Maybe Unmedicated Childbirth Isn't For Me?

by | Nov 20, 2014 | Babies, Mailbag | 59 comments


How you have accomplished drug-free births? I have about 7 weeks to go and I’m toying with the idea of no epidural. But I’m scared. So far my birth experiences have been: emergency c-section due to late (i.e. during labor) discovery that baby was breech; scheduled c-section due to general anxiety and fear of vbac; and successful medicated vbac which was the Best Experience of My Life. So . . . I’m working through the fear factors, obviously! And I think the next step is considering no epidural. But I’m not exactly sure.


Dear Kati,
I have to be honest about the fact that the reason I don’t do medicated childbirth isn’t because I’m not scared of anything. It’s because I’m scared of different things. I really, honestly don’t like the feeling of narcotics. To me, pain is a preferable sensation to the weird fuzziness of medication. Also, I have a generally dull experience of pain, which I think is more fair to say than that I have a high pain tolerance. It’s not that I can handle more pain, it’s that my pain doesn’t hurt as much as some people’s.
So, can you do it? Yes. I think you can. Everyone USED to do it, right? But you don’t HAVE to. There is nothing in our faith that requires women to experience the pain of childbirth. WANTING to do it is the most important step in the whole process. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t.
If you DO, I think the key is to figure out how to be super-committed to natural childbirth, while at the same time understanding that you will of course do whatever is best for you and your baby in that moment. That’s my plan each time.
I labor at home as long as possible, which I think was really important with my first couple. They were both born within minutes of getting to the hospital, so I didn’t even have a chance to consider medication, and after that I knew I could do it. But with most of them since, I have ended up laboring in the hospital for a while. 
So, we have a system. I don’t like talking to nurses. I don’t like being touched at all while in labor. I like talking with my husband. I like near constant walking until things get really serious. So, my husband tries to intercept nurses and answer things. We don’t do any of that back rub stuff. We talk and joke as long as I can handle it. And we fight like the dickens with the labor and delivery nurses for the right to get unhooked from the machines and walk around. Then, we actually duck in to corners and stuff to hide from the nurses to keep them from hooking me up again. It’s pretty fun for us. Exasperating for the nurses of course, but, what’re ya gonna do? Those are the things that make it do-able for me.
You should try to figure out in advance what are some things that might make it more manageable for you.
During labor, I have a list with me of prayer intentions, that way, I can offer up my pain for something. I’d hate to waste it. I have it pretty easy for the first and second stages of labor. For me, the wheels come off right at the end. I moan, and probably scream. I feel like there is no possible way I could do it. But by that point we’re so far gone that everyone around me knows it’s almost over and can encourage me. I’ll say I can’t do it. Jim will say I can. My OB is always telling me how great I’m doing, as if it’s not just a ride I’m on. But, it still helps me.
My husband and his attitude are a really integral part of my being able to do a non-medicated birth as well. He was a Marine. He worked at boot camp. He understands the concept of suffering for a goal, and has the stomach to watch it. I’m sure it’s still hard to witness, but he has the skill set to handle it, and to encourage me through it.
I love that I can walk again and shower and everything right after giving birth, and that I don’t have any lingering pain in an injection spot. But, again, those are only good trade-offs for me because I have a pretty positive experience of the pain of labor. Except that very end part. I do hate that. But then there’s a baby at the end.
And no matter how you end up getting there, that’s the goal.
My friend E wrote about her experience with a c-section recently, I’ve been meaning to link to it. It’s such a sensitive subject. But I think she has a very honest personal take on it, and I think her reasoning is valid. 
It sounds like you want to do an unmedicated birth. It sounds like you think you can do it. It sounds like you are coming from a really good and strong and reasonable place mentally, and that you have the right support system in place. I think you’ll be able to do it, I really do.

If you like birth stories, you’ll find all of mine here.

Anyway, good luck with it all, and please shoot me any more questions you have. And keep me posted about baby news. I love baby news.

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You’re thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I’m not a doctor or a child psychologist or an expert on anything in particular. I’m just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you’ve got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.


  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    I had four unmedicated births (three at home), but the fifth baby, our first cradle Catholic, was breech and I laboured 24 hours at the hospital before we agreed it was time to have a Caesarean. That loooong hospital experience made me wish I had thought of hiding from the hospital staff! They were mostly kind and mostly kept their distance, but still it was difficult to avoid more intervention than I wanted. I think I'm too polite to labour a long time at a hospital, but hiding is perhaps the third way. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I've had two unmediated home births and likely plan the same for any future pregnancies, but I have wondered what it would be like if I need to have a hospital birth in the future. I think I'd also be too polite to labor in a hospital for a long time! 🙂 I've only known how to just quietly go about my own business while in labor.

  2. Julie M.

    All of my births have been medicated, I work full-time, my kids go to school, I eat gluten, I never enjoyed breast-feeding and only kept it up for a couple of months each time…do I still get to be Catholic? 🙂

    • Kendra

      Pretty sure, yes, Julie. I don't remember any of that in the Catechism. :0)

    • Meg Anderson

      I hope so, because I am the same as you on all of those accounts, and I still want to be Catholic too!! 🙂

    • Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

      Nope. You can stay in good standing if you send me all your gluten-y products, though.

      You know, because charity. And because I haven't been to the grocery store in awhile.

  3. Ashley Sue

    You can do it! My four births have been natural. This last one was only a four hour labor that ended up with me getting a homebirth, a new rug, and my husband becoming a doula ( just kidding but he did get to sign the birth certificate as the attending though). Red raspberry leaf (1 cup a day in the first trimester, 2 a day in the second, 3 a day in the third and all through labour is what my grandmother has always suggested to me) and evening primrose oil tablets (1 a day starting at 36 weeks) have been helpful to me.

  4. Athena Carson

    Just wanted to chime in with my experience –

    My first two births were 4 hours from first contraction to baby, so there was no time for anything. Afterward I was SO wiped that I didn't even want to see either baby – I just wanted to go to SLEEP. But everyone's handing me the baby like, "Oh here you go! You must be so thrilled!" No I'm not actually – none of this feels real except I am SO TIRED.

    For number three, I found a comfortable position where I felt in control of myself (it's only a perception of course but it matters!), breathed slowly, and endured it. Nurses kept coming in and trying to reposition me because the monitors weren't getting a good reading. I tried to work with them but that just made the pain worse. After that I firmly told them that I'm sorry the monitors aren't working but I am staying right here in this position. After 8 hours of this I was far beyond what I had mentally prepared myself to endure, and a kind nurse asked me, "You are clearly not okay – would you like an epidural?"

    I took the epidural – and what a difference! For the FIRST TIME I felt like a human being after having the baby! When they handed me the baby I ACTUALLY wanted to hold him! I was happy and serene this time instead of grumpy.

    So everyone's an individual – even though my epidural experience was far superior to my unmedicated experience, there's really no wrong way to do it. Like Kendra said – do what works for YOU for THAT birth.

    Good luck and congratulations!

  5. E

    As usual, GREAT post! Very well put and thought provoking or me. I actually labored to an eight with Sam before they gave me the epidural. I was SO glad I got it, but I always kind-of wondered if I could have made it without. Of course, in my case, it was a good thing I got it since I ended up having the c-section, and my OB has recommended that I get one again this time around even if I try for a VBAC for the same reason, but still… I wonder. We are capable of so much more than we realize. Also, THANK YOU for linking to my c-section post. It's been neat to see the way women have responded and encouraged each other from it. 🙂

    • Kendra

      Thanks E! And good luck and prayers for baby number two.

    • Kati

      E, I am the Kati of the Question addressed here and I read your post on C-sections. I thought it was EXCELLENT. I have to say that I don't feel one bit bad or shameful or any other negative emotion around my two c-sections. The first one was truly totally out of my control, and while I am a generally anxious and overly-analytical person, even I can say there's no point feeling bad about that! The second was a product of where I was at and what seemed right at the time, so I don't have bad feelings about that one either.

      If you want to talk more about VBAC, I would be happy to share the details of my experience. I can email you from your website I think? Let me know. I am sensitive like many of the commenters here to giving unsolicited opinions, but that doesn't mean I don't have opinions!

  6. Jessica Carney

    I so totally agree with you, Kendra–about unmedicated births being doable, and that walking around as much as possible during early labor is key! I try not to give too much unsought advice to my pregnant friends, but I do tell them to move around as long as they can during labor, and not to rush to the hospital at the first contractions. During the pushing stage of my son's birth, I also had that moment of, "Why did I choose to do this? Bad idea!"… but looking back, it was totally worth it, and the pain was never more than I felt I could handle. Such a powerful experience.

    • Kendra

      My favorite memories of all of my labors are being at home doing stuff like watching a movie or taking a walk or trying to cook dinner. And it feels like such a bonding experience with my husband.

    • Kati

      I think this is such good advice, about staying home as long as possible. It is complicated by the fact that for me these are VBACs, which makes the doctors and nurses a little more aggressive about wanting to get a monitor on me because of the risks of rupture. But I have given a lot of thought to the idea that maybe I will pick a number, and if when I get to the hospital I'm at or past that number (say, a 6) then I will know I can go unmedicated! I have to say I think it would be disheartening to get to the hospital in a lot of pain, and at a 2 – for me it would be hard to say no to drugs at that point.

    • Kendra

      It's so funny you say that Kati. One of my biggest fears in my whole life is showing up to the hospital and being a two. I have nightmares about it. Zombies? No problem. But distainful L&D nurses? Now THATS'S scary.

    • Anna

      I showed up and was a 0. 🙁 Two hours of hard labor later and I was 0-1. That was my nightmare and it came to pass unfortunately. But in my defense my water broke, I went to dinner and watched a movie with my husband, packed my bags and took photos before going to the hospital. And since my water had broken they said I did the right thing and didn't want me to leave. I wasn't embarrassed as much I extremely frustrated at that.

  7. Becky

    Great answer, Kendra!
    But I am curious (without judgement): if you choose natural birth, your births go well, and you arrive at the end/hide from nurses why don't you opt for midwifery care and/or homebirth?
    (I'm in Canada, so I know our midwifery model of care is different from the CNM model in the States, but is homebirth illegal in your state? )

    • Athena Carson

      I'll let Kendra answer for herself, but for me, my husband and I decided that we would rather be in a hospital just on the off chance that something went wrong THIS time. Because you never know!

    • Kendra

      Yes, I guess that's it. I think I would be a great candidate for homebirth, but it's not something the husband is comfortable with, and I think that's a decision both parents really need to be on board with. He feels better having us at the hospital just in case. For us, laboring at home as long as possible then having the baby in the hospital has been a workable compromise.

  8. Amelia Bentrup

    I've had unmedicated births as well. And, I definitetly agree that *for me* the key is that I can walk around, move at will and NO ONE touches me unless necessary. Walking through the contractions makes them so much easier. My last birth was at home and ridiculousy easy…she practically fell out and I gave birth standing up.. If we have another baby, I probably won't do a homebirth again, but I'm defintiely going to stay on my feet and stay away from the nurses and move around as much as possible until the very end. I think moving around during contractions is really helpful and it's something you really don't hear about in childbirth classes (at least I never did).

  9. Eliese

    Great response. I hate it when people make this a moral, "good Catholics ONLY do this" issue. My first two babies were medicated deliveries (first pitocin aided after ruptured membranes, second spontaneous, both with epidurals). I decided to try the third med-free because I thought I could do it and also wanted to avoid the bill! I happened to have a specific prayer intention to offer up as well. For me, having a doula was key. My husband is also great and I got a good supportive nurse; in addition I had discussed it with my doctor ahead of time and he was supportive too. So I agree that having a plan (a flexible plan! but one you're committed to, given "normal" circumstances) is important as are your support people. What I appreciated most about going sans epidural was that I could feel what I was doing when pushing so for me that part only took 8 minutes as opposed to an hour like the other times. And I felt a lot more "normal" afterwards. Even my husband remarked on how much easier my recovery seemed. Anyhow, yes, great response.

    • Eliese

      Adding: I don't regret my epidurals with the first two though, except maybe the $1000 bill our insurance wouldn't pay! They were what were right for those particular births. Given the choice, I will probably try med-free again though because I know now that I can do it, and although transition was AWFUL, pushing was so much better that *for me* it was worth it.

  10. Jena

    I labored at home until 6-7 cm with my two, then opted for an epidural, which probably doesn't end up being administered until 8-9cm. The feeling of relief is amazing, and I feel like I'm able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband (and maybe get some rest, because both births have been preceded by 2+nights of contractions/no sleep). Since I labor for most of the time, I feel as though I could make it through without (except the end part scares me), but really don't have the desire to do without-so I understand when you say you have to WANT to. What helped me through the second birth (beginning part) was relaxing and letting each contraction do its work – my first labor had a lot of stops and starts, which I think was due to me tensing up! I took lots of baths, drank lots of tea, and sat on the birthing ball. I'm thankful that my experiences have been uncomplicated, enjoyable, and some of my favorite memories!

  11. Erin Pulles

    I love this post, because I can't stand when women are made to feel shamed about their birthing choices. That being said, I think women need to educate themselves on the risks of all kinds of interventions. With my first, I went two weeks overdue and they made me induce. I somehow by the grace of God made it through labor and delivery with no drugs, but looking back, pitocin is the WORST. If I had a midwife, I'm pretty sure she would have let me go longer and my first had no signs of being overdue so I would categorize that as an unnecessary induction. They arbitrarily pick two weeks, and I don't think it applies to all women. For my second, I had no induction and the labor went much smoother with no drugs. In general, I feel like we are living in a society where women are told that they probably can't do it, and their labors are dictated by doctors and nurses. Natural labor hurts, yes, but you CAN do it and it is honestly one of the most empowering things I have ever done. Also, little women can have big babies and do it naturally. I am 5'2", 105 lbs and my boys were 9'4 and 9'7.

    • Kristina

      Just for any other mamas reading – 2 weeks past the “guess date” (ie. due date) is still within the normal range for a baby to be born.
      You are not “late” up until and through week 42.
      A safe birth range is considered weeks 38-42. And 40 is right in the middle, so that’s why you get that date. And after 42 weeks if baby isn’t in distress it is statistically still better to wait and let baby come when her lungs expel the hormones that begin contractions.

      Too many women agree to unnecessary inductions which guarantee interventions and increase likelihood of an unnecessary surgical birth. Most surgical births are unnecessary, and do carry consequences for the mother & child. It isn’t just one of two totally equal birth options. That is not a judgment on moms who’ve had a doctor perform birth surgery on them, but we shouldn’t pretend it is “normal” and just a-okay. It is not.

      According to The Who, only abut 7-8% of births worldwide are truly ever medically necessary. Current rate in US is 34% of births are surgical.

      I’ve delivered 4 times, with another on the way. I’ve done it every way but surgical – induction, pain meds, epidural, birth tub, home birth, unmedicated. Hospital and at home. With doctors and with midwives. The hospital mindset has infiltrated our culture SO completely that you can see in so many amazing women who comment on this post (and everywhere birth is discussed), they or their spouse hold deep fear about birthing normal away from the medical system. Even though the US has some of the worst maternal & fetal outcomes simply because of our belief in pathologizing birth and taking it to the doctors, the experts.

      Childbirth is painful, Lord yes. My pain is sharp and intense (wish it was dull like the author describes hers). Mine is like a chain saw ripping me apart from the inside. Horrible. But I did it. I can do it again. You can do it.

      The suffering part is the mental aspect and I pray no one here suffers. But the pain is useful, teaches you something about yourself, motherhood & our Catholic faith xx

  12. Margaret Bronzi

    I like how you say everyone can do it unmedicated (provided there are no complications) – it used to be the only way. I get the feeling from discussions I've had, ladies simply don't think they're capable of it! I have been blessed with 5 uncomplicated pregnancies, all of which have ended with a natural, unmedicated labor & delivery. I've not read any books about laboring without fear, but in my experiences, the less afraid Ive been of the labor, the faster and easier they've become. Contractions are much more manageable when i embrace them instead of fight them and keep in mind it will end! I like to labor at home for as long as possible and not let ANYONE get their hands on me until its time to catch the baby. My labors have ranged from 24 hours to 2 hours, start to finish. There's nothing wrong with medicated births, but women need to remember they're MORE than capable of L&D without drugs!

  13. Jenny

    My first two were medicated, 3-6 unmedicated and 7 medicated. You can do absolutely make it through childbirth without medication–you just have to know you can do it. The first two the nurses scared me into an epidural at the last minute. The next four unmedicated, I had a plan and a list of intentions to keep me going. I also had a nurse on board who knew, understood and accepted my wishes to go without an epidural. When I started to waiver she reminded me I was almost finished–and that is key; when you start to waiver, see how far you've come already and realize you are that much closer to holding your baby.

    Hands down I feel so.much.better without the epudural! The last baby…I'm 42, he was number 7 and mentally I could never get ahead of the pain, so I asked for an epidural. The point is not to prove something to anyone or even ourselves, it's to bring a healthy baby into the world to be loved on by a healthy momma.

    • Jenny

      And all 7 were pitocin induced if that matters.

      • Kristina

        The pitiocin induction explains why you needed epidurals in many of them. Pitocin contractions are unbearable because they aren’t natural.
        It is amazing you did any without an epidural with that intervention present.

        Mamas, avoid the Pit unless truly life threatening xx

    • me

      Jenny above has the best advice of all in her last line: the goal is to have a healthy baby and mom, not to prove anything to anyone else. If you make it through labor unmedicated, great! If you ask for an epidural, wonderful! It will depend on the labor and how you feel – don't worry about other people's reactions.

  14. Geena Harrington

    Oh my goodness, thank you! You have no idea how helpful this is to read. I am just 3 months pregnant with our first child. My mom has 10 natural births, so of course I will follow in her footsteps.. but it is definitely scary! I love the idea of the prayer intentions and also that you walk around. I hope to labor at home for as long as possible and be active! Thanks so much for all this advice.

  15. Molly Walter

    You handled this topic very well Kendra and THANK YOU for discussing pain tolerance.

    For all those who might need to hear it: My first was induced and medicated. I made my decision and totally don't regret. I was not in a good mental state to handle my sunny side up/back labor, couldn't even take a breat, roll contractions first labor. I WAS scared no getting around that, sometimes you just are. My medicated birth was actually the first decision I made my whole labor that I felt empowered by – I made a decision that had immediate, stress free results and that wsa so healing after a very difficult pregnancy. I'd love to labor naturally longer and have a successful VBAC in the future, but I make no apologies for the choices I made and neither should you. Listen to your instincts – natural, medication, c-section, homebirth you can make the call that is right for you. =)

  16. Celia

    I wasn't able to have natural births. Two long labors and complications ended in c-sections for both our kids. This time I'm having a planned c-section because those complications were the same for both labors and had the potential to end in tragedy. That said, I think I had a much better time while I WAS un-medicated (first 12 hours for my first labor) because I had a doula to support me. My second labor (no doula, sadly) was much more difficult for me in the beginning without the support I had with my first. I had planned an un-medicated birth–both times, really–and that support was SO helpful when I was having second thoughts. And honestly, having a doula was helpful when things went south and I needed to be at peace with the change in direction of the labor. She helped when I ended up medicated for another six hours and then when I went into the OR (scared, of course).

    There's so much shaming about childbirth choices, especially since many of the "choices" are really just circumstances thrown at us that we need to deal with.

    Un-medicated birth is totally something that the original poster can do! But, know what you want and be confident you CAN do it. (And I do highly recommend a doula. They're good with helping get past that fear stuff. 🙂 )

  17. Tia

    My advice (as a VBAC, one epidural and one mostly-natural birth mama) is: You can do it! You can totally do it! But you totally don't have to. Having had an epidural and then not had one, I can honestly say that both ways have their pluses and minuses. Either way is awesome because at the end you wind up with a super adorable baby and the ability to drink a nice cold beer again!

    • Kati

      Thank you! I love this. I think part of the draw, honestly, is the experience. Who knows how many times I will get to give birth? Maybe I'll go unmedicated and say, that was awful, but I also think I'll wonder about it forever if I don't just buck up and try it one of these days. (This was my theory about marathon running, too. And I did it. And it was awful and shall never be repeated. But I don't wonder about it anymore!)

    • Eliese

      So true, Tia! Hooray for beer. And Kati, I think that's one of the reasons I did it – I just wondered if I could. I wanted to try it, not for anybody else, but for me. I didn't want to wonder anymore. I hope you have the opportunity to try, if you decide you want to!

    • Kendra

      This is really true for me too. I just kind of figured if PEOPLE could do it, I ought to be able to, right? And it turned out I could. Whew.

  18. me

    I've had just about every type of birth (medicated and unmedicated vaginal, emergency and planned c-sections) and they all worked for the birth at hand. I agree with Kendra that trying to figure out what works for you is important for unmedicated ones. I labored at home, walking around if possible, to the last minute (I live 6 blocks from the hospital so I could get away with it) to avoid getting hooked up and stuck in bed too soon. I don't like anybody touching me expect me husband, and he just holds my hand or holds me up while standing.

    I also have found that over time, the nurses have required less monitoring more infrequently. I don't know if that's a national trend, just this hospital, or the fact that I have so many kids they know enough to leave me alone. I avoid medicated labors because of the cost and because it required me to be monitored and checked on too much.

    Try to figure out how the nurses treat the patients – do they get bossy, act supportive, or let the patient ask for things? Will your doctor require monitoring frequently? Explore how your medical staff will react to a non-medicated vbac so you know what the atmosphere will be like. That can really affect the choices you make in labor.

  19. Kati

    These are such good points! For the VBAC, the nurses and doctors were surprisingly hands-off. I have a very wonderful doctor who is very supportive of VBAC, and I don't know if it was his influence or just a great hospital staff but NO ONE said a word to me about the risks of VBAC, or asked if I really wanted to do it, etc. etc. while I was in labor. I have heard of this happening to friends and I was prepared, but it was a total non-issue. The hospital also has mobile monitors, so I can strap on the monitor but still walk around, which is so excellent. Sometimes the monitor moves out of place and they come to hunt you down, but it's still so much better than being strapped to a bed.

    • Kendra

      WHAT?! There are MOBILE MONITORS? I'm coming to stay at your house before any more babies are born.

    • Kati

      Oh yes, friend. Totally mobile. You have to stay within a certain range of the nurses station but you can walk for hours without returning to your room/prison of contractions! You are in California, girl – they must have them?!

  20. katrink

    I had my first baby almost exactly a year ago, and my unmedicated birth experience was absolutely fantastic. I feel like I had the best of both worlds – I delivered at a hospital, but under the care of a midwife. (Originally I had planned to deliver at a birth center, but ended up having an induction.) I was hooked up to telemetry (ambulatory monitoring) so I could walk around/change positions. I squatted through transition and pushed on my hands and knees! My doula was a key part of reducing stress/fear, and I took a Hypnobabies class during pregnancy which I can't recommend strongly enough!! That gave me so many tools to help calm my mind and let my body do what it needed to do. (Helpful for dealing with other pains/discomforts like going to the dentist too!)

    What Kendra said about pain tolerance I think is key, too. I had planned all along to have an unmedicated birth, but when we decided to induce with Pitocin, I decided that if I couldn't handle it I would go ahead and ask for the epidural. Thankfully, I was already at 5 cm when we started the Pitocin and my amazing midwife kept it at a teeny-tiny dose. Through God's grace and the relaxation techniques I had been practicing, I felt lots of intense pressure/sensations but honestly wouldn't even quantify it as pain until the very end. Every birth experience is different – I think the key is to have good coping mechanisms in place and a great support system – and to remember the ultimate goal, which is to have a baby no matter how it ends up happening! 🙂

  21. Happy Young Wife

    From the very beginning of my pregnancy I knew I wanted to have an unmedicated birth but I almost chickened out because everyone I spoke to, I mean EVERYONE, told me that I was crazy or said "Yea, sure, you'll be screaming for an epidural" and I got really frightened. Instead of me looking forward to the birth of my son I became obsessed with the pain I was going to experience to the extent that I wouldn't even talk to anyone about it because I was so scared. I still went through with it because in my opinion I thought it would be best for me and my baby (I mean no offense with this statement). So I went through with it, had an amazing experience and while the pain was bad (I was the only woman without an epidural in the hospital and my husband said you could hear me screaming through the whole ward) it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. It certainly wasn't anything that I couldn't live through and come out the same person, or as near to the same person as you can be after giving birth to your first baby, on the other side. So I guess my point is, don't let fear or other people's opinions scare you off of what you want. If you want medication, go for it, there's no shame in that but if you don't, don't let anyone bully you into it either.

  22. Emily Grace

    I had three unmedicated births and then two medicated ones. I realized that my reasons for unmedicated births (fear of labor not progressing, fear of breastfeeding being difficult due to the interventions, fear of being forced into a c-section) were no longer issues for me after three uneventful labors. I really enjoyed my medicated labor and found that I, personally, had a much easier recovery (two weeks instead of six). It was doable, but not something I would choose to do again!

    • Athena Carson

      That actually reminds me that I, too, had a MUCH easier recovery with the medicated birth. My personal unsupported theory is that when I had no drugs, I kinda took over the process and started pushing before my body was technically ready (*), but with the epidural I just kicked back and let my body take as much time as it needed to get ready.

      (*) For my second one I specifically remember saying that I was going to push and the nurses told me that I wasn't all the way effaced yet so I shouldn't push yet, but I went ahead and did it anyway.

  23. Laura Rose

    A lovely post. I think everyone should know and understand that the birth experience is different for everyone. Go in with a "plan" and with a hope, but don't get stuck to it.
    With our first, I progressed so quickly at the end from 7-10 cm that I felt out of control and unable to handle the pain,so I got the epidural at the very end. My birth and recovery were both great. With my second, I had no chance for an epidural (less than 2 hours from the first contraction to the birth), and though I felt completely out of control (a feeling that I hate) there was nothing I could do about it. Very tiring and stressful, but again my recovery was great. Third baby, we had an induction because of the quickness the time before and the fact that we were an hour from the hospital. It was a very tiring day because the induction process is so slow, and I felt almost no pain because I was told that IF I wanted an epidural I should get it at the point they broke my water. My labor went fast from there and I felt no pain. And again, my birth and recovery were great. Every experience and every person is different, but it's wonderful to have an idea of what you would like to happen and try your best to meet that goal. It's also wise to realize that there are many things in the birth experience that are out of our control, and that's ok too. It's a good lesson in trusting in the Lord and also in being in tune with what your body is telling you.

  24. Мaria

    Good post.. I'm in pretty much the same boat. Especially regarding having your mind set, I think that's big, if you want to skip the epidural. That, and a healthy fear of giant needles being put in your spine. That helps me too ;]]

  25. Kristen Bright

    Goodness, I wish the medical community were as open-minded and respectful as your commenters, Kendra! Great job on your vba2c, Kati. I hope to have a vba2c any day now, due with #3. Prayers appreciated!

  26. Amanda

    I think there are a ton of "right" ways to have a baby. The pain seems to feel very different for everyone, for starters.
    Babies one and two were medicated and babies three and four were not. After I had the second one I couldn't feel my legs for many hours so I decided to really try without, instead of getting scared of the pain. I feel like superwoman doing it with no medication and I would definitely try it again. I did go to the hospital with false labor and yes it was the very very worst thing ever. But then I ended up having the baby at home accidentally, so…evens out?

  27. Isabelle Lubbock

    Thanks again for a great post Kendra. You seem to somehow always be writing about things I need reassurance on. I had a pretty horrendous labour with my little one (I was induced, I was on my own in a cold room in the middle of the night, labouring for hours whilst the nurses only seemed to think I was making it up). I had always said I wanted an epidural (they are standard in France, and my dad is an anesthetist) and yet, as they are far from being the norm in England, I ended up having to plead in agony for one whilst the midwife insisted I try aroma therapy at 8 cm. I got my way in the end, but the whole experience left me feeling like a lesser mum because of the staff's attitude and obvious disapproval. On a positive note, the pain vanishing all of a sudden would probably have been the best thing ever, if I hadn't met my son immediately after. That did trump it. 😀

  28. Elise

    I really appreciated this post, Kendra. Thank you!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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