Natural Birth

epi or no?

I am ompletely torn as to whether or not to get an epidural. A part of me wants it because most women instill a sense of fear when it comes to labor pains but I can't tell if they are just being dramatic or if they just have a very low pain tolerance or if it really does feel like your insides are being scrambled with a hot poker. Most of all I want to do what is best for my baby.  I would love to hear from moms who have gone through either delivery, or even if you are struggling with the same decision...
Kimberly Harvey

Re: epi or no?

  • My natural birth was one of the most empowering things I've done in my life.

    If you're truly undecided, "The Big Book of Birth" and "Your Best Birth" would be good books to start with. Get educated on all your options and make a decision based on what best fits your needs and expectations. 

  • I've just never broken a bone or had anything happen that I consider unbearingly painful so I have nothing to compare it to. Are there mental preparations or does it really just depend on the pregnancy if it is earth shattering pain or manageable discomfort?
    Kimberly Harvey
  • FTM here, planning an out of hospital water birth in a freestanding birth center. Facing fears is definitely an important process. Everyone will have different reasons on why they wanted to go natural, and this is what motivates them through the pain.

    I'm still struggling to come to a neutral peaceful place on the pain and my expectations. How do you prepare for something youve never experienced? But my midwives and husband remind me that I'm not alone during the process. We have done a lot
    of planning/research/classes on what is normal and natural, and comfort measures to handle each stage. And a lot of research on how interventions like epidurals can lead to unnecessary interventions. You don't go natural because you enjoy pain, there's a much deeper reason.

    I found it incredibly fascinating that you will find massive amounts of woman who have guilt or trauma from having a typical epidural hospital experience. But I have yet to find someone who regretted having a natural child birth, especially in a environment where they felt safe, and loved. To me, feeling loved and safe is essential.

    Every woman should feel supported and loved during this process, and in the end a happy and healthy mommy and baby should be everyone's goal regardless of what route that they took.
  • This is a choice that you need to make yourself.....I planned on going without an epidural, but things changed in the hospital for me.  I started labor on a Sunday morning, and nothing very consistent and the timing was far apart....By Monday morning around 8:30am, I called and went into the hospital, because they were 4-5 min apart lasing about 30-60 seconds each.  I was admitted because I was dialated at 4 and in active labor. 

    I labored without an epidural (walking around, moving positions, sitting, standing, etc) for eight hours when I finally had bloody show, that is when the contractions got very, very intense....They checked me and i was only at a 6....I was crushed, for as horrible the labor pains were, I thought I was near pushing.  This was about 4:30pm.  YES, for me labor was excruciating pain. 

     I can tollerate a lot of pain, but for whatever reason, I couldn't handle that pain anymore.....I told DH that I couldn't do it, I was crying and the contractions were right ontop of eachother, and I was not dialating.  He told me, "I know you don't want an epi, but I can't stand seeing you in so much pain."  I called the nurse, around 5 and asked to be checked, and hadn't dialated at all since 4:30.....So about 5:00pm, they got the anasthesiologist in the room.

    The epidural took, but I could still feel pressure on my left side....I knew when contractions were coming. I knew when to push.  After the epi was placed (around 5ish) my water broke around 5:45 (they were coming in to break it, as she woke through the door, I said I think my water just broke, sure enough it did) and by 6:00pm I started pushing.  So from just after 5pm to 6:00 I went from a 6 to a 10. I was estatic. The nurse said that it probably was the my body wasn't/couldn't relax enough between contractions and why I wasn't progressing

    Even with the epi, the ring of fire was horrific, I tore 3rd degree was almost taken to the or for repair, but ended up being okay.  My 8lb 12oz, huge headed DD came out screaming and crying as they had DH announce we had a girl (team green), and she was placed on my belly. 

    Was I upset that I got an epi, NO....Did it have any affect on DD, NO....Do I regreat it, NO. Was DD lethargic, NO....DD took to the breast like a Champ.   Would I try and go natural again (unfortunately I can't have any more kids), YES....

      It is a presonal do what you feel you need to do....If I were you I would go as far as you can with various relaxing teachniques, and a great support person.  At leas you know you tried...if you end of with an epi, you know you tried and you just didn't get the epi because you didn't want to feel any pain. 

  • I had a med-free 36 hour labor. I used Hypnobabies during my birth and it worked amazingly well. It teaches you not to fear birth and the hypnosis eliminates pain. Fear can play a huge part in the amount of pain a person feels. If you expect birth to be insanely painful, like we see on TV, it is going to be painful. If you expect and believe that birth will be healthy and easy you are going to have an easier time. Hypnobabies is a wonderful alternative to pain medication.

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  • It depends so much on the person.  I prepared for a med-free birth both times and with my first took a Hypnobirthing class.  Honestly I didn't think it was that bad, I definitely feared an epi more than I feared continuing without one and that was for both my babies.  Why not do everything you can to prepare yourself for a med-free birth and if the day comes and you decide an epi is want you want then go with that.  The reality is that an 'ideal' birth is guaranteed to no one.  Someone could say they desperately want a med-free birth and end up with a baby in distress and have a c-section.  Or another person might say they absolutely want an epi and go so quick that there's no time for it.  So prepare for what you want knowing that plans may change and you will have to roll with it. 

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  • I intended to have a natural, med-free birth, BUT--I knew in advance that if for some reason I decided to get an epidural I was NOT going to feel guilty about it or like I had failed in some way. 

    I labored med free for 8 hours or so, but my water had broken and I wasn't progressing, so I was told I either needed to get pitocin or probably end up getting a c-section. Once I was confronted with that decision, I asked for the epidural. I ended up getting the pitocin and after that things were a breeze--I progressed quickly, pushed for an hour, and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy, who had no negative effects from the epidural or the pitocin. 

    This choice is very personal, and only you can make it. I think the most important thing is not to make a decision out of fear! Don't choose an epi just because you fear experiencing any pain at all; but don't choose not to get meds because of the horror stories you hear about negative side effects. I feel like some people try to promote natural birth by instilling fear of things like epidurals in women, and that's wrong.  

    Finally, remember that you can always change your mind once you go into labor and discover what it is like for you personally. 

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  •  As far as choosing natural or no you have to decide what is going to make you the most relaxed and comfortable. For me, giving birth in a hospital with drugs sounds like a nightmare come to reality. I did not want to go through that! For some women, giving birth anywhere but a hospital without any pain management sounds like a nightmare. It depends on what sounds the best to you personally.

    For me, giving birth was extremely painful, but it was not the most painful sensation I've ever felt. But everyone is different.

    You have to relax while laboring or you stall or slow to a crawl. Whatever you can do to relax is key.

    I didn't practice any relaxation techniques before hand and I was all tense when the MW came to my home about halfway into my labor. She watched me tense up during contractions. She said that I was on my way to a long labor. She told me to relax, helped me to breath and vocalize in order to relax, and didn't check me until five hours later and I just so happened to be ready to push! I might have even been able to push sooner but I had gotten so far into "the zone" I was ready for anything.

    Everybody is different but I think not getting checked often helped me to relax a lot, like covering the screen on a treadmill while you exercise so you can't see how much longer you have to go or when the hard parts are coming up.

    I went into natural birth knowing that I didn't want it any other way and the only pain management available to me was to finish birthing my baby. My husband was very supportive and I was responsive to the coaching that my MW and her assistant were giving me.

    Lurk on this board a while, read some books on natural birth, make your decision based on what you know about yourself.

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  • I had a med-free birth in a hospital (I use midwives) after laboring primarily at home with my husband as my coach (we use Bradley Method). I would not at all have described my labor as unbearingly painful. In fact, I don't think I'd use the term painful at all. It was hard work, but I felt that avoiding the cascade of meds and procedures that often attend a large part of births helped me feel more in control. It was vital to be very prepared, though. I don't think I ( or I suspect most women) can have a good med-free birth without preparation. But there are of course exceptions.
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  • I had an 11 hour labor with no interventions or medication.  It was the most amazing experience.  It was intense, it was painful, and it was emotional. However, it was wonderful and I would not have changed a thing.  Women have been giving birth for thousands of years. I figured my body was designed to do it and it was pain I could handle.  IMO the biggest thing is being mentally prepared for L&D.  If you are prepared for the pain and supported by loved ones, you can do it.

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  • I have done it both ways though my epi labor ended in a c/s after two hours of pushing, so I didn't experience a vaginal birth with an epidural. I had prepared for a medfree birth with my first but because of the circumstances, an epidural ended up being the right choice for me in the situation. I had a long Pit induction, a malpositioned baby and a hospital environment that wasn't really supported. I don't regret getting the epi, though I do think if I had a more supportive doctor and hospital I might have avoided it. There were pros and cons to the epidural. Pros: it really did take away my pain and it is fairly lowrisk to mother and baby. Cons: it immobilizes you, your birth becomes instantly more medicalized, it can make pushing harder, etc.

    With my second delivery, I again planned for a medfree birth. This time, circumstances were different and while labor was intense, I was able to labor and deliver vaginally with no pain meds. I liked being able to move around and feel myself pushing and not be attached to a million different medical devices

    I don't think I am dramatic or have usually low pain tolerance, but my labors were definitely among the most painful moments of my life. I think it helps to be honest about that. Some people have very easy labors, but it is usually hard. But with the right support, I absolutely think most people can do it medfree. It is just a question of what you feel is right for you.

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  • image kmbrlyann22:
    I've just never broken a bone or had anything happen that I consider unbearingly painful so I have nothing to compare it to. Are there mental preparations or does it really just depend on the pregnancy if it is earth shattering pain or manageable discomfort?

    I've never had anything too painful, either. The most painful thing I have experienced was maybe a hard fall or tattoo.

    I didn't think of labor as pain, but instead as progress. I also refused to believe it was the horrible, dramatic pain many describe. I kept thinking, "yes, this is intense, but it could be worse. I could be in labor and have my fingers broken or in labor with third degree burns." I realize that is bizarre, but it helped me have a really powerful and amazing natural birth.


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  • I will agree with one of the pps and say that my natural birth was pretty darn close to a spiritual experience. I would not change it for the world and so glad I could be so in the moment and know that I did it. Of course by the time I was at the hospital I was 9cm dilated already so labored most of the time at home not really knowing it. 
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  • I would love to do natural birth. This is my first yet i don't take pain very well. My normal menstrual cramps made me take off work and school when I was younger until I discovered birth control helped with the pain but before that I was popping about 7 midol's just to feel at ease.   I know myself and although I want natural birth I'm going to scream 4 epidural so I already told my boyfriend no matter what just don't give it to me since its not apart of my birth plan. We are women and our bodies were supposvly made to do this. I mean what did they have back in the day. Plus my grandpa had 15 kids (not all vaginally), If she can do it so can I.
  • Some of it for me was about control - I knew I would feel powerless, but I wanted to feel powerless to my body and to the process, not to machines and medical staff.  If an epidural came without an IV and continuous monitoring and being confined to the bed, I would have been more open to it.  But it doesn't.

    And no amount of pain scared me as much as the thought of going through the same pain after a failed epidural.  I'd just heard too many stories of epidurals that didn't work, or only half-worked.  Contractions are one thing, but not being able to move through them?  Eff that.  That was not a chance I wanted to take.

    When it comes down to it, an epidural is a labor tool.  If you and your provider are in agreement that it's the best tool to reach for in a given situation, use it.

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  • image kmbrlyann22:
    I've just never broken a bone or had anything happen that I consider unbearingly painful so I have nothing to compare it to. Are there mental preparations or does it really just depend on the pregnancy if it is earth shattering pain or manageable discomfort?

    I've broken quite a few bones and have had some serious sports injuries and they do not compare to labor pains. Those pains are in a instant and you can take Tylenol or something and it lessens the throbbing that ensues. Labor pains are nothing like that so don't worry that you haven't broken any bones.

    It definitely is a lot of mental preparation and having a strong focused mindset. Although nothing can completely prepare you for labor as a FTM, whether you are committed or not is a big factor. Everyone has different experiences with labor pain. Because of multiple baby positioning issues, my pain was close to earth shattering to me, but i was at home so there were no other options. Some people don't have those issues and say their pain is manageable. Still, knowing I made it through labor completely natural is amazing and I'm so proud of what I did. It was definitely worth all of the pain!

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  • I had an epi with my first and went natural with my second. The torture of laying in the bed all day with the epi and IVs was WAY worse than any discomfort I had with the NB. My labor wasn't painful, just intense and full of pressure. I always recommend natural birth to having meds after my two experiences. The NB was so empowering, and I actually enjoyed feeling every moment. I felt more involved and "needed" in that birth. It was wonderful.
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  • if you want to do what's best for baby i would highly recommend looking into a natural child birth. the thing about interventions is if they're unnecessary they have every capability of hurting you and your lo. if you go to a good Lamaze class, not one of those phony ones hospitals offer, they'll teach you when interventions will be best and when they're not. my dds natural birth was the most amazing experience of my life i can't wait to do it again. it doesn't. have to be. horror story. things happen but it is.not inevitable that labor i going to be horrible.
  • I have the same dilemma... I do want to go with natural birth and I think if a lot of women did that and can do that, I can too... And I think our bodies were designed for natural births... But it's my first pregnancy, so I'm not sure what to expect... Plus I can always ask for epidural... I just want to find out more about relaxation techniques to make labor easier...
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  • I had epidurals with my first 2 births and was medfree for my 3rd. #1 I was induced and had the epidural placed a couple hours after they started. #2 I got the epi around 7cm (didn't know I was that far along). My birth with #3 was pretty amazing. 

    That being said, all my children were alert and perfect. #3 was stunned (he came super fast) and needed a touch of oxygen, but otherwise was great.  

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