Birth Stories

Natural Childbirth vs. Epidural?

I'm only 5 weeks pregnant and am probably getting way ahead of myself but I would LOVE to hear some feedback on this question.

I am terrified (not sure how much I can express this) of an epidural and am wondering basically if I am strong enough to go without and do it naturally.  I recently watched my friend get a horribly painful and not even very useful epidural and it certainly contributed to my fears.  So if any of you moms could weigh in and let me know what you think I'd be most appreciative. Thanks!

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Re: Natural Childbirth vs. Epidural?

  • I just posted my natural childbirth experience on my blog,

  • I am planning to go natural, and my husband and I took Bradley classes to prepare. When we were TTC, I read a lot of books on choices and interventions during childbirth. Some that I recommend:

    Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (the natural childbirth Bible, it does a great job of explaining the physiology of childbirth)

    Creating Your Birth Plan (a pretty neutral book discussing pros and cons of going natural, being induced, having an epidural, having a c-section, etc)

    Pushed (a history of childbirth in America, state laws regarding midwives, etc.)

    Also, talking to my friends and family about their experiences helped. Epidurals affect everyone differently. Just do your research about childbirth and interventions so you can make an informed decision either way that's best for you and your baby. GL!

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  • I had a great experience with my epidural.  It worked great.  I didn't even feel the doc doing it, before I knew it was done and felt relief from the pain.  I was still able to move my legs for the most part and I knew when I had to pee.  The best part was I could feel when I needed to push, I still had the "sensation' to push.  It did wear off a little towards the end when it was time for the shoulders to come out but the pain wasn't unbearable.  I tell my friends to go in with an open mind and do what's right for you. 
  • I went through 48 hours of natural labor, you can handle it I am sure.  However- I ended up needing a c/s and the spinal was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
  • i had an epidural for #1 because i couldn't relax my body (anxiety issues).  this time i've spent a lot more time with relaxation techniques like hypnobabies so that i can go med free with #2.  there are some interesting reads out there about fear/tension/pain.  that is one of the reasons i chose hypnobabies over other natural birth studies, because it really seems to address that stuff.  you need to surround yourself with supportive people and supportive stories and realize that what happened to your friend is not representative of all births or your birth.  to me it is not about strength, it is about preparing your mind to be ready for birth.
  • Honestly, laboring without drugs was not as painful as I thought it would be.  I only had one point where I thought I couldn't make it, and when they checked me I was 9 cms, so that gave me renewed hope! Also, from my water breaking to pushing was only 5 hours, so I was very very lucky in that I didn't need to work through my contractions for hours on end.

    I did end up needing a C-Section after 2.5 hours of pushing and no progress, they gave me an epidural for that.  I didn't think the epidural was painful at all, didn't even know when they put it in.

    So, it's just a matter of your personal comfort- you can make it drug free if you want to and if your personal circumstances make it possible.  I say, be flexible with whatever you plan because you never know what will happen during labor. JMO.

  • I had planned on a natural birth. I figured from what I had experienced from braxton hicks that I could handle it...I was wrong. Now I didn't take any birthing classes so I don't know if that would have helped any, but literally the second I was in the hospital elevator I was asking for an epi. I too was super worried about them, but at the time I was in so much pain I really didn't care...honestly it was super fast and didn't hurt at all. I only got to enjoy it for 2 hours (before I started pushing) but those 2 hours were heaven! I was so relaxed. It's really up to you, but I don't regret getting an epidural at all.
  • Most women in the world have natural childbirth, even in other developed countries.  As long as you don't have a medical emergency then you can very likely do it!  If you're thinking about the pros and cons of an epidural and other labor interventions then read the book The Thinking Women's Gide to a Better Birth. 

    I haven't ever given birth yet, so I have yet to see how my hopes for a natural childbirth go.  But I took Bradley method classes to prepare and highly recommend them.  

    Ectopic pregnancy Aug. 2008, followed by a diagnosis of two blocked tubes.
    IVF#1 gave us a BFP on 8/24/09, DD born May 2010
    Surprise, natural BFP July 2012 ended in miscarriage 9/4/12 at 10w4d
    FET#1 January 2013
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  • First I want to thank everyone who took the time to read this post and give me your opinion.  It's my first post on The Bump and I was so happy to read all your comments.  I am definitely going to check out the books that so many of you suggested.

    Alybookgirl, thank you so much for the link to your blog.  I read your amazing birth story and it made me laugh and cry at the same time.  I hope that was your intention while writing it :-)

    Best of luck to everyone!


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  • imagealybookgirl:

    I just posted my natural childbirth experience on my blog,


    Loved your story. Thank you for sharing. 

  • You can read about my natural birth experience in my mama blog :) It was VERY painful and we had a difficult outcome but in the end, I'm so, so glad that I went that route. I will definitely go naturally for future births and I think even though I took a 7 week natural childbirth course, I will be better prepared next time because I'll know how painful it was and what to expect.

    Ditto the other suggestions for books. You can ask lots of questions to moms who have gone through both ways too, feel free to PM me if you want. I highly recommend planning and being 100% set on doing it naturally though- I know "plans" can change but I feel like all the people who go in with an attitude of waiting to see how painful it is, end up getting drugs because the pain is so much worse than they thought- and most are happy with their choice in the end :) So that's good, but be prepared as much as you can and I feel you've got a good shot. Also, find a VERY supportive ob/mw to help you. And get a good coach! Or a doula....


    Loss #1 2008, Loss #2 2010, Loss #3 2011, Loss #4 2012, Loss #5 2012
    Loss #6 2014 Loss #7 (chemical) 2014

    ~DS Born! 2009~
    ~DD Born! 2013~
    ~DD due! 2015~

  • I had hopes of going natural, but my delivery didn't go as planned.  I didn't feel my epidural at all.  Whether you decide to go natural or not, check out Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.  It's an amazing book that will definitely make you feel more confident about giving birth.
  • every woman is strong enough to handle natural birth. the question is, will you prepare yourself mentally for it? there is plenty of time for you to do this, but only you can answer that question.

    i suggest you do some reading on the subject.

    1. ina may gaskin's guide to natural childbirth
    2. henci goer's the thinking woman's guide to a better birth
    3. barbara harper's gentle birth choices

    don't go into a natural birth because you are afraid of the epidural. educate yourself on what epidurals are, what they do, what the side effects to you and your baby could be. make an educated decision and be confident in it.

    there is a daily check-in on the third trimester board for women seeking unmedicated births. visit and ask questions. natural birth is something that every woman can achieve, provided there are no complicating risk factors that prevent her from doing so. but for the most part, most of us are able to. some choose to, most choose not to. but most women in the rest of the world are able to...what's wrong with american women? nothing. we just have too much medical intervention.

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  • Aly I just read your blog. You made me laugh and cry at the same time. I have been researching on Natural childbirth and your blog gave me insperation(spelling?) Thank you so Much.
  • image*speedracer*:
    to me it is not about strength, it is about preparing your mind to be ready for birth.

    This.  I took a Bradley class and had a doula, and read a lot of info. 

    Our natural hospital birth went great.  I actually can't wait to birth again someday!

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