A lot of women want to avoid an epidural There are things you can do to prevent getting an epidural — and conversely there are things you can DO that make it more likely you will need one.
This episode was inspired by my post on how to have an unmedicated hospital delivery. TONS of good tips in that post too, so be sure to check that out!
Big thanks to our sponsor The Online Prenatal Class for Couples — remember that it has a whole bonus video on pain management and by being prepared for what is going to happen, you’ll be less anxious overall (which makes pain a lot easier).
How to avoid an epidural
In this episode
I mention my episode with Mandy Irby (we talked about curb walking)
All the things you can do at HOME that you can’t do at the hospital
** Be as communicative as possible with your team about what you want.
Understand your pain management options — as there is much more beyond the epidural.
Understanding Informed Consent can help you ask about the risks and benefits.
Figuring out WHY you don’t want an epidural in advance.
Other things that might interest you
I recommend a LARGE Yoga ball like this (get the largest one)
If you’re wanting to refuse some things check out my episode on saying no.
I have a whole series on induction at The Pregnancy Nurse.
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other pregnancy podcasts:
Check out all my podcasts:
[00:00:00.150] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on Episode 69, we are talking about avoiding an epidural. Some of you might not want to get it because you don’t like the needle. Some of you might think it’s healthier to deliver that way. Some of you just want to give it a whirl. So let’s untangle it.
[00:00:25.780] – Hilary Erickson
Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast, I’m Hilary, your curly headed host on the podcast, where we untangle everything from pregnancy, parenting and home routines. I want you to know that there are no right answers for every family. And I find that simplifying my priorities is almost always the answer. It’s tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:50.720] – Hilary Erickson
OK, before we start out, I want to let you guys know that if you 100 percent want to avoid an epidural, I do recommend a pain management class. There are lots of them out there. A few tips as you’re picking it. I would pick one that doesn’t verge so far on the natural that they’re against, like all hospital interventions, a lot of them are real pushy. And you might end up feeling bad if you get an epidural.
[00:01:13.820] – Hilary Erickson
And that’s not OK in my book. I mean, I think you should have the pain management that you want and it’s just there to kind of teach you how to cope. So that’s what I would look for. I would also maybe ask your doctor if they have one that they recommend. A lot of times they don’t have to be honest about. The one that I recommend is hip. No babies. Now, most of those pain management classes mostly deal with how to manage the pain.
[00:01:33.290] – Hilary Erickson
They don’t talk so much about what happens at the hospital. And I actually give you 50 percent off my class if you buy have no babies through my link. So it makes it a really good deal if you want to get prepared for the hospital and get prepared for the pain. So I will drop that link in the show notes. This is episode sixty nine. If you are listening, you can go to Pullingcurls.com/podcast podcast and you will find it there.
[00:01:55.580] – Hilary Erickson
This episode of the Pulling Curls Podcast is sponsored by the online prenatal class. For couples, it simplifies understanding labor so you can have a more relaxed pregnancy and birth taught by a highly experienced labor and delivery nurse that can be done wherever you are, whenever you want. No more arranging busy schedules to fit in a prenatal class, say 15 percent. With the coupon code untangled, you can find out more at Pulling Curls Podcast and the menu under courses or in this episode, show notes.
[00:02:22.760] – Hilary Erickson
OK, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent yourself from getting an epidural, and I want to go through some of them, the most important one is to stay at home as long as you can. Now, I’m not a fan of home delivery. You should head into the hospital in order to have your baby. But staying at home gives you a lot more options. You can do real sexy hip circles on your yoga ball. With that, you might not be wanting to do as much in the hospital.
[00:02:44.870] – Hilary Erickson
You can do curb walking. If you guys listen to the episode I did with Mandy Erby about going to Labor. She’s a big fan of her walking as I am. Also, you can eat, you can eat whatever the heck you want. When you get to the hospital, they get weird about eating. So I’m all about eating whatever the heck I want. You can shower at home. Some hospitals have Whirlpool’s or other things like that, but honestly, it’s not yours.
[00:03:05.360] – Hilary Erickson
So that’s always weird. And sometimes, you know, we have to get you out to monitor you. It’s just not as comfortable. You might think, oh, I want to go to the hospital and utilize their whirlpool tub. It’s just not the same hospital I worked at had whirlpool tubs, did not use them very frequently. Also, the other thing to think about is maybe how clean the Jets are. I’m just going to put that out there, just decide anyway and you can watch your favorite TV.
[00:03:26.240] – Hilary Erickson
You know, there’s just so many ways to distract yourself at home. You could do laundry. One of the biggest ways to get through the pain is to distract yourself. And there’s this way more at home than at the hospital with our thirty channels of TV and our hard bed. So also, when you go to the hospital, we will be required to monitor you. We will put an I.V. in. Now, you can refuse these things. I think you can refuse continuous monitoring, but you’ll sure get talked to an awful lot.
[00:03:50.180] – Hilary Erickson
You don’t have to be continuously monitored if you’re just going in a natural labor. But we do need to monitor you about twenty minutes of every hour. And so kind of depending on where the baby is and your positioning and all that kind of stuff, sometimes you have to be in the bed for that or in a certain position for us to monitor the baby. We just find that that is safest as you progress into labor. So that’s why I say stay at home as long as you can, because you can make more choices when you’re home.
[00:04:10.970] – Hilary Erickson
OK, so once you get to the hospital, tell the staff that you really want to make movement a priority if you are going into natural labor. Like I said, we don’t have to monitor the baby continuously. You can walk. I love seeing people doing lunges. I actually don’t love using the yoga ball at the hospital. If you have a giant one, you can 100 percent bring it in from home during covid. We don’t have balls for people to use anyway, so people are having to bring in their own.
[00:04:33.410] – Hilary Erickson
If you have a giant labor ball, it’s awesome. But if you have kind of a small one, it’s really hard to sit on the further along you get in pregnancy. So get a big one. I also often use the doctor’s stool, kind of like a yoga ball as a nurse, and you can kind of rotate your hips and stretch out those as well. So, you know, you can sit on any surface in the room. It doesn’t have to be the bed.
[00:04:53.690] – Hilary Erickson
If we’re monitoring you, it has to be close enough to the monitor or able to use wireless monitors. And those can be options as well. The other things you’re going to want to let the staff know and also your provider is you’re going to want to avoid induction. A lot of times people or it would be considered augmentation if you were already in labor. A lot of times people will come in and the doctor will just say, oh, just give her a little bit to push her along.
[00:05:12.680] – Hilary Erickson
Why? I don’t know. I don’t love that. So I always give my patients your doctor’s order, a little pitocin. Would you be interested in that? You know, a lot of times if they have an epidural, they just want to get the baby out. So they’ll say yes. But if you’re really wanting to go natural, say no, I don’t want any pitocin. I’m doing fine on my own. Another thing you could do is avoid having your water broken.
[00:05:28.970] – Hilary Erickson
You don’t need to have your water broken. Some doctors feel like it speeds along labor. That is probably true, but it also makes labor a whole lot more painful. So you got to think of it as like squeezing on a full balloon versus squeezing on a broken balloon. You know, your uterus can squeeze a lot harder on a broken balloon than a full balloon. So avoiding having your water broken, you just say, I do not want a broken right now.
[00:05:50.780] – Hilary Erickson
When they come in and say, we’re going to break your water, say no, thank you. Another thing you can do is avoid vaginal exams, because a lot of people find those extremely painful. They do get better the further into labor you get, I find. But yes, your nurses probably don’t want to check you when you get there and you probably want to be checked because you’re going to want to know kind of how far you have to go.
[00:06:08.300] – Hilary Erickson
But after that, you can avoid vaginal exams. Just tell them you would prefer not to or ask them the reason they should have a reason. I mean, I pride myself in knowing how far along my patients were without checking their cervix. And usually I was right just by their emotions and how they’re feeling and some changes that we see in the fatal heart rate. So your nurse doesn’t have to constantly check you. I know some hospitals want to check you every single hour to make sure that you’re progressing, but your choice, your body, just tell them no thank you.
[00:06:34.790] – Hilary Erickson
Definitely. If they’re fighting, you ask the risks and the benefits and then say it just doesn’t seem like that will change our plan of care. Because if you’re not wanting pitocin, then why check your cervix? Something you might want to consider is a doula. Now, I did a whole episode on getting a doula and honestly, not very popular. I think a lot of people just don’t have the money for a doula or don’t find that it’s necessary.
[00:06:54.560] – Hilary Erickson
I probably don’t lie on the most positive side of having a doula. There are some that are amazing. And if you got one of those, I think they would be 100 percent helpful. But they’re expensive. And, you know, it’s not in everyone’s budget. It definitely wasn’t in my budget on my first baby. So but it is something to consider. If you really want to go natural, consider having a doula because they can just give you lots of ideas and support you in ways that the nurse really can’t, because we may end up having two patients or there’s just time that we’re out of the room.
[00:07:19.490] – Hilary Erickson
One other thing is to tell your doctor that your. Trying to avoid it and also tell your nurse and also tell her the ways that you have prepared to do it before coming in, because a lot of people go, oh, I want to go natural, and I’ll be like, oh, did you take any classes? No. And they come in and they’re one centimeter and they’re miserable. And I’m like, OK, you know, we can’t we’re not miracle workers in the hospital.
[00:07:37.910] – Hilary Erickson
We can support you and give you lots of information and help. But, you know, there’s nothing we can do to… We have no magic pill for you. The other thing is to also continue to be open to other pain management options. I did a whole podcast on your pain management options. There are for medical pain management options. There’s I.V. medication, nitrous, which hopefully is starting to get used more and more and an epidural. So don’t feel like you have to go straight to an epidural.
[00:08:00.770] – Hilary Erickson
A lot of times the I.V. medication is enough to carry you through until you’re complete. And then the good news is that once you’re complete, it really feels good to push. People just feel a whole lot better once they’re able to push against the pain. So that helps a lot. And the final thing is to really think about why you’re wanting to avoid the epidural. Is it because you don’t like needles? FBI, it is humanly impossible to see the needle go into your spine, unlike the IV where you could totally watch it.
[00:08:24.410] – Hilary Erickson
Is it because you think it’s safer for the baby? That’s something you should discuss with your doctor. If I none of the epidural medication gets into your bloodstream, which is the only way it could get to the baby. Although I’ve definitely seen the latest videos about how tired babies after an epidural are. Personally, I haven’t ever really seen that. You know, are you doing it just to put less medications in your body? And I think that’s a great thing.
[00:08:45.570] – Hilary Erickson
I personally always wanted to avoid an epidural, and I never did. My labors got longer every single time. And I was induced on my last one when I was 12 days over. And I was so tired like that, just there was no chance. So I just got it when I was four centimeters and had a baby like a few hours later.
[00:09:00.560] – Hilary Erickson
So there’s lots of reasons why people don’t want to get an epidural. I would just encourage you to kind of explore the reasons in your head before you go in so that you kind of know what your back out plan is or when you would want one. Because a lot of people come in saying they want to labor naturally, they aren’t planning on an epidural. And then I have to say that a lot of them end up getting epidurals and there’s nothing wrong with that.
[00:09:20.090] – Hilary Erickson
I went in every single baby thinking I would prefer not to have an epidural and then I would get an epidural because I would just wasn’t coping with the pain very well. And so I think you kind of need to figure out what your line is or why you would consider getting one or not getting one. Those are my tips. Don’t forget that I do offer my class at a big discount if you decide to have no babies. And in my class, I do have a whole section on natural pain management.
[00:09:41.840] – Hilary Erickson
I have… We do breathing. We do things you can do at home or with your partner massages and stuff that you can do like that. It is not a 100 percent natural pain management focused class. So that’s something to consider as well. This episode was inspired by a whole post on avoiding an epidural. And so also put that in the show notes. It might be interesting for you guys as well. Thanks so much for joining us today. I hope we help smooth out a few of the snarls in your life.
[00:10:05.420] – Hilary Erickson
We drop an episode every Monday and we always appreciate it when you guys share and review, and until next time. We hope you have a tangle free day.