Sometimes I work with clients who are afraid of getting an epidural. They might want the option of pain relief, but they wait until their discomfort is bigger than their fear to ask for one. They said no pain relief, but they really mean epidurals are too big and scary to face.
Here's another way: Catherine knew that she was prone to feeling faint and woozy (vasovagal syncope) sometimes and that she didn't want to add that to the feelings of labor. So we made a plan.
In labor, she started to feel that woozy feeling. She had done the work in advance and wasn't afraid because we had a plan. She asked to speak to the anesthesiologist. Catherine + Nick decided strategically that it was time for an epidural.
You can't tell here, but she was working really hard at this point and had her baby less than 5 hours later.
Catherine gave herself permission to feel her fear beforehand:
📌 What does it feel like?
📌 How will they place it?
She set boundaries for herself:
📌 No feeling faint during labor.
📌 If I can't move around safely, it's too much.
She pre-planned questions with her partner:
📌 Will the epidural help with vasovagal syncope?
📌 Is there a benefit to waiting longer?
📌 Could you still place an epidural if I fainted?
Here Catherine is being prepped for the procedure (notice the high bed and the anesthesiologist in the back left). She felt empowered choosing an epidural and you can see it all over her face! Swipe for a picture of the new family.
If you are so afraid of an epidural that you are planning not to get one to avoid that fear, I encourage you to talk to a trusted friend, therapist, and doula. Know that you are not alone, and we can help!