it is kinda disturbing, but sometimes if its not done one ends up tearing anyway. i wont think about it now, if its necessary then i hope from the feedback ive read, my doc does good stitching and heals quickly...
whether you want epidural depends on your will and pain threshold. Im not getting it unless i decide otherwise in labour room. natural without is always better, but for first delivery, it will usually take average of 10hrs easily. after 8 hours+ of pushing, pain, grunting, yelling and discomfort, some mothers dont have energy for the final mile to push when you finally need to. the epidural helps not to overtire yourself and keep your reserve energy to push after fully dialated and active labour.
on the other hand, if the epidurial is not administered properly, one can lose all sensation i.e. feel numb. you cant push at all because you just cant feel your muscles and have no idea if you are pushing. this happened to my sis and my niece was stuck for a very long period and we thought we would actually lose her. thankfully she came out before any accident happened.
if administered properly, epidural should reduce the pain while you still should be able to feel *some* pain and your muscles. Bear in mind its labour, it cant be completely painless. unfortunately, its hard for us to know whether we will have a good anesthetist or not!
whatever happens important is to try to relax and conserve energy and focus on pushing when its right time!