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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!

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.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 30-Jan-13 08:11:18

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!

HorraceTheOtter Sun 03-Mar-13 23:25:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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