Have you induced and still delivered without an epidural?

Posted by
By: ErikaCC BY 2.0
I’m 13 weeks pregnant and I recently found out that due to a few pre-existing medical conditions, it’s very possible the birth of my child will have to be induced at 38 or 39 weeks. I’ve been hoping to deliver without the aid of pain medication, and now I’m not sure this will be possible.

I’m interested in hearing from multiple parties — women who have been induced and either delivered with or without the aid of an epidural. — Moni

A few unmedicated childbirth tales:

Comments on Have you induced and still delivered without an epidural?

  1. I didn’t read all the comments, but I just wanted to chime in with my experience. My water broke for my first and so I was induced. I got an epidural (which had always been my plan) but the needle slipped after about an hour and they were never able to “catch up” with the pain again, so I basically had an unmedicated pitocin induced birth. It was tough, but I survived – what else was I going to do, right? My second child, I was also induced, but the epidural worked that time and, no shocker, it was much much easier. But the whole labor was easier with my second, so who knows what it would have been like unmedicated?

    Ultimately, whatever you decide to do, you will bring a baby into the world and that is what matters. If you opt not to medicate, that is one valid choice. If you opt to medicate, that is another valid choice. The only person judging you at the end of the day is you. And hopefully your heart will be too full of love for that little person to leave much room for judgement anyway.

  2. My daughter was induced at 37 weeks because her amniotic fluid was getting low and old and also they decided she was “big enough” and didn’t need to “cook anymore”. At 8 lb 1 oz I’d say they were right! But anyhoo, yes, I was induced and I did not get an epidural. It was not by my choice since I hate pain and love epidurals, but I was doing ok through the contractions and my then-husband kept telling me to wait. By the time it was really bad, they said I was 8.5 cm dilated and the anesthesiologist was in an emergency C-section elsewhere. No epidural for me. I got through it but it was not fun, and I ended up thinking that women who did that voluntarily were insane. (No offense intended, but I hate pain!) However, it all depends on how you tolerate pain and how your labor goes. Don’t get hung up on having everything go exactly how you plan, because you never know and the most important thing is having a healthy baby. If that means epidurals or something then so be it.

  3. I wanted to avoid pitocin partly because I was afraid of the perception that it could create extra-strong contractions, and I had been hoping to avoid an epidural or other pain meds.

    My doctor wanted to induce me at about 40 weeks when my water broke and labor didn’t start. At the hospital, I took cervadil over night, but I kept stalling on the pitocin the next morning, asking if I could walk some more, or if we could wait just one more hour, etc. The stalling worked – we waited long enough that contractions started without pitocin. And I was able to deliver with no medications or interventions other than the initial cervadil.

    So I guess mine was a partially-induced birth, and in my case it was totally doable. My support system included a wonderful husband, doula, nurse, and doctor, who all worked well together. I had also done a lot of prenatal yoga (which I did in labor) and a lamaze class, both of which really helped.

    I hope you and your baby are healthy and happy no matter what happens during your birth experience.

  4. I started my induction without pitocin, just a cooks catheter. I can easily say the pitocin made my contractions waaaayy worse. I couldn’t do it without pain meds and eventually an epidural. That being said, I had originally planned an out of hospital birth, and was given 1 days notice before my induction. Not how I planned it, not with the people who were supposed to be coaching me through labor. The biggest mistake I made was telling my husband(more like forcing) him to go to sleep. While he slept the midwife on duty told me all about how easy the epidural would be and how the morpheine would help. Either way I have an amazing baby girl and wouldn’t change it for anything, even though it didn’t go according to plan, it was still my birth and it gave me her.

  5. I was induced at home at 38 weeks. Pre-eclampsia was rearing its head and I had planned a home birth. Acupuncture kept my BP low enough & induction (also via acupuncture) tools couple of days but it worked. I had my first son in a birth tub at home, no meds.

  6. UK first-time mama here… Although its not quite the same as being induced, I was put on an oxytocin drip because when my waters finally broke after about 66 hours of irregular contractions (2 to 15 minutes apart) they were fuuuuuull of meconium. I had planned for a birth-centre delivery with lots of moving around, access to a birth pool if I wanted it and pethidine as my back up, but ended up being in a reclining chair on my side for the next 8 hours.

    I was really surprised because I could deal with the contractions with just breathing techniques for about 3 hours, had entonox (gas) for 4 hours and finally delivered with no extra help except my partner telling me how far down the baby’s head was each time and the midwife telling me to “push like a poo!”

    I had been going to pregnancy yoga and the breathing techniques REALLY helped me to ride over the contractions, so if you have access to a class, I highly recommend it!!

    Good luck and have fun because it is a truly unique and extraordinary experience.

  7. You’re still weeks away from that point. Collect information, listen to your body and make your decision when it’s time to get that person out into the world. The best of luck!

  8. I’m a doula and I’ve attended several induced labors where the mom did not get any pain medication. It’s hard work but its doable. However, there is no shame in getting an epidural (or other medicinal pain relief) during an induction too. I might, if I were getting an induction.

  9. I delivered my son after being on a pitocin drip for about 12 hours. I was determined not to get a epidural but I did end up getting a shot of morphine at some point through the night. It was really tough and I completely understand why most women would opt for an epidural in that type of situation. More than anything I am just really scared of large needles in my back! The morphine was a real gift though…it let me sleep through the breaks between contractions for a little while and recharged me for the last stages of labour. I have heard different things in regards to the actual birth experience when a woman has an epidural but I was very grateful to be able to feel where to push, etc when it was time for the babe to come. Although leading up to it was less than perfect his birth was everything I had imagined it would be and there is no way of knowing if it would have been the same with an epidural or not. Good luck!

  10. I too hope for an unmedicated birth but will have to have my baby between 38 and 39 weeks. My (medical) doctor and I have spoken about non medical induction techniques. She will only recommend those that are research supported and at the top of the list was acupuncture. She suggested that at 34 weeks (but not before) I start getting acupuncture for cervical ripening on a weekly basis. I’ve done it twice now and it’s working like magic, or like acupuncture. Whichever. At 37 weeks going on 38 I will do acupuncture for induction as well as membrane sweeping with the doctor. It gives my body and my baby done time to get ready and give it a whirl before we force it with medical intervention. On the other hand, I also have come to a place of acceptance- the most important thing is that baby gets out safely. I’m aware I may need an epidural, or a c section- and that’s just that. But I’m going to give it my best and that’s all I can do! At this point in the pregnancy with its wealth of complications- I just want to meet the wee one already!
    Good luck!

  11. I had a cervidil and then pitocin induced labor at 40w6d due to a sudden spike in bp/preeclampsia. Induction lasted for three days when my doula realized the baby was op (sunny side up) and we flipped her. There was more pitocin involved than I care to think about… it’s entirely possible to go through it all with no pain meds. I had localized anesthetic for the stitches after tearing (3rd degree, ew) and a Motrin after everything. That was it. Whatever happens, you can do this. But it my case, and I would highly recommend this, it was having a doula that made it all possible. (And often doulas are considered an added yet unnecessary expense… not true. They are so helpful and often more than willing to work with any situation.)

  12. I was induced with the Foley bulb on my due date, thanks to sky-rocketing blood pressure. I was very adamant about not wanting interventions unless absolutely necessary, so I chose the bulb as it is a physical effect, instead of chemicals/medications. They put me on Pitocin once the bulb came out, but it was a pretty low dose and I was able to have it turned off a few hours later when it looked like my body was handling things on its own. The contractions were pretty intense, but it was a good, productive sort of pain – I knew things were happening.

    8 hours of labor and 40 minutes of pushing, no pain meds, and my first words to my husband after giving birth was “Let’s do that again!” I have good genes – all the women in my family have had relatively easy births – so for me it was possible to avoid pain meds while being induced. But really, everyone is different.

  13. I was induced with Pitocin and got through 12+ hours of labor and 2.5 hours of pushing with no epidural without a problem. Hypnobabies completely worked for me. It gave me all the confidence I needed throughout my pregnancy and kept me calm and relaxed during my birthing time.

  14. It’s possible. I was induced with the hormone drip and gave birth without the epidural.
    When I had to be induced, the midwives told me that even though my birth plan had me going epidural free, the induced contractions are stronger. It was a bit of a mind-funk, but I decided to wait for the epidural until I really needed it. By the time I asked for it, I was fully dilated and it was too late.
    I think if I knew how many women actually do get induced and don’t have an epidural, I would have been in a better frame of mind. I found out after the fact that one of my good friends was induced for both babies and only had an epidural with her first.
    And if you do go for the epidural, that’s ok too. The goal is to get a healthy baby and a healthy mama. A good process is nice, but the outcome matters the most. Good luck!

  15. I have 5 children:
    1st not induced – 18 hrs labor – no pain meds
    2nd – not induced – 11 hrs labor – no meds
    3rd – induced – 10 hrs labor – no meds
    4th – induced – 9 hrs labor – no meds
    5th – not induced – 12 hrs labor – epidural – hello? why in the world would I have done this 4 times before without an epidural??

  16. i was induced at just shy of 37 weeks for very low amniotic fluid. from admission to delivery, it took three and a half days. we started with cervadil and cytotec but eventually moved on to pitocin. i made it about 28ish hours on pitocin before i got an epidural, and delivered my son about 12 hours after that (3 hours of pushing). i believe the long labor had more to do with his position than anything else–he was occiput posterior and asynclitic, and that probably contributed to the irregular dilatation and strange contraction patterns i experienced. i was obsessed during pregnancy with avoiding a medically unnecessary c-section, and the as my fluid measurements kept going lower and the prospect of induction became a reality, i fretted about the cascade of interventions that might follow–and in the end, some of those things came to pass, and a lot of them didn’t. i was lucky to be at a hospital with a midwife attending and an amazing nurse administering my pit for two days. my water broke 43 hours before i delivered and i know in many hospital environments that or the prolonged pushing or any one of a number of things may have resulted in a c-section.

  17. I had basically the least “medical” induction ever; I needed to deliver on a specific day at a specific time in order for my son to receive carefully timed treatment for a number of known birth defects, but was terrified of drugs of any kind. My awesome OB/GYN had me drinking raspberry leaf tea starting at 38 weeks (at least three cups a day), I did a LOT of yoga and stretching, and when I got to the hospital for the “induction,” I was given a breast pump and told to have at it for at least two or three hours (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) before they even considered pitocin. Contractions started almost exactly two hours in to pumping, and I had just under 10 hours of labor and 20 minutes of pushing; the only chemical that went into my system was some Ambien because I more or less refused to sleep once labor began! I definitely recommend discussing non-chemical forms of induction with your care provider, as there were apparently a lot more options than I had imagined. It meant a lot for me to let my body – not doctors – be in control of the process.

  18. I did it! I was induced at 42.5 weeks. My giant baby wasn’t dropping. We had been planning a home birth and went into the hospital with that mindset. They started me on cervidil (or whatever it’s called) and it did nothing for me. After a few hours the doctor put me on pitocin and then still had to break my water. Well that worked. I labored for about nine hours and then had to push my baby out for three. He was giant tho, 10.5 lbs and 24″ long! I had to be on the fetal heart monitor which was annoying. I got one that was mobile so I could walk around. I did some laboring in a spa bath they had in the room but mostly I sat on a yoga ball and leaned against my partner. And I sang! I brought my iPod and a player and just sang until I couldn’t and then I did a lot of controlled yelling. Keep the tones low and then I just went as loud as I needed. The doctor kept having my husband turn up the music at the end too, he could see it was helping me! I had a throw in the towel moment close to transition. I asked for drugs three times and my midwife (they came along as doulas) told me what I could have on my third asking. She also asked me to get checked first. So I did and upon discovering I was so close to pushing I decided to hang in there. I once heard someone describe being on pitocin like “riding the dragon” and I agree. It wasn’t an easy labor, I just had my second at home and now have more perspective on my first birth. But all you can do is try!! Good luck!

  19. I was induced with Pitocin at 40 weeks 5 days. I found out when I checked in to the hospital that I had developed low platelets and wouldn’t be able to have an epidural. For 15 hours, I had mild contractions, but because of the position my baby was in, they didn’t hurt much and weren’t effective. They stopped the drip for a couple of hours, then restarted it. A few hours after that, my baby moved and I immediately started having real contractions. I was in hard labor for only about three hours. I did have a few doses of IV pain meds (fentinel, I think), but the last dose didn’t even make a dent in the pain. By far the worst part of labor was when I was ready to push and had to wait for the doctor. They were worried that I would bleed too much, because of the low platelets, so they didn’t want to let me push until she got there. Compared to that, everything else was manageable. I would have loved to have gone in to labor on my own, but I’m also grateful that the pitocin helped things go fast.

  20. So many comments!! Not sure if anyone mentioned this already but I was induced with Prostaglandin by my midwife (apparently it isn’t widely used). I had a 1/2 dose and 3 hours later a full dose and we were off to the races! 10ish hours of labor, 45 minutes of pushing… no pain meds. I used the birthing tub for laboring but not delivery… delivered on the birthing stool which was fantastic. So YES it’s absolutely possible, just know that there are many options before Pitocin and know your best plan with your team. Educate and believe in yourself and your body! Ina May’s book was playing on repeat in my head during my labor.

  21. I was induced on my due date with my first pregnancy, because I was having issues with high blood pressure. I basically had a deal with my doctor, because she wanted to do it earlier, and I wanted to make it to the due date, and she said as long as I stayed on bed rest for the last few weeks she was ok with me waiting. I was really hoping that the baby would come on their own in that time, so I could have the natural childbirth experience, but it was not to be. So we induced. And I refused the epidural. It is definitely possible, even if you have a two-day labor, like mine was. There are lots of other pain medication options without getting the epidural. Since we induced I was already on IVs for the pitocin, so when things started getting bad I asked for some IV pain meds as well. I wish I could remember the name of what they gave me, but there are lots of moments from those two days that are slightly fuzzy now (two and a half years later). But the effect was that I still felt everything, I just didn’t care. I felt the pain, but it let me detach from it enough to get through it. Of course, once the baby is getting close to coming out they can’t give you any more through the IV because it also goes to the baby and can slow them down, so the last bit of pushing was basically unmedicated, and there are no words to describe that. But yes, it is possible to have a hospitalized, induced childbirth without an epidural. I’m 14 weeks pregnant with number two now, and while I’m certainly hoping that this birth will be less dramatic, I still don’t think I would choose the epidural. I’ve done it once, I can do it again.

  22. My sister-in-law had to be induced with both of her pregnancies and was able to deliver both babies without an epidural. She did say it was pretty hard to resist the first time around, but she had an awesome midwife who stayed true to her birth plan to a T. When my sister-in-law would ask for an epidural, her midwife would lie and say “Oh, you can have one but he’s really backed up right now, so you’ll have to wait 2 hours to get it”. She successfully had both babies without pain medication (she said sitting in a hot bath helped a lot) and was very glad she did so afterwards.

  23. My third birth was induced, with no epidural. I went into labor on my own, but after several hours, all progress came to a halt. It was either be sent back home, or get things moving by breaking my water and starting me on pitocin. Both of which I was terrified of. Looking back, I should have opted to go home, but I agreed to be induced. I was firm on not having pain medication offered to me. Its easier to do without it if you forget its an option. My second birth was also pain-med free, and this induced birth was different to me in that the contractions were a good bit more intense. Transition happened shortly after they got the pitocin in, and so I thankfully didnt have to endure the heightened pain for too long.

    My mother also has had induced births, all without epidurals. It helped me to remember that, so that I could feel some reassurance that it IS possible to do this.
    Good luck, and good health to you and your baby! 🙂

  24. Hey,

    A quick disclaimer: I know people who have been induced and say that it didn’t feel much different.

    I was induced with my first and I wish I hadn’t been. I was overdue, the baby was getting bigger and bigger, and I have a health condition that was starting to cause concerns. I wish I had been more patient and worked with the medical professionals.

    I’ve got a pretty decent pain tolerance, and I ‘centre’ myself well, so I was convinced that I would just manage on gas and air. My contractions started within minutes and were intense back to back for 8 hours straight. I know that’s not long compared to ther births but it really took me by surprise. You have no way of predicting how your body will react to it. I had nothing to compare it too, but from what I had read and stories I’d been told, it didn’t feel like a normal experience. It also caused my blood pressure to shoot through the roof. I ended up having everything except gas and air!

    When my kid was finally born, he was stressed (I am sure from the induction), had the cord around his neck and I had to have an episiotomy… Bleugh. Baby was fine. I ended up prolapse. It’s not fun but it is manageable.

    At the end of the day, that may have been my only option regardless, but if I were to go through it again, I would definitely leave it as my last resort. I hope whatever you choose works well for you. And remember that you know your body best…

  25. I was induced a week before my due date. Pitocin started at 8:00 a.m., water was broken manually at 10 a.m., and my son was born at 11:45 a.m. I wanted the epidural badly, but with how quick my labor went, I was unable to get one. So, yes, I got induced and had no epidural, but I also LUCKILY had a quick labor. I KNOW if it had been going on any longer, I would have LOVED to have the epidural. I’m a big baby, though.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.