Have you induced and still delivered without an epidural?

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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 was induced at 36 + 6 due to pre-eclampsia. My son was born six hours later. I managed my labour naturally without any pain relief. All the best!

  2. I was that mom that said I would never be induced (but I was), and would never have an epidural (but I did). I really wanted to go natural timing, but at the end, I was so huge and exhausted I caved. If I have a second kid, I’m going to stick it out this time. Unless for some medical reason I can’t. And I’m going to try to do it without an epidural. I think next time I will be more prepared for the type of pain. But I don’t regret the epidural, or anything about my delivery. It was easily the best day of my life. I guess what I’m trying to say is, just listen to your body. If you can pull through, go for it! But if you get too tired, or are in too much pain, go for the epidural. That’s one of the perks of living in the 21st century!

  3. Sure, just did. (Well, two weeks ago. ) I was a week and a half overdue, and I was DONE being pregnant. My midwife put me on pitocin at 9 am, started low and slow, by 11 I was in labor, and my daughter was born at 10:46 pm. Yoga ball and the tub and counter pressure massage got me through. (The staff joked that they wanted to hire my husband, he was so good. ) By the end, I briefly regretted not taking pain meds, but when she was put on my chest and was so wide awake, I didn’t mind anymore.

  4. tl;dr version: ask about a foley bulb. It’s not standard procedure since it is not as guaranteed as pitocin, but there’s not any risk in trying it.

    I had to be induced early at 38 weeks for medical reasons. I had no-meds induction and labor, and it worked pretty well.

    I was under the care of a perinatologist for my medical condition, and under the care of a midwife for the regular aspects of the pregnancy and birth. At 38 weeks, the doctor said I needed to give birth, ideally through natural means. He consulted with the midwife, and she decided to attempt a Foley bulb induction.

    I was already at 3cm, 50% effaced, and -1 station (you can be slightly dilated weeks in advance). The Foley works best the closer you are.

    Indeed, I felt contractions start within about 5 minutes. I had 12 hours of very irregular contractions. They’d come really fast, every 5 minutes, and then they’d taper off for a couple hours. They were also very irregular in intensity. After 12 hours, they stabilized and turned into normal labor contractions, and I gave birth 12 hours after that. Overall, the pain was exceptionally intense. However, I was able to handle it with the exception of 2 points: the car ride (awful! I couldn’t get into a comfortable position) and pushing (his right hand came out with his head, so I had some extra issues there).

    I did take classes in advance. I have fairly low pain tolerance levels. I am not sure what I would have done had I been induced with pitocin, but I might have ended up having an epidural simply because when you’re induced with pitocin, you can’t be moving into the positions I wanted to be in.

  5. I also had pitocin and no epidural (or any other meds until stitching up time which honestly hurt WAY more than anything else during the whole labor/delivery process).

    My water broke around 5:15am. I’d been having very lazy contrations since around 8pm the night before. When I got to the hospital, they determined I had meconium (first baby poo) in my waters and they were concerned with delivering her earlier rather than later (to prevent infection from meconium). As my contractions were still very low grade, they told me they suggested pitocin – and I agreed. I can’t remember the exact dosage, but the nurse was telling us that they start off with very low levels (like a 1/8 – 1/2 a dose) rather than going for the full dose right away.

    I didn’t have a problem with my contractions, they felt at most like the worst ever period cramps to me. Now with all that said, I do also have a high pain tolerance and I did a lot of work pre-labor/delivery on the mental side of things. I feel like I know myself and my body, and was prepared to go through the process.

    The worse part of labor for me was when I felt the need to push and they told me not to as I wasn’t dilated enough (at least according to them). I don’t think any amount of pain medicine would’ve helped for that.

    I’m wondering if part of pitocin’s horror stories come from using too much of the drug. By the way, I gave birth at UC Davis in Sacramento, CA. They are a teaching hospital so are often on the leading edge of things – not sure if the rest of the world has caught up on that front as I’m no expert in medicine or childbirth.

    • I think a lot of my labour issues were due to using too much pitocin. I had warned them I was sensitive to drugs anyway (had a numb hand for 12 hours from a local once) but my registrar was very ‘the book says it should be at x amount of mils now’ luckily my midwife fought as much as she could to keep a happy medium but I still ended up dialating way too fast, having to stop the drip for an hour or so at 8cms so his heart rate could steady and once I finally birthed him he was unresponsive for 5 minutes. I’m sure at least some of that had to do with the pitocin.

  6. As you’ll see from the comments everyone has a completely individual experience.

    For me, I was induced due to prolonged rupture of membranes. I’d had contractions (but not productive ones) the night before so hardly slept and when they came to induce me I was distressed and tired already.

    They checked me and I was 1cm and fully effaced so they started the pitocin drip. Half an hour in and I was really struggling with the pain and exhaustion, I imagined I still had hours ahead of me so changed my ideal birth plan and asked for an epidural. I got one almost immediately (which actually didn’t work properly but that’s a different story) straight after they checked me again and I was 7cms.

    I was devastated. I really felt like I was only around 2cms and therefor wouldn’t be able to last the distance but hearing I’d already progressed so far in such a short time I knew i could have made it if i’d stuck it out, yet, now I was stuck in bed unable to move with one completely numb leg and stomach but fully feeling left leg, vagina and back. It was awful.

    My advice would have to be take it in your stride and do what you need in the moment, just get them to check you first!!!

  7. I’d say it’s perfectly reasonable to expect yourself to need pain relief, but take it slow before presuming that you will. I was induced and had a really easy, gentle birth without medication at 41 weeks. My hospital offered small doses of Pitocin at a time instead of one big dose so that helped a lot. I know someone who was offered Sominex, a sleeping medication considered safe for birth and it helped her quite a bit without affecting the baby or causing side effects the way pain meds would. Talk over your preference with your doctor before hand so they know to offer you meds but not to push them. That way you have the option if you need it but don’t feel pressured. Good luck!!

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