I want a medication-free childbirth after three epidurals, am I crazy?

I want a medication-free childbirth after three epidurals, am I crazy?

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I have three kids and one on the way, and so far each of my “birth plans” have been exactly the same: Give me all the drugs.

See, I’ve never had any desire to experience what transition feels like. Or the dreaded “ring of fire.” Or the overall sensation of a human exiting my birth canal. Nope. Hard pass for me. Numb me up so I can get through the experience with as little pain as possible.

And so, each time I’ve been in labor, I’ve enthusiastically embraced having a large needle inserted into my spine. After the numbness took effect, I was able to nap and just let my body do its thing. Because I could relax, I was able to fully dilate at a fairly quick pace – all while feeling nothing.

Granted, having a epidural didn’t come without side effects. My already low blood pressure would plummet, setting off the alarms, and a nurse would come in to reposition me. Each time, I would get queasy and vomit.

But when it was time to push, I felt a ton of pressure – and that’s about it. I didn’t feel everything down there stretching to its limit. I didn’t feel my doctor giving me an episiotomy, or stitching me up afterward. I didn’t even feel the afterbirth being delivered.

Now that I’m past the halfway point of my current pregnancy with baby number four, I have an inexplicable desire to attempt this whole childbirth business sans medication. I guess I feel like it’s my last chance at bringing a baby into the world “as nature intended.” (Whatever that means.)

Maybe I just want to prove to myself that I can make it all the way on my own. Not having an epidural on my hospital bill doesn’t sound too bad, either.

But it seems weird, doesn’t it? After three pain-free deliveries, who would willingly put themselves through that?

Plenty of women. Mom of five Courtney Bingham’s first experiences with childbirth included a hospital setting with an epidural. But she delivered her third and fourth children at home – which meant no epidural.

“At one point during transition I heard an ambulance go by and I thought, ‘Take me with you!’ But it was brief and then it was over,” Bingham remembers, while also noting, “My recovery without an epidural was so, so much better."

Bingham wound up having a hospital birth for her fifth baby, and she thinks the difference boils down to a pick-your-poison choice: more pain during the birth, or more pain after?

“Honestly, it hurts so bad. It's brief, though. And I felt much better afterward. The recovery was amazing: My first baby to not have jaundice! She was totally calm. And I got in the shower and when I got out my midwife had made me a grilled cheese, washed my laundry, and made my bed.”

Another mom who has experienced childbirth both with and without pain medication seemed to share Bingham’s sentiments on recovery time.

“I had epidural with my first 6 girls, then finally switched to a midwife and was able to do natural with #7.” she wrote in the our site Community. “Not to say it was easy because it definitely was not (she was a 2-hour labor from start to finish) but by far was my easiest recovery, no side effects, no cloudiness, up and moving immediately."

"As long as you put your mind to something you can do it. Make sure everyone involved knows your plan and that you need help sticking to it and advocating for you, because in the middle of it all, it's hard to advocate for yourself," she advises those who would follow in her footsteps.

I haven’t made any definite decisions yet. But I’m leaning toward seeing how far I can go without an epidural – and staying open to one if I decide I’ve had enough. Either way, our three children will be welcoming a baby sister after the first of the year, and we couldn’t be more excited to meet her.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.


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