I know this can be a controversial topic amongst mothers and mothers to be, and I sincerely hope not to offend anyone by this post. I have chosen not to have epidurals for both my births, but I realize that it is a very personal choice. I would never push a mother to have a med-free delivery if that isn’t what she wanted or try and persuade someone one way or the other. You shouldn’t feel bullied or pressured regarding any of your birthing decisions. You are the one pushing a 7lb + human out of your body, and your opinions and wishes for your birth should be the only ones that matter.

I am writing this post for moms-to-be who are researching the many decisions surrounding bringing their child into the world and are undecided about pain relief via an epidural. Or maybe you’re pregnant for the second time and are looking at things you could do to improve your labour and recovery.  

I have always been curious myself about the difference an epidural would make on labour, so I asked one of my closest friends to share her experiences. She has given birth both ways, and I knew she would give me her honest opinion without being biased one way or the other. Her first birth was with an epidural, and her second was without. I hope reading what she has to say will help answer any questions you may have.

Epidural Vs No Epidural

Q: What made you decide to have an epidural with your first birth?
A: I was scared how bad it would hurt and had heard so many birth horror stories. I also ended up having an induction. 
Q: Did you have any complications from the epidural?
A: No, although I think it may have been the reason why my little one’s heart rate dropped as I was pushing. They had to deliver him via forceps because they wanted him out as soon as possible. 

Q: What range of mobility did you have?
A: It was a walking epidural so I could walk around if I wanted, but I progressed quickly and had a catheter put in. I also had to stay laying down on my side with a ball in between my legs because the baby turned sunny side up just as I was about to push. 
Q: Did the epidural affect your recovery? 
A: Not directly. Since the baby needed to be delivered via forceps there was lots of bruising and stitches. I also hemorrhaged after the birth. So I had a hard recovery because of all that.

Q: Do you think your birth would’ve been better or worse if you hadn’t gotten the epidural?
A: I’m not sure because I had a long labour. I got to the hospital at 9 pm, they induced me, and he was born at 1:30 pm the next day. I could have hemorrhaged with or without the epidural. I see it as a positive because I didn’t feel the fists tugging and pushing up inside me as they were trying to stop me from hemorrhaging.

Q: What made you decide not to have an epidural with your second birth? 
A: I wanted the epidural, to be honest. But when I got to the hospital I was 9.5cm and my waters were bulging so there was no time.  I was scared because I thought I would hemorrhage again and have to feel everything they were doing to stop the bleeding.  I didn’t want to go through that, so I wanted the epidural just in case. But I’m happy I didn’t end up having it. 

Q: Was your labour and recovery better or worse? 
A: My second birth and recovery went amazing! I started labour at 5 am and we went to the hospital at 9:30 am. When we got there everything stopped and I was bleeding. They checked me and I was at 4.5cm, but because my OB never does cervical checks before labour they didn’t know if I was 4cm for a while or just got to 4cm that morning, so I got sent home. I had a little break from the contractions after that. We went to the mall and on a little date and walked everywhere until the contractions started again. Then I went home, cleaned as they got worse, and had a nap. They were still ten minutes apart but SOO painful so we decided to go get checked again. 


After that everything came on so fast and so painfully. We got to the hospital at 5:15 pm and I was ready to give birth in triage as they were trying to admit me! Baby was born seventeen minutes later.

It was the BEST feeling as soon as he was out…the pain was gone instantly as if it had never there and nothing bad happened. I stayed in bed for an hour so they could watch my bleeding and nursed my baby. Then I was able to get up by myself, have my own shower then sit in the chair beside the bed. I felt amazing! I was walking and in no pain whatsoever. I even got to home the next morning. 


Q: Do you think your labour would have been better or worse if you had an epidural?
A: I feel like it would have been okay, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to experience how amazing it felt as soon as he was out. I was also able to feel my contractions and I was in better control when they told me to stop pushing.  I only got one stitch! As opposed to my first labour, I tore from back to front and had to do physiotherapy. With the epidural, I couldn’t feel my contractions and just pushed whenever because I didn’t know what I was doing. 

Q: Do you feel the epidural plays an important role in how your birth goes?
A: Yes and no. I think that an epidural is a great pain management tool but like anything else, there can be complications. You also have to keep in mind that sometimes your epidural won’t have time to work or may not work properly. At the end of the day, it is a personal decision. 


What About You?

Did you get or are you planning on getting an epidural? What were/are your reasons? Have you tried it both ways? I would love to hear about your experiences. How did it affect your labour? Are you glad you got it? If you could go back, would you change anything?

For those of you who did not have an epidural, would you do it again the next time? 

Please comment below with your thoughts and questions. I would love to hear from you. 

Wishing you all happy births and healthy babies ❤

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6 thoughts on “Epidural Vs. No Epidural, From a Mom Who’s Done Both

  1. I got the epidural- I am horrible with pain!! Problem was, the doctor missed and instead, I ended up having spinal leakage. Due to that, they couldn’t really do the epidural- they still did but couldn’t do a full dose. To be honest, I’m not sure what I paid for because the pain was awful. I also tore a good amount. But like your friend said, that pain from birth was gone instantly. But the side effects from the spinal leakage lasted almost a month. It was awful and unfortunately, it’s a huge portion of the reason why we only have one child.


    1. Oh Julie, that sounds horrible! I’m so sorry the dr messed up. And you still had pain after all that? It sounds like an unpleasant experience if it was so bad that you don’t want to go through labour again. I’m so sorry that happened.
      What were the side effects if you don’t mind me asking?


  2. I had a hospital delivery with my first & no epidural here. For me, going natural was the plan & I commend every mother that has a baby without medical interventions. It is by far the most amazing feeling in the world + most painful experience. My daughter’s birth day is my favorite day ever & I would go through the pain of natural labor/delivery a million times for her.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Avery! I’m so glad your birth went according to plan. It’s sad that it can’t be that way for everyone and women experience complications. I’m very thankful for the medical interventions that we have today. They’ve saved so many mothers and babies, including several close friends of mine.


  3. I feel so blessed to have had both my babies at home! My labors have been max 5 hours so I cant relate to the very long births but they are intense and it’s hard for the body to keep up at that speed! I did hemorrhage the first time and tear, honestly being stitched after having the pain of labour over I’d say is almost worst! Because like you all have said the pain is GONE after the baby is out! My second was water birth to help me relax and deal with pain. I loved it and Lord willing baby 3 can be water birth in a couple months as well!


    1. I hear you. The two stitches I got after my first hurt like fire. So annoying when you’re trying to bond with your baby.
      It sounds like you had two lovely births. Best wishes on number three, and congratulations!!


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