Want to labor without an epidural? Here are 5 ways you can avoid getting an epidural — or at least things that will make labor more tolerable.
How Can I Avoid an Epidural?
Before we start, I want to say that there is absolutely no shame in getting an epidural. There is enough to worry about on that day. Personally, I got 3 epidurals, that I was hoping to avoid. SO… how do I know all of this?
Hi, I’m Hilary (some of you might know me as The Pregnancy Nurse).
I’ve been an RN since 1997 and I have 20 years of experience in labor and delivery. I also have an Online Course about what to expect in labor backed by all that experience. I’d love to give you your confident birth!
Ok, let’s get back to avoiding that epidural….
First off, obviously, you could probably best avoid it by taking a pain management class if that is in your plans. I talk about that in my post on unmedicated hospital deliveries.
Today, I wanted to talk about some other lesser-known ways to avoid the epidural that can help you ALONG with some breathing or Hypnobabies techniques.
Stay at Home as Long as Possible
Your home has your things, your smells, your bed, your pillows, your shower… your food. Mmm, food.
The hospital has none of that.
We have 4,000 questions, hard beds, crappy pillows and weird lighting.
It’s just not as comfortable.
Because, honestly the hospital was meant for when you REALLY need it.
That means either you medically need to be there (and are getting induced) or you’re in active labor. Before that, the hospital just isn’t a great spot for you. Unless, you want pain management from us. That’s obviously a reason to come.
I know, you might be nervous that delivery will happen at home…
If you’re laboring during the day, maybe see if your OB will check your cervix.
Because it is like that you, personally, don’t want to deliver your baby —
I bet you’ll wonder what your cervix is.
Your doctor can quickly check you in the office to give you peace of mind that things are moving along or you should maybe head on in. It’s all included in your global fee AND he/she won’t ask the 4,000 questions just to check your cervix.
Honestly, my goal was to arrive at the hospital being 6 cm — I never made it. But, if you want to avoid an epidural try to labor at home as long as you can.
**Talk to your provider about when you should go to the hospital. Some things like previous cesarean, positive GBS and more might require you head in earlier! Obviously, this is just guidelines — be sure to take your provider’s advice over mine!
Make Movement a Priority
Labor nurses know as well as anyone that movement during labor is important.
It helps the baby find their “spot” where they can slip into your pelvis easier, and can help the pelvis open up so baby has a better chance.
However, we sometimes end-up not promoting it as much as we should.
First off, we want to make sure that baby is doing well when you first come in. Most often baby is found quickest and most effectively as you lie on the bed (most often a bit on your side). But, after baby is on the monitor for about 20 minutes we should be able to let you up and move more.
Problem is we’re asking those 4,000 questions and trying to follow all the policies of the hospital.
Which means we have other focuses.
But you and your partner can remind us that movement is a priority for you.
- Sit in a chair (I love using the doctor’s stool)
- Sway by the bedside
- Walk the room while we ask the question.
- I’m also a huge fan of lunges.
The problem is that it mostly needs to be you at that point.
And once we’re done and we ask you to walk or change positions, at least be as helpful as you can during those. Moving a “wet sheet of a human” is hard, and won’t help us help you either.
Pro Tip: Even if you have to be monitored, there are ways to move:
- Stay close to the monitor so cords can stay plugged in (the ones I listed above are great for that).
- Ask the hospital if it has any cordless monitors (we have some, but we don’t always offer them because they don’t work for everyone — so be aware it may or may not work for your needs)
- Ask the nurse if there are times you don’t have to be monitored (and MOVE during those times).
Don’t be Induced
Getting induced can lead to a few things:
You start labor at the hospital
As I said above — staying at home as long as you can can really help. But, you can’t with an iduction
Labor might be longer
Inductions often happen because they are medically necessary, which mean your cervix might not be as favorable as it might be otherwise.
Increased Risk = Increased Monitoring
Induction is a higher risk event than natural labor. Which requires increased monitoring on our side.
Which also means less movement on your side as you will likely need to be in a spot where baby can be monitored.
Try to Rest
I know, the anxiety of early labor can be a lot.
Ask your provider how you can get some rest if that is to happen.
Practice relaxing at night before labor starts, so your body is in a good routine after you do certain things.
People who’ve labored without rest for 24 hours have a hard time refusing the epidural.
They’re just so tired (obviously, they should be). And that epidural does allow rest (which, frankly — is often a good reason to get it if you’re just so spent with tiredness).
Just because not getting an epidural is on your birth plan, doesn’t mean it’s important to be flexible and change.
I did a whole podcast on birth plans recently:
Decrease Your Anxiety
A lot of people have so much anxiety about the hospital and what will go on there. They don’t know what to expect, other than horror stories of the internet and other mom friends.
You CAN know what to expect, a step by step process of your labor day.
So, why not get prepared? Join my 20 years of experience in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
If your anxiety is lower about the whole day, you’ll tolerate the pain and the anxiety of the so much better. It’s truly worth it! Check out all the reviews.
So, if you don’t think my class is for you, I recommend finding one you’ll enjoy more. It’s worth the sacrifice of a little time and money to feel less anxious at the hospital.