally admitted to the hospital and I was exhausted.  My MW wanted me to rest, so I had my epidural when I was already 7-8 cm dilated...slept for 3 hours, woke up and was ready to push.  It worked perfectly for what I needed it for, which was sleep, and when I did wake up, I had some feeling and was able to push and do everything I needed to get him out.  She did have me on a pitocin drip when I got the epidural, so things wouldn't slow down while I slept. 

    This is definitely not the typical epidural story, since most get it when they're between 3 and 5, and use it more for pain management, so I have no idea of if it helps at all, but at least it illustrates different ways you can use the epidural. 

    Good luck with your conversation! 

    ETA: I was also on continuous monitoring, b/c it was a VBAC and that's a hospital practice, but my hospital has telemetry monitors.  But also used the ball right next to the bed before the telemetry was set up...


  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    You can't walk very quickly very far while hooked up to stuff but you can definitely walk around.  I labored at home for a long time before going in with both mine -- I have long labors -- and at the point where I felt like I NEEDED to walk I was home and able to roam around the yard, etc. By the time I had contractions 2.5 minutes apart and my water broke and we went into the hospital I felt like moving around on the ball and maybe standing up and leaning against the bed or holding onto my husband's shoulders but I wasn't really feeling the need to do laps up and down the halls.  So if you're thinking of early labor and wanting to be mobile you might be better off waiting to go in.

  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from rama8677. Show rama8677's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    With both my labors I had an epidural fairly early (around 3-4 cm) for the purposes of allowing me to sleep with the thought that I would push in the morning after being well rested.  With both, I achieved a significant reduction in pain but could definitely still feel the contractions and continued to be uncomfortable (though not *painfully* uncomfortable).  My legs felt heavy but I could still move them around a little bit (although certainly not enough to walk around, just enough to roll from side to side).  With my first labor, the epi wore off when I was about 8 cm and I had to have what I think they call a "bolus" which is essentially a booster shot of medicine, which, at the time, I desperately needed for pain relief.  After that, my legs went completely numb and it was incredibly scary. I remember panicking that it would never wear off.  With my second labor, I didn't need the bolus and never got to that level of numbness.  I could move my legs, wiggle my toes etc. the whole time.  So, based on my experience, I'd say there are likely different levels and amounts of medicine that the anesthesiologist could give you that would make it more or less likely that you'd lose feeling in your legs.  If it's a concern, I'd see if you could meet with someone from the hospital where you are delivering or have your OB write in your chart that you are interested in having "less" anesthesia rather than more. 

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Thanks guys!  Lissa - ha ha, I don't imagine I'll be able to walk quickly or far anyway!  When I was sort of pre-labor with DD and out walking our neighborhood, our street seemed insanely long!

    And Luv - I had the same experience that the epidural did give me the gift of sleep!  But then when I woke up it was still too much and it was unnecessary.

    Anyway, I definitely would plan to stay at home as long as possible in normal circumstances, but I may have the induction because of the complications with this pregnancy.  I'll also have to talk to the specialist about any concerns about waiting at home, for the same reason.  (Although recently the baby is looking great!)

    Rama, that's exactly what I will do.  When I asked my OB about all these concerns, she recommended the "anesthesia consult" and I have one set up for a few weeks from now.  I want toe wiggling and rolling over!  It was interesting, because when I asked her to write down what I should be asking for, I got the sense that there are many factors, so that's why she recommended talking directly to the anesthesiologist.  Like that different people might respond differently to the same dosage (?) or to different positioning?  It definitely seems complicated, but I wanted to make sure that what I wanted (e.g. rolling over) was a possibility before I went in to meet with them.

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Check if your hospital has mobile monitoring. I recall they would let me disconnect to walk every hour, and I also recall being able to move in the room with the monitors - I brought in a big ball to sit on for my second, and that helped me a lot along with having a doula.

    For an epidural - usually they need to put a bag of fluids in via your IV so usually it takes like 30-45 minutes from when you ask to when you get it (and my nurse warned me when I checked in about that time lag). And you will have to have a catherer (sp?) since you won't be able to use the rest room (and they did not pull mine out until I could walk over and use the rest room without help).

    Both of my labors were induced but they were very different. First one was so much longer, and I did get an epidural at around 5cm then got to sleep for a while. For me, it started to wear off on one side but it did not block any of the back pain (DS was facing the opposite direction) so the whole pushing, I could feel contractions on the one side and back pain and it was a long, long pushing phase (almost 3 hours). And recovery was awkward because it completely wore off on one side but not the other so I had to have help for a while.

    Second induction... it was very slow start then moved fast, and when I finally asked for epidural, I was 6-7 cm - and by the time that bag finished dripping, it was too late - I was minutes from pushing stage (but pushing was less than 5 minutes - with the nurses asking me not to push since I was not completely dilated, and my doctor was not there yet, for 4.5 minutes of that 5 minutes). Which surprised even my own doctor with how fast DD popped out especially she was was one oz short of 9 lbs.

    I will be honest - hard to know how much of it was picotin and how much of it is that transition is just plain painful, but that 45 minutes before pushing and watching that bag drip was very tough. But it was just 45 minutes - and knowing it was over so fast, I would probably not change a thing. I also don't know if epidural played a role in how long it seemed for me to get moving and to feel fully alert or how much of that was the fact that labor was 3 times longer the first time.

  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from thistleflower. Show thistleflower's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    My labor was induced and as a matter of  policy I therefore had continuous monitoring and an IV, but at least at MGH that meant that I had a pole that I had to haul around with me but I was still able to move around--the monitoring didn't require a physical connection to the machine.  Even if you do have to be connected by wires to the machine, I would think (absent an epidural, at least) you would be able to be on your feet and changing positions if you want.  I didn't have any kind of pain relief and it was really helpful to me to be able to use the ball and change the position I was in--I did a lot of clinging to the pole, too.  Anyway, if you don't want an epidural or you want to try without one I think it's workable even if you're induced.  That said, I think that the so-called "walking" epidural is supposed to be much more standard now than it was even a few years ago, so that you can get something to numb pain without losing all feeling or affecting your ability to push.

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from framerican51008. Show framerican51008's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Not sure if this will be helpful, but adding my story to the list :o)

    Within about 10 minutes of arriving at the hospital, I was puking from the pain, so they ordered up the epidural right away.  When they checked, I was 5cm, which I was grateful for because if it had been less I would have been scared to get the epi and slow things down (supposedly).  Got the epi about 30 minutes later, as well as a spinal block because they wanted it to kick in as fast as possible.  (Please feel free to correct me, anyone, if it's not called a spinal block.  It was a shot they did at the same time that they put in the epi.)

    After that, I relaxed for 2-3 hours.  Didn't feel completely numb, but didn't feel contractions at all.  When I got to 10cm, the nurse asked me to hold off until my OB was done with a circumcision.  Didn't bother me and when the time I came, I pushed for 45 minutes, then the OB had to make a tiny cut, and then out she came!  Things moved fast enough that I wasn't trying different positions, etc., but I think I could have turned on my sides or tried a few other things if I wanted/needed to.  Good luck!

  11. This post has been removed.

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from freerocks. Show freerocks's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences


    Please make sure you are informed about all the risks to you and to your baby before consenting. Drugged Mom = drugged baby.

  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Med, my friend with the 3 yo and triplets went all natural with the first (according to plan) and, of course, required a c-section for the trips.  She made a point of telling me that the epidural was "blissful." :)

    (epidurals are non-systemic.  It's like novacaine (sp?) - your whole body isn't drugged, just the nerves in the affected area.)

  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from cicirose. Show cicirose's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    I was induced and on continuous monitoring for 3 days. They started my induction by cervical ripening for the two days before I was finally given pitocin. I was able to move around for the most part, but there were specific times that they needed me to stay in bed after receiving the cervical ripening to see how I was tolerating it. It was more annoying than anything because it had to keep being adjusted if it moved, especially towards the end when the baby was really low and it was difficult to pick up his heartbeat on the monitor.

    As far as the epidural - I think I got it around 6 cm (they didn't check me until after I received it). They said there is no such thing as a walking epidural and I was stuck in the bed from that point on. I had to keep flipping sides about every half hour because one of my legs would go numb. I could tell that I was having contractions for the most part but they did not hurt. When the baby was crowning I could feel a lot of pressure and it was very uncomfortable but not painful like contractions without the epidural. I guess the worst was at the very end there was so much pressure I couldn't tell when I was having a contraction and should be pushing and at that point the monitors were useless.

  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Thanks, guys!  Cici - that's good to know - especially you mentioned "one of my legs would go numb" - that's good to know, because last time both of mine were 100% numb the whole time!

    Yes, I feel happily informed.  :)  Luckily I'm a second timer who is not too alarmed by stylistically interesting comments!

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from clc51510. Show clc51510's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    I don't know if this will help at all but I will share my experience... I requested my epidural at 5 cms and got it about an hour later (anesthesiologist wasn’t pleased with my IV fluid intake and required me to get another bag prior to starting my epidural). When they put it in they also started me on pitocin to speed things up. About 30 minutes later I regained feeling in my right side so the dr came back to adjust the epidural.  For about 3 hours it was great, I relaxed and took a nap.  Then the pain started coming back slowly so they called for the anesthesiologist.  All of the sudden the pain was awful and the epidural had completely worn off.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one, 3 other women had received their epidural at the same time as me and all of ours wore off at the same time.  They called in an anesthesiologist from home to fix all of ours but by the time he arrived I was ready to push so they couldn’t give me anything additional. I pushed for just under an hour, feeling every little pain but in the end was rewarded with a perfectly healthy DS.  Would I get another epidural if/when we have #2, yes but I know for sure that first anesthesiologist won’t be coming anywhere near me! 


  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Hi everyone, thanks for sharing your experiences!  By way of closing the loop, I wanted to tell you that I had my consult with the anesthesiologist.  Well, it was great, he was great, and I was extremely glad I did it.  I was also VERY glad I had your experiences to draw from in order to know what a "normal" epidural should feel like.  So thank you for that!  And don't hesitate to always consult your friendly local anesthesiologist.  :)

    Medical details for the interested and strong of stomach: I wanted to know why my epidural with DD was so ridiculously strong (complete loss of feeling, completely immobile).  Some of you may remember that I got a spinal headache with DD, which hurts like heck if you are upright and better when you lie down.  It's a possible complication that occurs if they accidentally nick the membrane in the spinal column (not very common!  and they can fix it if it's identified!)  So, I began to suspect through my research and the doctor confirmed that my extra-strong epidural experience was from the same cause - basically the unrecognized breach in the membrane caused the medication to pass through and I got an accidental spinal block - like it would have been prepared for a c-section.  I feel about a million times better now that I understand what went on then and what should hopefully happen this time!  I just wasn't prepared enough last time to realize that what I was feeling was not normal, and unfortunately the nurses didn't recognize what was going on either.  Not faulting them, because it was a rare scenario, but this is a lesson to me about being more clear if something doesn't seem right!

  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from Mommyfirst. Show Mommyfirst's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Epidural was definately a mistake for me.  After epidural I could feel nothing but was told I should start pushing.  It was impossible and they ended up using a vacuum to assist.  Had 3rd degree tears and too many stiches to count.  Did not have epidural with first and no vacuum no ters.  I would never do epidural again.

  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from Arcain. Show Arcain's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Med - Sorry if I'm repeating/jumping in late (I'm at the end of my lunch break so didn't have a chance to read all the responses!) but I'm curious why you want to be prepared for an epidural because of the induction? Is it b/c of the tendency toward stronger contractions with an induction?

    I was induced, but was determined to go with my plan for no epidural. Though I have no basis for comparison, I think the Pitocin made my contractions much stronger. Basically, I was showing no progress for the first few hours so they upped my dosage, at which point I progressed VERY fast and spent the last 2 hours of labor with continuous contractions -- absolutely no break in between. I had actually started to ask for an epidural because I was so worn out from the intensity when I realized it was time to push.

    Basically, I buy into the whole concept that Pitocin inhibits the body's ability to manage the pain, and based on that, I'd think seriously about getting an epidural if I had to be induced again. Totally anecdotal, but thought it might be worth sharing.

  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from KCW1972. Show KCW1972's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences


    I had a heavy epidural with my first.  In labor for 30 hours and pushed for an hour and a half ... never "felt" the need to push.  Numb legs after ....  HATED that experience.  Second baby I was hoping to not have an epidural but I was not committed to it ... I left the option open.  I got the epidural at 5cm or so and quickly progressed to 10 and felt the strong urge to push!!!  My son was out in THREE pushes!!!  Epidural fully kicked in when he was OUT!  Third time around I was DETERMINED to NOT get an epidural.  So I stuck with the NCB plan.  It was on the chalkboard on the delivery room wall.  I'm a high risk pregnancy (blood clot issues) and ended up having to be induced.  Even with the pitocin drip I stuck with my decision to go natural.  I practiced the Bradley breathing based on readings I had done and labored on the exercise ball, rocking chair .... I am so proud to say I did it and it was NOT awful!!  I pushed my daughter out in 2 pushes and felt sooo good right after.  I was able to take a shower, nurse her so easily, I completely felt like myself RIGHT after delivery.  Honestly if I could go back, I would have the first two with no epidural.  Honest.  That is my personal epidural experiences. 

    Good luck!

  21. This post has been removed.

  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Arcain, you're right, pitocin makes the contractions much worse.  I went drug-free with my first labor and it was obviously not fun or anything but it was fine.  With my second I went drug-free and when my labor stalled after 36 hours or so, they gave me pitocin.  The pitocin-induced contractions felt MUCH worse and much more intense than the regular ones.  For me, at least, the regular ones are kind of a like  wave washing over you, you can feel them rise and fall with intesity they start in your back and core and wrap around.  The pitocin ones are like a tearing burst/explosion, starting from the cervix.  It felt like something was wrong and unnatural, like I'd been shot or something.  I kept going without the epi (like your experience, there wasn't time anyway, even if I'd changed my mind) but if I am ever in a similar situation again I'm asking for an epi before they give me pitocin, despite the fact I've gone drug-free with two labors already! 

  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Epidural experiences

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!  Yes, my worry with the induction is that the contractions will be stronger and harder to manage without medication, plus the whole staying-at-home-as-long-as-possible thing goes out the window.  After meeting with the anesthesiologist, though, I feel more comfortable with whatever has to happen.