These weeks seem to be filled with info sessions at the hospital - two weeks ago about breast feeding, last week about the birth itself (+ specifics for this hospital) and today about anesthesia/epidural.
Normally I go to these sessions alone, but for the one last week I brought my hubby, because I like the idea that he know which building and floor to go to when I might be completely out of it, dealing with labor contractions...
The session was set up around a slide show (barely visible on the screen because of the sunny day and the omission of putting blinds on the windows of this brand-new building) in which they showed the maternity ward, with the pre-delivery rooms, delivery room, positions you can take during contractions (using a big exercise ball, on the bed, against the wall, etc.), nursery, post-delivery rooms etc. etc. Other practical info: only one person is allowed to come with you into the delivery room, no changes either, which is all fine by me, as long as hubby's there, I'm happy.
It was good to get a bit of an idea what all the rooms in the maternity ward look like and what the procedure can be like once you arrive. Takes some of the anxiety off.
Also learned that once you arrive at the hospital, you're no longer allowed to eat or drink (not even water!), the only thing you can use is a water vaporizer (spray can). So it's a good idea to eat some carbohydrates and drink a lot before going to the hospital and bring a snack for hubby... Other than that, try to stay home as long as you feel comfortable doing so, unless you're water broke, then you have to go to the hospital immediately (and they might not do anything for another 24 to 48 hours, but you have to be there anyway). Oh yeah, and don't bring your full suitcase for your stay at the hospital immediately, because the lockers they have for you while you're in the delivery room are way too small to keep everything. So just bring first essentials and the rest will come later.
Today's session was interesting, especially after having heard the midwife's opinion on the epidural last week. She was not against it, but warned not to take to high of a dose (once they've given you the first dose, you get a pump with a push button and can regulate the next doses yourself). Of course the view of the anesthesiologist is a bit different: make sure you're not in pain. At all. So it was quite a pro-epidural speech, which was OK, as long as you realize who's talking. Furthermore some practical info - partners are sent out of the room while they give you the epidural (so they won't faint) and also if/when you need a c-section and you're sent to the OR, hubby has to stay in the waiting room too.
My feelings about epidural are still quite mixed. Coming from Holland, where home births are the norm and you're supposed to be a strong woman and endure natural childbirth, I've been brought up with the idea that epidurals are for sissies. I've gotten a bit allergic to this attitude and am of the opinion that every woman is free to choose, if you can do it without, great, but I'm not going to judge anyone who takes an epidural. My periods always have been extremely painful, and if the pains I experienced then are only a fraction of labor pains (but maybe they aren't, I'll find out in about two months I guess), then I'm all for it.
But since a month or two I've been leaning more to really trying to do without epidural, and prepare for natural childbirth, especially after hearing some stories of women at my prenatal yoga class (one told she was handling her contractions very well, then finally did take the epidural, which only worked on one side, so then the anesthesiologist did everything to make it work properly and she lost complete control). However, not at all costs - if I really can't take it anymore, I'm not going to play the tough girl, but I'd like to be in control as much as possible.
I have a (mandatory) consult with the anesthesiologist on May 19.
Anyway, we'll see what happens when I go into labor...