38 answers

Pain Meds. for Labor- What Did You Like?

Hi Moms,

I would love a buncha information from you all on what everyone used to relieve the pain of labor (other then an epidural).

I am hoping to do a totally unmedicated birth at Poudre Valley Hospital birthing center(doctors and nurses will attend); my mom and many other women who I know have had successful births w/o anesthesia/ pain meds. and I have a doula so I feel positive about this working out...but I started childbirth classes this week and I am getting nervous!

I've been thinking about getting a back-up plan prepared; especially because I hate hospitals and I feel like I might not be able to get comfortable and let the birth unfold- even though PVH is really nice, it's still a medical facility. I'm most interested in TeNS and I also saw a distilled water injection- I've done a little research, but I want advice; has anyone done TeNS?

I want to get prepared in advance so I have more options besides just getting a shot of narcotic or an epi (A class is required for TeNS to be used).

I'm planning on using message, breathing, visualization, and meditation tequniques so far. I want to know what narcotic injections people have had good or bad experiences with- I really want to be alert and I want to try ANYTHING else besides an epidural. Tell me what hypnobirthing is about too, please.

Thank you all for all your wisdom!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hey all you great mom's. Thank you for all the ideas, suggestions, and supportive comments!

It took me a while to find out what happened myself, but I gave birth to a little girl Fri. March 13th at the PVH birth center without medication, and I'm very proud of myself. I used the jacuzzi tub in my room a lot and once I was in transition my doula, Adam, and I were all chanting as low as we could go- which was phenomenally effective in keeping the contractions low and not letting them get into my head too much.

I definetely went to the special place where laboring women go that some of you talked about and was pretty much untouchable, as I was in another universe. At one point I was in extreme pain and I thought about an epi, yet even then, the thought of some guy sticking a tube in my spine was not appealing at all. The next day my doc said it was the best birth she had attended in 3 mos. Very Empowering.

I did take the TeNs class, but I never used the unit, as it would have prevented me from getting to go into the water.

Featured Answers

I highly recommend hypnobirthing. If you practice and have a good support system there to help you use the tools you get from a hypnobirthing class you can have a wonderful labor experience with no drugs. I had both my kids with hypnobirthing techniques, was induced with the first, and still did not need any kind of pain medication (except for a local anethetic while they stitched up my tear from my first). BUT, practice and support are VERY important if you plan on using hypnobirthing.
Good luck to you!

More Answers

Hi S.,

I didn't want to repeat what the other wonderful ladies said so I'll just respond to the TeNS machine. I had an emergency c-section with my first and luckily had a vbac with my second. I wanted to go natural too but after my first, learned about both the drugs as well as natural alternatives to labor pains. That helped me to be more open to all the possibilities to help regulate the unknown pain I would experience. In the end, I started using the TeNS unit (the class was really quick but you should sign up now because they fill up rather quickly) and it helped to take the edge off (it didn't remove the pain). My other ways to deal with the pain included a couple of shots of something into my iv (it was a quick acting pain reliever that lasted about 20 minutes) and taking advantage of the jacuzzi tubs that PVH has (that actually helped a ton!).

In the end I think the most important thing is to know your own limits and to have a supportive partner with you (although the nurses at PVH are WONDERFUL). Also, I have several friends who got more scared after childbirth classes than they were before going (I think that's natural!). Good luck with your childbirth no matter what bath you take. Using pain meds doesn't make you any more or less of a mother; you have to do what is best for you and your baby.

Peace, M.

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Something I would not be without again, that is so low tech is a heat pack of some sort, especially if you can find one that has some soothing herbs. I don't know how you would heat it in a hospital. Find out what is possible. The one I used was heated in our microwave for a home birth. I held that during contractions and moved it around to different tight spots and it also worked wonders for the after pains. I know you were asking for info about drugs, but seems like you have a great chance at not needing them! Good luck!

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The best advice anyone gave me about pain management for labor came just before my first was born. I was told "God gave us the pain medications to make things easier, don't be afraid to use them."

I went into labor with my first sure that it was going to be all natural, with an IV pain management as a last resort. There were some complications (water broke really early, she was turned so her spine instead of her face was against my spine - ouch - and I stopped progression in the transition phase). I tried everything else - hot shower, lower back massage, and the IV, and I was still in a lot of pain and wouldn't progress. Finally they said it was either pitocin or c-section and I decided to get an epidural with the pit. Finally I could relax and let my body do what it was supposed to, and I had a very healthy and alert baby girl.

I'm not saying don't go natural. I plan on trying again for that when/if we have another. There are more techniques available than 10 years ago, too. But please don't shut yourself off to the possibility of needing an epidural. It's not horrible for you or the baby and there is no failure if you need it. If I hadn't been able to relax (via the epidural), the pit might not have been enough and I still could have ended up with a c-section.

Congratulations on your first child. Yes it is scary but you will survive like the rest of us have. Both my children were born without medication as I have herniated discs right around where they shoot you up. Instead I had a chinese accupunturist come into the hospital (Rose Medical Center)and needle me for the last 5 hours of labor. I had planned on having her longer but my husband was so nervous he was calling her office instead of home number in the middle of the night. My second child was quick (labor started at 5:30 pm and she was born @ 10:00 pm) and was relatively pain free as my body already went through this once before.

I would definitely recommend having your child in a hospital as there are many things that can go wrong and they are prepared to handle it. I thank God for the doctors and nurses at Rose as my son stopped breathing a minute after he was born (he still had fluid in his lungs) and when the nurse hit the emergency button we immediately had several docs and nurses in the delivery room to get him breathing again. He spent his first day in intensive care on oxygen but is a healthly, happy normal 11 year old today. With my second child, after she was born I didn't stop bleeding as she was orginally a twin (I lost the other baby the first 6 weeks of my pregnancy) but there was still some left over baby material and your uterus will not close until everything is out. Hence, I would never recommend not having a baby in a hospital as you never know what might happen. Most births are problem free but just like an insurance policy, it's good to have a cushion in case something goes wrong.

As a mom of six I have had 6 different births. My first was a c-section but I was put completely under as it was an emergency. My second was a VBAC with epidural, but I was not too happy because I couldn't feel how hard I was pushing, or if I was even pushing at all. My 3rd was another VBAC w/out an epidural. I had a shot of narcotics to hold off, because I thought that I wanted another epidural, but that just made me loopy and I had no sense of time or anything. When that wore off, I was told that the epidural was coming,but I was already at 10, so it wasn't happening and ended up with no meds for the pushing. My 4th was completely pain-med free as I liked the fact with the previous one that I had control over the pushing, and she came really fast (4 hrs from first onset of contractions). The 5th and 6th were both med free because I like the faster recovery that no meds has (and they both came fast---within 1 hr of getting to the hospital). If I were to do it again, it would be med free, but that is me. As this is your first, I would be flexible in your expectations. Try med free first and if that isn't working then do something else, your whole outcome is to have a healthy baby and if not having meds is stressing the baby, then better try something else. The hospital staff is there to support you, but they also want a healthy outcome, and if your choices aren't getting it done, then they are going to try and advise you on other options. Listen to your body, but listen to the nurses and doctors too.
Congrats and good luck

Dear S. D I have had all my four children with out medds. I took a class on nattal child birth. But I think the thing that help me the most was my desire not to have the same probles my mother had with her last child. Thy gave her gas which was atached to her arm and she overdost on it. It may have gave my sister brain damage there not certin but I did not whant to take a chance. So I would try it for the health of your baby and your self. I found that looking at a spot on the wall and praying to my father in heaven helped a lot. And having my husban there was a great suport to me.

Good luck . C. J.

I have had 3 boys and each labor was very different. My water broke a few weeks early with my first and smallest baby (8 lbs)and then I had no contractions. My doctor put me on pitocin and gave me an epideral after my aunt asked for it. I was in so much pain I couldn't think to even ask. I went into labor on my due date with my second (9 lbs 1oz) and only had 2 shots in the IV. I was able to walk more during that labor, it was painful but went quickly. With my 3rd I was induced because of size and fast labors. I requested the epideral before she broke my water. It was on a pump and was awesome! It was the first birth my mom had been able to attend mainly because it was scheduled. I was able to play cards with her and just hang out through most of the labor until I felt the urge to push. Then it hurt for less than 30 minutes and was over. Good luck trying without meds, but the end result is the same - a beautiful new baby. You're not any less of a mom if you need the meds.

I don't have any experience with medications since I have a horrible reaction to the majority of them. Just the thought that the side affects of the medications were enough to make me just grin and bear natural birth. Really walking, walking, walking worked great. My longest labor was only 4 1/2 hours because I walked a ton, like 2 miles a day even on the day my 1st was born. I feel like the pain was minimal because labor was not drawn out by the use of medications. Most people don't realize when they plan to use medications that it actually lengthens the time of labor. By the time I had my 4th, using visualizations, walking and meditation she was born in only 45 minutes. Keep going on your plan since if you focus on it you really should only need to use medications if an emergency occurs. Otherwise at least for me, it was too late by the time I decided it was painful enough to deal with the side affects and it was over within minutes of that. Keep up the positive attitude about birth and and use the information from you class as just that. It's information, not a requirement to use it.

Please have a back up plan for true medical help if necessary. Most births can go off without a hitch but it is safe to say a lot of women have unexpected emergencies or things aren't as they planned for.

I had preeclampsia very late in my pregnancy and had to be induced on the first child, went in for my 36 1/2 week appt and was rushed to the hospital. Never planned on that. I had to have pitocin and then magnesium to prevent seizures and she had to be delivered at 37 weeks. She was healthy and fine but I totally trusted the hospital staff.

With my second, he was huge and we scheduled induction because he was going to be too big to let the 40 weeks go by. I ended up having an emergency csection as his heart rate dropped and he was stuck crooked in the birth canal.
You can prepare all you want, but modern medicine has saved many babies when the unexpected happens.

Epidurals are wonderful, you are still there and present, no danger to the baby and will help make it a pleasant process. I labored for five hours without meds with my son and it was torture and it was not enjoyable. Once I had the epidural I was relaxed, more ready and things were much easier. He unfortunately was too big and got stuck and we had to go for a csection.

While doulas are great, have a good back up plan with real Drs as you just don't know what to expect!!!

Hospitals and maternity wards very much know what they are doing, make it a pleasant experience all around and help you transition well to motherhood. La Leche league reps are at the hospital to help you, the baby gets a full over checkup upon birth, that in itself is priceless. I hope you will understand that your plan may be great and work, but don't count on it 100% or be too concerned about hospitals and avoiding them.

Good luck, God Bless and keep us posted.

I had my son (who is now 13 months) without drugs as well. We attended Bradley classes and I feel they really prepared us for what to expect. I know it's easy for one who has been there to say it, but don't be afraid of labor. Your body knows exactly what to do, and if your Doula is any good she will be able to help you when you need it most.

Things that worked for me was walking, bouncing on the exercise ball, warm bath (that was the best), and being able to switch positions as needed. I also discovered moaning through the contractions helped to get me through it. Of course my husband was there pressing on my back in the area where I had the most pressure during contractions and that definately helped too.

Our doula did have us write up a worst-case-scenario birth plan in case things just didn't turn out as expected. Definately a good thing to have and make sure you write both a birth plan for the way you want things to go and the alternate and have your doctor sign off on it. It makes a lot of difference to have his/her signature of approval on what you want to do.

The best suggestion is to just go into it knowing that you are able to do it and make sure your coach/husband and doula are going to speak for you when you can't and tell them NO MEDS. Their support is extremely important. And after all is said and done when you have a new baby to look upon you won't care about any pain at all.

So few births are natural any more that it seems to wow the staff at any hospital as they are so used to babies who are slow to pink up and don't respond as quickly due to drugs that their mothers received during delivery. As for healing after the fact, by day 3 I felt about 90% already and I was amazed. I walked out of the hospital on my own after 4 hours of pushing and a mere 24 hours after I came there and the nurse was beside herself.

There are already tons of responses, so I'll keep this short. I did Hypnobirthing and loved it. I have also heard great things about Hypnobabies, and I think with my next I will take a Hypnobabies course. If you want to go drug-free, DO IT! You will recover MUCH more quickly, and your body will be able to do what it's supposed to: create endorphins that are 10x more powerful than morphine. Talk with your doula, keep it a comfortable atmosphere, use visualization, and stay in your "zone." It will be the most empowering experience of your life. YOU CAN DO IT, GIRL! Good luck! And remember, LABOR DOESN'T HAVE TO HURT! It won't if you have focused correctly. Don't listen to the people that tell you otherwise. You may regret it later if you give in. Labor ends, and you will be so glad you stayed strong! Congratulations!

Perhaps this sounds a little simplistic, but it worked for me... try to think positively, don't let fear take hold, trust that your body can do everything it is about to do. The more you believe in yourself and relax, the more freely you can open up and your muscles can work your baby out. I highly recommend a warm bath (in a birthing tub, if you have access to one) and it is nice to have some freedom of movement during contractions. Best of luck to you.

One word: hypnobabies.

It's a wonderful program that really equips you with the tools you need to manage labor in a drug-free way. Go to their website and purchase their homestudy course. It is a WONDERFUL program, and I couldn't birth without it.

I believe that Hypnobabies is superior to Hypnobirthing, because it has more scripts and more concrete tools for you to use, rather than just teaching you the theory of how self-hypnosis helps in labor. It also teaches you how to maintain your level of hypnosis even during distractions, which in a hospital birth, there will be plenty. Hypnobirthing tends to not equip mothers with the same ability to handle distractions. I've done both programs, so I speak from experience.

Check out www.hypnobabies.com and order the program. You will be glad you did. Also you can join the hypnobabies yahoo group and you'll get a lot of wonderful support from women who have been there, done that.

Good luck and congratulations on choosing a natural birth!

I love questions like this. I had my last 3 of 5 without an epideral or anything. I used Hypnobirthing. a program by Marie Mongan. It is awesome. I wish I would have been even more prepared. But it was great and I have pretty fast labors so a total of 12 hours with the final 2-3 being intense. The recovery is SO worth it so I love it. Check into hypnobirthing and do a lot of research with an open mind. then you need to practice a lot!! it is worth it!

None, no pain meds for me.
I did LOTS of prenatal yoga before my daughter's birth. When we took the birthing class I felt it was redundant, and I was surprised at the amount of info in only 6 weeks...ONLY one class a week to familiarize & become cozy with the idea of BIRTH?? Anyway, I don't think it's enough.

S., Here are three things I think everywoman must know:
> YOU ARE so much STRONGER than you think.
> TAKE the contractions ONE AT A TIME. (breath, contractionnnn, ok, I think I can do another one, breath...)
> It is YOUR birth EXPERIENCE and no one else's.

It's all right to be scared.
Love, congratulations, & Happy birthing!

I can't help with the pain med info, but I did use hypnobirthing for both of my completely natural births and it was fantastic. There is a teacher out of Longmont who teaches the Mongan Method, her name is Susan Lynch and she was great. The class was very beneficial for both me and my husband and if you have the option I recommend it over trying to homestudy. When you do decide what type of pain management, if any, that you would like to use it is very beneficial to have a birthing plan printed out in advance. Show it to your health care providers before hand and then bring a couple to the hospital with you so you can post one on your door, that way everyone working with you during your birthing experience knows exactly what you want.

Another huge thing for me was prenatal chiropractic care. I did experience some pain during my first birth, though it was very manageable and I still enjoyed the process. For my second birth I had regular chiropractic treatments from Colleen Holland in Ft Collins (her practice is called Inner Potential) and I truly believe that it had a huge impact on my comfort during pregnancy and birth. I honestly did not experience pain during my second birth, there were times I was uncomfortable but all I had to do was change my laboring position and I was fine. Between the chiropractic care and the hypnobirthing I had a pain free birth. The hypnobirthing class comes with the book and a cd of birthing affirmations and guided relaxation that I used before and during birthing and that was also very helpful. Feel free to send me a message if you have any other hypnobirthing questions or if you'd like to borrow the cd (I think I can find it : )

Happy Birthing!

I have 7 kids, one was done natural, not by choice, she came fast and furious, right on the couch. ANd one thing to remember is that the contractions peek and ebb, there is usually some breathing room. I liked none of the less evasive ones all they did was make me loopy and the pain was still there.

Have a very clear cut plan of what you want to happen, it is very doable (I know a 16 year old who did natural also) breathing is great, make sure your parnter stays on top of that.

Last but not least, if you can't take it, don't torture yourself, have the epi, I was alert with it and without it. The worst part of labor really isn't the contractions (don't get me wrong they hurt) it's the "ring of fire" push through it and you will be holding your beautiful baby in your arms.


With my first I was given Demerol and that did nothing for the pain and pretty much put me to sleep instead. I ended up settling for the epidural because that was the only other pain killer option the hospital gave me. My other 3 childbirths I went completely un-medicated, and I will tell you that natural childbirth is less painful than being induced. I was given pitocin with my first and third, and noticed that their labors were both more painful than the times I wasn't given pitocin. So anyway just a little tidbit of information to help you through labor and delivery with your first :) Good luck.

I highly recommend hypnobirthing. If you practice and have a good support system there to help you use the tools you get from a hypnobirthing class you can have a wonderful labor experience with no drugs. I had both my kids with hypnobirthing techniques, was induced with the first, and still did not need any kind of pain medication (except for a local anethetic while they stitched up my tear from my first). BUT, practice and support are VERY important if you plan on using hypnobirthing.
Good luck to you!

I had two in hospitals and my last was a home birth that I loved. No pain meds and she cut my labor in half! First and formost is breath slow not fast! This produces natural endorphins plus gives you something else to concentrate on. the slower in and out breaths that you can do the less pain. It is amazing. If you hold your breath or breath fast the pain is worse. I don't care what Lamaze says do not pant!
Second a midwife will have you drink so much raspberry tea you will think you are swimming in it! It does something for the womb. I took raspberry capsules 2-3 times a day as I am not a tea drinker. Then the last month she has a concotion that she gives you with more tea and other things which helps to prepare the womb. It was all very amazing. With all of this the pain was very doable. In fact I was ready to push before I knew it. Three and a half hours of labor from 8 was great. I did hemmorage a bit but a little cayenne pepper under the tongue stops that. It was a beautiful experience and my other kids even helped. My midwife now lives in Utah. If you have any time I would take red raspberry!

That is so great you want to go med-free! I had two with and one without. I'd have to say the birth without the meds was not so bad, the "transition" when you go in to the final stage of labor was excrutiating but once you are through that the delivery was not so bad. My recovery was faster without the meds, I had none of the swelling wtc. that I experienced with the others.So just educate yourself about the stages, then you may know better at that point if you want the meds. If your transition lasts for hours with the contractions on top of eachother that is very painful., mine was fast so it wasn't too bad. I have a good friend who is a child birth instructor and doula, they do a great job and will help you alot! Especially if you have a plan and are informed! Good luck!

I teach Bradley classes, which has a 87% nationwide unmedicated births. Part of the reason for that is the length of classes. Bradley classes are 12 weeks long, which is how long you need to really learn a new skill - relaxation, imagery, etc. So what you can do is keep practicing all the way up to the birth. Besides that, Bradley teaches slow deep breathing, relaxation (massage, visualization, etc), and good positions. Also, Bradley focuses on training the coach (husband, friend) who will help remind and support. Having a doula should really help you.

Labor really is a mental thing so it's important to address any fears beforehand. I like Ina May Gaskins' Guide to Childbirth to boost your confidence.

I consider the freedom to move as the most important pain-reliever. By instinct, you should know what position will feel the best - standing, hands and knees, on a ball, in water, etc. Make sure to negotiate for intermittent electronic fetal monitoring or you will be restricted in your movement. This should be an option as long as you are not induced.

It sounds like you are preparing well, and you'll likely have a great birth. Personally, labor didn't feel painful to me. It was a lot of pressure that took concentration, but it was not overwhelming. Only twice (during transition) did I have the thought that it was too hard. At that point, your doula is there to reassure you. Labor and birth was the most special event of my life, which is why I teach now.

My personal choice was that I'd rather have an epidural than be loopy on narcotics. I had a slow "back labor" and found that I wanted the epidural sooner than I had "planned". I intended to use coping methods for a while, but it just wasn't in the cards. In the end, it was a good experience, I was completely alert, and really did feel no pain. (Not all epidurals work so well, and my right leg was dead to the world!) I still toy with the idea of a natural delivery if I have a second, but I know that I'd really like to avoid narcotics and the drugged feeling they bring. Good luck and enjoy it - whichever way it goes!

Dear S.,
I did not use any pain meds for either of my two children. I want you to know that those two experiences are the highlights of my life. What really helped me through was knowing that the pain was productive and necessary and would end. What also helped was the breathing, mindful calmness between contractions, the quiet voice of encouragement and comfort from my nurse, and gentle stroking of my hands and head. The pain, while at times extremely intense, was such a small part of the miraculous process that was occurring. The moment of birth was sheer ecstasy and looking back at the whole process it was like an out-of-body experience.
I don't know what teNs is. But I believe that if you arrange for a backup plan and arrange for some kind of pain relief to be available if you decide you want it, it will make a huge difference in your ability to withstand the pain. Just knowing that you are in control of it and can reduce it at any time you choose can make a huge difference in your ability to get through it.
I'm sorry I'm no help in offering info on different types of meds, since I didn't have any. But again, childbirth is the most beautiful experience you can imagine and after my first one, I couldn't wait to do it again. Even knowing the pain that would be involved again, I was actually looking forward to it!
Med-free labor is not for everyone. Find a med that you feel comfortable with and be prepared to use it if you need it. There's no need to be a hero. Good luck. I am so excited for you.

I have had five children. Four of them I had without an epidural. The last one I did request an epidural as I had fallen and hurt myself just prior to my delivery. I had almost done the splits and had pulled some ligaments so having my legs in styrups was not something I could feel that I would tolerate. The fifth child was also turned incorrectly and had to be turned during the birthing process. The epidural was great for this situation. However my first child was born without any drugs and I did not feel the need for any. I was dilated to a 7 when I thought I might be in labor but wasn't sure. I think on one of the other children I was given Nubain. I would avoid this it caused breathing difficulties and did not do anything at all for the pain. I should have endured. I also found that the epidural had less risks than the Nubain because it does not pass the placental barrier like the Nubain did. Information is great; I wish I would have known better beforehand. Just be prepared, relax, and judge what you need at the time. Good luck.

There were so many other responses I didn't read them , so hopefully this isn't too repetative. For #1, after going through Lamaze classes, I first tried Stadol (similar to Demerol) and felt slight relief for about 15 minutes at which point I had an epideral. On #2, I tried to hold off and employ Lamaze methods again, but this time I skipped the useless narcotic and went to the edpidural (which promptly stalled my labor and caused me to have to receive Pitocin to restart labor. I decided that Lamaze really doesn't prepare you to have a drug-free birth experience, just helps you manage for a while until you cave. (Not, of course, that all women do, but it's pretty common.) For #3, we went a whole different route and attended Bradley classes, which really prepare you so much more for a drug-free labor and delivery. It was rough, but I did it and it was very worth it. The difference in my baby's alertness and my own recovery were quite remarkable. With the epidurals, I felt like I'd been hit by a mack truck for a couple of days. After my natural experience, although I was of course somewhat sore, I was up walking around almost immediately. My baby nursed better and was so much more alert!

I agree with the last posts. The shots did nothing for the pain and just made me loopy. It was horrible because I couldn't do anything with the labor, which eventually quit progressing until the shot wore off. At that point I needed pitocin to start the progress again. The whole time (14 1/2 hours total) I was considered to be in hard labor with contractions off the scale, lasting 90 seconds, 3 minutes apart. If I had it to do again, I'd steer clear of anything except the epidural. That was great with my second. GL and congratulations!

Epidurals are not bad for you or the baby. If you just want the experience of having the baby naturally, then that is great. Otherwise, don't fear an epidural. Modern medicine is amazing.

Warm water is nature's epidural! All four of my births were water births, and I can't imagine giving birth any other way. For my first, I had only planned to use the tub to ease pain during labor, but I ended up being in the water when I was pushing her out, and after that, it was the only way to go for me. No pain meds since all were home births, too. With my fourth I learned hypnobirthing, and I recommend that as well. Definitely find something other than the classes at the hospital, which can add to your fear and uncertainty if you want to have a natural birth. Other than that, believe in yourself and your body's ability to do this amazing, powerful work! Happy birthing to you!

are you taking your birth classes through a hospital? if so, you might consider taking your classes from a doula or finding a "natural" birthing method that suits your personality.. like bradley, birthing from within or hypnobirthing, etc, etc. etc. Labor is hard, and it is something you need lots of tricks in your arsenal to get through. talk to your doula, that is what she is there for (love doulas!)... she should be able to offer you info on natural pain-relief as well as pharmaceutical! it is probably not too late to take a different class (or augment your current one with other schools of thought)

I went natural with my first... and while it was really hard, I made it through! I did a lot of yoga while in labor (a pre-natal yoga class is a great place to learn to relax and breath your way through it). I am due with my second in June.. and though I have done it pain med free before, I am actually a little intimidated (it was hard!), so I'm thinking of doing a home-study course on hypno-birthing, just to have another "alternative". from what I understand it is kind of self-hypnosis combined with positive associations.... supposed to be more trance-like and peace-ful labor. we'll see... but honestly, i used pieces from a variety of sources when I was in labor the first time. something will work for a while, then it will change!

anyway, I am sorry I can't comment on pain meds... but I just wanted to offer perhaps some alternatives and other ideas. (just fyi, I think pain meds/epi's have there place... I am totally for their use if you need it!)... the prize (baby) at the end is the same... just trust in yourself and your body to know what needs to be done, and gather people around you (during labor) that help you feel supported and safe. if you feel like you've done what you need to do to prepare, then great! but also remember, it is kind of a surrender when you give birth.. each birth is different and every sensation (good, bad, whatever) is going to be different... if you can kind of let all the mental stuff go and kind of roll with it, it will sweep you up in its own momentum. really it helps if you can kind of get out of your own head and let the labor "happen". hospital labor classes are great, and help you understand the process, but are also a little too "academic"... labor is very primal. let your body (and doula) guide you.
good luck... while the most difficult and challenging thing I've ever done it was also so beautiful and rewarding. I know it sounds crazy, but I am looking forward to doing it again (plus it is true what they say.. you do forget!)

I used a doula and support group in labor for comfort. I had my husband, my doula, my mom, my sister, and a great midwife. I chose my midwife because I knew SHE would be my primary healthcare attendant. I knew some other doctor or midwife wasn't going to show up (unless she was already at a birth). I also used movement and meditation techniques almost exclusively. I had a whole bag of things I could use and never needed anything but my mind and my support people. It was great.

A lot of people have given good suggestions already, but I do want to bring up that epidurals have narcotics in them nowadays. This is the "walking" epidural that allows you to move around. Just about all epidurals are like this now. The problem with this is that you have all the risks of an epidural AND all the risks of narcotics. They allow you to have the epidural when you're pretty close to birthing, which means the baby is more likely to be groggy from the narcotics. It can take days or even weeks for the baby's system to get the narcotics out of its system, whether you get the epidural or the narcotic shots.

Hypnobirthing is AWESOME. I went to a Hypnobirth birth, as a doula, and it was truly amazing. It was a breech birth in Denver, and the mom and dad were just so awesome. I can't really describe it well enough. She was in such a zone that even transitioning to the OR (where they do breech vag births at that hospital), she stayed in her bubble and did fantastic. It would probably help a lot for someone who hates hospitals.

So I have to ask - why are you having a hospital birth if you don't like hospitals and you're worried about that? I'm not looking for an answer, but it is a question to ask yourself. After all, studies have shown homebirths to be just as safe as hospital births for first-time, low-risk moms who have a midwife there.

Good luck!

I just wanted to say that you are smart to have a back up plan. You are in no way a failure if you can't go all the way! Labor is painful!!! That is just fact...
I am truly amazed at mothers that can endure the all natural. You are super hero's!

I did not go natural, but I also had a wonderful experience. So I wanted to give you the other side. Knowing that I wouldn't deal with with pain I knew I would always get an epidural, but was certainly nervous about it. However at 7 weeks into my pregnancy I had to have appendix taken out. It was then I got my first epidural and it was way easier than I had expected! I thought that was it??? So when it came time to deliver many months later I as ready to do it and asked for it right away. It was a positive thing for me. You truly don't feel it going in... I as able to really be well rested and there for my daughters birth and I am grateful for that.

Of course not all epidural experiences are great and on the flip side not all naturals go as planned. That is the thing with labor and birth- so unpredictable.

Just do what you can and practice what you have been taught... but just please know that in that moment of OMG I can't take it anymore, you aren't failing at all if you have to turn for help!

I wish you the best of luck in your natural labor! Again you ladies are amazing!!!

Hello there new mom. I have had 4 childern 2 without any medication. The only class I took was a birthing class and the breathing that was taught worked very well. Yes there was still pain but if you learn to breath it will help. I have never had an epidural, just meds in IV but did not help. So Just learn to breath and you should be ok. And I cannot tolerate pain so if I could do it so can you. Best of luck. Please let me know how it goes

It is natural to be scared. But don't worry. I am due with my 3rd any day now and let me tell you your body produces great endorphins to help deal with the pain. My 2nd daughter was a very long and some what complicated delivery and my body took care of it.

I do home births so unless there are life threatening complications pain meds aren't available. That being said the above still holds true. Your state of mind totally changes when labor starts. There is a place that laboring women go, it isn't something I can really explain. You just disconnect from everything and focus solely on the task at hand.

Just take a deep breath and know that God has made our bodies capable of this great task. Don't let the classes scare you too much. You and your body will know what needs to be done when the time comes.

When it comes to natural ways to help with the process, I have a couple. If they will let you, move with your contractions. With my first I sat on the floor and rocked back and forth and stood rocking my hips side to side. This helps the baby move into position and allows your body to respond to it more naturally. Also if you can do a water delivery it is awesome. I did it with my first and it was unbelievable. The weightlessness you feel is great after the tiring job of labor. I wanted to with my 2nd but she was not progressing and I had to get out and never made it back in. I am sure you have been told this, be sure to relax and take deep slow breaths through your contractions (easier said than done :o). When you tense up during a contraction you are working against your body. The birthing class that I took, it was with a home birthing doula, she explained to visualize something opening when you have a contraction. We take a lot of pictures in my family so I visualized a camera shutter opening for a picture. A flower, or anything circular that opens.

Please feel free to email me if you would like to talk about birth or just need some reassurance. I never took a birthing class from a hospital, but I have heard about them. They can put a lot of unnecessary fear in your mind.

Good luck on the rest of your pregnancy and delivery.


I had my son, 4 years ago, without an epidural. It was actually not my plan...my plan was to have an epidural, but the anesthesiologist was tied up with another patient. What impressed me most in the birth of my son was how a woman's body knows what to do. Trust that. It is so amazing how we are built to do this. If I could have know that then, I would have been more at ease. Another thing that helped me through labor was bouncing on an exercize ball. Sounds strange, but it was great to get my mind off the pain and on the rhythm of the bouncing. Try to get your mind out of thinking what you are doing and let your body do what it was born to do. I wish you the best of experiences.

Ahhh pain meds. The problem with planning for pain meds. is that you have no idea how intense the pain may or may not be. Me, I screamed when I felt my hip bones pushing apart, and that was WITH an epidural. You'll get other emails from ladies who had a modest amount of pain.

Be prepared for any possibility. You are not somehow a failure for taking pain meds. It's just one day in an entire life of experiences. Good luck!

I have had four kids. All epidural free. But I did have (I don't know the name) but I was told it was like an extra strength dose of Ibuprofen. It just took the edge off and they put it in my IV. My first three came within hours, my fourth after 8 hours, they told me it would be another 2 hours and suggested I get an epidural, but he finally came as the guy was walking down the hall. But he was a "scheduled baby" and I was put on the pit machine, which I would never do again as my babies come to easy when they do it on their own. I found that on the natural births the pain levels out when you are almost done. So if you can make it to the near end, then you can finish it off.

By the way, I noticed your name S., I'm looking for a daughter to Paul and Sue S., they live in Utah, but their daughter lives in Colo.

Good luck. The first time is scary because of the unknown, talk to siblings (if you have sisters) and your mom and find out what kind of births they had and it will probably be similar.

It looks like you have a lot of responses!! Congrats, this is such an exciting time!! I don't have any experience with the TENS unit, but I can speak from my experiences. I am a nurse, so I am for the epidural, and that is what I received during my labor and delivery and it saved my life. I went into labor naturally but then had to have IV pitocin to help make my contractions even stronger and they broke my water at the same time, so my contractions became absolutely unbearable. I know there are risks with the epidural, but they are rare. The pain that a woman experiences and the exhaustion (if you've been in labor for a long time) can be very dangerous as well. But I know many women do it naturally and have success. I just wouldn't totally rule out the epidural in case you get into a situation where you're not able to handle being in labor any more. You don't want to be completely exhausted for when the baby is born. I was able to rest after I had my epidural to try to safe strength for pushing. I had been in labor for 25 hours at that point with no sleep. Anyway, this is just my opinion though (:

I know the narcotics are available, but I don't think they are a good choice. From my experience with those women who receive it, it only makes you groggy and not care about the pain as much but not really take away the pain. It makes it so you feel funny and "out of it" You also cannot receive any after you are 8 cm dilated so you wouldn't be able to have any during the pushing phase. The reason for this is because it slows the baby's breathing and they don't want that to continue to have an effect on the baby once he/she is born because it can cause complications if they don't breathe enough. So I always thought that was risky. The epidural doesn't cause a negative effect on the baby and makes it so both of you can stay alert and not have a groggy feeling. It just makes you numb waste down.

Good luck making your decisions. Be confident in whatever you decide. i think it would be wonderful having a doula. I always see them on a baby story and they look like they do a great job. (: Congrats again.

Oh, one more thing. Some labor and deliveries don't hurt as bad as others. Even with the same women each delivery can be totally different as far as pain is concerned. So yours might not be that bad. My mother had 6 children and she said when she had me, it hurt for about 30 minutes but with my brother (the 6th) she was in labor for 56 hours and she said it was worse than all the labors combined. Anyway, so it could be fairly easy, but it could also be very hard, so just have an open mind so you don't back yourself into a corner or allow yourself to have a way out.

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