Molly Murray - Birth, Life, and Business Doula
Short answer? It really depends on your labor and birth.
I was once with a client in labor who, between contractions, with sweat dripping down her brow, said, ''Thank God it is too late to get an epidural, otherwise I would be asking for one right now.'' This birthing person was 8cm along, contractions were coming hard and fast every 1-2 minutes (we call this transition) and things were so intense for her!
Was it too late to get an epidural? Nope.
Was I going to tell her that then? No way!
I simply said, ''You're doing such a great job.'' and she didn't bring it up again.
A short time later, she was pushing her baby out!
It's a common myth that you have a certain time frame for getting an epidural and if you don’t get one soon enough you won’t be ''allowed'' to get one.
So long as you're in a place where you can sit still for long enough, you can likely have an epidural any time you want one.
Of course, talk with your care provider prior to your labor and birth, but in my experience and from what I've seen... unless the baby is crowning (at the perineum and coming out), and so long as the birthing person can sit still long enough for the placement, it's never too late for an epidural.
In childbirth classes and in prenatal visits as a birth doula, I often talk with clients to see what they would like me to do when they say, '' I want an epidural.''
Birthing people in our culture often use the words, ''I can't do this.'' or ''I need an epidural!'' as code for, ''This is hard!'', ''I need more support.'', ''I need something to change.'' or. ''This isn't working!''
So when a birthing person says, ''I want an epidural!''
I say, ''I hear you. This is hard. You're doing an amazing job. Would you like to get in the shower or change positions? I'll help you.''
But if a birthing person says, ''No. I really want an epidural.'' then I say, ''Yes. Let's do it. There's no wrong way to birth your baby.''
You are amazing, birthing people. You are meant to birth your baby. And I don't say that lightly. I don't say, ''You are meant to birth...completely unmedicated and in the water.''
No. What I mean is, you are meant to birth your baby, however YOU choose to birth your baby.
You are strong, capable, and fully supported!
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Cincinnati Mother, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator and Founder of the Cincinnati Birth and Parenting Network.