21 Thoughts You Have When You're Forced to Give Birth Without Drugs

There's no shame in admitting you would rather slice off your arm than deliver a baby without the help of heavy drugs. When I gave birth to my first child, there was no doubt in my mind that I would get an epidural -- if it's good enough for more than 50 percent of women who give birth in hospitals, I thought, it's good enough for me. And it did deliver what it promised: my contractions were so painless, I had to be told when to push.

But the epi also made my body a bit of a wreck after birth -- a shaky, feverish, low blood-pressured wreck. How do I know it was the epidural, you ask? Oh, because when I delivered my son a few days ago -- and I had every intention of getting drugs -- I was denied an epi because I had dilated too quickly. My recovery was amazingly quick and I felt great right away -- but this happy discovery didn't make labor any less frightening. Here are 21 thoughts you just might have if, like me, you discover -- surprise! -- they'll be no drugs for you, missy.

1. I was told contractions are painful, but no one told me I'd feel like I'm dying. When do I get my epidural?

2. These contractions are probably normal. I must have an unusually low tolerance for pain.

3. Thank the lord -- the nurse is here to poke my arm and get it ready for the IV. Miracle drugs are on the way!

4. Aren't contractions supposed to be five minutes apart this soon into labor? These seem to be coming every five seconds.

5. Oh, stop. Of course they aren't coming that fast. If they were, a doctor would have noticed and admitted me to the birthing room. Doctors are on top of this stuff.

6. Why does my husband's face resemble a hush puppy every time he looks at the monitor?

7. Okay, seriously, why did my husband just run to get a doctor? Did I marry a drama queen?

8. Holy crap -- OUCH! -- there's no way that was normal.

9. Why is the doctor suddenly rushing to get me onto a wheelchair and into the labor room? I was just 5 cm dilated, what, 20 minutes ago? I have oodles of time still. I'm not ready!

10. I'm never going to be able to get up from this bed and onto a wheelchair. Where is my damn epi?!

11. Whew, safely made it to the birthing room. Now I'll finally get my epi.

12. Doctor checking me ... routine procedure. I'm probably 6 centimeters at this point.

13. Why does my doctor look concerned? Sweet lord, why does my husband look even more concerned?

14. What do you mean I'm 10 centimeters?! Check again, I can't be! Please, please, PLEASE, get me my epi!

15. You're telling me your anesthesiologist was BUSY tonight? That's why I can't get drugs? How long does it take to poke someone with a needle? What about ME?!

16. You can't be serious. I can't push without drugs. You have to give me something. Is there anything you can give me?

17. There is something you can give me, but it will make my baby drowsy and you don't recommend it. Give it to me anyway!

18. On second thought, don't give it to me. I can't hurt my baby. Even though I simultaneously want to die and kill every person in this room right now. My baby is the only person here I actually like.

19. I don't know if I can do this, but here we go. I have no choice. Push time. Oh God, this hurts.

20. I'm doing it! This is the worst pain of my life, but it's happening. And they can already see my baby's head -- so soon!

21. It's over. It's over. Sweet lord, it's over. My baby is perfect and alert and beautiful and, thank God, it's over. My husband better remember this moment and brag about it to anyone who will listen from now until the end of time.

Did you give birth without drugs? What was your experience like?


Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr

labor & delivery


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nonmember avatar Faye

I am so scared that will happen to me. I am 35 weeks pregnant with twins and already 5 cm dilated and still no real pain. I am scared when labor truly starts I won't make it to the hospital in time

eleph... elephantmamaof2

Ha, these are all pretty true. My second was a "surprise" no epidural. My anesthesiologist actually made it to the room, I was signing consent and speaking to him when I just flipped over and started to push. I was SO CLOSE! Haha! Now that its been 4 years since that delivery and my body sometimes forgets what it actually felt like. There are times where I'm like "I could totally do that again!", then I read articlea like that and I'm all "Helllllll no! Never again!" Haha!

SaphireH SaphireH

I was sooo grateful for drugs with each kid and i would have flipped if i couldn't get them which had we waited to go to the hospital with my 3rd kiddo thinking we would have time just like with my other 2 my husband would have been delivering him at home because he came fast

Austi... Austinsmommy12

I seriously have no pain tolerance, but was numb with terror of the epidural. Seriously. Petrified doesn't even begin to describe it. Natural is the only way to go for me, and I'm the least "crunchy" you'll find. After the first 25 hours or so, things just sort of went numb. Like they got to a certain point and there was just no getting any worse. I think if it had happened fast, it might have been worse. I suffered a long time, but it was gradual suffering rather than the WHAM! In your face type of pain. It truly didn't seem like 37 hours though. I have no complaints at all. The anesthesiologist can keep his massive hypodermic needle lol.

lizilli lizilli

I had three children all without drugs.  I must have a high pain tolerance because it was just a bit more painful than my monthly menstrual pain.  As a matter of fact I slept through first stage labor for child 2 and 3 and they were born in the morning when I went in to the birthing center and came home after a few hours.  Baby 1 was born at night and so I was awake for the whole thing, but it wasn't as ghastly as I had anticipated.  I truly consider myself to be a very lucky mother.

nonmember avatar CaliBeauty

the side effects of the epidural are too great to risk, for both mother and baby...and like the author got to witness, recovery without an epidural is amazing...i recommend the book "childbirth without fear"...it's so insightful, informative and encouraging...a treasure of a book that all expectant mothers should read...

ame19 ame19

I walked into my appointment at 4cm dialated. My doctor was like you want to have him right now or wait a few hours? I'm like might as well get me a room since I would have to come back. I wasn't in labor very long and I was still able to get the epidural. 

aeneva aeneva

Two delvieries with no pain meds by CHOICE and one was back labor.  While it was pretty intense I had mentally prepared myself for it and it was no where near what you describe.

nonmember avatar Kayla

I had three kids natural with no pain meds by CHOICE. To me it was totally mind of matter. I focused through the pain. I kept telling my self (Yes out loud lol) "I am built for this" I think its a badge of honor!

Morgan Frost

My second was all natural at a birth center after the horror that was my first son's hospital birth. I was amazed how good I felt after, since the labor was 12 hours longer & the baby 2 lbs bigger!

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