To epidural or not to epidural? That is the question.

For some people, getting an epidural is what they want or what they need.  That is perfectly okay. I am exceptionally thankful that modern medicine exists because it definitely has its time and place.

However,  I think there is a common misconception that every women who chooses to birth without an epidural is a "crunchy hippie." Sometimes people may even think they are doing it for the attention and "gold stars."  This really isn't true.  I know it's not why I chose to give birth without an epidural both times.  I've come across women from all walks of life who choose to birth this way. Successful business women, teachers, stay at home moms, athletes-  there really isn't a "type" who choose unmedicated birth.

In general, I have always tried to take minimal amounts of medicine and to do things more naturally.  Ever since I was very little, my family has called me "flower child."  Some names just stand the test of time.  I've always been drawn to natural approaches for everything- cooking, cleaning, healing. It's fascinating to me.  If I lived the rest of my life this way then I figured, why not approach childbirth this way too?  Another main reason I wanted to give birth without an epidural is because I truly believed God had designed my body to give birth and I didn't want to interfere with that process.

After I had already decided this was the route that I was going to take, I encountered a lot of people who laughed and ridiculed my decision.  Not going to lie, this was fuel to my flame.  It really made me want to do it THAT much more. I also think it made me extra proud when I did actually do it.


It may be surprising to some but there really are a lot of reasons why people may choose to go without the epidural. Here is a list with a variety of reasons why someone may want to have their baby pain medication free:

  1. Fear of needles.  I actually hear this one a lot.  People don't even like to get a shot so the thought of a big needle in their back is just too much.  "Because needles freak me out and a needle in my spine scares the crap out of me! Plus I figured if my mom could do it then I could too. 😉"

  2. Having an adverse reaction to the epidural the first time.   People can sometimes feel the effects of an epidural long after it is gone.  They could have issues like a spinal migraine or extended numbness or tingling.  These side effects can really impact someone's postpartum experience and may lead them to desire a birth without an epidural the next time.

  3. Research of childbirth.  Occasionally, we have a preconceived notion of what childbirth is (thanks television and movies), but then we start to look into it and it changes our tune.        "I always figured I'd just do what you do when you have a baby, and get the epidural. I started reading a little when I got pregnant, and it was primarily fear of cesarean that led me to natural childbirth. I feared if I got the epidural I wouldn't be able to feel myself push and would end up with a cesarean after all the hard work of labor. So we took a class & it made me realize there were so many other reasons I wanted a natural birth too, more than just the fear of cesarean."
  4. Seeing other women do it.  Sometimes seeing someone we know and love do something can spark our interest and set us down a path.  "My mom always talked about her natural births as wonderful experiences so it never occurred to me I would do it any other way. She talked about birth in a way that made me have confidence in my body. I knew it would be the hardest work I'd ever do but the most rewarding."
  5. To have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  This is very common.  Many women end up having a cesarean and want something different for their next birth.  They begin to research and find that a cascade of interventions could potentially be the reason for their cesarean.  This is motivation for these moms to avoid any intervention to have the vaginal birth they desire. "I chose unmedicated birth primarily because I was planning a VBAC and wanted to make sure my chances of another cesarean were as low as possible. With my second unmedicated birth (and 2nd VBAC), it was important to me that I labor and give birth in a relaxed and supportive environment with a care provider I trusted. For me, that safe place was my home."
  6. Feeling confident in the birth process.  Some women feel confident and empowered that their bodies were made for this so they look forward to the opportunity to see it all unfold. "I knew that this was what had been designed, so there was something wonderful and beautiful about birth. Something that medication or intervention might mask. I wanted to be a part of all that it could be."

However you birth, be proud of what you've done.  Growing a human is no small feat.  Bringing them earth side takes a lot of bravery and courage too.

Hopefully this have given you some insight on why people would choose to birth this way.

 So I leave you with the question, to epidural or not to epidural?