It’s normal to start thinking and planning about the birth of your baby from the very beginning of pregnancy but most midwives will not really go into detail about this until you are at least 30 weeks pregnant. In the UK most NHS trusts give out a pregnancy guide book that costs the NHS £10 each, you only get one no matter how many children you will go on to have in the future, it tells you everything you need to know regarding the pregnancy and the first few months after the birth.
It is wise to do a little reading in regards to what kind of pain relief is available to you so when it comes to the time to decide you have fairly good knowledge when the midwife is explaining it all to you. When it comes to pain relief an epidural is the most common form that is requested, you can only have an epidural if you have a hospital birth and not a home birth or birthing centre. The reason is because a trained anaesthetist will need to administer it directly into the spine using a needle, midwives and nurses are not qualified to do this.
But in recent years requesting an epidural has increased tenfold, women no longer want a natural pain free birth or end up changing their mind when they go into labour. Due to the increase and many women requesting an epidural at the last minute they have been inserted wrong or did not have a pain free birth. As a result of this many women are so traumatised by the first birth experience that they put off having any more children altogether, those that do have another child after having an epidural end up having a caesarean instead.
If done right an epidural will mean you have a pain free birth but if done too late it will be ineffective, in some rare cases the epidural had no effect on pain even when topped up and medical intervention is needed. Many women don’t realise that you need to push when you feel a contraction so the baby will come out but with an epidural you cannot feel the contraction so you need to be told when to do so, this results in tearing, needing and episiotomy or even forceps to aid delivery.
Make sure you have gone through all your pain relief options with your midwife; you might even want to try alternative therapies such as hypnobirthing to help with the pain.