10 Things you should know about getting your first epidural

Nov 12, 2014 at 10:45 a.m. ET
Image: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/SheKnows

Many women debate whether or not getting an epidural is the right decision for them. Women who plan on getting one sometimes aren’t able to, and women who don’t plan on getting one sometimes end up with one. So, even you aren't planning to get one, it’s best to be prepared.

I’ve given birth to two little girls and have received no less than two epidurals. During my first birth, I was having incredibly painful contractions for about two hours. While the thought of the long, sharp needle normally terrified me, in the moment I wasn’t scared at all because I couldn’t imagine anything being more painful than my contractions. We asked other women to share what they wish they would have known before getting their first epidural.

Don't pig out beforehand

Pigging out

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"Be mindful of what you eat in the hours before you get it, as having a full stomach can cause nausea once you first have it done." — Melissa O’Dowd

Don't feel guilty about getting one

Guilty

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"Go with whatever you're comfortable with, but don't let other moms guilt you into going without an epidural. You don't get a gold star for forgoing the shot!" — Jaymie Shook

You can still feel your legs

Legs

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"You can still feel your legs and move them around, they're just very heavy and almost don't feel real. It's a strange sensation, but worth it since you're no longer in pain." — Sarah,

It can make you shaky

Shaky

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"I didn't expect for the epidural to make me shake and tremble. When that started happening it really scared me, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the anesthesia, but then the nurse told me it's a normal reaction. I wish someone would have warned me!" — Alena Gerst

It can make labor enjoyable

Happy

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"It made labor not only tolerable, but almost enjoyable." — Susan Eldridge

You may have to get it twice

Shocked

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"The one with my oldest went flawlessly. It was great! The second time I felt like I was an expert, but it failed and had to be re-performed. Oh, the pain." — Robyn Murphy

The relief of pain is sooo good

So good

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"What surpassed me with my epidural? The pain factor. It was like trying to compare the difference to night and day — the relief in pain was that good!" — Sheridan Becker

Ask for it right away

Hurry up

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"Ask for an epidural right away, as it can sometimes take the anesthesiologist a good hour to make it to your room. By that point, you may be in a lot of unnecessary pain!" — Shannon

The needle is not as painful as you would expect

Not crying

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"First timers should know that placing the epidural is easier and less painful that you would expect!" — Edna Ma

You'll miss out on the high from natural birth

Happy high

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"My third baby was born without an epidural and I realized that epidurals diminish the effect of the hormonal high of birth." – Leigh Anne O’Connor

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