If you’re asking “How can I avoid epidural during labor?” You’ve come to the right place. Two of my favorite topics are pregnancy & natural birth. I especially love the miracle of natural birth. That’s why I want to share tips for birth without epidural.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about your birthing options. Or really, overwhelmed by the wealth of “wisdom” women impart on you when you become pregnant.
You’ve probably found that your childbirth choices are questioned when it comes up. From doctors, family, well-meaning friends, and sometimes even strangers, childbirth options are both full of facts and opinions. Let’s not forget the horror stories women will tell you about their birth experiences as if to change your mind about your chosen birthing route.
Plenty of naysayers are going to try to convince you to just get the epidural. And you’re probably asking yourself “How can I avoid epidural during labor?”
I say go into your choice with a positive and confident attitude! Make your educated decision, be proud of it, and stand up for it. In my opinion, there’s no place for others’ doubts to cloud your judgement when it comes to such personal matters!
I know these questions. I’ve heard horror stories. I recognize many women end up in emergency c-sections despite their wishes. But, fear of childbirth doesn’t help your chances of having a natural birth.
So, if you’re hoping for a natural birth, why not hear about natural childbirth techniques and tips for birth without epidural from a mom who succeeded at two births without epidurals?
I believe in a woman’s natural ability to birth her baby unassisted and never let other’s fears, opinions, or horror stories effect my own thoughts about childbirth. So, I want to share my tips for birth without epidural and hope they help you, too.
Can I Handle Labor Without Epidural?
Although nearly every mama discusses epidural, it’s not the only option available to take the edge off. But, these options aren’t available at every stage of labor, so you’ll want to be aware of these restrictions.
As with everything, epidurals and other pain relieving drugs during labor do have side effects to be aware of.
The CDC reported that in 2008, more than 60% of women had received epidurals with their first baby. But that doesn’t mean you can’t handle labor without it!
Many times, women fear birth without pain medication (including epidurals). Addressing your fears and learning about your body’s ability to orchestrate the release of natural hormones can motivate you to attempt labor without epidural or other drugs. Speaking with women who have achieved birth without drugs and taking classes to help you prepare can be inspiring and help you to realize that birth without epidural is totally possible.
How Can I Make My Natural Birth Less Painful?
Firstly, fear drives pain. And, it’s only natural to fear the unknown. And because every birth is different, it’s possible to have some fears during first and subsequent births.
If you want to make birth less painful, find a labor and delivery class that will help you understand some of what to expect during labor and can provide exercises and techniques to help you manage your thoughts.
One of my favorite activities was holding your hands in ice for an extended period of time. This offered quite the perspective on where your mind goes during those moments that the ice becomes painful and allowed me and my husband to explore the techniques to make it more tolerable for the length of a normal contraction.
So, ditching fear and managing thoughts and emotions can really help with pain tolerance!
Being mindful with breathing through strong contractions was a huge help when it came to making things feel less painful.
How Can I Avoid Epidural During Labor?
I’m going to share my tips for childbirth without drugs and some of my favorite techniques. I used many of these suggestions in my own two successful natural births without epidurals or any other pain medication.
It should be noted, however, that these aren’t tips for a pain-free birth. Pain is relative and subjective. I don’t feel either of my birthing experiences were painful, rather challenging and exhausting.
1. Let Go Of Fear!
Fear equals pain! In the article Childbirth Without Fear, Alexia discusses the fear-tension-pain cycle.
During this cycle, fear and tension lead to stress and stress leads to slowing or stopping labor.
I previously wrote an article on how to overcome fear of childbirth.
2. Read Labor & Delivery Books
It’s easy to suggest reading books about childbirth, but if you want to focus on natural birth without epidural, it’s important to read the right books!
I share some of the best books in my article 5 Natural Childbirth Books You Need To Read to Be Prepared.
These books should be read early in your pregnancy so that you have time to process the information.
This is one of my favorite tips for birth without epidural because reading these books arms you with information. Information helps in dispelling fears of childbirth and gives you the confidence to not be bullied into things you know to work against your birth plan.
3. Seek Support For Your Birth Plan
Once you’ve had your fill of everyone else’s opinions, do yourself a favor and seek support from those willing to help you succeed in your birth plan. They don’t have to “get it” nor must they have experienced a natural birth. But, they need to be supportive and willing to seek information about natural birth as well.
Maybe your friends need to read my article about how to support a birth plan they don’t understand.
I had only a handful of people I would talk to about my birth plan and it became ever important to have my husband on board with a drug-free birth plan. It was important for me to have my husband in the delivery room, so he needed to be my partner in my birth plan!
Tips For Birth Without Epidural – When You’re In Labor
Preparation ahead of time and getting your mind right for labor is only part of the equation for preparing for birth without an epidural.
You still need some tips for dealing with labor so that you can be better prepared to avoid epidural during labor.
1. Use a Birth Ball
It’s easy to say “stay active and exercise during pregnancy.” But saying isn’t doing. And I know all too well how tiring pregnancy can be.
One of my favorite things, however, nearing the end of my second pregnancy was sitting on a birth ball.
One thing a birth ball is good for is helping to maintain mobility and preparing your body for labor. It’s great for strengthening your back and opening your pelvis in a way similar to squatting (but takes less effort).
I used a birth ball during my third trimester as a regular seat to open my hips. I also found it very comforting to roll around on it while sitting during braxton hicks.
Turns out, I also used the birth ball during part of my labor before arriving at the hospital because I used it to roll down on during contractions.
2. Don’t Go To The Hospital Too Soon
In most cases, you’ll hear it’s time to go to the hospital when contractions are 4 to 5 minutes apart.
Personally, I chose to ignore those warnings in both my labors because I wanted to be home as long as possible.
If we’re being honest, what I really wanted was to “accidentally” have the baby at home. Unfortunately, hubby wasn’t having any of it. So, I think we agreed on the 3 minute mark.
The second time around, however, by the time we finished our errands and lunch, my contractions were much more like 2 minutes apart and I spent only 4 hours in L&D.
The easiest and most practical in these tips for birth without epidural? Stay home as long as safely possible.
3. Keep Moving!
I’m a firm believer in listening to your body during labor.
With my first, I found rocking side to side with one knee in a swivel chair to be most helpful with contractions. When I arrived at the hospital and lay in the bed, my labor slowed and I felt much more discomfort than I had at home moving freely.
With my second, contractions were best handled by supporting my weight on top of a birth ball and rolling down during a contraction while breathing out. The rhythmic motion helped me remain calm and breathe so as not to create tension during contractions.
4. Learn About Laboring Positions
One of my all-time-favorite websites was SpinningBabies.com. This website will give fabulous advice on pregnancy, getting baby into optimal position for birth, and more.
When my second baby was stuck on a bone and I was facing induction, this website helped me to get him unstuck, go into labor on my own, and avoid the dreaded induction!
Since you’ve, hopefully, conquered your fears about childbirth at this point, this shouldn’t be an issue.
But, if it’s your first experience with childbirth, not knowing what to expect can still be unsettling. Remind yourself that this is a natural process and take it easy! You’re going to need energy as this is usually a marathon.
Drink chamomile tea, dim the lights, try to enjoy the peaceful moments between contractions. Talk with your partner, watch a light show, eat, and stay hydrated.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a back massage if it will help you deal with contractions better, too.
6. Warm Water Is Your Friend.
During labor, a warm bath or shower could ease some pressure from the contractions. Note that this could lengthen the time between contractions for a little while as well, but if it provides some relief, it’s probably worth it.
Most doctors will not allow you to use a tub once your water has broken, but I have had a nurse tell me the risk of infection really isn’t there. Still, speak to a medical professional before trying this remedy if your water has already broken.
Do you have any other tips for birth without epidural that you want to share with my readers? Go ahead and leave a comment! I love to hear positive sentiments that can help a woman avoid an epidural if that’s what her heart desires!