How to avoid epidural? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Dear mommies,

I am a regular visitor of this forum, but have not been too active. It has been good fun reading your posts though-Today I have a question for which I seek your expert opinion.

This is my second, and for DS although I was determined to avoid epidural--I realized very shortly after the first few contractions, that my pain tolerance is rather low. I took epidural and was greatly relieved. I think, that a similar story will repeat this time as well..Oh I will be delivering in a hospital and my husband will be my side. We do not plan to hire any other help.

However, I wanted to check with you ladies to see if you had any other special pain tolerance tips--I am going to go through the lamaze tips. Pl let me know. Ideally I would like to avoid the screaming and the shrieking for I think they are very harsh for anyone else to hear and tolerate.

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#2 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:32 PM
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I haven't had a baby yet, so I can't speak from experience. But, I think the presence of a doula can make your birth experience more comfortable. Walking, changing positions, laboring at home as long as possible, laboring in a tub or shower, massage, and acupuncture are all comfort measures you can take.

good luck--I know the experienced mamas on this board will have lots more to share!
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#3 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:36 PM
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For me, I could not tolerate a natural labor if I were not able to:
- change position very frequently and be free to do so; hands and knees over a birth ball, leaning on my partner, etc.
- have access to a hot bath/shower

I find transition to be more bearable if I'm letting a hot, hot shower pour on my stomach while seated in the tub. Not sure if that's an option in the hospital?

Those are the two things I live by in labor!!

But, in all honesty, I think you need to be really convicted and committed to the idea of natural birth to get through it in a hospital setting. You have to figure out why you desire a natural birth and stand by those reasons even when the going gets tough (because it will!) If you are only partially convinced of it, it's much easier to just give in to pain relief. You have to decide these birth values for yourself.

Good luck!
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#4 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:41 PM
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Please excuse me if I seem a little harsh, I find I am getting to the point in my pregnancy where I am telling things as they are rather then what others need to hear.

In short, who gives a crap if others do not like the sounds you make in labor? Your childs health is more important then their comfort!

I am sure you want the very best for your baby with no medical complications. Maybe you have time to take a real birthing class or hire a private instuctor for some one on one time teaching you and hubby what to do. Have you looking into hypnobirthing or hypnobabies or the bradly method?

If you need more reasons to not get the epi, here is a great one:

Army wife to wonder hubby. Mama to 4 and Surrogate mother x2.: Zoey Born 5/7/2010
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#5 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gokiamma View Post
Ideally I would like to avoid the screaming and the shrieking for I think they are very harsh for anyone else to hear and tolerate.

This is not something you should EVER worry about. It's the last thing you should be thinking about because when you tense up to stop yourself from making noise, you cause a chain reaction. You can't get thru the pain because you're tense, making it worse and worse.

If you need to make noise, you should. The staff is used to it! You shouldn't feel ashamed of making noise.

What you can do is low vocalizing to help. It's like a low hum or growl in your throat, or any other vocalizing that helps you get through.

Almost a b-ball team: : Taylor -14, Alex -11, Jack -8, Lachlan born at home 11/15/07
"Well behaved women rarely make history"
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#6 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 06:56 PM
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I agree with what everyone else has said. Do Not Worry about making noise in labor. Making noise is the only way I could tolerate the pain. I had my husband make low moaning sounds with me and I put my hand on his throat and felt the vibration and concentrated on that and on making my sound match his, it was the only way I could handle contractions.
And there were many times I felt I couldn't handle them, but I could and I did.
If you really want to avoid an epidural you have to be 100% committed to it. I think if you go in thinking maybe you will or maybe you won't you almost always will because the staff promotes them so much.
I don't want to sound harsh either, so please forgive me if I do, but I think we as women have been told by the medical community for so long that "the pain is just too much" "You just can't handle it" ect. When in reality our bodies were built to do the job and if there was no epidural we would have no choice but to handle the pain. Women have been doing it forever.
I am not judgemental and I want to make clear that the choice to have an epidural is yours and yours alone and I don't think that choosing one makes you "bad" or "weak" as I have sometimes heard others say. But if you truly want to avoid one think about how strong your body is and not about having a low pain tolerance and make a commitment to yourself that you won't use the drugs.
You can do it!
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#7 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 07:26 PM
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i agree wholeheartedly w/ kontessa and gina. it is a l & d room of a hospital, correct? you make all the noises you need to. keeping it low (not quiet) is best though...and do your best not to hold your breath...breathe mama. as for laboring and birthing in a hospital, i myself found it VERY hard to avoid getting a little med to 'take the edge off' and then, starting the downward spiral of medical interventions leading to the nasty epidural that eventually wouldn't hold. thus, after 26 hours of being flat on my back and stressed and scared i wound up w/ a ceserean and they had to knock me out w/ general anesthesia as i could feel the knife. soooooooo i personally would make all the primal noises you need to, hire a doula for what YOU want for your birthing. she will stand by and remind you of what you are capable of and will be there for natural pain management relief and suggestions, either she will do it and/or your DH. and do your best to not even 'think' medication. you can do this. your body was made for this. someone sent me a quote w/ my birth beads from this DDC and it says something to the effect of that your contractions cannot overcome you because they ARE you...strong, competent and powerful!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its very easy to give in to what the nurses cnm's and doc's suggest in the hospitals...yeah i'd say hire yourself a very wise and experienced doula who will really be there to help you calm yourself and she knows all sorts of natural ways to help relieve any discomfort (changing postiions, walking, rocking, hot pack on your back, massage, music, cold water...etc.), etc. hang in there. you can do this. remember the zillions upon zillions of women and female species of animals who have given birth naturally before you!!!!!!!! another suggestion-keep gawkers out of your room. they are well intentioned yet you need to keep that birthing space YOURS and they can wait to see baby. they don't need to sit there and affect how you feel about the sounds or movements you feel you really want to make. you need to get in touch with that center/that mama within you to really have the most natural successful intuitive birthing as you can. hope this helps. hugs.

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#8 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 07:30 PM
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Well, I'll give you my best tips! My first was a pitocin induced labor w/ AROM and then an epidural b/c I was unable to breathe b/c of the contractions being suddenly so hard. My second birth was completely natural, no pain meds. Both were hospital births, too. With my first I do not feel I was prepared at all for what labor would feel like, I had a hard time breathing b/c the pit. made the cx never stop, they just peaked, then peaked again without me getting a break. I too was afraid of making too much noise, and I didn't know enough to just say "No" to the nursing staff, or to tell them I wanted out of the bed. Don't make any of those mistakes! With number 2 here is what I did.

1. Relaxation breathing, start practicing now, kinda like a relaxing deep breath in, then exhale. Focus on the in and out of your breath and opening your body. Do this for every contraction for as long as you can (I did it until transition). Don't loose control of yourself and release all of your fears. Those things cause our bodies to tense instead of relax. You are wanting your body to open up and welcome your baby. For every cx. I would chant "Open Body. Welcome Baby" either silently or out loud. By focusing on my breathing and relaxing of my muscles, I didn't even have the need to scream.

2. MOVE! Roll on the birth ball, walk the halls, rock on all 4s, whatever works for you (I did all those at some point). Do not lay flat on your back. It hurts, the cx. hurt much worse. Infact, when my nurse needed to do the monitoring I just stayed on the birth ball instead of laying in the bed. I just told her that laying down made them 10x worse, and I wasn't getting into the bed. I'd gladly stand next to the bed or get on the birth ball, though. I wasn't rude or difficult, just matter of fact. My nurse had no problems with this at all and repeatedly told me I was doing great.

3. Ask for help when you need it, tell your partner what you need him to do, or ask a nurse if the two of you need help. Call ahead of time and know what types of equipment is available for you to use (birth ball, squat bar, ect.) Also let your nurse know in the beginning you are wanting a natural birth. Make sure she is supportive of you and willing to help you! Sometimes if you let the staff know they will assign you a nurse that's more into the natural birth thing. I know my nurse really helped w/ the birth of my second DD. You could tell she just really liked attending a natural birth and she was very supportive (on a side note she also taught our birth class and had 5 kids herself, all different ways, so she was a great help). I SO wish my first birth I had asked for a different nurse. Mine didn't really know anything besides "rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10" and "Let me know when you need the epidural" No other pain support or advice at all. Sad, really. I didn't know any better Who knows how different that would have gone if I'd had a different nurse?

4. Take one cx at a time. Just get thru the one you are on and don't think about the rest. Rest between and don't think about the next one!

5. THe worst part is the crowning. It does hurt, no getting around that, but it only lasts for a few seconds. You can do ANYTHING for just a few seconds. That was teh ONLY time durring my labor that I got really vocal. I started hollering "Get it out! Get it OUT!" and I did loose my focus for a few seconds. Luckily my OB and nurse called me back, and I was able to slowly push her out w/o any tearing!

Good Luck! And know that even if you DO end up w/ another epidural that doesnt' mean you are a failure.
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#9 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 07:31 PM
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Ditto about the low vocalization. Mooing, having someone do the vocalizing with you, even blowing raspberries with the lips..those are all helpful if you're self conscious about the noises you make.

A good fist in the lower back can do wonders for a laboring Mama, as can a long piece of cloth wrapped around her hips and squeezed during the contractions. A solid knowledge of the physical and emotional signposts of labor is helpful. Even the best of natural birthers hit the end of their rope in transition, but if you *know* you're in transition it can help you mentally commit to finishing the labor naturally.

If you're in the hospital, don't hesitate to ask the nursing staff for comfort techniques. Many nurses these days are taking doula training and would be thrilled to impart some guidance. Also, request that pain meds not be mentioned unless YOU bring them up. Have a key word that way you can say "I want the drugs" as much as you like, but until you say that code word--perhaps a special place name that is special to you and dh-- nobody is to make a move.

Here's a neat handout from (not my site) which provides some informational incentive to avoid the epidural and helps come up with a plan you can use during labor to do your best to avoid one.


Best of luck to you! You were born to do this!
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#10 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 07:44 PM
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Get to the hospital as late as you can. Then it might be too late for an epidural and you won't have the option. As for the vocalizing, I was, uh, very vocal and it does help you get through and noone is going to tell a woman in labor with no pain meds to be quiet. And you won't care at that point, I can guarantee that.

Mama to 3:
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#11 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh sorry--I did not have the least intention to criticize the shrieks. I am really sorry, if I hurt you strong women by saying so. Ofcourse, who cares of the shrieks if not taking epidural is the best for both mom and baby.

There is a ton of advice that I have from you all. Let me go through it and figure out a plan for myself. I might come back for more clarifications.

Thanks and good luck to you all! Right now, you are certainly my heroines for not taking epidural!

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#12 of 15 Old 10-22-2007, 08:11 PM
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I'm 5 months pregnant with my first baby so what do I know...BUT I have done a lot of research, and if you really want avoid having an epi, don't go to the hospital until you REALLY need to. This might mean not going when the staff tells you to.

Or you might want to try giving birth at a birthing center instead. I am NOT going to a hospital unless I have an emergency. At the birthing center, the staff is all about NATURAL birth and letting YOU be in control, and they don't do epi there either. My center is run by midwives.

Whatever you do, DON'T let them give you pitocin. And they WILL try to give it to you if you go to the hospital too early. If they don't think you have progressed far enough, they can SEND YOU BACK HOME. NO NEED for pitocin, and people sticking their fingers up there every few minutes only to introduce infection!

Really, your main concern about the epi should be a possible c-section. I don't want a c-section which is why I am staying the hell OUT of the hospital.

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#13 of 15 Old 10-23-2007, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by gokiamma View Post
Oh sorry--I did not have the least intention to criticize the shrieks. I am really sorry, if I hurt you strong women by saying so. Ofcourse, who cares of the shrieks if not taking epidural is the best for both mom and baby.
Don't appologize for criticising, in fact, I think most replies were probably a little apprehensive for fear of sounding like they are criticizing you. The point is that it's a common "fear" that laboring women have that their sounds will be offensive to those present and it is a fear you should let go of.

To tell the truth, I believe many women have an epidural after the first few contractions because they panic and that makes the pain worse. Couple that with the knowledge that you can get away from the pain and it almost automatically seems unbearable because you know you do not HAVE to bear it.

When I was in labor, there was a moment when I though I really could do with some body-numbing chemicals pumped through a needle piercing my spine. I whispered to my husband "I want an epidural" and being the wonderful man that he is and knowing what I really truly wanted, told me gently, "No you don't sweetie" and doubled his efforts to get me comfortable and focused on something other than the contractions.
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#14 of 15 Old 10-23-2007, 10:04 AM
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Many many happy wishes to you during labor! The one thing that really helped me to not even mention meds to my midwives was the thought that kept running through my head:

"This will all be over, one way or the other in the next 24 hours. I can stand anything for 24 hours."

And then there was my mantra, from Ina May Gaskin:

"A loose mouth makes for a loose bottom."

I blew a lot of raspberries and it worked to relax me through the pain.

Good luck!


Nicole, mama to a seven year old wonder and a three year old joy and caretaker to 3 kitties and 9 hens. 

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#15 of 15 Old 10-23-2007, 10:10 AM
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Hi, Deepa! For me, there was no "method" that helped me deal with the pain. I was very stubborn and just grit my teeth and got through it. At one point I was begging for drugs, but I was in transition and practically done, so it was over soon afterwards.

Originally Posted by gokiamma View Post
Ideally I would like to avoid the screaming and the shrieking for I think they are very harsh for anyone else to hear and tolerate.
I was embarrassed to make noise too, but this time I have a different perspective. I have given myself permission to do whatever I need to do to birth this baby naturally. I agree that the screaming and shrieking is hard to others to hear, but labor is hard for me to deal with and they really can't complain while I'm in so much pain! I feel like everyone else can deal with my screaming (or whatever I need to do) since going without an epidural is better for me and the baby. Plus, it might be good for others in the hall to know what labor is really like. I think the epidural rate at many hospitals is around 90%, so you know people don't see natural labor very often.

Another thing to consider is your position. You will be in MUCH more pain if you are laboring on your back or reclining in the bed. If you can get on hands and knees, sit on a birthing stool, squat, or even lie on your left side if you are too exhausted to do anything else (like I was last time), you may find the pains are more tolerable, especially if you are having back labor.

But most of all, just go in there and tell everyone NO EPIDURAL. Tell them not to offer it to you and not to give it to you if you ask for it. That's what I did last time and they listened to me, even when I was begging for it during transition.
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