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Who's had both epidural and natural births?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I got epidurals with both of my pregnancies, in both I got to 9cm and then decided to get an epidural. This time I may be birthing at a birth center. I want to know if there is anyone out there who has done both the epidural and natural and which they preferred and why.

post #2 of 32

I have had 2 births with epidural and 2 unmedicated births.  I can honestly tell you that all 4 were wonderful experiences and I felt equally happy and accomplished at the end of all 4 of them.  That said if i was to have another baby I would chose to go unmedicated because I hated the actual getting of the epidural.  Like you i waited until the very end  to get the epidural and having to hunch over and be still while my body was wracked with ctx was the worst!  I also felt like a had a greater sense of control when it came to pushing.  I like that i didn't even have to think about it, my body just knew when to push.  I can tell you though that after the fact felt pretty much the same as far as healing and recovery went.  Either way its such a major accomplishment and so immensly rewarding

post #3 of 32

I've had 1 birth with an epi and honestly it was the worst birth for me of the three. My 2nd, morphine was put in the iv and it was manageable, my 3rd birth was completely natural and I felt great after he was born. He was also my biggest baby at 7lbs 10oz. I'm due in a couple of days with my 4th and this one is a UC so obviously no epi or pain meds.

post #4 of 32

Both of my births were induced. My first I had an epidural, my second I had no pain meds at all. First baby was 8lb 14oz and pushed less than 10 minutes, second was 8lb 12oz and pushed less than 5 minutes. If I have a 3rd it will also be unmedicated (and hopefully not induced). I felt like a million dollars after the unmedicated birth. I was up and walking around within the hour (after I got stitched up). With the first birth (epidural) I felt really groggy and couldn't walk for awhile and just felt really blah. The baby also was really sleepy and ended up getting jaundiced (needed a biliblanket to recover). I can't prove that it's from the epidural, but my second baby did so much better.


I won't lie- the second labor (unmedicated) was HARD. It was harder than I thought it would be (made more so by being hooked to machines the whole time). But I'm stubborn and had already said I wasn't getting the epidural so that was that. I wasn't changing my mind lol.gif I also had a doula and my dh there, both of whom were fantastic help (and the doula is now a friend and has already said she wants to be there if there's a 3rd.... and I would love to have her there!).


With the epidural birth I was really out of it, wasn't feeling much and then all of a sudden felt PRESSURE down there. Like suddenly a bowling ball was dropping out of my woo-woo where 5 minutes before I was off in la-la land. Pushed and out he came.


With the non-medicated birth it was more of a gradual working up to it and then suddenly "I can't do it anymore" followed by a "I need to push" which was followed by sweet relief. Once I started pushing it was instantly better. I didn't feel any pain when he was actually being born (not even the ring of fire that I was so terrified of). I did tear and needed stitches. During that labor I remember looking at the clock between contractions (towards the end) and trying to remember what time it was and then after the next contraction looking back at the clock and being so pissed off at myself that I had no concept of time- I couldn't even remember what time it was the last time I had looked. That was the only thing that really pissed me off, oddly enough.

post #5 of 32

I was induced and had an epi for DD1 and really didn't like the birth.  DD2 was completely natural homebirth. I loved DD2's  birth.  Way easier and comfortable. (DD1 I waited till the end to get the epi and the pitocin kicked my butt.... I really really hated the pit)

post #6 of 32

Like mom2qts, I've had 2 with epidurals and 2 unmedicated, and all 4 times birth was good. My second epidural I didn't need for pain management, but my midwife mentioned that it might help prevent shoulder dystocia, which I'd had with my first, so I got it at 9 cm.   By my 4th birth, having done it both ways, I opted for unmedicated just because I didn't want to incur any of the risks such as spinal headache.  I knew that once I felt like I couldn't do it anymore, that meant it was almost over. Medicated or non did not affect how I felt about my babies or how they nursed or how they developed into wonderful people.

post #7 of 32

I have had 2 epidural hospital births and 2 (obviously) unmedicated home births, and anticipating another home birth any day now.  All of my births have been totally fine, but for me, the difference between hospital and out of hospital is what made the biggest impact.  My home births were absolutely wonderful, despite feeling everything - just being at home made me able to relax and really feel I was a part of the whole process more.  Even my husband said after my first home birth that I seemed to have an easier time with that birth than with either of my other two medicated ones.  I think that if you choose to do a birth center birth, as long as you go into it totally willing to give in to your labor and birth, and to consciously allow yourself to relax and let it happen, you will find that even though it is hard work, it is an absolutely amazing and powerful experience.  You can do it, mama!  Good luck :)

post #8 of 32

I've had 2 births, 1 with epi and 1 with no pain relief. 


For DD1, I labored without pain meds and then received an epi @ 8 cm dilated.  I had the epi in place for the pushing, which frankly terrified me, so it was perfect having pain relief for that part.  When I got the epi, I was in so much pain I was crawling in circles, biting the sheets and vomiting.  I felt completely out of control.  After receiving the epi, I felt nothing and was able to completely focus on the birth, pushing when the monitor said I was having a contraction.  It was a very zen and serene experience, which I remember extremely well.  I felt like my DD1 was born into a peaceful environment in which I was fully present.


My 2nd birth was hellish.  I was induced, unfortunately, because I had pre-eclampsia.  I decided that my 1st birth had been so super I would do it the same way - epi at 8 cm, have pain relief for the pushing (which still terrified me).  Best laid plans, right?  In 30 minutes, thanks to the pitocen, I went from being 3 cm to being fully dilated.  There was no time for an epi.  I was absolutely terrified of the pushing part, but had to do it without any meds.  It was as scary as I imagined.  (I remember thinking, "OK, that's the ring of fire I've read about, and OMG, this is horrible, but I remember that if I push against it there will be some sort of natural numbing and it will get better."  I still want to cross my legs and whimper when I hear that Johnny Cash song, "Ring of Fire.")  My baby basically exploded out of me.  I also had tons of tears and stitches, and it was just miserable.


I'm sure that this is not a terribly popular MDC viewpoint, and I'm equally certain that the pitocen made it more unpleasant, but for me, an unmedicated versus an epi childbirth was the difference between feeling hellish and out of control, and completely peaceful and present. 

post #9 of 32

OT: PennyRoo, I totally get what you're saying, so no worries.


OP, my older ds was a hospital birth with epidural, my dd was a planned UC, and my younger ds was a homebirth with midwife.  


Older ds: hospital birth with epidural at 8cm. Posterior babe, back labor, 23 hours, 15 minutes pushing, 2nd degree tear, some stitches. At the time, didn't consider it a good experience at all. In retrospect, can fully, fully, appreciate the pain-free bliss of that epidural.


Dd: planned UC. 2 nights of prodromal labor from 11pm or so to around sunrise, then nothing all day long. 3rd night labor kicked in and stayed. Also posterior, back labor, 10 hours, 15 min pushing, not even a skid mark. Although painful, my easiest, least complicated birth by far. 


Younger ds: homebirth with midwife. Some erratic prodromal labor for a day beforehand. NOT posterior, but my most painful labor. (Maybe I'm not used to the pain wrapping all the way around or something? I don't know. The back labor was easier for me to handle since it was all concentrated in one general area.) This one was much faster, too - just shy of 5 hours - 15 min pushing, tiny tear, no stitches. I'm almost embarrassed to say it on MDC, but if I'm being honest, I hated this birth. Any births from here on out will most likely be with an epidural.


OP, you did ask why. Again, if I'm being honest - and I can only speak for myself [why I feel the need to make multiple disclaimers, I don't know, sorry...] - I really believe my own inability to keep up with the contractions and manage the pain adversely affected my 2nd & 3rd babes' birth experiences. They were intense babes and are intense to this day. My 1st babe was born in to a peaceful environment, with no screaming on my part at least, and he's always been a mellow guy. There are plenty of folks out there who are better able than I to manage their labor pain, but I've made my peace with the fact that I am not one of them.







post #10 of 32

My first birth I had an epidural at 3cm my second I birthed at home- the second was so much better I can't even describe it.

The first I was induced and it was much more painful even only to 3 cm... the second was so much more peaceful and just better all around.If you can make it to 9cm you can make it all the way mama!

post #11 of 32


Saw this in new posts and thought I'd reply. 


My first was with epidural and my second was without. The first was high risk and monitored for problems diagnosed with the baby during the pregnancy, there was an NICU team standing by, C-birth was a possibility. Epidural was part of the birth plan so it was done fairly early in labour, and as it turned out, the delivery itself was complicated with the baby facing posterior and difficult to turn (he flipped back around a couple of times). I was happy to have the pain relief from the epidural and quite frankly, pretty happy to have avoided a C-birth. The epidural seemed like small potatoes at the time. Baby's problems turned out to be the best case scenario, so we were happy just to have a healthy outcome. The second was a fairly quick labour and an uncomplicated delivery. After the second, I enjoyed the fact that I could move around, get up and walk about easily. That was a definite benefit of avoiding the epidural.  



post #12 of 32

Everyone's experience is so different.  Many of my friends have had epidurals and would not do it any other way.  My experience with an epidural with my son was scarey for me.  I felt a total loss of control and he and I had side effects.  I could not breath properly, my blood pressure went really low, and his heart rate went down.  I was terrified. I was so relieved when I finally had him in my arms after a c-section.


My daughter's birth was much different.  I had a natural hospital birth and felt the experience was much more empowering for ME.  The pain was bearable and I felt totally in control.  With the exception of a third degree tear the birth was everything I had hoped it would be. 


I am currently trying for #3 and I hope to have another natural birth.  I personally feel more comfortable birthing that way.  I know I can do it.  I like being able to move around and I do not have to fear a replay of the side effects that I experienced with my first birth. 


Good Luck in whatever you decide!



post #13 of 32

My first was induced hospital birth because of pre-eclampsia. I had an epi for that as the contractions were hellish. I felt awful after that, spent a week in hospital, had trouble breastfeeding and did not bond with ds for months (if not years really...)

My second was an unmedicated home birth (midwife came just in time to catch the babe :) - it was 1.5 hours from moment I realised it was serious labour to holding my dd in my arms. I have honestly felt NO PAIN. I only remember being incredibly focused and aware all at the same time - never had such level of awareness and focus before or since. I was in love with my baby from the second I held her and I was back to my normal life right after I was stitched up. No pain and bruising after either, no need to perch gently on pillows etc. I felt incredible after my second child was born.

Good luck whichever way you decide to labour.


post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all of the replies. Labor is so individual, but hearing the differences is pretty neat. Back labor is hard, I had it with my second and my doc/midwife (I don't remember which she is, there were both in the group) basically told me that had I not had the epidural neither one of us (me & babe) would have relaxed enough for her to move into position.

post #15 of 32

1 birth with epidural, 1 birth naturally, and 1 birth with an epidural too late to do anything.


I had an epidural with birth #1, and really had zero problems with it.  I had a precipitous delivery, baby went straight to the breast and I felt it was just the best thing ever.  I was totally psyched to do it all again!


I had a natural birth with #2, not because I wanted it, but because the anesthesiologist wasn't responding to pages.  I felt completely out of control, but this was 99% because I hadn't prepared at all for a natural birth and had no idea what to do, how to cope with the pain, or which direction was up.  I felt the entire experience was a nightmare compared to #1, just because it wasn't remotely what I had anticipated and it hurt!  My first didn't hurt! 


With #3, I had learned my lesson, and prepared for everything from a UC to an epidural, because of my history of delivering quickly.  As it turned out, I requested an epidural, but by the time it was placed, I was ready to push and it wasn't actually effective until after my baby was delivered.  On the plus side, it was the best postpartum experience I'd ever had. Afterpains hurt!


For me, it came down to my expectations.  I expected, and got, an epidural with my first, and had a pretty much pain-free delivery, with no complications.  I expected the same and got none of it with my second, and with my third, I prepared for anything, got a mixture, and despite it being a pretty dicey time (an induction, fetal distress, lots of late decels, a vacuum-assisted delivery, and an epidural which did nothing for the actual childbirth pain), at least I knew what was coming and certainly did a lot better coping with the pain than I did with my unintentional natural childbirth.

post #16 of 32

This has been such a helpful and encouraging thread to read!


I am expecting my second in July. With my 6 year old daughter, I had an epidural birth and LOVED it. It was administered at 5cm while contractions were still manageable, and I experienced no pain during delivery. My delivery moved along quickly (8 hours total, 3.5 hours in hospital), I could feel exactly when and how to push, and my baby was healthy and alert at birth. I was up and walking (with assistance of course) immediately after birth, and was not at all groggy... no side effects.


This time I have been considering a natural birth but honestly feel, knowing my tolerance for pain and tendency toward panic, that I would not cope well. I enjoyed my previous birth experience so much I wonder why I would do it any other way. However, I hear so much negativity about medicated births that I have doubts... like maybe I was just lucky the first time? My biggest fear is that since labor was so fast for a first baby, my labor will move along too quickly this time and I won't get an epidural despite wanting one - and be unprepared for unmedicated birth! At least if I plan an unmedicated birth I will have some control...  eek!


Anyway, this thread has been very helpful and I am happy to see such a respectful discussion of the issue. It's refreshing :)



post #17 of 32

I had an epi with my first and am glad I did. My birth was very strange in a lot of ways (dilated to ten four hourse before baby's complete descent) but I DID have a vaginal birth as a result and I would have had a csection without it + really superior midwife care.


I had a short two hour labor that resulted in an unassisted unplanned homebirth. Water broken + posterior. It was WILD and awesome.


I will probably choose homebirth or birth center if we have another just to avoid the epidural. I only have one kind of labor and it is intense one unbroken contraction. But I want to feel it all and I don't want temptation. THe natural birth was just amazing.

post #18 of 32

I have had both experiences.  I have 3 boys and I was induced with all of them just past my due date.  With number one labour was intense and very full on with contractions being extremely painful from the start, I had an epi at 7cm and WOW it felt like my head landed back on my shoulders and I had some control of what was going on.  It was still a fast labour - 5 hrs from start to finish and we had a healthy 9pd 7oz (ouch) bundle of joy. With our second my waters broke but no contractions followed so again I was induced, this was much calmer, I used the gas, was eating fruit and crushed ice but when I transitioned at 8cm I wished I'd had the epidural, but it was too late things were moving fast within half and hour I delivered a 9pd 3oz baby boy.  With my third I was induced again as my blood pressure peaked, had contractions 2mins apart for 10 hrs using the gas and only got to 4cms dilated, nurse called the doctor for a possible c-section, I got an epi at this stage because either way I was tired and needed rest, by the time the doctor got in about 45mins later I was 7cms - so the epi seemed to relax me enough to get things going, I was left to have another vaginal birth, about 3 hrs later I delivered another healthy 8pd 7oz boy (getting a bit smaller!).  Now I am pregnant for my fourth - I wouldnt hesitate to have another epi if I feel I need it but we will wait and see!

post #19 of 32

Thank you for sharing your stories, all of you!  

post #20 of 32
Originally Posted by babelsgp View Post

I got epidurals with both of my pregnancies, in both I got to 9cm and then decided to get an epidural. This time I may be birthing at a birth center. I want to know if there is anyone out there who has done both the epidural and natural and which they preferred and why.

I've had a natural birth and then I had an epidural birth. My second vaginal birth was a lot more painful than my first vaginal birth (in the beginning) because I was having prodromal back labor. The epidural really helped me and if I need it, I will get it again. It all depends on the labor. I don't go into the birth saying "Yes, I will get an epidural" or "No, I won't get an epidural". Every labor is different so it's really something I take as it comes throughout the labor.

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