Delivery Without an Epidural....

Updated on March 24, 2010
A.K. asks from Dallas, TX
79 answers

so i have decided not to get an epidural when i do go into labor. i have slighty bad scoliosis where my spine is both curved and twisted. so i dont want to risk being paralyzed by the doc sticking a needle near my spine. its painful enough as it is. anyone have any advice as to what to use since i dont want to go that route? kind of want to just see how it goes, but this is my first baby so i am not sure.

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answers from Dallas on

I read "Childbirth the Bradley Way" which was SOOOOO helpful. I then took the 13 week Bradley classes. Loved can do it.

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answers from Dallas on

Take a Bradley birth class. My little one is 7 weeks old and I did it without any drugs. The class will teach you how to make it through without medication. YOU CAN DO IT!



answers from Chicago on

I would also look into doing a water birth if I were you. My sister did that and had nothing but amazing things to say about it, she also has scoliosis. I guess the buoyancy the water creates really takes a lot of stress off the body and tremendously helps with the pain. At one point, she thought she would move to a bed for a few minutes and as soon as she stood up, she immediatley sat back down because the pain started right back up again. Only certain hospitals offer this but the women I know who've done it have nothing but great things to say about it.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I'm a doula, former midwife's assistant, and mom who has given birth without pain meds. Hypnobabies worked wonders for me and I've seen it's benefits with several of the homebirth moms who took it from the midwife I was assisting. If you can find a local instructor that's best, but if there's no one local teaching the class you can also order a self-study course from the hypnobabies website (which is what I did with my first baby who was my natural birth, my second was a medically necessary premature cesarean, totally different experience :)

The most important factor in successfully having an unmedicated birth is your attitude. If you believe that you can do it, then you'll be able to do it. Hypnobabies can really help with this. Don't let people share their scary birth stories with you and please, please don't watch A Baby Story or any other birth shows (except House of Babies which shows only, natural, normal birth center births). This is a great article about the importance of attitude.

I'll also second the recommendations of several comments below:
-use a midwife if possible (ask lots of questions about how many patients go naturally, how many end up in cesarean, how many inductions, etc. Her rates should be much lower than the average OB's, if not, keep looking)
-If you can't use/find a good midwife and need an OB, ask him/her the same questions above. If he/she can't give you answers or the #s are high, keep looking. You are hiring your care provider to provide you with a service, you aren't required to "obey" them, they are here to serve you.
-Read Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth"
-hire a doula, or find one in training who offers reduced fee (not all doulas-in-training will). A doula is knowledgeable about labor, birth, comfort measures, and will be there for you the duration of your labor and focused solely on you, you partner and your needs. No one else will be able to offer you that, nurses will be in and out, doctor or midwife will show up at the end to catch the baby.

Good luck in your journey and the birth of your child. Your body was made to do this and you can do this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

A. ~
I'm an OB nurse and there are some good suggestions on here.
First ...don't have rigid guidelines as to what you want. Try to be flexible because especially being your first baby you really don't know what to expect. People can try to help prepare you, but it's your pain and how you handle it and the different points during labor is up to you. It can be done without an epidural. Position change as much as possible...walk if allowed, shower, jet tub ..if allowed (there are times when it's not recommended..but mention to your doctor that you're interested, maybe the hospital doesn't even have them)...birthing ball, side to side, knee chest (on your hands and knees, sometimes leaning into a bean bag chair)...sitting straight up, leaning over the bedside table...Stadol is a good option..everyone's reaction to it is different, but it tends to work very well for most people. It lasts about 2 hours, and can be given every 2 hours...allows you to rest between contractions and deal better with them....deffinitely take classes...get as educated as you can. learn how things are done at your hospital, their procedures, policies, etc. take a cd player or ipod and listen to some relaxing music, keep the lights dim...lavender oil on a cloth near you can be candles...have someone massage your lower legs/ankles/ can help stimulate the uterus, but also helps your tolerance of the pain.
Communication!!! with your doctor, nurses, family is a huge thing :)
good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on


I am about 6 weeks away from delivering my 4th and one thing I have learned is to use the tub! The hot water will relax you and actually speed up true labor. (It will slow down false labor) It also helps soften things up down there... I never could stand the jets on, but just laying in the water helps take the pressure of the contractions down quite a few notches...

Breathe. I never used any special methods... But breathe deeply...

Use the nurses!!! They are there to help you and your support person. If coach isn't doing something right... ASK the nurse to or to show them how to.

Follow what YOU want to do... If you want to move... Move... If you want to lay still... Do it. They have seen EVERYTHING... I have always been known as the "modest" girl... Well, with my 2nd and 3rd the gown was annoying me so much... I ended up butt naked and was able to concentrait on what was going on with me.

Do not set rules. Go with how you feel. Hubby set all these " not gonna allow that to happen" with our 1st... lol Every thing he said we were not gonna do (suction cup, pain meds, long labor, etc) happened... Stay flexible.

They do have shots they can give you to dull things for a bit... And once you get going you will be so focused INWARD that the pain becomes secondary... Concentrait on the goal not the now...Until baby comes.

I never noticed a "ring of fire" but it could be that it was just seconds then done.

Just remember... Its really a mental thing. Each push is one less push that you will need to do, each contraction, one less... :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I had a natural childbirth. Yes it hurts, but after he was out the pain stopped and I felt like superwoman :) The next one I will do a natural one again. I only needed to take a few advil the next day. I was orignially going to do a water birth with a midwife at a birth center but I developed complications and had to go to an OB at 35 weeks. I had a doula and she was tremendous help. Definetly check into a birthing center. You will get the best care from the midwives. My husband and I enjoyed every appointment we had.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Hi there. In this culture women are led to believe that they need an epidural in order to cope with labor, but it's simply not true. You will enjoy some of the benefits of not getting an epidural, such as being able to labor in any position, thereby speeding labor and avoiding interventions such as vacuum extraction, episiotomy and c-sec, no catheter, no i.v. and fluid retention, no chance of excruciating epidural headaches afterward, etc.

I gave birth to 2 babies without drugs, and I can tell you it's totally possible. For me, having access to a hot bath was huge relief. Also, being able to move around a lot. I also think going into labor already partially dilated helped keep my labors relatively short (9.5 hrs for first and less than 4 for second). Here's something that's key: DO NOT GET INDUCED. Induction forces the body to go into labor when it's simply not ready, or the baby is not in position. Inductions lead to long, painful labors that often wind up in C-sections. If you have a midwife, that's great, you can probably have a good conversation with her about your concerns and she won't force you to get induced. If you have an o.b. you may have to put your foot down, depending on how interventionalist they are. If the o.b. starts talking induction at the end, say that you will only agree to induction if the baby is in danger (i.e. it's 10 days past due date, placenta is failing, baby showing signs of distress) or if you have a serious complication (i.e. preeclampsia).

In the meantime, if you are early enough on, I would urge you to carefully choose your care provider. For natural childbirth for low to moderate risk women, a midwife that you feel comfortable with is your best option. You can give birth in a hospital, birth center, or at home. Midwives are trained to help women through the pain of labor, and they know when labor is normal and when something isn't quite right. O.B.s are trained to manage labor, so there are many more interventions, including overuse of Pitocin, epidurals, I.V.s, narcotics, etc. They aren't so comfortable "letting nature take its course". Of course, this isn't true 100% of the time (and 100% of midwives aren't great either), but I would urge you to choose your care provider carefully because that can make all the difference.

I used to volunteer as a doula and wrote a couple of articles on this subject if you are interested:
Epidural Risks

Midwives in the U.S.

Midwives Model of Care

Good luck and here's wishing you a great birth experience!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Clarksville on

Hi A.,

Congratulations on your pregnancy! You CAN do this!!!

My recommendations:

* Read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin; The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer to name a few.

* Surround yourself with people who support your decision to go natural. I've had 4 unmedicated, natural births...2 in free standing birthing centers and 2 at home.

* Hire a Doula

* Take Bradley Method Classes

* Tour the free standing birthing centers in your area and consider having your baby at one, with a Certified Nurse Midwife.

* If you plan a hospital birth, stay home as long as you possibly can. Having the freedom to move around during labor makes all the difference in the world. Gravity helps to get baby down and contractions are bearable when you can move or rock as they come. Being confined to a bed makes things more difficult.

* Learn relaxation techniques for labor(a doula will help you with this).

* Check out

Links for two area birthing centers:

This site lists various resources around the Dallas area. Looks like a great site and seems you'll have many options within your area.

I am an ALACE trained doula, if you have questions or need help finding information, feel free to email me.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I know everyone has a plan of how they want birth to go- especially a first birth. And that is fine- BUT, don't set yourself up for feeling like some kind of failure if things don't go according to plan!!

I say this because I too had planned to have a birth with no epidural. I had two nurse-midwives and had planned for a lot of other natural techniques, etc.
When the actual event arrived, things did NOT go according to plan, lol!

My son had a very very large head and my labor went very slowly. I was in labor for over 30 hours. ( I am not saying this to make you nervous- it was VERY unusual and both nurse-midwives told me it was the longest ongoing labor they had ever attended, so it probably will NOT happen that way with you!!)

Anyway, after several hours, my nurse-midwife came and told me that she was going to recommend an epidural, simply because I had been in labor so long that they were afraid I was not going to have the strength to push when I became dilated and they did not want the risk of having to go for a c-section because I couldn't push. At that point I just said, "Whatever you think is best"

The epidural itself went in so quick I don' remember it very well, but I rested for about 3 more hours. Then all of a sudden- WHAM! my contractions came on, I dilated and it was time to PUSH!

Half an hour later, I had a beautiful baby boy and could have cared less how he got there, or what else had happened. When that moment comes and you are pushing - nothing else will matter.

So plan your natural plan, absolutely- but if you need to have the epidural DO NOT allow anyone to guilt you over it or make yourself feel bad or like a wuss about it. Some people like to play that game- that having a baby one way somehow makes them a better mom, etc. Just ignore it if it happens. Everyone's experience and needs are different and you just do what you and your doctor or midwife decide is best for YOU.

What matters most is that you and your baby come through everything safely. Best of luck to you- I am sure you will do GREAT, no matter how it happens!

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answers from Charlotte on

I agree with lots of what other women have said. If you can go with a midwife instead of an OB, absolutely do it! Also, definately check out both the Bradley method and the Hypnobirthing method, and see which one suits you better. There are pressure points that can be messaged and rubbed while you are in labor that can help a great deal. Also, waterbirth is a wonderful option if you can deliver at a place where that has that option. Are there any birthing centers near where you live?

Definately check out "The Business of Being Born" before you ahve your baby. If anything, the women giving birth naturally will show you that you can do it and boost your confindence in yourself!

With my next child, I will definately give birth at home. Many women are rediscovering the joy and and empowerment that a natural birth can give you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I have scoliosis and now a rod in my back which causes pain every day. I was nervous with my first but I went through it with no epidural and no pain meds. I was out of the hospital the next day, don't like the place, and felt better than any of my friends who took every pain killer available.
Go all the way, the pain is short lived and our memories I think are even shorter.

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answers from Seattle on

I did not read all the other answers - but I wanted to cheer you on with my experience!
I had my daughter without any pain medication - AND I did not think of myself as a martyr. My labor was short and I stayed at home for most of it. I actually returned home after getting antibiotics at the hospital for testing GBS + and by the time we came back I was already at 9 cm.
I truly believe that laboring at home on my own terms was a major contributor to my fast progress.
I had pain medication available if I had wanted it, but at no time was I in so much pain that I felt I needed it. Mind you, I did not use any "special" tricks, I had not taken any childbirth prep courses (I did not want to hinder myself from using whatever techniques felt instinctual to me). But I had read up A LOT on natural childbirth and positive unmedicated childbirth experiences and stayed active and fit (I loved prenatal yoga) during my pregnancy.

The two most important tips for your would be:
- labor at home for as long as possible
- Choose a midwife for your delivery and NOT a OB/GYN. OB/GYN are not trained in supporting NATURAL childbirth. By having a doctor as your provider you are setting yourself up for failure.

I probably won't, but if I had another child, I would not change a thing!

I had a great experience and almost want to have another one just so I can experience pregnancy and birth again.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

I gave birth to two, one of which was breech, before epidurals were a glimmer in the doctor's eye. The best thing about not having anesthesia is how quickly you recover! It's not childbirth you have to recover from, but the drugs in your system. I would go with the doctor's advice since he can see the "equipment" you have. Some women have wider pelvic bones and are more suited to childbirth. Remember, you can always have the immediate anesthesia that's available if it gets too tough. I have back problems, too, so I sympathize with you and agree you don't need additional risks that an epidural might have. Good luck!!!

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answers from New York on

Dear A.,

Natural childbirth is by far the safest option for a mom and a baby. Yes, there's pain, but chances are, your grandmother got through it, her grandmother definitely got through it, and so on through human history. And pain is only one side of it. It's also a profoundly moving , exhilarating, joyful, life-changing experience. I wouldn't have done it the other way for a million dollars.

I agree with all the moms who have recommended Bradley classes and Ina Mae Gaskin's book -- I just want to add a tiny tip of my own: "countdowns." Through every contraction, my husband counted down the seconds for me, "59, 58, 57, etc." That enabled me to put all my concentration into the next number. Through the pain, I'd just tell myself "48 is coming," "47 is coming," etc. I know it sounds sort of strange now, but in the middle of a contraction, you need something extremely simple to focus on. I have honestly never felt closer to my husband than when he was counting down those numbers for me.

And, as a curious coincidence, I am now the mom of a little preschool math whiz. I know it doesn't have to do with my labor experience, but when I hear him counting the stairs, his toys, etc., I always think back to that time in the birthing tub.

Good luck. You can do it!!!

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answers from Cleveland on

I did get an epidural with my first, but it was so far into my labor that is didn't "kick in" till after she was born. With my other 3 I didn't get on... the doctors did give me a local shot down there with my 2nd, because they needed to do 2 small cuts so that she was able to come out... she had a big head - lol. With both my boys they didn't even give the local, but I did ripe a little where the old cuts were from my daughter. Even with all that it really wasn't that bad. Most of labor for me was just really bad mentral cramps with lots of breathing & pushing.

And to be honest, I might be different the others here - but I forgot about the pain long before I left the hospital. Actually all the work was worth it once I heard the baby cry & they were put in my arms. Nothing else mattered at that point!

So you know - I had 3 babies that were 19 1/2 - 21 1/2 in and 7 lbs 4 oz & one that was 20 in and 8 lbs. So, they weren't "little" babies, but yet they weren't "big" babies. And I'm getting ready to do it again in a few months... so if someone is willing to do it 5 or so times - it must be worth it.

Oh, as for the epidural - the hidden truth of them is that they can actually slow labor. Which personnaly is something I don't want done. And I've been through 2 inductions - with is suppose to be harder labor then natural (pain is suppose to be stronger, but it's wasn't all that bad). Just think of the prize & you'll be fine with nothing.

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answers from Dallas on

Have you considered going to a birthing center instead of traditional hospital. I had my first (and only baby) at Inanna Birth and Women's Care. I did not make that decision until 36 weeks, but at that point and through the delivery (and after) I received superior support and care. I believe you have to be comfortable where you are giving birth and have confidence in both your body and the person attending your birth. I read a lot of great books (The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Birthing From Within), as well as watched movies like The Business of Being Born. I also kept up a regular exercise routine during my pregnancy, doing pregnancy appropriate strength training and regular walking -- so that my body was in shape for the work it had to do. I had a wonderfully real and rewarding birth experience -- I felt more empowered as a woman! Good luck with your choices.

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answers from San Francisco on

Beth B nailed it! Just do what you want to do, and don't worry about what anyone thinks or might say. Throw all modestly and care about others' opinions out the window. The easiest way to do this, I think, is to keep everyone out of the labor room, except your husband. My mom and MIL wanted to be in the room, and I said no. Too many cooks in the kitchen. I didn't want to have to worry about my hubby saying something my mom thought was wrong, or my mom feeling put out because I was taking comfort from my husband and not her, or my MIL feeling left out. I told the nurses no one but the doc and more nurses allowed until the baby is out and we are both cleaned up. It made things so simple! I walked, I bounced on the birthing ball, I rocked in the rocker, I leaned on the bed and on my husband and on the nurse, I took 6 showers during the 16 hours--I would have used the tub, too, except it meant walking down the hall. I didn't get so much as a Tylenol, and never felt like I needed it. With each contraction, my hubby reminded me that was one more gone and we were that much closer to meeting our daughter. I clung to that thought, and those words, as labor progressed. YOU CAN DO IT!!!! Good luck, and congratulations. Also, the advice about having a midwife and not an OB is right on, too. I had an OB, but I made sure to tell her over and over during the last several appts that I wanted a natural birth, and I told the nurses, too. The nurses didn't call my OB in until it was time to "catch" the baby, and they were so supportive the whole time...

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answers from Minneapolis on

Use a midwife and a doula, no OB unless an emergency occurs. They will help you get through a birth without an epi.



answers from Dallas on

I would get the book The Bradley Method. I did it without an epidural and if I can, anyone can! The only thing I wasn't prepared for was how exhausting it was. I later was told by a doula that she makes her mothers walk at least an hour a day to wish I'd done that! Other than that, you can definetly prepare yourself for the 'discomfort' :). Good luck to can do it, you can do it.



answers from San Francisco on

I guess I may be just repeating what others have said. In brief:
- use the bathtub when pain is too high. It will relax you A LOT.
- birthing ball
- having supportive/helping people around (husband/doula) and agree with them on how they can help (helping you focus, talking or keep quiet, massage you...)
- no extra/unwanted people in the room
- go with midwife if still possible
- don't get fixed on an idea. Just try pain free but accept to have meds if pain is too high. I did that and had my 2 babies med-free.




answers from Killeen on

I had an epidural with my first child but had so many complications(they put it in too high) that I decided not to have one with my younger two. Having done it both ways, I would never choose to have an epidural. It will be painful but just know that you can get through it! In my opinion the epidural just isn't worth it. First babies usually take longer....relaxing in the tub early on really helped me as did walking. The most important thing is if you decide to do it without any medication ...try to stick to your decision during labor even when it gets rough.



answers from New York on

Hi A.,
Good for you! I had both my kids with no pain meds. You can do it! I'd suggest taking a good natural birth class (this is not the hospital prepared childbirth course) like Bradley or HypnoBirthing. These methods have high rates of unmedicated birth and teach good techniques and skills for birthing naturally.



answers from Austin on

The best way to avoid medications and the push from the medical staff is to hire a midwife and stay at home. Safer and healthier for you and the baby.




answers from Hartford on

i had to take one bc at the end they gave me a c-section but i did go 13 hours w/o and i am a major baby and it really was not that bad. i had a doula that was super helpful with moving me around to get comfortable, breathing, relaxing, using things like: rocking chair, ball, water and pushing on my back when I got bad back contractions. also hot and cold cloths and a fan. we tried everything and really, it was okay. good luck, congrats



answers from Dallas on

Find a Bradley Instructor :)



answers from Phoenix on

I'm also choosing to do an epidural free labor this time around after complications I had with it my first go round. I'm signed up to take some hypnobirthing classes next month. I'm excited b/c I've heard a lot of good things about the hypnobirthing experience. I found an instructor through the website Good luck!



answers from Harrisburg on

I also chose not to use an epidural, I am not a fan of needles so... I asked for demoral ( which did not work for me) and then they gave me laughing gas up until you push, this did work for me personally up until I was fully dialated, just lots of breathing and focusing on a ucbaby photo of my son and it worked.... it was painful , childbirth is but it was beautiful because I had total control of when to push and my body was telling me what to do throughout the whole thing.. this was my first baby too....

good luck!! I hope all goes well for you



answers from Charleston on

I have not read your other responses, but I just thought I would give you my 2 cents as I was in the exact same situation. I also have both a twist and a curve and did not trust the risk level for my situation and an epidural. I had my duaghter a year ago, and it was my first. I decided to go the midwife route so that my team would put less pressure on me in regards to using pain meds. My labor was quite long, so the exaustion was worse than the pain to me. It does hurt, and labor made me have cramping in my back (my prenatal care doctor said to expect this due to my back issues, it was not actually back labor).

For me, heat and water were my best solutions. My water broke early so I was afraid of getting in the tub (although water births are quite safe, it freaked me out) so I spend about 1/2 my labor in the shower with a yoga ball. I got in a leaning position with my knees on a towl on the shower floor and my forarms on the yoga ball and let the hot water rain on my lower back. This was the best pain relief for me. I also had a rice bag (basically a cloth bag filled with rice that you can zap in the microwave) that I used to apply heat to my back when I was not in the shower. Distraction is also a powerful pain relief. My birthing partner (a close childhood friend - the hubby was deployed) and I talked about silly things we did as kids and other such non-birth related topics during the second half of labor when the contractions started wearing on me. This really helped me take my focus off of the pain and that helped a ton.

For pushing, take your curve into consideration. I found that the best position for me to push, both comfort wise and effectiveness wise was to basically kneel with one leg and have the opposite foot on the ground. You would basically look like you were in the middle of standing up from a kneeling position. If you assume this position now, you will find that one side is MUCH more comfortable than the other, based on your curve. For me is was best to kneel on my left knee and have my right foot on the ground, so figure that our before you go into labor. My birthing partner supported me in this position.

I made it through 46 hours of labor and 1 hour of pushing with no pain meds, so I am confident that you can do it too! Do know, that if you are finding the pain unbearable you can request IV pain medications rather than an epidural. I would recommend you talk to your doctor, and as many other experts as you can about non-medicinal pain relief techniques. Compile a list for your birthing partner, because in the moment you may not think of all your options. I also recommend you have an extra birthing partner who knows you well. If you have a long labor it is nice for you primary person to be able to take a break. This may sound weird, but as your birthing parner gets tired, it is harder for them to help you stay positive and fully be supportive of you.

Good Luck!!!!!! You can do it!!!!!!!


answers from Norfolk on

My sister went with natural child birth and hated it. I went with an epidural, and I don't think I would have had the strength to push after 36 hrs of labor if I had not had it. I'd had contractions from 5am through 9pm and I was SO ready for the anesthesiologist when we got to the hospital. Every birth is different.



answers from St. Louis on

I did Bradley Classes with my first child. Taught how to exercise to get your body ready for natural birth. Google it and you should be able to call someone and find out more about it. Best wishes and enjoy every moment you can.



answers from Las Vegas on

I had both my births natural. My first happened quickly and there was no time for any drugs, but it went pretty smooth so there was no desire for it.

I figured if I could have the first natural, I could have the second one that way too, so I did.

The doctor told me about 1/3 of his patients choose to go without meds. He offered a few other choices, but I refused them. I did get carried away with my breathing and nearly hyperventilated myself. The wonderful thing is that after you have given birth, you fell 100%!



answers from San Francisco on

I delivered my first baby last year. I was induced as I was more than a week overdue. I did it without an epidural. My advice will be to really HIRE A DOULA. This was one of the best decisions I have taken. They really know how to encourage you and help you to do a natural childbirth. When my contractions were unbearable, I was begging for epidural. But my doula and midwife, let me stay in the hospital tub for as long as possible and advised me for taking fentanyl which also helped quite a bit. Hope this helps.



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I have 3 kids and never had an epidural. There is a great book called "Acupressure's Potent Points" and there is a section on labor and delivery. My husband pressed my sacral points during my labor and it relieved the pain. I like to say that my husband WAS my epidural. It was hard on his thumbs but it really helped me.



answers from Los Angeles on

Well I wanted a natural birth but I gave up; however, the epidural wore off at the end anyway since my labor was so long, and I could feel it. I had to have a section with my son because of his size, but just know that if you were to have an epidural (if you start doubting) it's not guaranteed to work anyway...the pain seems bad at the time, but you CAN get through it, my contractions were the worst when I could feel everything (you can tell this from the monitor). Also, I have a lot of friends who have done it and they all said without question being in the tub helped them the most. That being said, I would deliver at a birthing center if you can, unless you know your hospital isn't going to require you to be in bed, tied up to monitors. My delivery room didn't even have a shower in it, let alone a tub. Plan it out from every angle so you give yourself the best possible scenario. A birthing center will be best for you. Best wishes for your little one! :)



answers from Minneapolis on

I didn't have an epidural with my first 2 deliveries and yes it was painful, but I made it through them just fine. I decided with my 3rd delivery I wanted to have an epidural, to me it seemed like it only helped with the contractions, but once I started to push I was able to feel all the pain. My husband has scoliosis as well, so I understand where you are coming from.....good luck!!


answers from Saginaw on

I had my first without an epidural. Mostly because I went into it with the idea of wanting to try to see how long I could go without one. I tolerate pain pretty good. When it came time to wanting one, it was too late.

I tell people two things about having a baby without an epidural. Use the shower. The shower helped wonders!!! In fact that's probably one of the reasons I didn't realize how far along I was, because when in there it really soothed me.

And the second thing is, if you can get through the contractions, by the time it comes to pushing, you feel no pain. Or at least I didn't. Once it came time to push, I was so focused on pushing I did not feel one contraction during that time. Plus I think it made it easier and quicker to deliver.

Good luck to you!!!

p.s. My hospital and Dr never once pushed me to get one.



answers from Medford on

Yes, we all have our ways of handling labor. God bless you as you find your best ways. And He will. He gave you and your husband this child. One thing I liked to do was to attend birthing classes. We have eight children and even though I already knew a lot of things, I felt more prepared this way. It was fun and helpful each time. And I was always relieved when it was time to push - you will soon have your baby!



answers from Dallas on

Hi -
Janet responded perfectly below. I had 2 natural births, AKA, no drugs and had them at the hospital. I had the assistance of a doula. All the books she mentioned are perfect! Good luck and best of blessings!!

Working mom in McKinney.



answers from Dallas on

I did Bradley with my first and it did not help me at all. I did Hypnobabies (different than hynobirth) with my second and LOVED it, MUCH better imo! I did the home course and did really well with it. That's what I would recommend by far! Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I have only had one child and felt that the epidural was riskier than temporary pain. I breathed like I was jogging a marathon and felt like I could have lasted another couple of hours (but I pushed when they told me to). Sure it hurt, but when they baby came I felt immediate euphoria. My daughter was perfectly alert and I could get up when I was ready. I really don't understand how medicated delivery has become the norm!



answers from Albuquerque on

I went through all three of my labors without an epidural and without pain meds but then again I had really quick labors. I think I just had a mindset that this is a natural part of life and hey, if women did back in the day without meds then why can't I? Good luck and best wishes for a successful delivery!


answers from Chicago on

I highly recommend taking a Bradley Natural Birth class and planning for a drug-free birth. I found the class EXTREMELY insightful and helpful, and although my labor was four DAYS long, I was still able to avoid an epidural and have an amazing drug-free birth. My husband and I both learned so much during the class that we really felt prepared to handle all the decisions we would need to make. Here's the website-

Good luck to you! :)

Barefoot Books Ambassador


answers from Erie on

i have 2 kids...the first i had an epi but the second i didn't...he came too fast :) i also have scoliosis where my lower vertebrae are twisted and had no issues with the epi at all. there are other pain meds that can be given other than an epi if you decide you need them. but i liked using a nice hot shower...i didn't have the option of doing a water birth though or i may have done that with my second. :) but i hear great things about that too! and i totally agree with everything donna h said...everyone's pain tolerances are different and how you manage pain is your own thing...plan what you think you would like but research other options too just in case. at least you'll be informed when the time comes! good luck!



answers from Florence on

Demerol Shot!


Demerol Shot!



answers from Minneapolis on

Many of the drugs available have their own unique side effects, and you need to be informed of what they are, as some of the do cross the placenta, and many can increase the probability of the cascade of interventions. I forget the title, but there is a book by Heni Goer that goes through both the pros and cons of the majority of the aspects and available interventions of birthing a child. I found it helpful with my first. One thing you need to decide is if you want an intervention free birth, or just an epidural free birth? If it's an intervention free, there are many natural and holistic things you and your birth attendants can do to help you through the process. Another book I found very helpful for my 2nd child was "Birthing from Within" by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. It reaffirms a woman's ability to labor and birth a baby on her own, as that is what we were made to do. The one activity I really liked was holding an ice cube in my hand, and timing 90 seconds, every 2 minutes, or whatever, just like how contractions can get. Also look into birth doulas in your area. is a great resource for those. Also write in your birth plan your wishes. Fluid IV's are not necessary for low risk birth. Delivering on your back with your feet raised in the air actually compresses your pelvic bones by up to one inch, decreasing the opening baby has to come through. You do not need to be hooked up to the EFM. You can deliver in whatever position you want - back delivery is strictly for the convenience of the doctor.

I've got tons more, if you're interested, I can PM them you. Good luck!



answers from Boise on

Hypnobabies. I did the HypnoBirthing for my first, and made it through all the pushing, etc., until I had to have an emergency c-section (nothing to do with the hypno). A friend did the same, but we both felt something was lacking. She got into HypnoBabies, and it made all the difference for her birthing experience. Her first was an epidural, but she was all natural this time. Another friend took her class and although she had no desire for a natural birth, it worked for her too. I have now ordered the HypnoBabies for c-section.

I would also suggest hiring a doula. They can help keep you focused and help you have the type of birth you want.



answers from Chicago on

I didn't read the other comments so you may have already read something like this, but I wanted to contribute this 1 thing- what you plan for isn't neccesarily what will happen so be open to other options. You can ask for what you want, but know going in that things can happen that change "what you want or what will happen."

I wanted an epidural with all of my children. My first 2 went smoothly and I had great experiences. My 3rd was born almost a year ago and it was a completely different experience. My water broke - I went to the hospital right away and I had the baby 40 minutes later in the triage room. I had no drugs at all and everything happened so fast that I didn't have time to focus on breathing, getting comfortable, using relaxation techniques, etc..

My point is you can be as prepared as you can be, but when the time comes nature takes over and there's only so much you can control. Good luck and congratulations!!!!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Congrats on your decision, I also decided to go without, but for 'natural' reasons...
How it went:
The doc had to break water and give petossin (sp?) to speed up the process.. around 8cm, i was in so much pain I wanted to just be put under and cut open..
DRUGS were no longer an option because I was so 'close' so I just breathed calmly and dealt with the pain - ANY WOMAN CAN DO THIS!
~~ I, and everyone I talked to, was SO proud of myself/me..



answers from Orlando on

Good for you for wanting to go natural! It's healthier for you and the baby!

Look into "Birthing from within" and "hypnobirthing." Get a good doula and if possible, use a midwife...but even if you have to have a hospital delivery and can't use a midwife, get a good doula. That will be the key for you!


answers from Dover on

I also have scoliosis. With my 1st child...I went without an epidural. She only weighed 6 lbs. 11 1/4 oz. and honestly it wasnt that bad. Then with my 2nd child...I went the same route...she weighed 8 lbs. 2 1/2 oz. yes, it hurt, but in all, I made it. With my son however, I had gestational diabetes and decided I would have the epidural since they told me he would be a big baby. I had it and was able to relax through most of my labor. I have done this both ways...with and without.....I prefer without.....BUT I did have the doctor massage my Perineum with the last child. I didnt have to be cut for a 3rd time and because he massaged it...I also never tore. Hope somehow this helps you out :)



answers from Washington DC on

i also took an accupressure and yoga for birth class and listened to hypnobirthing tracks. the only thing i actually found helpful from these courses was deep breathing techniques. nothing else helped and i did not want my husband touching me. i recommend reading as much as you can. just remember that birthing is a natural thing. mother nature built our bodies to give birth and millions of women have done this without drugs forever. don't listen to the horror stories, and don't let people tell you you're crazy. the single most helpful piece of advice i read was that when you think you can't stand the pain anymore, you are almost done. when my pain increased to the point i felt like giving up, i asked the nurse to check my progress, and it turned out i was in transition and was ready to push a half-hour later.


answers from Fayetteville on

I am a HypnoBirthing Instructor, and I recommend HypnoBirthing. It is important to know how your body functions, and to prepare for a intervention free birth, so you can move around unencumbered during labor, so you can achieve your ultimate level of relaxation. HypnoBirthing also helps you to accept what ever turn your birthing takes. HypnoBirthing is a beautiful birthing method, and I think you would benefit from it tremendously. To find a HypnoBirthing Practitioner in your area, visit: and look up Practitioner Directory. Happy Birthing. :) You may also visit my website if you like.

-T. Dellabalma, HBCE
Fayetteville, NC



answers from Philadelphia on

It's completely up to you. I didn't have an epidural with my first son, but his labor and delivery was short. He was out in 3 1/2 hours, but I had extremly bad back labor with him. I got an epidural with my second son because i didn't want to feel the back labor, if there was any. If your hospital has a good anastheologist, you wouldn't feel the needle or anything. I didn't. Talk to your doctor about your concerns, I'm sure they can recommend an alternative soluton for you.



answers from Detroit on

Bradley Method for natural childbirth!!! My baby boy's birth was wonderful, in my mind I was in Maui the whole time, I looked and felt peaceful and relaxed. Best classes I have ever taken. It's all the power of your mind and being prepared --- educate yourself, and believe you CAN do it!



answers from Dallas on

Wow- you sound a lot like my feelings with my first child. I didn't have the scoliosis but I was terrifed of the epidural and possibly being paralyzed. I was so determined not to do it. Have you talked with your doctor about who your anethestiologist is and if they have ever given epidurals to people with your condition? Remember a doctor is putting his license and life on the line when they take care of you and they don't want you paralyzed either. Talk to them and find some comfort with the anethesiologist.

Now the reason I say that... I was determined to have my baby natural! My water broke at 10:30pm and I started having contractions- by 2 am I was at the hospital. I informed the nurses I was not going to have an epidural. (I even had a nurse stick around after her shift to see me through my "bravery" as she called it- how did my fear become bravery?) The doctor ended up giving me potossan (not sure of spelling but it increased my contractions) and I started having over a minute long contractions with 30 second or less breaks. I did really well and hung in there and kept my mind on a beautiful baby I was going to have. Around 2:30pm I was dilated and ready to push. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours and my baby would not fit. The doctor looked at me and said it was time for a c-section. I said ok but I don't want an epidural...but guess what there is no way around it at that point. So with all my determination and hard work not to have a epidural I ended up with one anyway. At the time I felt like a failure but looking back now I experienced as much of natural child birth as my body would let me. And I wouldn't change that expierence for anything! After the c-section my baby boy came out weighing 9lbs 3 oz and ended up with the umbilical cord around his neck so I have to think God that the natural delivery didn't occur or my special gift from him might not be here today.

God already knows how this is going to turn out. So calm your fears and know that God is on your side- he is giving you this mircle and have faith in him that he will take care of you no matter what happens!

May God Bless you and your child!



answers from Kansas City on

Talk to your OB about IV med options. There are a few different ones out there that can take the edge off the pain for you.



answers from Redding on

Dear A.,
I didn't have an epidural with my first baby. I had zero pain medication. I also didn't have any lamaze or birthing classes. I had full prenatal care from minute one, don't get me wrong, but I was so small framed that it was discussed from the beginning I might not be able to have the baby naturally. I DID though! My nurses were so good to me and they told me everything to do as far as breathing. I don't want to make myself sound like a hero because there came a point when I said "I can't do this anymore and I MEAN it!" That's when they told me it was time to push and everything happened so fast after that.
With my second baby, there was never a question that I would have an epidural. I had been critically ill throughout most of my pregnancy. When I went into labor, they needed me to be ready for the O.R. if there was any sign of distress to me or the baby. There were no complications from the epidural and I ended up not having to have a c-section. I was physically very fragile and I don't know that I could have survived that birth without help and I don't regret it at all.
I've given birth with and without an epidural. Both situations were completely different. I think you should talk very openly and honestly with your OB/GYN about your concerns. Perhaps he can set it up for you to speak to an anesthesiologist to address and hopefully relieve some of your fears. It's good to ask questions now and be emotionally prepared for Plan B, just in case.
I wish you the best and just keep in mind that getting your baby here and healthy and getting you through it is the main goal.



answers from Norfolk on

You can do it. Lots of us do, definitely take a real childbirth class that teaches you breathing and pain control techniques though (the one I took was mostly just videos about birth).



answers from Dallas on

I had 3 children; 2 of them without anesthitic of any kind (and not by choice). Since this is your first child, you cannot imagine what labor feels like and while I don't want to scare you, I have to be honest. I would NEVER go natural if "pain-free" is an option. I haven't heard of doctors paralizing anyone by administering an epidural, although there probably ARE a handful of cases. If your OB-GYN is reputible and knows about your Scoliosis (I have that, too), there's no reason to fear this procedure.

Good luck and God bless!



answers from Phoenix on

I had my first with no pain meds at all. He came in two hours so there was no time but I'm so glad I did this. I've had to have C-Sections after this one because of medical problems related to antibodies but I would do it naturally every time if I could! Get all the information that you can. Take childbirth classes and read all you can about natural childbirth. I'm getting ready to have my 4th C-Section and 2nd hernia repair along my C-Section scar. I looked into VBACs like crazy to make myself feel more confident about another C-Sections so I didn't feel like I was just going along with doctors. Doing your research really makes all the difference in the world! Good luck to you! Congratulations!


answers from Raleigh on

Just don't take stadol. I was in such excruciating pain (too many issues to talk about), and they gave it to me. I would NEVER recommend it to anyone! It will make you SO groggy. I barely remember my son's birth and I blame it completely on that. I was in pain, but at least lucid before they gave it to me, afterward was a different story. I say use the tub and go all natural! Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Good for you going the natural route. I had my daughter completely naturally. I recommend taking some natural birthing classes, maybe through a local birth center, you will learn ways to deal with the pain. I also had a doula with me at my birth, they are their to advocate for your choices that you made and help you remember what to do.

good luck, and congratulations!


answers from New York on

Hi there,
I had a drug-free, natural birth that was a wonderful experience. I learned the Bradley method to deal with the "pain," and I loved their exercises and nutritional recommendations. All of that got me ready for the big day.
I write a popular blog, D.'s momsense (, and you can search for all the posts I have written about natural and drug-free birth there if you want more info :)
The most important tip I got: Don't think of contractions as pain. They are contractions that are uncomfortable, but if you stay on your feet, work with your body, and get into positions that feel good, you can definitely have a natural birth. Just avoid the hospital as long as possible, avoid frequent checking and monitoring, and you can do it!
Good luck :) D.



answers from Minneapolis on

I just want to say that I am going to soon have my third child without an epidural. My first was a breeze delivery. My second I had shoulder dystocia with my son will no medicine but still made it through. I think the biggest thing to remember is the last part transition to birth is the hardest. It is such a minimal amount of time and there is just no feeling like that of just giving birth with no medicine. The feeling a relief is just off the charts (in my opinion). And I do want to say with this being your first. You really do have no idea what the pain is. There is no describing it. It is not by any means easy breezy but it is more then possible to do it. You just need to continue to find the courage to move on. My best thing to say is don't go in thinking you will have no problem with the pain. Because honestly you will. It hurts. But just for very little amount of time.

Oh and I actually have a harder time dealing with the cramps after deliver and need medicine for that because that pain doesn't go away. Well it does you just don't know when!


answers from Seattle on

I had a bad experience with the "after effects" of the epidural after my first child, SO with my second and third I had all natural drug free births. You can get through it, just breath and relax. It is really really painful, but as soon as the baby is out, the pain stops and it is a wonderful feeling. Not to mention you heal faster and are able to take care of that little one right away. Maybe read through the other answers and look into a lot of the different techniques and advice. I didn't do any of that, it was just me and my husband supporting me and I got through it just fine. Hard work, but amazing outcome, congrats!
God Bless!



answers from Denver on

I'll 2nd Birthing From Within. I found childbirth class where the teacher taught to her principals and it really made me feel prepared. I was able to go through 36 hours of labor with no epi and they're right about birthing amnesia :)


answers from San Francisco on

I would just go the natural way.
I'm a first mom also, and I was a little afraid as to what the pain was going to feel like. But I thought to myself, " I other can do it, I can do it too". I went 23 hours of labor, and they we're painful, but tolerable. If you have an Epi, you run that risk that you're talking aobut and also you wont be able to really feel what is like to have a real labor and you wont be able to really feel when you're baby comes out (which is the most amazing experience any mom can have). Have a lot of faith and be positive. Evrything is going to be GREAT
Good Luck



answers from San Francisco on

I understand your reasoning and your hospital/doctors/nurses should be made aware. There are certainly other options that might be better for you. I had back labor with my second child because he was "sunny side up" and that was the hardest one. I would have a plan in mind for pain relief just in case, but you might not need it. Some lucky moms have easy labor/births and you could be one of them!

One thing I would caution is that you never know how things will go, so don't be disappointed if things are not as you envision. As a matter of fact, I can safely say that it is not likely to be exactly how you envision. Things that you like now may annoy you during labor (massage in my case), so it's best for your coach/partner to have number of things in the repetoire, including just shutting up and sitting there.

Here are some labor pointers: I found great relief (before my water broke) being in the bathtub and or shower. With my third, I stayed in as long as possible. I also hated being on my back. I walked around, was on my side, or I was on my knees while holding the upright back of the bed.

Happy birthing!


answers from Minneapolis on

Keep moving! If you lay down, the contractions will be worse. so keep walking, moving, bring an exercise ball, sit in the chair, even in the bathroom on the toilet to relieve pressure from below.

I didn't have an epidural with my youngest ,and it was my easiest delivery. I walked the whole time, sitting only to be checked or use the bathroom. I was fully dialated and didn't even know it because i was being so active.



answers from St. Cloud on

Definitely have your baby at a hospital where they will let you LABOR in water! Worked SOOOO great with our 2nd. It truely didn't even "hurt" the whole time I was in the tub. I felt everything but it was totally manageable.


answers from Jacksonville on

I had both my babies with no pain meds at all. I highly recommend it, and would do it again the same way if I were to be pregnant again... given the choice. I do, however, HIGHLY recommend that you take some birthing classes. The information I gained in the class I took was invaluable! I took the one that met at my hospital, but was not given BY the hospital (not any one particular method recommended - but they did teach breathing techniques, relaxation techniques and gave TONS of info about different side effects of possible medications that might be offered at/during delivery). I was able to breathe through both my labors and deliveries... and had nothing more than a tiny tear either time. I had an 8 lb 12 oz baby the first go round. 2nd baby was smaller and half the labor time (4 hours instead of close to 8)... only 2 pushes and she was out.

Read, read, read. And find out all you can about labor and delivery. The "ring of fire" really exists.. but it is VERY short and the pressure from the baby's head pretty much numbs the pain after that.
I cannot stress enough, that whatever type of class(es) you take... be sure that they educate you on medications (everything doesn't always go as planned, even in the best of birthing situations), their side effects, and your rights to refuse or ask for other interventions. Take your labor partner with you to ALL these classes.. they will need to be as informed as you are about all these things. During labor it is difficult to make your wishes known, and your labor partner is there (not just to "help and encourage" you) but to be your advocate and tell the nurses you do or don't want this or that, when you are least able to speak for yourself.
Congrats on your pending birth!



answers from Sacramento on

HI A.,

If you can do a water birth I highly recommend it. I had both children without drugs or pain meds, one in the water and one out. Our son was premature and we were not able to use the water and it was much harder even though he was a smaller baby.

Birthing From Within is a wonderful book that can teach you a lot. Remember to deep breathe until the end in active labor and let the baby do the work too.

Be open and relaxed that anything can happen and your labor will probably go much smoother. I do think that when we have anxiety and stress we feel more pain and are less able to focus on the process.

I found both births to be very empowering, but definitely enjoyed the water birth more. Our minds and bodies are amazing!

Bets of luck to you!!



answers from Lancaster on

I've done it twice, you can do it too. The first time I didn't even get an IV inserted, things were just moving too quickly. My advice: when it gets to the point where you think you can't possibly do it and you want to ask for the epidural (for me around 8cm), that's just minutes before the time you feel the strong urge to push (hopefully your labor doesn't stall). And once you start doing that (you'll think you can't possibly endure anymore!), the focus goes away from the pain and into bringing your little one into the world.
You can do it!! Good luck, and I would advise you to use the hospital but make your doctors and nurses aware of your plan. They should respect you, but the facility is there in case you should need it.



answers from Indianapolis on

I would recommend asking your OB/GYN what your options are at the next appointment.

Your reasons for not wanting one are very valid (it's a personal decision anyhow - I personally had one with each child).

Perhaps they could have you consult with an anesthesiologist to make sure that you're fully aware of the risk with your scoliosis. I'm wondering if they've performed the procedure on other patients, could even get a non-invasive scan of your spine in advance and can tell you if the risk outweighs the possible benefits.

Epidurals have only been around for about 30 years, so it's not like there haven't been many, many, many generations of women who've given birth without them.

Best wishes.



answers from Savannah on

I had my 2nd daughter without an epidural and the absolute best advice I can give to anyone that chooses to go this route is to pick up "The Birth Book" by Dr. Sears and his wife. It's an oldie, but a goodie. This book SAVED me during my labor. Be prepared for a lot of pain and know that the more you relax and work WITH your body the faster things will progress and the less pain you will have. Not meaning to scare you, I'm just being real....If you don't prepare yourself for the pain you will change your mind about the epidural and doubt your ability to make it through. It's totally possible - esp. if you prepare. Using this book to prepare, I was able to stay so relaxed and calm that the nurses didn't even want to check me when I got to the hospital because they didn't think I could be very far along as good as I was coping. Finally, when I begged them to check me I was at 8 cm and everyone decided to get with the program. Good luck!!! You will not believe how accomplished you will feel after you have a baby naturally...I am woman....hear me roar. LOL!!!



answers from Fort Walton Beach on

well...had nothing but dymerol for both of my labors..honestly think if you are going to have a natural birth...thats the way to go..I survived..LOL..and back unto generation after generation..they had nothing. By the way..had back labour with both of my kids...don't let them make you lay flat on your back. My best position was on my side holding my leg up...made it faster and alot easier..tell them to eat your shorts if they insist on it. ;)



answers from San Francisco on

I had my baby all natural. It was definitely uncomfortable, but if you can handle a baby sitting on your bladder and pelvic bone for 9 months it should be a breeze. It also depends on your pain tolerance. I have a high threshold.

Additionally, it is healthier for the baby since going through the birth canal helps push out all the liquid in the baby's lungs. My best friend had an epidural and a c-section. Her baby was hooked up to so many tubes the first 2 months because of issues with his lungs. Not to say this would happen to your little one, but it was her story.

Remember...women have been giving birth without drugs for centuries.



answers from Dallas on

I had a 9 hour labor - 2 hours active pushing. I had 2 doses of stadol - at 5cm and at 7cm. Someone else posted that they were very groggy with it. I don't know if that was an individual reaction, or if the dose administered was higher than I received. I was very happy with it, as I was in a lot of pain and the stadol helped me get over the hump so that I could do the rest myself. You may want to check with the hospital re. their protocals for medication during delivery so you can find out how much control you have, etc. Good luck!

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