Natural birth and pain relief

(55 Posts)
dashadollar Wed 09-Jan-13 10:54:29

I am nearly 30 weeks pregnant and I really want to have a natural birth avoiding epidurals and injections. Unfortunately I find that a lot of my friends and acquaintances who have gone through the experience of labour all say the same thing: "I am so happy I had an epidural!" or "I wish I had an epidural!" I do not want to give up on the natural birth before I even tried but it would really help to hear more positive experiences from other women. Please tell me about what kind of natural pain relief you have used during your labour? It would really help as I want to feel in control of my labour rather than succumbing to drugs and anesthetics. Thank you!

MB34 Wed 09-Jan-13 11:51:36

I just had g&a and I'm glad I didn't have an epidural! I also did a hypnobirthing course which, I think, helped a lot too.

You should do what you will be happy with, if the time comes and you change your mind then so be it. Don't let other people dictate what you should/shouldn't do.

Shellywelly1973 Wed 09-Jan-13 12:02:29

I had G&A with first 3dc. Dc4&5 were water births. Used no pain relief. I also listened to hpnobirthing cd's with 4&5.

I always kept an open mind, Im expecting dc6 but this might be the one i need an epidural to deliver.

I used the hypnobirthing book and CD in the weeks leading up to my DCs births (couldn't afford to do the course), and gas and air while in labour. Both births were straightforward and relatively quick (6 1/2 hours each time). Even despite DS weighing 9lbs1oz and having a 99th centile head.

I actually quite enjoyed labour, in a strange way. Yes, it was hard work, and yes, it hurt, but I'd happily do it again. In fact I'm going to, in 3 weeks time!

I'd recommend reading up on what goes on during labour, as the pain isn't as scary if you know why it's happening. Keep moving as much as possible, stay calm (easier said than done, I know) and remember that for every horror story you hear there are plenty of women who have straightforward, simple births. Just their stories aren't as interesting, so they don't get heard as much.

One last thing- try raspberry leaf tea/capsules from about 36 weeks onwards. I don't know for sure if it made my labours easier, but I'm not going to risk not using it this time around.

Shagmundfreud Wed 09-Jan-13 12:19:30

Did your friends have optimal care in labour?

If they were
- induced
- not able to be mobile
- didn't have access to a birth pool
- didn't have good care from a midwife they got on with in labour

then it's less surprising that they found labour pain particularly hard to manage.

Would also point out that women tend to be loyal to the birth experience they had - as long as they had reasonable care and a good outcome (ie they and their baby were well at the end). So if they had an epidural they ARE going to usually say it was fab, if everything was ok in the end and it worked. The exception is when they're trying to be 'sisterly' by letting you know that it's ok to find labour hard to cope with. They may do this by bigging up epidurals and dismissing positive experiences of natural birth. You also find this attitude in relation to breastfeeding. Women who've breastfed successfully may well minimise the benefits and emphasise how hard it is, just to show that they're humble, non-judgemental and kind to women who are hoping to breastfeed but haven't had any experience of it yet. The last thing anyone wants to be seen as is a boaster/natural birth or breastfeeding 'nazi', and women will go out of their way to give the impression that they're not. However, put the long term breast feeding mums in a room with other long term breastfeeding mums and you'll find the conversation about how babies are fed has a very different slant. Ditto conversations between mums who had natural births, when they know that no one who had an epidural/is pregnant but hasn't given birth, is listening. wink

On a personal note, having had one epidural birth (with my first) I deliberately chose to make it hard for myself to opt for an epidural with my second and third by choosing a home birth. It was fucking painful but I had great care from a midwife friend and that enabled me to cope. The hormonal high I experienced after the births without an epidural was much more intense. If I live to 100 I'll never feel more incredible than I felt after the 36 hours of unmedicated active labour that I had to go through in order to safely deliver my son. It was heavenly.

Seeline Wed 09-Jan-13 12:32:53

I used a TENS machine with both mine during the early stages and then gas and air. My first labour was 29hrs and ended up with ventouse/cut, the second was only 13 hrs (!). I wouldn't say I was particularly good with pain, but I coped.

learnermummy Wed 09-Jan-13 12:37:08

For me, DS1 was back to back and didn't turn so I did end up with an epidural and actually at the time it was fab because the labour was so long and drawn out and the epidural allowed me to relax. Downside was not being able to feel my legs for a good while.
For DS2 though I opted for a home water birth with a bit of G&A. I also did a hypnobirthing course. This was a great experience, and one I hope to repeat.
I think it's best to plan for your ideal birth experience but always be prepared for things to change. Best of luck.

dashadollar Wed 09-Jan-13 16:44:10

Thank you everyone, it's great to hear about different experiences. It's true AnathemaDevice the horror stories are the ones that people enjoy telling. I am going to do my research, look into hypnobirthing and keep an open mind. Thank you! smile

bangersmashandbeans Wed 09-Jan-13 19:26:46

I was induced and coped with paracetamol and a feck load of screaming!! Nothing calm about my labour but no pain relief grin

LynetteScavo Wed 09-Jan-13 19:32:38

With my first labour I was so glad I had an epidural.

With my second pg, I went to hypnobirthing classes. They were brilliant. I did ask for pain relief, but in my 3rd labour (at home) I didn't need any pain relief. But then I was in familiar surroundings, with an understanding midwife, and determined to do it my way. I didn't have the injection to help the afterbirth come out or have the cord cut until it stopped pulsing. Both were what the midwife thought I wanted, and I shall forever be grateful to her.

wafflingworrier Wed 09-Jan-13 19:35:22

congratulations on your pregnancy! i would say for a natural birth, don't underestimate the power of music and books-my partner read to me from a few books i liked as a child and it really helped distract me from the pain.
also music, if you can make a few playlists for whatever type of mood you are in eg one for fast dancy, one for slow soppy, one for happy cheesy, then that is a good distraction too

cassell Wed 09-Jan-13 19:40:36

I had g&a for ds1, did ask for an epidural as didn't think I could cope with the pain but it was too late and actually it was fine and I'm glad I didn't.

Ds2 was too quick for even g&a so had no pain relief at all and actually it was a lovely experience as I could really feel him at each stage of pushing. It wasn't a hypnobirth though - plenty of screaming through the pain grin

Good luck!

AuntySib Wed 09-Jan-13 19:40:59

I've had 3 babies with no pain relief - my good luck that I didn't feel I needed it.
Controlled breathing and visualisation helped, also genetics!
In my experience, many women have labours similar to their own mother/grandmother - I'd speak to your mum and any other female relatives and find out if they needed pain relief, how long their labours were etc, before making up your mind.

ticklebug74 Wed 09-Jan-13 21:26:30

Dd1 I had pethidine as I panicked a little but with ds1 and dd2 tens machine only. It is a great distraction and I hated g&a when I tried it with dd1 so didn't bother with the other two.

2nd and 3rd labours were much quicker and I attribute that to keeping upright throught labour and I birthed on all fours. Fabulous experiences.

I had an irrational fear of epidural so would have done anything I could to avoid it but am sure if I needed it I would have had one. I also believe in my experiences being able to feel the baby helped me to prevent tearing. Three babies, biggest being 8lb 7oz and not a stitch. I think it is much harder to avoid tearing if you have an epidural.

Anyhow, you just have to go with the flow and be flexible with your birth plan but do make sure your birth partner is fully aware of the type of birth experience you are hoping for so they can be your personal cheer leader when the going gets tough!

Good luck!

Ameybee Wed 09-Jan-13 21:32:26

I just used g&a with both, second I used very little as it was SO quick! I used my tens machine until last 5 mins - i highly rate tens for first stage. IMO it depends on lots of things including the length of labour- if its long then epidural can be a lifesaver. Take it all as it comes.

I did find the breathing techniques really helped me to cope and just focus on that rather than the pain x

I had a 'natural' labour. Started off with bouncing on the ball with the TENS, moved to the car (left the ball behind, but took the TENS!), got to the birthing unit got into pool with G&A, got out, got back in, got out again after 2 minutes, had injection of diamorphine, baby born!

Now, I only had the drugs about 20 minutes before LO was born, so it was mostly to get me through the transitional stage. Because It. Fucking. Hurt. I managed with no drugs for 12/13 hours, and it was in the last 1 or 2 hours that I began asking for drugs. Those 12/13 hours were painful, I'm not going to lie, but the water and G&A really really helped.

Just make sure you are using the gas properly. As soon as you feel a contraction coming breathe it in nice and slow, big breath. Then breath it back out nice and slow as the contraction goes back down.

Goodkingwalkingslass Wed 09-Jan-13 22:44:40

I had Ds last year. No pain relief. Stayed at home as long as possible (turned out I was fully dilated on arrival at hospital). Concentrated on breathing throughout. Hypnobirthing book helped I think and would look at doing course next time. Ds arrived an hour after getting to hospital, gave birth standing up.

Whole experience was bloody brilliant, can't wait to do it again.

LadyKinbote Wed 09-Jan-13 22:46:00

I gave birth in a busy, inner-city hospital where the staff were too busy to give me any form of pain relief - not even gas & air. I feel slightly envy of women who had a different experience to me, but every birth is different. The most important thing is to understand what all your options are and to be vocal about your decisions. Hopefully you won't need pain relief but don't feel guilty if you do.

EugenesAxe Wed 09-Jan-13 23:14:23

It's so hard to know what your body will give you, though. I was a one drug chick for my first (pethidine) and only had a couple of puffs of G&A for my second, BUT I am 5' 10", have a large pelvis and children that obliged to position themselves optimally.

I really wouldn't beat yourself up if you want all the drugs on the planet to help you cope. I found the first stage very painful; it made me projectile vomit. They wouldn't give me G&A for that reason; at 5cm the MV said 'well, it's going to get worse, so I'd recommend pethidine or an epidural now'. DH didn't fancy me having an epidural so I did the other; it was a great drug IMO. Just pretty much made me sleep until I was ready for pushing. Somehow I could cope better for number 2... deep breathing and hot water bottles were enough. I was proper zen for that; my MW said 'No one believed me when I said you were 8.5cm' after she examined me on arrival at hospital.

But really - in most cases people just don't realise how much it's going to hurt. The first time; it's a complete eye-opener unless you are one of those very lucky women. Do what makes you feel better.

Wolfiefan Wed 09-Jan-13 23:23:14

I really did NOT want an epidural. I wanted to be able to move and worried I wouldn't be able to feel to push.
DC1. Laboured at home in the afternoon. TENS. To hospital thinking they'd send me home again. He arrived as a water birth 2 1/2 hours later. (Back to back and 9lbs.) tried gas and air and not keen.
DC2. Impatient little madam who arrived 59 minutes after my first contraction. Bit of gas and air. (Loved it this time!) TENS on but not time to really use it much.
Every birth is different. Know your options and inform MW and birth partner of what you would prefer. Keep an open mind.
FWiW. I have never been so proud of my body as after I have delivered my babies! Women are awesome!

stargirl1701 Wed 09-Jan-13 23:41:29

I planned an epidural.

I woke up at 2am and thought, hmmmm, this could be it! I lay in bed as it wasn't painful and there was no point in getting up. I couldn't sleep so read the newspaper on my phone and used MN.

At 6am I was overcome by hunger so padded downstairs and ate 3 bowls of cereal and half a loaf of toast! At 7am I phoned the hospital then took 2 paracetamol and had a bath.

After the bath my DH put on my TENS machine and we watched a film. At 11am things the contractions were stronger so I used my birth ball in many positions and the chanting and visualisations I learned at ante natal yoga.

By 3.30pm the contractions were closer together and stronger so I called the hospital again. I had had no show or waters. The midwife advised me to go to the local midwife unit and get examined - if I was more than 5cm then come on through to the hospital.

I arrived at the CMU and was examined - 8cm! I was pretty shocked! The midwife there said I could only go on to the hospital in an ambulance but I could stay at the CMU if I wanted.

We decided to stay. I took the TENS machine off (scary moment) and got into the pool. I laboured for another 2 hours with G&A then pushed the baby out after another hour.

Amazing! Wonderful! Empowering!

I had a second degree tear which was stitched 2 hours after birth. The midwife began stitching but it took forever and the local wore off. That was fucking agony! I then asked for a painkiller and was given bloody paracetamol! Grrrr!

I went home after 4 days in the CMU and was home for a week when I had abdominal pain. I was re admitted to the CMU and then transferred by ambulance to the hospital with blood poisoning from infective mastitis.

ReallyTired Wed 09-Jan-13 23:57:16

Please don't see an epidural as a failure. The aim of childbirth is to bring forth a child into the world and hopefully for the mother to get through in the best way possible.

There are circumstances that warrant an epidural. For example an exceptionally long labour with a poor presentation. There is nothing worse than being in pain when you are tired. First time mothers have never given birth before and the whole thing is often a culture shock. Different women experience labour differently. There is a lot of luck involved and its easy to forget that women often died in labour in the past.

Some women have easy births and some women suffer exactly like gensis describes. (8000 years ago child birth was considered painful enough to get mentioned in the Bible.)

My first labour was 33 hours and I had an epidural after 28 hours. I had a beautiful baby at the end of it, but it wasn't an NCT approved birth.

My second birth I had nothing but tens and was in labour for 3 hours. I didn't even have gas and air.

I suggest that you have plenty of strageries for managing pain prepared, but don't look down on people who have an epidural. A woman in my nct class who thought that women who have an epidural aren't proper women ended up with a crash c-section.

I didn't find labour to be as painful as I expected, and got almost to the end with just codeine and a tens machine., I turned down gas and air because I wanted to save it for when things got really painful... Which they never did.

I listened to natal hypnotherapy cds before the birth which I think really helped.

However... Dd then got stuck at the pushing stage due to being in the wrong position, and had to be helped out with forceps in theatre, under spinal block.

So I would say that you should try all of the natural methods, but also accept that a lot of it is sheer luck and don't blame yourself if things don't go to plan. I was lucky not to find contractions very painful, and unlucky that dd was in an awkward position where no amount of deep breathing was going to shift her grin

HeffalumpsAndWoozles Thu 10-Jan-13 05:18:57

DD1 was induced, I managed on gas & air although it was very painful. However I was extremely happy not to have had an epidural and the moment she was born honestly the pain was worthwhile. She was 9lb 2oz.

DD2 was a water baby, I used tens for the first 40 minutes or so while the pool filled up then got in the water and delivered about an hour later. It was such a wonderful experience and I'd do it again in a flash. DD2 was 9 lb 8oz, don't let size worry you either you only know about it once they're out anyway! Also did a hypnobirthing course for this labour, made myself a lovely relaxing classical playlist, had reflexology in the weeks I was overdue and generally was a lot more prepared, I think all of that helped me to have an easier and more enjoyable experience.

Good luck with your birth smile

Shagmundfreud Thu 10-Jan-13 08:15:51

"There are circumstances that warrant an epidural. For example an exceptionally long labour with a poor presentation."

I agree that epidural is a great tool and knowing that epidural is an option should reduce anxiety if women are contemplating that a long labours like you describe might happen to them.


I have had two looooong labours with malpresenting babies - first and third. The third was longer than the first. First labour I needed an epidural because I was in hospital with multiple changes of midwife (some of whom I didn't have confidence in), continuous monitoring, and was denied food which made me weak. The next time it happened to me I had opted for a home birth, and had the support of one fantastic midwife who I knew well who was with me the whole way through. Despite eventually transferring in for syntocinon, I still coped without an epidural. Point being - quality of care can make just as much difference as how your baby is presenting, or the length of your labour. Some midwives are highly skilled at providing psychological and physical support in long labours. Many are not, because the widespread use (and the encouragement of the use) of epidurals for challenging labours have made these skills redundant in hospitals. Women are left with the impression that long and painful labours are ALWAYS a) intrinsically traumatising and b) impossible to cope with. I know from my personal experience that this doesn't have to be the case for everyone or maybe even most mothers.

rosamarina Thu 10-Jan-13 12:13:06

I had a very long labour (50 hours) without pain relief, because I never really felt I needed it. Early on walking around and being upright was all that was needed, later on concentrating on each contraction and having DH press really hard on either side of the base of my spine during contractions made most of the pain go away on its own. I was at home, though, so felt more confident and in control than I would have in hospital. I found that thinking of each contraction as having a beginning, a middle and an end was helpful - they were predictable, I knew what was happening, I knew what my body was doing, and that all made it easier to cope with.

Ended up in hospital after DS got briefly distressed during the second stage, ventouse delivery, still without pain relief but I really didn't need it by then, I didn't find the second stage painful at all, just tiring. The only really excruciating bits of the whole experience were the vaginal exams and the stitches afterwards; for those I'd have taken an epidural gladly if there was such a thing as one that only lasted five minutes. (I did have a local anaesthetic for the stitches, but I'm not convinced it worked because I felt every one of them.)

I don't think you can guarantee that any of these techniques will help, though - a lot depends on the position of the baby, your particular way of responding to pain, whether there are any problems, a ton of things. I'm expecting DS2 any day now, and I'm just trying to keep an open mind - I know it's possible for me to labour without pain relief, but at the same time, if that doesn't work for me this time around then I'll be grateful the medical options are available. My best advice is to make a long list of things that you think might help you cope with labour, write it all down because it will all go out of your head when you're actually in labour, and then try everything on the list until you find something that helps, and if nothing helps then go for the medical options because that's what they're for.

MoonHare Thu 10-Jan-13 17:35:08

Read JuJu Sundin's book 'Birth Skills:proven pain management techniques for labour and birth' it's full of simple distraction techniques and lots of positive birth stories too.

I chanced upon this book while pg with DC1. I used TENS plus the techniques from this book and nothing else for all 3 of my children's births. All positive experiences. I even feel a bit sad that I won't be doing it again.

Also drink loads of raspberry leaf tea for the last 4 weeks.

There have been a few threads recently full of positive birth stories - check them out. shagmund is right, women who've had positive births often don't talk about them for fear of seeming like a show off but a straightforward birth is normal not lucky and there are many, many positive stories out there.

Best wishes

comeonbishbosh Fri 11-Jan-13 13:58:28

I think shagmundfreud speaks a lot of sense.

And it's just sensible to be open minded about a range of scenarios, as there's such a large combination of factors that might come into play.

For myself, DD1, I had a home birth and managed with just a tens machine. Was planning to have a water birth, but DD's arrival coincided with a sudden downfall of snow which meant that by the time the midwives arrived I was already 10cm (it all advanced fairly quickly, I was glad I wasn't in the car battling rush hour snowfall city gridlock trying to get to hospital). DD was 6lb6 so not too big. The gas and air arrived in time for stitches and I was mightily glad of it then.

That's not to say it wasn't painful. I certainly understand why some need more intervention with pain relief. But in my case I never felt out of control or beyond the reach of bearing it, and the midwifes were absolutely brilliant.

whatsoever Fri 11-Jan-13 16:38:08

Be as open minded as possible. My birth plan said I'd like a water birth if possible and if not an active birth on dry land with as little intervention as possible, defo no epidural.

Baby was back to back and weight bearing on my legs or kneeling was agony and the pool did little for me. I laboured mainly on my back with G&A and diamorphine and ended up in theatre with a spinal for forceps as I had no urge to push & baby didn't turn.

Not disappointed though, although none of that was what I wanted pre-labour it was the best for me & baby in the circumstances. My care was excellent and my wishes were never ignored.

So I would say, go in knowing your own mind about your wishes but be prepared that if the baby isn't in the optimum position etc, you have other options.

Longdistance Fri 11-Jan-13 16:48:47

I had both dd's naturally, and just had g&a, which I loved.

I was a little envious watching obem the other day when the women had epidurals and couldn't feel a thing. But, pushing for hours on end....fuck that mine were out in 7 hours, and 3 hours and with two pushes they flew out.

I too had a TENS machine, but that didn't help in the later stages with me, so gas and air it was.

I also had a birthing ball, and hopped onto the bed on all ours for the last bit, and leant against the bed head for birthing so was almost upright.

Dorisday13 Fri 11-Jan-13 17:52:09

Hi, I had a water birth, no pharmaceutical pain relief I really found breathing - yoga and a tens machine good. I was also at home which I'm sure helped massively as I was super relaxed, GL x

swimsunandski Tue 29-Jan-13 16:44:44

I've seen that there is a free natural pain relief & birth preparation antenatal workshop taster session at 18.30hrs on 13th February in Watford run by a Natal HypnotherapyTM practitioner. Perhaps this could help if you want more info on natural birth. The link is

TerrariaMum Tue 29-Jan-13 16:56:10

I went for a HB for my first so my pain relief consisted of walking around my house, baths, a bit of paracetamol, groaning with the contractions and a few puffs of g and a.

But all those things might not have been as good if not for my midwife. She stayed in the background drinking tea and occasionally making remarks that made me laugh. As long as she was sitting there drinking tea, I knew nothing was wrong and this pain meant that things were going right. That made it less painful and more manageable.

peanutdream Tue 29-Jan-13 23:11:00

Keep an open mind and aim not to have one also - if you don't want an epidural, find other ways to cope. Have your own toolbox so you don't need theirs! Cold flannel, hot flannel, massage, music, no music, chanting. Find something else to make the contractions bearable.Whatever keeps you from having one if that is what you want. If the baby is in a good position, you'll be fine. If it goes on for ages and has to turn from OP, or you have to wait to push because its turning but your not fully dilated, or some other complication, you might need to dig deep to prevent you demanding one! You just don't know.

In a straightforward labour, if you aim to do all the active birth strategies, staying at home as long as possible, staying upright, lying down if you want to, breathing - keeping your baby oxygenated - it shouldn't be too hard to steer clear of an epidural if you really want to. Just don't have one. Grit your teeth and howl! Whatever works! Women have done for centuries! But its worth thinking about the different things that might work for you if/when it gets sketchy. Because labour can get very sketchy for some.

aimingtobeaperfectionist Tue 29-Jan-13 23:33:10

I really hope you get your natural birth but please don't beat yourself up if not.
I had a 3 day labour, hadn't slept or eaten in all that time and just couldn't cope but was totally devastated and really gave myself a hard time for having an epidural.
I wish I could have accepted thats what I needed to get me through and not think of myself as 'failing'.
I hope you have a positive experience whatever way you birth.

IMO, needing an epidural has a lot to do with the level of care you receive, and less to do with your 'ability' as a woman.

NAR4 Wed 30-Jan-13 08:27:54

All four of mine were back to back and induced. With the 2nd and 3rd I didn't use any pain relief at all, as I just didn't feel I needed it.

I have heard that tens machine and birthing pools are really good. Would like to try the birthing pool this time as I found my 4th labour very difficult and did have an epidural in the end.

All labours are very different and it also depends what frame of mind you are in, how well you cope.

swimsunandski Tue 12-Feb-13 14:18:21

I have just seen that Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London are running a Natural Pain Relief & Birth Preparation Workshop Taster session at 18.30hrs on 13th March. Maybe some of you might be interested to go; it says that you have to book though by calling the hospital's Kensington Wing at tel. 0203 315 8616. There's more info at www.facebook\natalhypnotherapy

Emsyboo Tue 12-Feb-13 15:11:26

I didn't have an epidural and am really pleased I didn't had diamorphine and gas and air - loved gas and air

Purplecatti Tue 12-Feb-13 19:11:09

I did a 9lb baby on gas n air. That stuff is great. As soon as you feel a twinge get sucking. It didn't kill the pain but fuzzed my brain so I could shut down and ride it out.
The pain wasn't that bad until the end bit and that was baby being in a funny position. It was tiring more than anything

orangeshortbread Tue 12-Feb-13 20:17:02

another vote for hypnobirthing cd and water birth. Didn't even need the gas and air - I never had to try not to have further pain relief I found the water was enough. I also used a tens machine in the early stages. If you go into labour with a relaxed and prepared attitude then you are more likely to have a straight forward natural birth, but do be open minded that in any labour things can go not to plan and you may need interventions and require medical pain relief.

TheYamiOfYawn Tue 12-Feb-13 20:56:32

I listened to Natal Hypnotherapy CDs beforehand, and went in the birth pool for my second. No need for anything else, not even gas and air. I was at home, which helped me to feel more relaxed and comfortable. I did lie on my back for one contraction and that was hideous, so avoid lying on your back if possible, unless it's what your body wants.

ChairmanWow Wed 13-Feb-13 11:08:52

I think it's wonderful to try and have a natural birth, and as you've seen there are lots of ways of helping this (in my case a TENS machine was brilliant and I'm looking forward to using it again this time). If you manage to achieve a natural birth then that's fantastic. But please don't think yourself a failure if you need pain relief. You don't know how long or painful your labour will be, or what your pain threshold is.

I had diamorphine last time and beat myself up straight afterwards for 'giving in'. But do you know what, I wasn't coping with the pain. I was becoming distressed, my partner was in tears and I'd had no sleep for 24 hours. It was totally the right thing to do, reduced my stress and made the experience a damn sight easier.

I'll be trying to do it without meds again this time, but if I need them I'll have them. Nobody gets a medal for being a hero in childbirth - but you do get a rather lovely baby no matter how you've laboured grin

elliejjtiny Wed 13-Feb-13 11:23:12

I love the idea of being read to from a favourite childhood book during labour. I found bouncing on a birth ball really helpful and at one point I had my feet soaking in a washing up bowl with a bath bomb in.

inadreamworld Wed 13-Feb-13 13:49:07

With my first baby I had epidural (was induced) and was glad I had the epidural. I used to think that women who wanted a natural birth were crazy! With DD2 born 3 weeks ago I had a 4 hour labour, only just got to the hospital in time and no time for anything but a few puffs of gas & air - I can honestly say DD2s birth was not that painful without epidural and my recovery time was a lot faster than with DD1. So if we are lucky enough to have a 3rd child I would want a natural birth again. Good luck with the birth of your baby, I can honestly say I am a convert to natural birth now - although for some women and especially for long labours/inductions epidurals can be a lifesaver. If a woman does want epidural though she should not feel bad about it - every labour is different.

LucyLight Wed 13-Feb-13 16:33:40

I had a great experience with both. My first I had in hospital and was induced (just gel and no drip). Managed with bath, breathing and walking around. I couldn't have a water birth due to a low lying placenta. I think I did a kind of hypno birth but didn't know what it was. I had a great midwife and choose my hospital on its low intervention rate. It was the least chi chi hospital in the area - and I figured I would be a peice of cake for them rather than their normal clientele and they would be lovely to me - all of which was true. Played games with my sister and husband whilst in earlier labour to keep me occupied and distrated -(we bizarely played a strange version of the adventure game - which kept me moving around to get labour going). She was 8lbs exactly.

I had my second after we had moved, a water birth in our sitting room. Again no pain relief - just breathing. I had been in labour on and off for about two days- so had some false alarms. I was fed up because I was told that if I hadn't had it by that night I would go in to be induced the next day. My husband made me a lovely meal to cheer me up and just after dinner it started. My first child was asleep upstairs and we decided not to wake her up (she had had a disturbed night - the day before due to false alarm). She slept through the whole thing. It was very quiet and calm and when she woke up the next morning she got into bed with me and her new baby brother. He was about 9lb 3.

I know this all sounds very ideal and I was very lucky. I really don't like feeling woozy or out of control so this worked better for me. It was a bit painful but not that bad - the breathing really takes the edge of and the only time I really felt it was the first time in hospital when I lost concentration (two relatives were having a fight outside my room). My friend had a back to back birth and I totally respect her choice to have an epidural. Just do what's right for you. BTW my midwife told me that leaning forward on all fours for a bit each day (like we used to when we scrubbed floors) reduced the risk of a back to back birth and is great for relieving back pain.

MammaCici Thu 14-Feb-13 16:35:32

Can I just say that I was planning a natural birth with DS1. Everything was going well. I found being in a bathtub really helped. Then I decided to get out and have some gas. That's where it all went wrong for me. Gas didn't agree with me because I needed a clear mind to stay focused. The gas made me paranoid and I even hallucinated from it. It was terrifying. I panicked and insisted on a "walking epidural". It's just enough pain relief to take the edge off but you can still walk about freely. I will never use gas again. All the meditation and hypnobirthing techniques I had learned went out the window because the gas made me lose the plot. But I insisted on continuing to use it until I had the epi. If you choose to try gas make sure you have someone timing your contractions and letting you know when to take the gas. I had a midwife, a doula and my DH but none of them helped me time when to use the gas. Perhaps if they had it would have been ok. Once I got the epi I was able to clear my mind and focus again. I also had a new midwife from that point. I stood a chance at relaxing my muscles again.
Have you read Ina May Gaskin's book on Natural Childbirth? It's excellent and half the book is short stories of different women's positive natural birth stories. I think I will find my copy and read it again. Perhaps I'll attempt a natural birth this time. But knowing I can have an epi if I want one is hugely important to me this time. I need that safety net.
But lots of women do it naturally so it's very doable for some women. Best of luck!

SeymoreInOz Sun 03-Mar-13 23:15:48

Definitely keep an open mind, every birth and pregnancy is different.

My first birth went on for days, I had PROM, "ineffective" contractions and an episiotomy. By the time I got to active labour I was shattered and falling asleep between contractions. The epidural was most definitely needed and DD was delivered without further intervention. My second birth was much faster, but I couldn't cope with the pain at all. I was so distressed they went to spinal when I was fully dilated. Free of pain and significantly calmer I delivered DS1 in a few pushes. Afterwards my abdomen and tear hurt so much i couldn't stand straight for days.

I was terrified of birth the 3rd time around. I was put under midwifery group care and got to know the group of 4 midwives very well during my pregnancy. Their preference was for me to deliver in the birth centre but they understood my fear and could support me in the labour ward so that i could have the epidural i was sure i would need. My water broke at home at 3am and contractions were coming every 2 minutes by 7am when I arrived at hospital, I went straight to the birth centre and pushed my biggest baby out in the water using G&A, all the while encouraged by my lovely midwife. It was a very positive experience and a good "last" birth!

I had a lovely labour and birth. Was mobile right up until pushing, had 2 different fabulous midwives (was there for shift change) and a student midwife with me the whole time. I dis have gas and air, but that was it, I actively enjoyed it all apart from crowning. That was a bit shit, but really not that bad. Ds was over 8lbs so I was surprised it was so easy tbh, I was very lucky. I had one graze and went for a stroll to the chip shop that evening.

You only ever hear the shit labour stories. Just go in with an open mind. If you end up wanting drugs, then so be it, but it might not be that bad at all.

littone Sun 03-Mar-13 23:45:46

Definately keep an open mind! I managed both my babies with natal hypnotherapy CDs, bit of ball bouncing, tens and a freezing cold flannel on the bump (did have g&a for stitches though!) both my labours were relatively short, first 15 hrs, second 9 hours, I know I would not have managed a 50 hour labour without epidural, I would have been too tired to stay focused.

Jojobump1986 Mon 04-Mar-13 08:45:28

I didn't have any pain relief at all - no hypnobirthing, TENS, water... It just didn't occur to me to want it! What helped me was being in charge of timing my contractions. I knew they lasted 50-60s with a similar length break in between so I could watch the clock & knew when one was coming up & how long until it was over. It was nice to feel like I was ticking another one off each time!

From what my aunt has told me my grandmother had similar labours. She told DA not to worry because birth didn't hurt at all & she couldn't understand why other women made such a fuss! hmm My poor aunt believed her, ignored everyone else & thought she was dying when she was in labour! I did my research & learnt what my body was supposed to be doing so I didn't get that shock!

I found it really useful to research different forms of pain relief as well as potential interventions so I felt well informed about the advantages & risks of pretty much anything that was likely to happen. I think that made me feel as in control as possible which really helped. I also made my notes from my research into a little booklet for DH to look at if there was a time when I wasn't able to make a decision so he'd be as informed as I was & be able to see my rational opinions on different interventions. That definitely came in handy when the mw was pushing to move me from my homebirth, I was busy contracting & told DH he needed to decide what was best. We stayed put but agreed to the ambulance being called because he was concerned that moving me would've slowed things down. I don't doubt he was right. It would've distracted me & within minutes of the ambulance arriving I was wanting to push. Either the distraction of moving would've interrupted the labour or DS would've been born in the ambulance. I've never been so proud of DH - he normally dithers when it comes to making decisions! He says he only knew what to do because of the booklet I made - research is very useful! smile

DS was fine btw but I had a small pph so needed the ambulance for me in the end!

megandraper Mon 04-Mar-13 08:50:25

Just G&A here for 3 births (and I don't inhale properly so the G&A is just psychological...)

I found having a doula made a big difference in not needing more pain relief. Google Doula UK to have a look.

jchocchip Sat 16-Mar-13 21:36:03

Try to help your baby into a good position nhs optimal foetal position leaflet I was given this advice early on and I'm sure it helped. I did rate the tens machine during the early stages of labour with ds (induced in hospital) and the gas and air but delivered underwater. dd1 was underwater at home - no pushing -I was so relaxed until the midwives came at the last minute - told them dd was on her way down - not sure they believed me. dd2 also underwater at home with quite an audience - dm and mil in the house a couple of midwives dh, ds and dd1 and a trainee midwife... A bit ouchy during transition but ok with just the pool. I had to transfer in due to blood loss but with the benefit of hindsight, I didn't need to go in as no real observation was done and I felt fine all through. But obviously it was a good call because of the amount of blood. Escaped home after breakfast the next day.

MyDarlingClementine Sat 16-Mar-13 23:05:37

please keep an open mind.

when women use terms like " i feel like a failure because i had a emergency section, or gave in to drugs" there is a back culture creating an enivronment making them say that with pressure and guily - as oppose to simply

" I didn't find I need drugs" or " I needed drugs at x stage"

words like failure etc really really shouldn't come into it.

the last thing you want is to be in labour and not only be thinking, wow - this pain is something else i think i need drugs, but also - i am letting myself and my baby down!

who needs to put themselves under that extra pressure?

the birth will last a few days if that and you will be a mother to that baby for the rest of your entire life they wont care when they are any age whether you had tp have an epirdual, anyway even if you did want one there is a high chance you wouldnt get one anyway.

I also disagree with shag that people dont like to go on about postive birth stories, I have heard plenty of both.

Rant over - hypnobirthing is supposed to be amazing, amazing, getting dh into coaching mode through harder bits, massage, tens good for begining.

good luck. xx

steppemum Sat 16-Mar-13 23:25:21

dc1 epidural, drip on my back, none of it my choice, but hey, he arrived fine and wasn't coming out on his own (was back to back, 48 hour labour and he was 10lbs 1oz with a HUGE head - no seriously, the head of a 4 month old, I am amazed he got through the birth canal at all)

dc2 induced with pessary, then all natural, 2 hours, no pain relief, standing and walking very do-able, was actually very positive experience

dc3 induced by breaking waters, 1.5 hours labour, all natural no pain relief, standing up whole time, harder than dc2, did have a moment when I thought 'How do I remember this as a do-able thing - OWW' then she was born, so didn't have any more time to worry. She was 10lbs 7oz, which could explain why she was a it harder to push out. Also very positive, bounced back physically very fast (took 3 kids up to London and round science museum when she was 3 weeks old!)

So it is totally possible, but with dc1 I did end up with all the stuff I hadn't planned for, and it was very helpful to take the attitude that you need to go with the flow, and getting him out safely is more important than the perfect birth experience.

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