Peyton’s Momma was compensated for this article by Choices Matter, however, this is our actual birth story and experience.
Having a birth plan is a great idea. I had one. A very detailed one with everything written out. But there was one thing I forgot to think about, pain management. I knew I wanted an epidural but beyond that, I hadn’t thought about it. And then the day arrived. The day Peyton was going to be born, or so we thought. We arrived around 11 am on a Tuesday morning to start the induction. Guess what? That was not part of my birth plan. But I was optimistic, I still thought we could follow my birth plan with just a few slight adjustments.
Fast forward a few hours, a few hours after having been on medication to get things going and the anesthesiologist stops by for a chat and derails all my plans. Due to my allergies, he refused to administer an epidural and we needed to make a new plan. I get that he was just looking out for my best interest and ensuring Peyton was not put in harm’s way but, at the same time, I was sitting there hooked up to all these machines and thinking, What now??
Here were my choices –
Have a natural birth – NO WAY! No way was I going to go thru this induction and do it all natural. We were already 8 hours in with no progression. (Peyton was a stubborn baby) I could not imagine going through several days of this with nothing for pain.
Use opioids for the pain and then have Peyton go through a withdrawal procedure once she is born. Nope. No way was I putting my precious newborn baby through that!
Those were my two choices. Guess what? Neither of them worked for me. So what was I to do? I called my doctor and we had a talk. We chose to do a C-section with general anesthesia. This was not my plan. But I knew from my maternity class that 1 in 3 women have C-section deliveries. Additionally, a recent survey found out that 1 in 5 of those are unplanned. Mine was definitely unplanned.
I was planning on having a semi-natural birth with an epidural and minimal drugs. I had my diffuser, aromatherapy, witch hazel and more ready to go. And we never even took it out of the bag. Instead, I had to rely on my doctor and nurses to help me navigate this crazy space I found myself in and try to make the best decisions for Peyton and I.
So the next day Peyton was born. I waddled down to the operating room, where I met over 20 gowned and masked people waiting to help Peyton be born. It was intense! But within a few minutes, I was out. The last thing I remember hearing was she’s out, cut now! The reason for the urgency? They needed to get to Peyton before the anesthesia got to her. And they moved quickly.
A few hours later I woke up in recovery and Peyton was with her dad in another room. The first question was what did I want to do for pain? My response, I don’t know. What should I do? My only concern was that I did not want anything that could pass through my breast milk to my newborn.
It’s very common for opioids to be given for pain. But I wanted the minimal amount, I was ok with feeling some pain. I don’t remember the drugs that were given to me while I was in the hospital but I was assured they were safe for Peyton and I.
A few days later we were released and sent home with several prescriptions that I needed to fill. I didn’t really pay much attention, I was so excited to go home! The food was HORRIBLE and I wanted my own bed without nurses coming in and disturbing me everytime I finally fell asleep. So off to the pharmacy we went to get my prescriptions filled.
Once home, I read over everything and looked at the bottles. They had prescribed opioids and they were pretty strong. I was in a fair amount of pain so I gave them a try to see how I felt on them. I hated it! I felt fuzzy-headed and couldn’t remember what I had or had not done. That’s not good when you are taking care of a newborn! I couldn’t remember when I fed her, how much she’d eaten or when I had taken my own medication. Those side effects were enough for me to call the doctor and ask for something else. I ended up not taking opioids and turned to alternative non-opioid medication for the duration of my maternity leave. Yes, there were days it hurt, but pain also reminds us to slow down and that our bodies are healing.
Besides not liking the feeling of how the drugs made me feel I also was concerned about the effects. Like 35% of women who feel their doctors know best and rather let the doctor decide, that is exactly what I had been doing for the first few days. Now I was questioning it. And you know what? My doctor was fine with me changing my pain management plan because we did it as a team. I discussed my concerns with her and what I would prefer to do and she helped me figure out the best way to do it. She set me up with a schedule and dosage for my pills.
There are several options available to us moms when it comes to pain management after giving birth. But it’s up to us to ask the questions and do some research. We need to advocate for ourselves before the big day and we need our partners to help advocate for us too. Put it in your birth plan. Draw up a birth plan! I was shocked when I learned that 1 in 3 women did not have a birth plan. I had mine all written up and planned out at 7 months. Then I went over it during every single doctor appointment to make sure we were all on the same page and I brought 20 copies of it with me to the hospital. Granted, my birth plan was derailed in the first few hours but at least the hospital staff knew my philosophy about drugs and what I wanted done with Peyton from the second she came out.
I was also surprised to learn that more than half of women who have C-sections are prescribed an opioid. Even though I had many holistic approaches in my birth plan I was still prescribed one. If I had one piece of advice to give to first-time moms, write your birth plan out and research how you would like your pain managed before, during and after birth. There are so many choices, including non-opiod choices! We have choices. Visit the Plan Against Pain website to learn about the choices you have for your pain management.