Need Advice on Skipping the Epidural

Updated on September 12, 2008
K.N. asks from Lake Zurich, IL
50 answers

Can anyone give advice on skipping the epidural for a second baby? Our first child was born within a couple of hours of arriving at the hospital without complications. I did use an epidural and was grateful at the time. However, I have a friend who suffered intense pain for weeks postpartum due to an error in the epidural procedure. Since then, I have heard numerous people recount the same story. I would really like to try and give birth without the use of the epidural also due to the possible side-effects it may have on the baby (lethargy, etc.). Has anyone done this and would you do it again? Was it for your first baby or a subsequent pregnancy?

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

When are you due? Where are you located? Take a Bradley Class. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me. An unmedicated birth is a fabulous experience!!!

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S.U.

answers from Chicago on

Let me start with saying this is YOUR birth decision! Please do not listen to others horror stories. Get the correct and factual information and keep an open mind. Try for a natural birth if you'd like but keep in mind there are options if you choose.
I say this as a mom of 2 and a Labor/Delivery RN and IBCLC (lactation consultant). My first was a very hard labor. I tried for 13 hours without an IV, pitocin, and an epidural. My husband and midwife knew I wanted to try to go natural. I gave it my best shot but after 13 hours I was only 5 cm dilated and I opted for the epidural. I am very glad I did because 13 hours later he was born. I still felt the urge to push and only pushed for 16 minutes. My son was just fine and I had no complications. It is true that the longer the epidural is in during labor can make the baby more sleepy after birth BUT skin-to-skin contact quickly reverses that and makes breastfeeding easier! I also opted for an epidural with my 2nd. She was much quicker and I felt no urge to push BUT again only pushed for 10 minutes and she was very alert as if I had not had an epidural compared to my son. I had the epidural with her for only 3 hour before delivery. I have had no effects from my epidurals and research has proven only a very small risk of 1-2% for any complications after delivery. Many mothers complain about back pain and attibute that to the epidural but even mother's who did not have an epidural have low back pain - we carry around little ones all day :-)
Like I said you need to do what YOU feel is right. There is nothing wrong with getting an epidural if you want one. You are NOT more of a mother if you go natural! Your love and nurturing (plus breastfeeding :-)) for the child is more important to that child throughout their life rather than if you got an epidural during the birth!
Would you refuse pain meds if you broke your leg???? Most people would not.

Congratulations and good luck!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me :-)

2 moms found this helpful
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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

If you don't want an epidural, then tell your doctor and the medical staff. It's really that simple.

Remember that each person's birth experience is different. Some women push their child out in 5 minutes and it is a blissful experience, while other women labor for hours on end and push for 3+ hours.

While I am all for each individual delivering their child in whatever manner is most appropriate for that person, I get a little frustrated that some mothers have the audacity to put down those moms who decide to use an epidural. As if childbirth wasn't difficult enough for some, we have to make people feel badly if they choose to use an epidural for pain management? As if they didn't "do it good enough"?!? Last I checked, no one gets a prize or accolades for skipping the epidural!

The bottom line is that you should choose to do whatever is right and appropriate for you, your body, and your baby.

1 mom found this helpful
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J.K.

answers from Chicago on

Both my boys were born at home, drug/epidural free with a physician in attendance. It was an awesome experience even though I had back labor with both of them. Yes, it hurts, but it is a different kind of pain. It only hurts during the contractions and burns during the crowing of the head (although, I don't remember the burning with the first child) and since you know it is going to end in one of the happiest moments of your life, it is more bearable. I had kidney stones 15 or so years ago, and I can say that that is much more painful. The pain is constant and so intense that I threw up several times.

I am done having kids, but I would totally do it again and again if I was going to have any more.

btw, 18 hours labor with the first, 8 hours with the second.

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D.B.

answers from Chicago on

When my son was born (13 years ago!) I said there was no way I was having an epidural...too many fears of horrible complications I had heard about. I had no early labor pains. My water broke and I pretty much went into hard labor right away. 7 hours from start to finish and I gave birth to a beautiful 9 pound son! Yes, it hurt and I had quite a bit of tearing due to his size, but I've had surgeries that were WAY more painful. I did use a little bit of Demoral (I think that's what it was), but that was it. I'm not planning on having any more children but if I ever did do it again I still wouldn't risk the epidural. Mom's are tough...you can do it!

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

You CAN give birth without using the epidural - and good for you for being suspect to this procedure. Epidurals can cause a plethora of problems. Many women are brainwashed into thinking that labor and birth are excruciatingly painful events when in fact it can be extremely enjoyable for a mother to fully participate with her partner the natural birth of their baby. Therefore, the complications they feel after birth seem to be secondary to the "horrors" of labor they didn't know they were missing in the first place (anesthesiologists make a TON of money). If you feel like you need to learn certain skills, techniques or even "tricks" to avoid the epidural - well, that may be true in that the more you know about how your body works and how to work with your body, the better you will be at relaxing. I strongly encourage you and your husband to take a Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth class where you will learn many simple natural comfort measures that will allow you to avoid all of the unnecessary interventions and drugs that hospitals are happy to offer. You can visit the Bradley Method website at www.bradleybirth.com or you can call me with ANY questions about it at ###-###-####. Good luck and remember: Your body was designed to birth a baby just as your body was designed to grow a baby!
J. Saavedra, AAHCC

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N.F.

answers from Chicago on

I've had 2 children with no epidural (and 1 on the way that will be without an epidural), and both were induced with pitocin. If you really don't want the epidural, tell your Dr. beforehand. If the pain is too intense, then you always have the option to have one during labor. Honestly, natural childbirth is painful, but when that baby is in your arms for the first time, you have no recollection of what you had to endure for that child to get here! I have no doubt that you can labor and deliver without an epidural, women have done this since the beginning of time! Best wishes on a quick, easy, and painless birth.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

It is great that you are trying to have your baby without an epidural, but keep inmind that you may change your mind during labor. My plan was no drugs with my first child. that quickly changed when I was in full labor and they had to induce because her heart beat dropped with every contraction. Even with the epidural I only pushed for a half hour. My second daughter I also had the epidural and I was thankful. She became stuck at one point and even with the epidural I almost hit the ceiling the pain was so horrible. She was born at 10lbs!! and they measured her head 3x's because they could not believe how big it was. Even the doctor remeasured it.She takes after my husband. After my first daughter I felt like I had failed because I had the drugs, but with my second daughter I had a better mind set and it was such a nicer expericence.

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E.C.

answers from Peoria on

I had my baby without an epidural. I agree with what a lot of others have said. Something that I didn't read was music- I had some of my favorite relaxing music, which helped me relax between contractions. I would also suggest deciding ahead of time whether you're willing to take meds in your IV and what meds you're willing to take if you decide you need them. About 21 hours into my labor when I was in the transition phase, an unsupportive nurse suggested a drug (I think she was tired of dealing with me). I took it and hated the way it made me feel. I wish I would've made this decision ahead of time when I was in a more rational frame of mind :).

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S.G.

answers from Springfield on

Although I had an epidural with all four of my children, I would do it all differently now. I recently checked out a documentary from Family Video called "The Business of Being Born" and it talks alot about the birthing process in the United States and how we are in a crisis. Rikki Lake wanted to do the film after the birth of her first child, which was in a traditional hospital setting. She gives birth to her second child in the film at home with the help of a midwife. I don't know how much this documentary will help you, but it may strengthen your "why" when electing not to have an epidural with baby #2. Just a note - the film does show different women in labor and giving birth. I personally thought it was very informative and beautifully done. HTH!

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M.B.

answers from Chicago on

Hi,
I have 5 kids. The first 3, I had an epidural, the last 2 without. I would choose without again. If you choose not to get one, go in with your mind made up, because it's easy to change your mind when everybody is asking you if you want an epidural. I was ready to cave both times, but I'm so glad I didn't. It's really cool to see what your body can do! Good Luck!!

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T.F.

answers from Springfield on

I went natural with both labors and I will say they were both entirely different. The breathing is the most important part and it is actually more difficult that you think. Once you get the hard breathing down and move your hips and legs up and down in the bed it really calms you down and helps with the pain. I would also recommend a local "down there" just in case there is any riping/tearing, and lots of sits baths afterwards. The pain will go away instantly when you see your baby. Good luck.

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N.Z.

answers from Chicago on

K.,
I have delivered 3 healthy boys. I never experienced an epidural. I guess if I never knew how it was with one, I would never know the difference without one. It is painful giving birth anyway. My thoughts are why risk it when you can do it without being injected with who knows what.
Best of luck!!
N.-Nutrition Naturally
www.jp4ahealthieryou.com

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

Congratulations! You can do it! :) I had all 3 of my babies drug free with midwives and using The Bradley Method. There are other childbirth education options too. Also, a doula can be very beneficial if you want the extra support. A doula understands that birth is a natural physiological process and is trained to support both unmedicated and medicated births. Choosing a supportive OB/Doctor/Midwife and hospital is an absolute necessity. A great supportive team goes a long way!

M. Steele, CLD (CBI)
Artistic Birth Doula Services
www.artisticbirth.com

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W.S.

answers from Chicago on

K.,

I applaud the courage of all these other ladies - and congratulations on your upcoming blessed event.

I have to say that I had an epidural with my 3rd child and thought it was a wonderful, fantastic thing! I had not given birth in over 20 years (my middle child came to me by adoption) and wow - what a difference, no pain at all.

There were no complications, no side effects for my daughter - and I was immediately coherent after and able to hold my baby etc. Because I had been up all night with mild contractions I was sleep-deprived when arriving at the hospital and the epidural allowed me to have a nice, long nap (I slept through the contractions) and they woke me up when it was time to push. If I were doing it again I would choose an epidural, no doubt about it.

If you are unsure, I would find out exactly where the friends you know of who had complications gave birth - you want someone who is very experienced at administering successful epidurals should you choose that route.

It is your decision and whatever you decide will be right for you.

best of luck!

W.

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K.

answers from Chicago on

I had my daughter (a VBAC) 11 weeks ago without any interventions or drugs and it was a fabulous birth! It was very intense at times, and I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest things I've done, but it was SOOOO worth every minute of it. I truly believe that anyone can do this but it does take a good support system. Here are the things that helped me:
1. Pick up a copy of The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. GREAT book for you and whoever you use as labor support (husband? mom?) to read
2. Read Ina May's Guide To Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. This is such an awesome empowering book. First part is great uplifting birth stories. Second part is all about how birth works, what various interventions are etc etc.
3. I used the Hypnobabies self-study course. I actually didn't end up using this too much during labor because I had my amazing mom as labor support (she's a CNM and was acting as my doula) but I did find lots of the techniques in it helpful. This, or a Bradley Method class, or something, may be helpful for you.
4. Get good labor support - hire a doula if you can. Even if your husband is game for being your main support person you may want to have a trusted friend or your mom or sister - someone who's been there done that (had a natural birth and knows how to support you).

Writing a thoughtful birth plan and having a midwife as a provider instead of an OB will also help. Good luck!!

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T.M.

answers from Chicago on

I am the mom of an almost 4 year old, she is my only. I had apprehensions on the epidural and did just fine without it. Was it painful? of course, lol, however I would absolutely do it again. They have other medications that they can give you to take the "edge" off. My daughter came out 7 lbs 13 oz, I was able to breast feed her right away (within 5 minutes) which was my goal. I had no rips or tears, I actualyy gave birth on my hands and knees. ( I had midwives, not as traditional as doctors, they actually encouraged me to eat so I would have some energy to push). My labor was also induced and at one point they asked are you sure you don't want an epidural and I stuck to my guns my daughter was born 2 hours later. You have to make the best decision for you because every labor is different. Wish you the best!!!

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K.R.

answers from Chicago on

I had both my boys without an epidural and will not be having one with my next child. For my first two I just sucked it up and tried to breath through it. I just kept telling myself to get through it. You really just have to focus on the contraction you are in because if you start thinking about if it's going to get worse or last too long you will only stress yourself out which will literally make it that much worse. When you're tense the pain is so much worse. By the time the pain got to the point where I didn't think I could do it anymore I was fully dialated and ready to push (which I did very quickly...i've heard an epidural can decrease the effectiveness of your pushing). With my third child I have been looking into hypnobirthing because I am hoping it will be a better way to relax myself. Good Luck and good for you for wanting to skip the epidural.

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J.B.

answers from Chicago on

The Bradley Method works! I'm walking proof. My husband coached me through a 22 hour induced labor (it was strongly suggested that we induce when they found an irregular heartbeat in my baby when I was a week overdue), and I did it without an epidural. Mind you, there were moments during that long, intense labor that I could have and would have buckled (and the nursing staff wants laboring mothers to have one and they know when to push the issue), but my husband reminded me that when you're about to give up, you're supposed to be in the home stretch.

In retrospect, had they given me an epidural at the time that I would have agreed, I fear that I'd have had a few contractions during the process of receiving one. THAT scares me: the idea of having a needle in my spine when my body is tensing (and when I should be trying hard to relax).

Also, if I had received an epidural when I almost agreed to have one, there's a very high possibility I would have ended in a c-section or worse. I still had a lot of labor work to do, and if I had received an epidural, I'd have probably just gone to sleep. If I had gone to sleep, I'd have missed the window of having my baby vaginally (they broke my water at the beginning of my labor, and they put time limits on these things).

My husband and I worked together to have our baby girl in an induced, tense labor, and I am looking forward to going into labor naturally with my future babies.

We didn't even take classes (they are seriously expensive around here). We just read these two books twice (and we skipped over areas that didn't really apply to us, of course). Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley M.D. and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way (Revised Edition) by Susan McCutcheon. I did the exercises. I practiced relaxing. My husband even took the Susan McCutcheon book with him and used it as a cheat sheet when we were in labor. I bought them off of Amazon.

Good luck to you!

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G.W.

answers from Springfield on

I also wanted to go without the epidural - I wanted natural, natural, natural. I even told the hospital to make sure no one pushed me to have it. And I did hold out a long time! But even though my water had broken about 8 hours before, and I'd been in labor for about 40 hours already, my labor wasn't progressing very quickly and I wasn't dilating, so they they had to give me Pitocin. After about two hours of that I couldn't take it any more! I had a small window left to get the epidural, and I gave in. I'm glad I did - the delivery was long, hard and complicated, and I felt lots of pain even with the epidural. (I pushed for an hour and a half, not only did he have a large head, he had also turned sideways and got stuck. I think by the time they realized, it was too late for a c-section.)

The epidural procedure itself was painful, but easy and quick, and I had no problems afterward. I'm not sure of any effects on my baby, he had other complications due to the rough delivery. (He recovered perfectly.)

Given the way it played out, I was glad to have had the epidural. But I often think, would it have been different if I hadn't had it? Nothing would have changed about the way he came out, but if I hadn't had the epidural, maybe I could have changed positions to help ease him out? Maybe I could have been able to push harder? But at the same time, I ask myself, what if things hadn't worked out differently? I would have been in sheer agony!

So it's a gamble! Decide whatever you are most comfortable with - no decision is wrong. And remember that when you're in the thick of it, it's okay to change your mind!

Good luck, and best wishes for your new baby!

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I'm 31 yrs old w/ 2 daughters, ages 2.5 and 1. With my first baby, i was induced and, not knowing what I could endure pain-wise I repeatedly made sure all nurses knew that I wanted an epidural. Well, my doctor decided to break my water and went home for dinner....I was ready to deliver within minutes of breaking water and she was AT HOME. Long story short I "missed the window" to get an epidural. Labor wasnt terrible, only that i had to "hold it" for the doctor. I felt fine afterward, and baby was alert and it was quick delivery. For my next pregnancy I was aware that I was able to handle the labor myself and was nervous of the side effects of the epidural. I was undecided if i was going to try the epidural until I was well into labor with #2...fairly easy labor again. I was on the fence until the last minute and the anesthesiologist visited me and said "it looks like you're doing great on your own...you'll be fine. I'm going home now." SO that was it and I gave birth within 1/2 hr of pushing. It wasn't bad at all. I will do it again b/c I guess i just was able to get the job done pretty fast and efficiently without the drugs. Good luck to you!!

N.P.

answers from Chicago on

I gave birth to my twins without an epidural. Was it painful... yesiree. Did I scream out "I want drugs" yes... but in the end I am happy that I did not have an epidural. I saw too many Baby Stories about moms who had complications and I tend to have weird reactions to shots/things of that nature. If we have more kids will I get an epidural... perhaps. I don't want to rule it out as millions of women get an epidural and it is relatively safe for mom and child. Maybe just go in with the attitude that you'll try your hardest without but if you feel you need it, don't have any shame in it :) Congrats.

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K.R.

answers from Chicago on

You've opened up a can of worms with this question, we women love to talk about our birthing ordeals.

OK...I had both my babies with no epidural. NOT BY CHOICE! I just didn't have enough time. My first was 8lbs 13 oz, my second was 9 lbs 5 oz...NOT ONLY THAT--with my second, there was no time to administer a pain killing shot for the episiotomy. My husband was horrified. But I survived and was feeling pretty good when it was all over. Plus, I have bragging rights now.

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R.W.

answers from Chicago on

K.,

Congratulations on baby #2! The most important things for you right now are to get information and put together a support team (this can be small--mine was my husband and my midwife). Fear and stress will both increase your anxiety before and your pain during childbirth, so don't let any of the stories (about pain or about epidural side effects) freak you out. Just continue to get good information, know your options, and prepare for your choice--this group has given you a great start! I have 3 healthy, happy boys at home--all delivered without an epidural.

We used the Bradley Method and were very happy with the whole experience (all 3 times!). One of the biggest pluses for us was how quickly I recovered after birth--lots of good baby bonding time. I won't say any of my deliveries were pain-free, but every time the worst of it was always right before the baby came, so it was always short-lived.

If you want to explore this option, you will still be outside of the norm, so make sure you have a practitioner who supports your choice and will help you prepare. And know what you want to do if things don't happen the way you've planned. This having babies business in very unpredictable. Good luck to you!

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

Hello! Congratulations on your pregnancy! I have 3 children and I had all of my kids without an epidural! It was hard but it was the best choice for me! I was worried about it because of my pain tolerance but with this I did great! Also I am a labor doula and I have had many clients that did not want the epidural and I helped them to achieve that! I also had several clients that were not sure! They really did not want one but they were not ruling it out either! And most of them ended up having their baby without the epidural! There are so many natural things that can be done instead to help with the pain and discomfort! I hope this helps!
S. Bailey CLD
Aurora
www.tendermomentsdoula.com

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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

I am a SAHM of 4 children. I only used the epidural once for "real" for the first child. The second child, they gave me the epidural, but it was too late, so I had it in my back, but the did not add the medicine. (Big waste of time and money!!) Anyway, with 2 and 3 I did not have it and I was so happy. Yes, there was pain, but it was tolerable. My recovery was so fast. I was up and taking a shower within minutes of having the baby. I think that having the epidural slows down your recovery. There is nothing wrong with having an epidural, in fact, if I had very long labors, I would have it again, but if you notice during labor, things are progressing fast, try to do it without it. Your recovery will be much faster. Good Luck

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K.M.

answers from Chicago on

I just had my first baby in April and did s without an epidural. I was concerned with the possible side effects on the baby and afraid of having a needle in my back. I also wanted to be able to move around. I made it through the first 7 hours of labor okay. Then, partially worried about my daughter because her heart rate had dipped earlier, I told my husband I wanted an epidural. By the time the anesthesiologist showed up, I was at a 9.5, so no epidural. The biggest thing to remember is that as soon as you think you can't do it anymore, the hard part is over and you get to push. I already don't remember the pain from the labor.

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L.F.

answers from Chicago on

K. N,
It sounds like you have already got a bunch of great advise to think over. I didn't want to read through all the responses, so I apologize if this is repetitive. First and for most, I agree with the majority that each birth situation is different and you have to do what is right, you can have a plan going in, but things could change at a moments notice. However, I was trained in the "Bradley Method" during my first pregnancy. I know it was more popular in the 80's, my oldest will be 21 this fall. The other three were all natural, in fact the next one was a home birth. I don't want to sound like a complete "granola", my fourth was born in a hospital so that I could enjoy the pampering I would get there, and not at home where you are still "mom" even though you gave birth hours before! The key concept that I kept with me throughout each one, and my first one was the toughest, was the positioning, exercises, and techniques that I learned from the "Bradley Method." (Much different then Lamaze, which I was scared away from after the first class at our local hospital, and the breathing to me looked exhausting!) The point that always stuck with me was that the more you concentrate and visualize on what is trying to occur within your own body, the less you will be fighting against the forces of nature. I would have never looked at birthing that way, but it makes so much sense. Sure I was in pain, but you would have never known it on my face, all my concentration was focused on birthing that baby. It's difficult to explain, but the book, which I know is still available in book stores, or probably your local library, is definitely worth the read.
Congrats on having another and Good Luck!

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L.B.

answers from Denver on

Hi K.~

I understand your concern and commend you for seeking out your options. I did birth both of my daughters without any medication. For me it was fine, yes there was pain, but it didn't last and was worth it for me to have control and feeling in my body so I could assist with the birthing of my baby, not just watch it happen.

I would highly suggest finding a doula or midwife to come along with you to the hospital, or just to talk to about the various options and pros and cons. There is a lot more to birthing than the hospital staff is patient enough or fully educated enough to clue you in on. Plus, by the time you are in the delivery room it is difficult to talk about options...

It helps to read some books about natural childbirth and talk with some educated mamas or birth assistants. Doulas are less expensive than midwives, and they are not trained to save lives like doctors and midwives, but they can be very helpful in exploring options and helping you ease your mind and prepare your body for a natural birth.

I truly believe that if you keep your body strong and healthy, birthing time will be shorter and easier. Also, if you are full of fear and anxiety, those emotions will tense up your body and slow down your process.

Interventions of any kind (including labor inducing) have been proven to increase the risk of complications and very frequently lead to c-sections. The US is at the bottom of the list from the UN Health Organization regarding new-born baby and mother's health in industrialized nations.

It is very wise to explore many different ideas and options about pregnancy and birth in addition to what your doctor and hospital staff might tell you.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Blessings,
L.

[email protected]____.com

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L.F.

answers from Chicago on

I am a mother of two boys. My first son was born at home with a midwife, so no drugs of any were administered. My second son was born in the hospital, but no drugs were used again. I had fast labors and deliveries. Also, I recommend that any woman try to give birth naturally. Your body will numb your pelvic area naturally when the times comes.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

I had both of my children without any medication whatsoever. I am not going to sugar-coat it...it hurt. But I am so glad I did it that way. It was a wonderful experience, and I remember all of it. Both of my children were awake and alert for hours after they were born. It made it a lot easier to nurse them. I would highly recommend it, as long as you discuss it with your doctor to make sure it is a good option for you. Everyone is different. Good luck!

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S.O.

answers from Champaign on

I chose to labor without an epidural for my first child. It was hard, but I don't regret it. I labored in a tub for quite a while, but gave birth on the hospital bed. Once I hit transition I asked for a bit of pain medication and was given 1/2 a dose of nubain. I don't think it did much for the pain and it knocked me out, so I wasn't as awake as I wanted to be when she was born. I was also given a perennial block which I HIGHLY recommend (just numbs the perenium so you don't feel the burning as it stretches to let the baby out).

When the time came to have my second child I wanted to do it again. I had hoped to have a water birth. My labor was very different with more painful contractions further apart and when the midwife said it would be five more hours, and the labor tub was full I thought "I've done this before, and it really hurts, why am I doing it again?" I asked for an epidural.

They started the process by giving me an IV with fluids but baby decided to come before the anesthesiologist did, so I had my second with no drugs at all (and no perennial block). My pain doctor and I don't know if the labor injured my back, but I had back problems before and they were worse after my second child was born (disc problems).

I am currently pregnant again and plan to have an epidural this time. (just so you have the full story).

It is a wonderful experience to feel all of giving birth, especially how the body naturally knows what to do when it's time to push, etc. I recommend drafting a birth plan, working with your doctor/midwife and possibly a doula (I had one the first time, not the second).

Good luck!

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D.F.

answers from Chicago on

K....Had 3 babies in 4 years (now 7, 5 & 3). No drugs, no epidural. Had the time to get them, chose not to. Ok, scared of the epidural. But I would do it this way over again. Had some intense labor with #1 and #3, but I have a firm belief that will be over before you know it. Good Luck.

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B.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,
I think if you are determined to do it drug free, then you can. Its an amazing and empowering experience. I had several people who said things like "you don't get a medal for not taking the drugs, you know." I was determined to do it for me and my baby. A woman's body is MADE to do this. Let your body do the work.

If you skip the epidural, then skip the pitocin too. Your body naturally produces hormones to fight pain. If you are administered pitocin, it will block the natural production of that hormone.

Having said that, I had an emergency c-section with my first child and did natural, drug free labor with my second child.

I would do it drug free 100 more times. Honestly, the first words out of my mouth to my husband after my 2nd son was born was "I could do that again!"

It was hard, but not as hard as I had anticipated. I highly encourage you to do some research on natural childbirth and looking into a Bradley (Husband Coached) Childbirth.

I would be happy to share more or answer any questions!
Best of Luck,
B.

M.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hi, K.! I have 1 child. My labor was induced, which naturally makes it a harder labor. I didn't have an epidural or any painkillers during labor and delivery. It's probably what saved my life. I had a vaginal hematoma, and the blood just wouldn't clot, so I kept bleeding. It's such a fluke of nature, so the nurse wasn't monitoring me for it. But I was in intense pain and kept getting the urge to push! If I'd had an epidural, all those sensations would have come a lot later ~ maybe after it was too late.

I don't believe in epidurals. Not only because of the side effects and all (I have an aunt who had 2 epidurals during both pregnancies and ended up with herniated disks a couple years after each one ~ same disks the catheter's put in). Your body's meant to endure labor and delivery. It's the glorious thing about being a woman! When you bear down and have a natural labor, you can stick it to men because you were strong enough to do something they couldn't, if nothing else!

If I ever had another child, I would definitely go natural! It's not bad! It's all in your head. I went in thinking it's going to get uncomfortable, but I can deal with it and make it through. I did the breathing techniques they taught in the birthing class and all. And actually, I enjoyed labor and delivery! It was totally worth it to meet my beautiful daughter in the end! I like knowing that when I tell her about labor and delivery, I can tell her the discomfort wasn't even a sacrifice! Not only that, but I can also let her know how it felt when she has her own babies. She'll be less scared and more ready to become a mom herself. I think that's the least we can do as mothers to allay the hesitation our daughters will face when it's their turn.

Good luck!
M.
www.spiceglamup.com

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J.

answers from Chicago on

Second birth, short labors - sounds to me like a great setup to skip the epidural. Just try to stay away from induction (pitocin).

I had a failed epidural with my first (induced, very fast) childbirth and it was a pretty painful experience (the epidural never "took," and the pitocin made labor way too intense). With my second, I knew epidural wasn't something I wanted to attempt again (they charged $2000 for that shot that did nothing!) and narcotics make me vomit, so unless there was a medical necessity, no painkillers. "The only way out is through." Sometimes choices can just be confusing :-)

I discussed with my midwife what to do if induction was necessary (use the smallest doses possible), but happily baby came on his own and it was a wonderful birth. I felt so much more in control of things, and no annoying crowds of people taping stuff to my back and poking me with needles. And it's so much easier when you've been through a childbirth before - you aren't as nervous.

I worked with a hypnobirthing coach to prepare - it helped to hold onto the idea (and envisioning) that the pain was "opening," and good, not damaging, and not fighting/tensing up against it.

Good luck!

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C.Z.

answers from Chicago on

I had both of my children without the epidural, just becasue I was scared of the side effects. My sister also had an epidural with both of her boys and the 1st one, she felts the pain on one side of her body, the 2nd didn't work. My son is 9 years old and daughter 8 months. I won't lie, it hurts, but I think it's more mind over matter. There are drugs that you can take to help with the pain of the concractions. In my opinion I wouldn't want to risk my health or even the possibility of being paralized and not being able to pick up my baby. good luck~

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A.W.

answers from Chicago on

I understand how you feel. Unlike you, I had an epidural for a c-section (in other words, not optional), but I didn't like some of the effects from it. Although I'm eternally grateful for the healthy birth of my twin boys, I disliked not being able to move my legs after they were born and being doped up on morphine. My husband and I are thinking of having another one and, unless I have to do a c-section again, I'm thinking of trying birth hypnosis. I don't know any of the details, but I know some of the hospitals around here offer classes on it. I've heard that it's a good way to lessen the pain of birth without the use of drugs. But if you end up using an epidural again, don't feel any guilt over it - no one hands out gold metals for a drug-free birth. Good luck!

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T.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hello and congrats on baby #2. I say do what you feel good about. I was very much into not feeling pain. With my first child, my daughter, I had an epidural and it was a totally wonderful, enjoyable experience. With my son, my second child, my labor started at 7:15 and I had him at 8:15; no time for an epidural. Part of the problem was that I wanted an epidural and even though I knew I needed to be open to not having one it wasn't what I wanted and it wasn't as pleasant. If I ever had another child I would opt for an epidural. But like I say do what you want with an open mind as that is what matters as everyone has a view point for what they would do.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

These scary stories have planted a negative message in your head. It is common for women to dread or fear childbirth because of what we have heard through the media, friends 'war stories' and even well meaning medical personnel. More women are using hypnosis to help clear out these fearful thoughts. So whether you end up choosing an epidural or not you will feel at peace with your decision and experience.
Wishing you a peaceful pregnancy & childbirth.

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J.W.

answers from Peoria on

I did not use an epidural for either of by two pregnancies. I had a birthing plan made up with my nurse midwife and Doctor that included allowing only mild meds if requested by myself and epidural in an emergency. During my first birth everything happened so fast and the hospital was so busy that they didn't even get an IV in me ;-) During the 2nd a sonogram showed a possible issue and I was given pitocin to start the labor. This time around the pain was stronger than I could bare on my own and asked for something mild. They gave me a muscle relaxer through the IV and within seconds I was relaxed and then 30mns later baby#2 was born.

My husband had an epidural for his 1st knee surgery and hated it. He had a 2nd surgery a few years later and skipped the epidural.

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T.P.

answers from Chicago on

I've had two children naturally, without any medication. (my kids are 3 and 1 now) It was an amazing experience both times. Was it hard work? yes. Was it pain free? Absolutely not, but I would never have done it any other way. My husband and I took Bradley classes which we both felt prepared us for what to expect. We managed the pain with meditation and relaxation, which I know sounds hokey and to tell the truth by the end I couldn't relax any more, I just wanted the to push, but by then it was probably too late for an epidural anyway. The way I thought about it was that I knew millions of women had had children naturally before the drugs were invented, if there was an emergency I trusted my doctor to advise me on the best way to go, and ultimately any pain there is will pass, its only for a relatively short time.

I too had heard the scary stories and I also heard about the affects the medication could have on the baby, which totally set my mind on how I would do it. I think many people are scared off by so many people talking about how horrible they think their birth experience would have been if they didn't have the epidural, because it was so bad with it. It makes me wonder how many of those epidurals were really working effectively if thats the case.

Good luck, you can do it!

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C.N.

answers from Chicago on

I have had two births without any drugs and would do it again! No pitocin, no epidurals. The nurses at the hospitals were amazed because it is very rare. It takes dedication to going naturally as the nurses and doctors will recommend epi and pitocin. I will be extremely honest with you- the pain is a lot to deal with and I swore I was going to die while I went through it. BUT it is short lived- and once you get through it, you pretty much need to push and then it is over! I was able to get up, walk to the bathroom, etc. I was only in the hospital for 27 hours because my recovery was easy. If you can get through transition then it is over! Good luck no matter what you do- and everyone/every birth is different.

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N.S.

answers from Chicago on

I also had the epidural for my 1st child and felt nothing, so I decided to have one for my second as well. They couldn't crank it as high as the anesthesiologist told them to because my blood pressure dropped. It worked for a little bit, but as the contractions got worse, I felt it and it HURT!!! I felt the birth also and it was the worst pain of my life! Luckily I only had to push for less than 10 minutes and it was over. I had no side effects but would not recommend skipping it. You never know how long you will be pushing for and the pain doesn't stop until the baby is out. If I were having a third, I would opt for the epidural again.

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M.K.

answers from Chicago on

I have had 5 children without any epidurals. The pain is bearable. I believe I have a high tolerance for pain and I was afraid to have my lower half go numb. My sisters have all had epidurals without trouble, but I was never interested!

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V.G.

answers from Champaign on

I've given birth once. My labor was 46 hours, with 3 hours of pushing. Every time I checked into the hospital, my labor stalled. So I finally was given petocin. That was the worst part of the whole thing. By then I was ready for drugs because I was so tired and now in constant pain, but I got by.

Now that #2 is on the way, I am sure that I don't want an epidural. The pain was manageable, especially before the petocin. Having your mind made up ahead of time helps.

V.

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T.C.

answers from Chicago on

I had my first with no epidural. I highly recommend using hypnobirthing techniques/classes and a doula. Hypnobirthing teaches taking the fear out of a natural process that gave you such a wonderful daughter the first time. A doula will support you in labor using every natural technique she can. Please consider these 2 options.

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E.H.

answers from Chicago on

I recommend classes like The Bradley Method or Hypno Birthing and also, a doula. Having you partner be supportive and (the classes and doula help with this) working as a team is the key. I had both my children without drugs but could not have done it without feeling that support around me. Also, movement! It is very important that you listen to your body and move through labor...if you are on your bed on your back...it is just not comfortable and very hard to take contractions. A birth ball to sit on and water! My daughter was born in the water (not for everyone) but when I got in the tub my husband said he could literally see my body relax. It is important to remember, your body was made to give birth and you can do it! The rush you feel and the strength and power is unlike ANYTHING in the world! I wish you well!!

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K.C.

answers from Chicago on

I had a VBAC with my second child and succeeded in doing it completely drug-free. There was lots of complications with my first child during labor/delivery (including an early epidural) which lead to this decision. I believe natural childbirth leads to the best outcomes for both mother and baby. Of course it hurts, but not like you would think. The nice thing about it was that right after he was born I was totally fine. The docs and nurses were not used to a mother who was coherent, happy, and able to hold her own baby for about an hour immediately following delivery (delivered at Prentice for both kids). My support people were my husband and doula and our doula was key to getting through the toughest part. We also took a Bradley class for preparation. As some other moms have mentioned, your body was made to do this and the drugs just interfere with the natural process and, of course, go right to the baby. Best of luck to you!

PS. If I have any more children I would definitley plan on doing another natural childbirth.

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A.W.

answers from Chicago on

I read through some of the responses but wanted to add a few more thoughts.

I agree that telling your Dr. is huge, as well as announcing it again once you arrive at the hospital (or put your husband in charge of making it clear to everyone who's involved).

Also, make sure your husband is onboard with your decision and is prepared to support and back you up. He needs to understand that he'll see you in pain but that it's OK -- it's pain with a purpose. *WHEN* you say, "I want drugs" you need to coach him on how he'll need to respond (can we go another 10-minutes? You can do it, etc.) I think this is the biggest help of all.

I had an epi with my first and was determined to go without it for the second (a few reasons, I won't go into them). It made such a HUGE difference with recovery -- for the 1st I was miserable after labor and stuck in bed; for the 2nd, I was up within 2 hours and walking around.

Anyway, good luck with it!
Aimee

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