posted in Pregnancy
With my last pregnancy, I was determined to not have an epidural. Previously, I had one birth (twins) with an epidural and one without. Since it was my third birth, I figured it would be quick and easy-breezy.
Things didn’t go quite as planned. I needed to be induced at 41 weeks and the birthing process took forever. At the 10-hour point, I had to have an epidural because the pain was so bad. I thought the rest would be smooth sailing…for a birth, at least.
Liam was born at the 22-hour mark and I actually was feeling pretty great afterwards. Obviously, I was in some pain, but I had quite a bit of energy for such a long birthing process. By my second day in the hospital, we were ready to head home and start our new routine as a family of 6 — his sisters couldn’t wait for him to be home!
The final day in the hospital, we had some visitors and I noticed when I stood up, I would get these awful headaches. I chalked it up to being tired and hormonal. I tried to clean up and take a shower, but it became almost impossible to stand. The moment I would sit on the hospital bed, the headache would vanish.
During my final checkups before leaving, I told the nurses and doctor about these headaches. They thought it might be a spinal headache from the epidural, but made it seem like it was no big deal. The anesthesiologist came to check the epidural entrance point and said I should probably be fine by the next day.
I left the hospital on a Thursday with a prescription to drink tons of caffeine and take Tylenol. If my headaches weren’t better by Saturday, I would have to come back for something called a blood patch. On the way home, I was in tears from the pain of my headache. Sitting up was almost impossible, plus my milk had started to come in. The 15-minute drive home seemed like it took hours.
The next 24 hours were absolutely awful. Trying to care for a newborn, not to mention my other kids, was nearly impossible with the headache. On Friday, I had to miss Liam’s first doctor’s appointment while I stayed home in tears.
By Friday afternoon, my husband Ricky insisted on taking me to the ER. Caffeine and pain meds were doing nothing for the pain. Once in the ER, the anesthesiologist agreed that I needed to do something for the spinal headache and explained exactly what was happening to my body: spinal fluid was dripping, creating the headaches.
I had been too afraid to research what a blood patch was — doesn’t it sound horrific? The only cure for a spinal headache is to create a blood patch. This means that they draw blood from your arm, then insert it in your epidural spot. The blood patches the spinal leak and headaches go away instantly. So basically, I had another epidural 3 days after my first one in the same exact spot with blood instead of the pain medication.
Unfortunately, I was still on blood thinners, I had to wait another 12 hours to do the blood patch to ensure it would heal. I usually have a high threshold for pain, but these headaches left me sobbing the whole car ride home. Luckily, lying down still alleviated them, so I could rest while at home…although I was also engorged because nursing was almost impossible. I am so thankful that Ricky was able to take control of the house while this happened.
The next morning, I went back to the hospital for the blood patch. (Day 5 out of 7 at the hospital) It was horrific, but it instantly cured the headaches. I left a new person — it was amazing!
This story isn’t trying to scare you away from an epidural, but to make you aware. I’d never heard of a spinal headache before this experience. If I hadn’t spoken up about my headaches, I could have just assumed it was something else. Once I spoke out about my experience on Facebook, many of my friends told me they went through the same thing. Forewarned is forearmed, so now you’ll know what’s happening if you experience this painful problem.
Have you experienced a spinal headache?