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First baby and would like to avoid pain relief or am I being silly?

(91 Posts)
mrswee Sun 26-Jul-09 09:55:01


I am 31 weeks pregnant just now and planning for a natural birth for my first baby.

However of course I have no experience of the pain I may endure and I am wondering if I am just setting myself up to be traumatised for the sake of being stubborn!!? I do have a couple of friends who are struggling to recover mentally from recent first births.

I know birth plans often go out the window and that I can always change my mind and scream for pain killers if I really need... but I'd like to try to be positive about at least attempting to do this.

But can people come and talk to me about their good experiences and give tips on how to cope through a first natural birth?

and also if anyone who went down this road and really regrets it and feels strongly enough to say I maycbe making a mistake please also speak up!

thanks in advance

BCLass Sun 26-Jul-09 10:00:51

I had DD (my first and only so far) baby with no pain relief, at home in a birth pool.

She was small (6.3) and in a good position, which I am sure helped.

I never got to the place where I FELT i NEEDED IT, BUT THAT'S NOT TO SAY IT WASN'T PAINFUL - BUT (oops) it was always manageable, iyswim.

I think if I had been in hospital and/or not had the pool couldn't have done it without.

But remember, there are no medals for doing it without pain relief, if that's what you need!

amisuchabadmummy Sun 26-Jul-09 10:05:16

I had DS (first baby) without pain relief. It was fine. I think the good thing is, that although it is very painful, you do get a break between contractions to gather yourself.

The only thing I would say is remember to breathe. Concentrate on your breathing all the time. And keep saying to yourself, it'll pass, which it will.

It was painful, I remember standing bent over in the corridor on the way up to the labour ward (think it took about 20 mins to get there!!!), but once the contraction passes, there's no pain at all until the next one.

I'd definitely do it again pain relief free, actually just remembered I had a tooth infection that spread to my ear just before I had DS and given the choice i'd rather go through the labour again than the infection !!!

I did have a pretty quick labour though.

rubyslippers Sun 26-Jul-09 10:05:46

i had a natural first birth - lots of gas and air and staying active and upright

i also stayed at home until i was 3 cm dilated which made me more comfortable

i can't tell you about the pain - i can't describe it but i was euphoric after the birth

have good birth partner (s) - i had Dh and my mum who were great and physicaly and mentally supported me

if you feel you need or want more pain relief then you can ask for it

CybilLiberty Sun 26-Jul-09 10:07:41

If you go in expecting it to bloody hurt bit be realistic about it and know it has to stop at some point you can do it.

I had pethadine for my first, which took the edge off me but not the pain. Nothing for subsequent 2.

cairns Sun 26-Jul-09 10:11:56

with no pain relief do you mean no G&A too?

I had DS1 with no pain relief except a bit of gas and air in the transition phase and I am glad I did, I had also hoped this would happen too. I had a long labour and managed perfectly well at home with just focused breathing, a tens machine for company and trying to relax during the contractions and when got to hospital when it did get too much went for some G&A. I am glad I did not use pain relief as I had a good pushing phase and I am convinced made sure we did not have any medical interventions.

Agree you don;t get any medals a but I did want to feel what a natural birth would be like. Go for it! but be prepared for opting for pain relief if things don;t go to plan, especially if you are labouring back to back.

nellie12 Sun 26-Jul-09 10:25:36

I do think first births are a shock to the system so I would have a back up plan of which analgesia you want if it gets too much, rather than make the decision when you cant think straight and end up with something you may not have chosen. Pethidine isn't routinely offered in some places now so if you wanted pethidine you may have to specifically ask for it.

Very importantly make sure your birth partner is very chilled, not likely to faint etc. That makes it soo much more relaxing. good luck.

Meglet Sun 26-Jul-09 10:43:26

Of course its not silly. But it may be a good idea to swot up on what pain relief is available should you want it, at least if it doesn't go to plan you will be able to make an informed decision.

mrswee Sun 26-Jul-09 11:39:19

Cairns, yes sorry I mean just gas and air may be some paracetomal at the very start and a tens machine but attemptimg to do without an epidural or morphine or pethadine unless it really gets far too much or is needed for intervention.

Of course I hadn't thought much about how the pain disappears between contractions, that helps to keep that in mind.

I am hoping to be able to relax as much as possible, I know this can help both cope with pain and keep labour going

I have been doing some visualisation with a cd I have, which may help me relax when it comes to the time.

I am going to look in to the pros and cons of different types of pain relief

I am also interested in hearing about what people did to physically cope-
ie using a water pool.
Birthing ball.
Being active.
Reflexology ( this is offered on one hospital in my area, though may not be going there as it's a bit further away) Aromatheraphy.

did any of you use or try any of these methods to help?

Tangle Sun 26-Jul-09 11:49:20

DD was born with no chemical pain relief. She was my 1st, 9lb 12 and breech. My experience was that labour was very intense, but I wouldn't describe it as horribly painful - the only time I had a real "I can't cope with this" moment was in the last 15 minutes or so before transition.

Genetically I had a good chance of having a good birth experience - both my mother and grandmother had straight forward and fairly fast labours. I also did what I could to stack the odds in my favour:

- I tried not to let myself get afraid of birth (although I'll admit to being a bit apprehensive)
- I avoided other peoples scare stories
- I didn't watch dramas showing bith (good birth doesn't make a good drama!)
- I used IMs so that I'd know who was coming to help birth my baby and we all knew how we hoped things would go so I didn't need to talk
- I planned (and acheived) a home birth
- I used Natal Hypnotherapy CDs

I started out with TENS and that did fine up until just before transition - then I started to think getting in a pool might be nice, and did so, but when we realised that actually I was now into the 2nd stage I had to get out again (my IMs were very experienced in breech but not in wate breech) - we never got round to putting the TENS back on, but I never noticed. Given the choice I think I'd have quite liked to stay in the pool, but things were OK without.

I was suprised how inactive I was once labour really started going, and how little I wanted to be touched. I spent most of the time kneeling on the floor leaning on DHs lap. He tried to rub my back and I told him not to - I just needed him there.

All that said, I was also very open to using G&A or transfering into hospital if I decided it was all getting too much an I couldn't cope.

Be prepared to change your plans, but don't let yourself be convinced that birth without pain relief can't be done. Good luck

LoveBeingAMummy Sun 26-Jul-09 12:16:41

HI of course you are not being silly but agree with others you need to find out about them all just incase so you really can make a deciion based on what you know.

I just used G&A, although I had always said you don't get extra marks for pain and was fully intending that i wouldn't be able to cope and would need an epidural.

As it happens I was too late for one as got to the hospital at 9cm.

Main things to remember imo are;

*You and baby being safe are most important over everything else

*expect the worst pain and it can only be better than you think

*the midwife and hospital classes prepare you for the worst type of labour, lasting hours and hours and pushing for hours, its not all like that but again again expect the worst plan for just in case

*KNowlege is power find out about everything

*No matter what happens it will end and you body is desgined to get the baby out

*Your birth plan needs to be flexiable just incase

*You CAN do it

CyradisTheSeer Sun 26-Jul-09 13:34:58

Message withdrawn

MrsDmamee Sun 26-Jul-09 15:22:02

having your 1st baby is quite a shock to the system, but why shouldnt you try for a natural labour,
the contractions can be quite intense pain wise but they dont last forever and you have a break between them, it helps to be somewhere that you are comfortable in , like labouring at home for as long as is possible.

i had no pain relief for my 2nd labour which was 9 years after my 1st so if felt new, i sat on edge of my bed during contractions and got my DH to time each one and he would let me know how many seconds were left on each contraction so i could focus on breathing through them. i arrived at hospital at 9cmshock (which wasnt the plan) but i was happy that i had coped with the pain at home.

sazm Sun 26-Jul-09 15:37:12

i had my 3 with just a little gas and air,but then i had quick labours.
my first was 5 weeks early so they didnt want to give me anything which would make him drowsy,he was born 2 hrs after i got to hospital,
second time i was induced and the contractions were much stronger but again gas and air was fine,
the third time i woke up when my waters went and 5 minutes later ds was on the sitting room floor!!!no time for gas and air lol,

go for it,just dont be upset if you dont manage on just that,keep an open mind lol,

good luck xx

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Sun 26-Jul-09 15:38:29

I do not think it is at all silly to plan for, and want a birth without pain relief. BUT, I would suggest to keep open minded, never say never, and prepare yourself to both cope with a birth without pain relief but also that you might change your mind at the time, depending on how you are feeling, how the birth is progressing. And also remember, there are different forms of pain relief, so you might want to try one but not another, or none at all and you can decide at (almost) any time to have some pain relief).

I would also recommend that you write it clearly in your birth plan that your intention is, where possible, to remain pain free (and perhaps add that does not mean being offered it at any point, in case you do change your mind, but that you don't want any pressure to take any if you are managing fine without).

Tips: birthing ball, rocking on all fours, meditation, being in really good physical and mental shape before the birth, positive thinking, maybe birthing pool if you fancy that.

(i wanted no pain relief, and managed until 4 hours before birth without, then had diamorphine as it got too much, and I do not regret it)

Tillyscoutsmum Sun 26-Jul-09 15:41:09

DD was my first, she was 9 lb 12 oz and was back to back and I had no pain relief.

I used paracetamol in early labour combined with lots of baths, walking around and bouncing on birthing ball. The TENS machine went on once I got to hospital when I was 4cm dilated (approx 11 hours after waters had broken).

I used lots of breathing techniques during contractions (try saying RELAX - breathe slowly in to Reeeee and out to laaaaaax iyswim). Just concentrating on something during contractions really helped. I also did lots of swaying and stayed upright throughout the first stage.

I did get loads of info on massage/reflexology etc. but tbh, I hated sitting/lying down so couldn't do any reflexology and everytime DH tried to massage me, he would press on one of the TENS pads and give me really strong electric shocks hmm

I did use some aromatherapy (on tissues and in a burner). I can't really remember the specific oils I used but seem to remember they were quite uplifting ones to stop me getting really tired (labour was 18 hours in total).

In all honesty, I was completely open minded. I didn't do a birth plan and I had decided that I would avoid pain relief for as long as I could but that I wouldn't beat myself up about it if I did need it. Don't put any unneccessary pressure on yourself.

policywonk Sun 26-Jul-09 15:47:40

Agree with most of what's been said re. being prepared for all possibilities. Don't set yourself up to feel as though you'll have 'failed' if you end up needing some pain relief.

I had two labours with a TENS machine (would thoroughly recommend but some women hate them and find them useless!) and some G+A. Both of these count as pain relief, of course - as does water birth.

I'd also recommend reading Sheila Kitzinger's New Experience of Childbirth - it's useful at explaining the physiology of vaginal births, and has lots of ideas for coping with contractions. (Ignore what she says about hospital births - she's firmly stuck in the 1970s on that one.)

CarmenSanDiego Sun 26-Jul-09 15:49:53

I had baby 3 at home without anything except TENS which was incredibly helpful and then a water pool. But it was hard going.

I think it's possible to do labour without drugs but you have to be in a great environment with a lot of support (I'd recommend a good doula) and a fair amount of determination. Going drug-free definitely helps keep your mind clearer and more focused on getting the baby out imo.

But... I had diamorphine with baby 2 in hospital and it was great. The second dose actually relaxed me enough to start pushing immediately.

So keep your options open. I completely underestimated the pain of labour - but some lucky ladies breeze through it.

funtimewincies Sun 26-Jul-09 20:13:30

Believing that you can get through at least a good chunk of the labour without too much pain relief is quite a good mindset BUT you really won't know what you can cope with until it happens.

Also the time of day/night might well make a difference. Ds arrived at 8.30am so I'd not slept in almost 24 hours and had Pethadine at about 5am. It wasn't what I'd originally wanted and it made me very sick but by that stage I needed it just to cope with the last few hours.

sausagerolemodel Sun 26-Jul-09 20:29:28

I also had baby at home with no pain relief. (Not sure I wouldn'thave cracked if I had been in hospital though)...being at home really did it for me. It is extremely intense and I shouted blue murder, but I knew it was progressing, so it was "productive" pain. The absolutely sky-high euphoria following the birth (that lasted about three weeks!) was just amazing. You could try Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. Its quite hippyish and some of the many birth stories are very spiritual/religious, but if that doesn't bother you, or you can see past it, its a very uplifting and confidence giving book telling the story of lots of natural births.

StealthPolarBear Sun 26-Jul-09 20:34:11

good for you - glad you've had such a positive response, these threads do normally end up with people saying "you'll learn"
No, you don't know how it will be, but if you go in planning to have all the pain relief going then you will of course, so it makes sense to think through how you'll cope with only TENS and G&A, then you'll be in the best position to at least try it.
I had only TENS and G&A with DS - only got to hospital when I was 9cm dilated so didn't really have any other option, yes it was painful but it was fine.
DC2 coming in a couple of weeks, again I'm keeping an open mind but would love to think I'll have the same birth as before

MyCatIsABiggerBastardThanYours Sun 26-Jul-09 20:36:47

I have had 2 children, first with just G&A and in birthing pool, but really not much G&A because it made me feel sick, 2nd with nothing (didn't want pethidine as allergic and I tried G&A again, but made me feel even worse), so effectively no pain relief and it was fine.

HOWEVER, 10 mins before I had DS I was begging for an epidural (because the mw thought I had about 2 hrs to go - wrong as it turned out - and I knoew I woul dnot cope with it for much longer). It was because I had been induced and I now know that an induced birth is much more intense.

SO - I would say, if you want to go for it then do BUT, if you find you can't cope with the pain then don't feel bad about using pain relief. The important thing is that you have a healthy birth and baby. If to do that it means you need to have some pain relief, then so be it - you have not let yourself or anyone down.

Good luck and I hope all goes well.

monkeyfacegrace Sun 26-Jul-09 20:37:51

I had dd with no pain releif. 10 hours of pain, they didnt offer me pain relief and I was too spaced from the pain to be able to ask. I wanted to die.

Ds, I screamed for painkillers the minute I had first contraction.

Sod doing it naturally again!

Aranea Sun 26-Jul-09 20:40:31

I think if you want to do it, you absolutely will be able to manage without pain relief. But if anything doesn't go according to plan and you need syntocinon or something, you'll very likely want an epidural.

My second labour went beautifully and I just used G&A at the very end (though stopped it for the pushing stage), plus a birthing pool which helped enormously. It was an altogether shocking and overwhelming experience, but not more than I could manage. I wasn't sure that was the case at some points, but I had a fantastically reassuring midwife. Also she massaged me through every contraction, which helped a great deal. And I stayed active and upright whenever I wanted to move things along, and slumped down a bit more when I needed a break.

I think your midwife or birth partner is really important in how you react to the pain.

My first labour I was managing the pain with a TENS machine till the pushing stage, but then it all went wrong as the baby got stuck, so I ended up with syntocinon, epidural and ventouse. It's not all about pain management - there are lots of other variables, so (as I am sure you know) it is worth being prepared for all eventualities.

But as I say, the really important thing is to ensure you have someone fantastic there to support you throughout the labour. It changes everything.

weblette Sun 26-Jul-09 20:41:16

Agree completely with the messages above. Be realistic - find out about all your options and also make sure your birth partner knows them too.

Another book I'd suggest is Janet Balaskas' New Active Birth. It's brilliant on the physiology of birth. I found that understanding that made a huge difference.

Good luck!

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