labor and delivery with an epidural birth story

Birth Story Labor with an Epidural when Nothing Went to Plan

My First Labor and Delivery with an Epidural: When All My Plans Changed

This is MY birth story (Allie Edwards, creator of The PPP). On the Perfect Pregnancy Plan, we often take submissions of unique birth stories to share. If you would like to submit yours for possible publication read about our submission requirements here.

When you are preparing for labor, birth stories can really give you a great idea of what to expect, ease your mind, or scare the bejeezus out of you.

I personally love hearing people’s birth stories. They are all so unique and amazing. Labor and delivery is truly a phenomenal experience: whether it be bad or good.

This is the story of my first labor and delivery, which went nothing as I’d planned.

**This post contains affiliate links to items I own and love and am confident will benefit you immensely! You can read the full disclosure here.**

positive labor and delivery birth story with an epidural

The Birth Plan that Failed: My Labor and Delivery with an Epidural Birth Story

Ok so maybe that title is a bit dramatic but that’s how it felt to me. So many people place such a weight on creating a birth plan.

Being a planner, list writing, kind of gal myself I was eager to write up my birth plan. Print it out. Then share it with every doctor and nurse on my team!

Knowing, that in those precious typed and printed words were the details of how my labor was going to progress.

Looking back I now know that belief was foolish. Your birth plan is really just a wishlist. It is you showing that you are aware of some of the choices you may have during labor and should those choices arrive, that you have a plan as to how you intend to handle them, and that is all.

My first pregnancy I was only 22 and not knowledgeable about pregnancy or babies AT ALL. So I did an awful lot of research and reading throughout my pregnancy on both subjects.

Like cramming for a final for 9 months that I absolutely had to ace because, well, another human being’s life depended on it!


What WAS My Dream Birth Plan?

I wanted what was best for my little girl. And from everything that I read and researched, all-natural was the best option.

I didn’t want her drugged up, I didn’t want to be drugged up. Plus, I felt like I could handle it because I truly believed it was best for my baby.

I wanted the least intervention possible. No induction. No forceps and no suction. I knew my body and mind could do it, I had a crazy high pain tolerance anyway.


But then exactly one week before my due date, something horrible happened.

It was the morning of my 23 birthday. My now hubby and I were on our way to go donate some old clothes and head to Denny’s for a free grand slam birthday breakfast for me!

We got all of one block down the street and while sitting at a red light, got smashed into from behind by a woman who didn’t even touch her brakes going 45.

What a terrifying thing to happen when you are about ready to have a baby. I insisted I was fine but decided to go to the hospital anyway to check on the baby.

We spent 4 hours there. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor the entire time to check on our little girl, who showed no signs of distress whatsoever.

By then it was early evening and my parents drove down to take us out to a birthday dinner before taking us back to our apartment. By the end of the dinner, whiplash had already set in and I could barely move my neck.

This was not the first horrible car accident I’d ever been in, and with that pain setting in already I was very worried about how I would feel the next day.


The Day After the Accident: 6 Days Until My Due Date

When I awoke the next morning I could hardly move. I definitely couldn’t turn my head, and my entire body ached.

I was so sad. Because I knew at any moment I could go into labor. I knew I was soon about to endure the hardest most physically strenuous experience of my life of bringing another human into the world… and I could barely move.

I needed all of my strength, physical and mental. And now it wasn’t there. When I had felt so almost prepared and at ease about my little girl coming soon just a day before, I was now dreading it.

Within the next few days, my husband and I both began chiropractic care, bought a car, and were as prepared as we possibly could be.

Each day I prayed she’d stay in a bit longer so that I could heal.

Well, everything seemed to be going in our favor as our little angel continued to not come out.

What’s funny is I had just started Braxton Hick’s contractions for the first time the morning of the car accident. I assumed that meant she was almost ready, that my uterus was preparing. But after the accident they stopped. With no sign of returning.

I felt like baby girl got scared back in. Perfectly content to stay in her warm dark safe place as long as possible.

RELATED: First Trimester Checklist (with free printable)


5 Days After My Due Date

My first baby was born in California. California has really strict rules in its hospitals about childbirth. Originally I had chosen to have a DO instead of an MD because I thought a doctor of obstetrics would be less likely to insist on medical interventions. Well, she wasn’t.

At only 5 days post-date (which is super common for first pregnancies to go up to 2 weeks post-date) I was told I would need to schedule an induction if I went 2 more days.

I pleaded as I explained my birth plan. The holy grail paper everyone had insisted I write.

That I didn’t want to be induced. That it increases the chances of every other type of intervention I didn’t want. That I wanted to wait longer to see if she could please come naturally. That I in fact had been 2 weeks late myself.

I was told with some attitude, “Fine, you can go longer, but you will have to spend each day in the hospital on the fetal monitor to make sure baby ivgtrfvds ok.”

After hanging up the phone, I felt total despair over my set of choices. Both were heavily clad with medical intervention. Interventions that seemed awfully unnecessary to me.

But once again, I was young. This was my first baby. I didn’t know what else to do, or that I really DID have options, so I scheduled my induction when I was told to. 1 week after my “due date.”

RELATED: 2nd Trimester Checklist with free printable pdf


The Day of My Scheduled Induction

My husband and I were both too anxious to sleep the night before the induction. We were scheduled to be in the hospital at 5 AM anyway.

When we arrived I was given a hospital gown and an IV block. They put in Cervidil (this little drug-laden string they stick in your vagina to ripen your cervix.)

At that point, I had zero effacement, zero dilation. I remember for my last few appointments being told my cervix had a dimple, meaning maybe it would efface somewhat to prepare for labor soon. But that never happened.

We kind of waited around and chatted between reading magazines for what felt like forever. I believe it was somewhere right around 10 hours.

My cervix was finally “ripe” enough at that point and it was time to start that drip of Pitocin. Which means you are:

  • Now stuck in the bed.
  • Fetal monitor strapped on.
  • And labor is about to start.

Once I got my Pitocin Drip Labor Pain Came on Quickly

I had all these plans of how to manage my labor pain. How to move around. Different positions to try. Get some counter pressure on my back.

Everything I had read about in the handfuls of books I read and everything I learned about the birth classes we attended at the hospital.

On a side note, for my next labor, I attended this awesome birth class online in my PJs from home instead! It’s so thorough and created by an L&D nurse of 18 years! Check out an awesome online birth class!

Well, I couldn’t do any of it! Once they start that drip you are confined to the bed.

Within an hour my contractions were getting intense. I remember writhing back and forth in the bed, trying to breathe through the pain the best I could and clenching the bed rails as tight as I could. One side, then the other side.

Did I mention I was still in horrible pain from that car accident? So my neck, back, and head were killing me and flipping back and forth in the bed, trying to quietly ride out those contractions was horrible and aggravated the accident pain.

I did not handle the contractions well with being stuck in one place. I know I was supposed to relax, that tensing up makes the pain worse. But I kept tensing up more and more anyway.

I believe I went on like that for about 6 hours. Making steady progress dilating to 6 cm by 11 pm. But then I knew I’d had it.

I was so exhausted from not sleeping the night before, tossing and turning with each contraction stuck in one position was making my neck and back pain horrible, and I knew I needed rest if I still had to somehow muster up the strength to push a baby out at the end of all this.

RELATED: Out of hospital birth bag checklist (free printable)

first childbirth story in california

So against all my wishes, I asked for the epidural.

A wave of relief came suddenly. My now-husband asked how I felt with concern in his eyes from across the room. I had something to say, then decided against it and waved him off with a smile and tired flick of my wrist.

We were able to talk to each other again. I gave up talking at all for the last 4 or 5 hours. And there were no nurses hanging around to talk me through it now that I look back. The hospital staff didn’t provide any support, they just went about their duties not in my room, checking in periodically, checking my dilation and asking me if I wanted that epidural every 4 hours.

After getting the epidural I couldn’t feel anything from the belly down. They gave me a catheter, which I thought was really interesting at the time.

My husband and I both got some much-needed sleep for about 5 hours.


I actually slept during labor, the epidural did its job.

When I awoke about 4:30 AM the bed was soaked.

My water had broken! AND I was fully dilated!

But I was told it wasn’t time to push. The baby was face down and they wanted to wait to see if she would turn.

I called my parents and told them I was fully dilated and their first grandchild was almost here! They rushed to the hospital.

But we were still waiting. And waiting. And waiting. We waited for my baby to turn for 2 hours before the nurse finally said, “Why don’t you try pushing and see if that turns her?”

So I tried and she immediately hollered at me, “No no no don’t do that! You’re really good at that! She turned and now she’s coming!”

So they hurried the doctor in and it was FINALLY time to push.

It’s a very strange sensation to push with an epidural. I couldn’t feel my contractions at all, so I would watch the monitor for when one was coming and the nurse would feel my belly for when it got tight and direct me to push.

It’s also hard to push when you don’t really know what you’re pushing. I just bared down as hard as I could when they told me to. Within a few minutes and only 4 pushes she was out.

I know I got lucky. Many women who have gotten an epidural can’t push at all because they can’t feel what they’re doing.

On the flip side of the coin, I think I pushed too hard.

After all, that’s what you see in the movies right? Women stuck in the hospital bed, screaming as they push as hard as possible to get that baby out! And that’s what the doctor and nurses were telling me to do.

So I pushed with all my might. And she came right out, but she tore her way out. I tore really badly from my perineum up to my clitoris. I’m glad I couldn’t feel that when it happened.

But then she was here. My beautiful baby girl laid on my chest and I was a mama for real.


So What Was My Take on Labor and Delivery With an Epidural?

I know the epidural gave me the chance to rest before pushing that I don’t think I would have had the strength for otherwise. I feel that tossing and turning back and forth stuck in that bed would have tightened my neck and back to a point that I would’ve felt too weakened when pushing time came.

Have you heard of a pain cycle? You feel pain, so you tense up, which causes more pain, so you tense up, which causes more pain, and so on. That’s where I was.

If that horrible car accident hadn’t happened just before my labor then I’m pretty sure I would’ve managed without the epidural. But that’s just not how my story went.

I am confident that I wouldn’t have suffered nearly as sever of a perineal tear without an epidural. If you can’t feel your body ripping apart, there’s nothing to stop you from pushing harder. No reason for you to slow it down.

For that reason, I planned to try to go all-natural with my second baby. How about my third? Curious what happened? They couldn’t be more different than this story, and they were each so exciting!

RELATED: How to Prevent Perineal Tears Using Essential Oils


Wrapping Up My Labor with an Epidural Birth Story

And What About the Birth Plan that Failed?

After my baby was born I was still really disappointed that my birth went nothing according to plan. I am not someone who deals well with disappointment when plans change.

I do not like creating a plan that doesn’t come to fruition. If I had realized that a birth plan is really just a loose idea of your birth wishes I would have mentally prepared differently. I wouldn’t have made a plan.

In my mind you make a plan, you set a goal, and you smash it. The end.

Not being able to do that at all with such a huge life event really threw me for a loop. So for all you planning, list-making, goal-setters out there reading this, know that it is ok to not have a birth plan.

OR to set up your “birth wishes” instead. Or do what I did the second time and have a loose idea of what you’d like to happen, prepare for everything, not print it out or hand it around, and instead just verbalize your ideas and go with the flow.

Oddly enough for this ultra-planning kind of girl that suited me WAY better. No disappointment.

What’s your take… super-specific birth plan or loose birth plan? Epidural or all-natural? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


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