I had an epidural with my first and I would never do it again. My second and third were drug free home births and they were so much easier, in terms of how in control I felt and recovery. I think epidurals have their place but to me they are very much a last resort.
me(33), DH (35), SAHM to DD (Jan '02), DS (Sept '08) DD2 (Nov '09) DD3 (June '12) (, mostly MC Jan '09, Sept '11, ectopic Dec '13 due 10/09/14
I had epi's with my first and second birth. I did not have one or ANY drugs with my third birth and that birth by FAR was my most positive experience. It was a nice birth but what I remember most is the few moments just after the baby was born and that rush of hormones and how amazing I felt. With my first child I couldn't walk for nearly a week and it was about two weeks before I could pee without it hurting. With my second I was able to walk and whatnot but I did not bond with the baby that well and had PPD. With my third I was ready to leave the hospital just hours after he was born and was grocery shopping the day after they released me from the hospital. Had it not been for "protocol" I would have gone home.
The drug-free experience was amazing and yes it hurt like hell but I labored mostly at home so I could move around as needed without being told I had to lay on the bed. Once I got to the hospital I was around 7-8cm and it was about an hour later they he came out with literally three pushes. Because I could FEEL things I knew not to push. I knew that I wasn't ready but then I could feel something between my legs (it was his head) and pushed and there he was. The recovery time was also much faster too and my milk came in that night after I had the baby so the turn around time for me feeling full and able to nurse was faster too.
Good luck and congratulations I know that a birthing center will be an amazing journey for you!!
Proud Mom of 3 Boys expecting boy #4 June 2012 - Founder of Dinker & Giggles - http://DinkerAndGiggles.com
Doula - Babywearing Activist - Lactation & Childbirth Educator [In-Training]