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How to Give Birth Without Pain Medication

How to Give Birth Without Pain Medication

In this day of abundant epidurals, spinal blocks, IV-administered narcotics, and other medications for labor pain, what does it take to have a baby the old-fashioned way without any drug intervention? Is it even possible to have an unmedicated childbirth?

Yes, say many moms who have shared their labor and delivery experiences in Circle of Moms communities.

After all, women have been doing this for centuries, right?

Don’t be afraid of labor. Your body is programmed to do it, as women's bodies have been programmed to do for thousands of years. Really, the epidural and pain meds are a very new addition to our world,” writes Nicole G. in the Young Moms Aged 20-30 Community.


“Women have been giving birth unmedicated (even sometimes unassisted) for hundreds of thousands of years,” posts Kayleigh L.

You can do this, and you were made to do this,” encourages Chelsea W., who endured a 28-hour delivery to bring her son into the world.

The verbal cheer-leading is all fine and dandy, but when you’re in the middle of the game, you’ve got to know how to run the plays.

1. Choose a Birthing Center Over a Hospital

Many Circle of Moms members who've accomplished this uniquely feminine task without medicinal help suggest choosing a birthing location where drugs won’t be available.

“If you go into labor thinking that drugs are an option, you're more likely to give in,” writes Rachel A. “That's exactly why I chose a midwife/birthing center over a doctor/hospital. I knew that drugs would not be an option so I wouldn't be able to cave in.”

2. Learn About Childbirth, and Rehearse

For others, preparation is what kept them from using medications to ease the pain of child birth.

Sarah H. used visualization and relaxation techniques: “What I did is about one to two months before I was due, every night before I would go to sleep, I would lay in bed and imagine the pain (imagine the worst cramps you have ever felt)." She then would practice relaxing her body to get through the pain.

Natural childbirth is not easy!” states Chelsea W. “If it's what you really want, you need to do your research and start preparing. You have to have a very strong mindset.”

Just like any other aspect of parenting, some education on the subject is helpful, say other moms.

Jodi A. shares that she was in "an absolute panic" while pregnant because she knew so little about labor. “Take Lamaze classes for one. Read everything you can on the Internet, in books, wherever, on what your body goes through during labor. Read about all the stages of labor, what's happening in each stage, what contractions do to you and your baby...After you know the stages of labor and what happens, look up relaxation techniques, breathing methods, the use of tubs, walking the baby down, dancing the baby down, and different positions for labor.”

3. Sit, Stand, and Move Around

Those different positions might include something in the bathroom you wouldn’t normally associate with having a baby: the toilet.

“I sat on the toilet a lot. Sounds weird but it's the position that you’re in while sitting on it that helps with the pain. At least it did for me,” advises Emily C.

Getting out of the bed is another piece of advice from women who’ve accomplished natural child birth.

“If you can stand during labor and the contractions, do it. I found it helped me so much compared to lying down and the gravity helps to progress things along. I also found that stamping my feet throughout a contraction helped. I don’t know that it actually took the pain away but it gave me something else to focus on, shares Elysia E.

“If you have an epidural, you can’t move around. You are stuck in a bed which is not the natural or productive way to birth. Moving around and getting into different positions to ease your contractions,” states Jessie R.

4. Relax in a Tub Full of Hot Water

It also might help to get yourself into some hot water. No, not the kind of hot water you might find yourself in for cussing at your husband or nearly breaking his arm during a contraction. Rather, literally, get your birthing body into some hot water for relaxation purposes.

“When I went into labor, the midwives filled up the tub and I jumped in. It seriously cut the pain in half. I did not want to get out at all,” shares Rachel A. “The water just turned out to be such a great form or pain relief that I couldn't force myself to get out of the tub.”

“I found the thing that helped the most was sitting in a hot bath and just relaxing between contractions,” writes Sara T.

5. Tune in to Your Body

Listening to and obeying cues from your body about what it is going through is what gave Naomi R. the ability to naturally deliver her child.

“Labor is definitely painful, but I felt so connected with, and in tune with my labor without being all "doped" up on pain meds. The pain immediately went away after I had my baby boy,” she shares.

Other moms say recognizing the purpose of the pain provides the right mindset for having a baby without any pain medication.

6. Be Fearless

Ask yourself, “Why are you afraid of pain that is happening for a purpose, you won't die from it. It has a beginning and an end, and it's happening because it's supposed to happen,” writes Chelsea W.

Your body was designed to give birth, so if you're able to relax and allow your body to work as nature intended, then you'll be able to do it. But, if you go in with fear, or anxiety you'll have a much harder time,” advises Rebekah G.

Remember, too, that achieving an unmedicated natural child birth is incredibly empowering. Describing the mindset that got her through labor without drugs, Kayla J. shares, “I kept thinking to myself the whole time (that) once I get though this natural[ly], I can get though anything."

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

AlexWalker1383883768 AlexWalker1383883768 3 years
i really feel like i need an epidural. everyone is different. i hate pain! i am due on september 21, 2014 & this is going to be my very first child! i am sooo excited, grateful, & thankful! i'm not afraid if giving birth. i just know that i will need an epidural. trust me lol.
leelaangelina leelaangelina 4 years
I had my first son naturally without drugs. I kept taking showers and hot baths at the hospital and I only pushed for 20min. My second son came so fast when I got to the hospital I was 9 1/2 cm so even if I wanted the drugs it was way to late..lolz. Some of my friends would ask me what I suggest they did for their Labour. I would tell them what I went thru than tell them, it's your birthday. Do what ever you feel like. You don't want drugs then don't get them if you do than do. We all all have the choice to do what we feel like. And it all depends on your pain tolerance. My husband goes to the dentist and never gets frozen because he hates it soo much.. I on the other hand get them to crank the drugs. So do what ever you feel. Also you might not have any choice if the baby decides to be. Doing everything not to come out then you need a section. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for what you decide. Your the one giving birth.
Ariane34964 Ariane34964 5 years
VERY do-able! I had two beautiful baby boys naturally. It's a great experience, I wouldn't have it any other way.
MelindaButterfield MelindaButterfield 6 years
Less is best when it comes to birth.... Pain tolerance and threshold is a story we tell ourselves because of fear. When we are equipped with great support (check out a doula) and we have educated ourselves with great peace-promoting practices and about our options, the likelihood of a successful, healthy and satisfying birth experience are amazing. I will go as far as saying that it is a deeply spiritual experience that so many women are missing out on. We live in a knee-jerk society that is inclined to slather drugs over our pain.... at least birthing is useful pain that has a limited duration. It is definitely crutial to prepare because it is a very powerful experience- Having birthed three children (and big children 9.6 my biggest- I am 5'4 and 120 lbs- this happened to be a pain free birth) I can assert that harmony and peace is possible! if you go in blind, uniformed and unsupported you will likely be overwhelmed by the experience and the hospital environment/suggested interventions. Absolutely... explore the possibilities of a natural birth - where you can be one with yourself, your body and your baby in a profound and fulfilling way.. it's a once in a lifetime- with each birth. Blessings to you all!
yasminedanyal yasminedanyal 6 years
i have had 3 children and my only bad luck is being high risk. my last dilivery went 9 cm with out medicationsthe only thing was i had high blood preasure so they finally insisted to have me on the monitor and i am plus sized and was rocking with the contractions to help them along as well as manage the pain so alasi hd to do en epidural. but it was only for 2 hours which was better by far then my first 2 with an epidural after them breaking my water at 4 cm. ihave a great dr that avoids any unnecessary medical intervention. and i have a doula so my goal is no med at all this time!
MonicaHoldsworth MonicaHoldsworth 6 years
I have four children. With the first one I went into labour as my water broke, but I had no pain whatsoever. Affter about 6 hours the doctor decided to induce me. It was very painful and I was totally exhaused. My baby was in the baby room most of the night. My second child I asked to be induced as I had limited time at home due to being a working mother. The same - I was in agony and extremely tired afterwards. I just wanted to sleep and could not take care of my baby. The third - my water broke and I was convinced not to take anything! However as the labour progressed during the night the sister kept saying take something for the pain... It will relax you and why would you want to put yourself through so much pain? Eventually I agreed to a epidural! It was the biggest mistake. I could not feel anything and did not know what I was doing. She was eventually removed by forecepts which was aweful for me and hurt her head. They gave me a injection which caused me to be wide awake, but when it worked out I was totally bushed! My forth I decided NO MEDICATION whAtsoever and took my mom as support. My husband is too soft to tell the staff anything different to what they recommend. Anyway, I madde it very clear I wanted no meds. I was walking up and down, used a pilates ball in the beginning and just rubbed my tummy with each contraction. I found lying down was the worse thing I could do... So I just walked up and down in the room! I was stll standing up to the last contraction. I knew exactly when I felt the baby was coming... The doctor came in and I started pushing immediately. He was born and I felt like I had a sudden boost of energy... I was so alert and full of energy I felt like running a marathon. I had absolute no problem having the baby with me and caring for him. I had him naked on my naked chest for about 5 hours. I nursed him continuesly after which my mom ran me a bath and me and the baby bathed together. Got dressed and took him to the nursery to be weight and measured (for the first time). The whole night I felt refreshed and awake! I would recommend normal with no. Medication to everyone! Believe me it's awesome for you and your baby!!!!
ShellyPoole ShellyPoole 6 years
I was a labor and delivery nurse for years. If you want an unmedicated birth, call ahead and ask for the nurse who will support you the best in an unmedicated birth. Then, talk to that nurse. Tell the nurse to not just give you pain medication when you ask for it, but try to help you work through without. Make sure your support person/people really support you and will be willing to say, "you can do this without the medication. You can do it." I agree with Alyssa, the thing that really made it possible for me was a home birth. It was painful. You should be ready for pain. But, it was doable. I'm so proud of myself for doing it. If you can get in water, do. Get a blow-up baby pool and have someone blow it up. Get in it. The water helps soooooo much. If you really want unmedicated, do your research. A lot of doctors will try to push you into being induced. Induction makes it harder to go without meds. Plus, most inductions do not need to happen. Learn as much as you can and you can do it. You CAN DO IT!
JeannaStrachan JeannaStrachan 6 years
Because I had stalled. A researched it afterwards and found out that stalled labours are Normal. I needn't have gotten a ceaser. I should have just gone with the flow of labour, relaxed and let my body restart when it was ready. For my second birth (in a hospital) I ended up having a ceaser again because 'it was available' and the nurse told me 'if you don't have it now the doctor may not be available when you do need it' and I believed her. I'm staying home for the next one. Then hopefully without distractions or appliances hanging off me I will be able to give birth completely naturally.
JeannaStrachan JeannaStrachan 6 years
I agree with the article and Alyssa. Once you step foot into a hospital you are bombarded with'helpful suggestions' of pain medication. And even told your baby will die if you dont have them. I was 'talked into' having a ceaser
LalainiaBritt LalainiaBritt 6 years
I am so happy for all of you ladies! It's wonderful that you were able to experience natural childbirth. I wanted that experience more than I have ever wanted anything else in my life. However, after 23 hours in labor & having stalled at 7 cm for at least 4 hours, I wasn't given the choice. I was told I would have an emergency C-section or risk my baby's health! :( It is earth-shattering to hear that your own body is failing you.
CoMMember13631168941783 CoMMember13631168941783 6 years
I am a mother of 5 children, all of which were born with no pain medication. I had planned on going natural with the first baby and was successful. After that, I knew that it was possible, so it wasn't even an option for any of the other births. I definitely recommend trying to get through it rather than resort to epidurals and pain meds, but I also know that birth hurts a lot and not everyone has the same amount of pain tolerance. I don't knock anyone for giving in and getting it if they need it, but at least research and educate yourself before you go into labor so you have other things available to you to try.
CoMMember13608892169649 CoMMember13608892169649 6 years
P.S. That is to say that the meds make the baby groggy. My doctor and nurses were completely supportive of any and all decisions. My nurse too had to hold my son in for a moment because he was trying to beat the doctor into the room. However, being broad shouldered like his daddy, it's a good thing we waited for the dr. I loved the situation and people that were involved in my sons birth, and I wouldn't do it any different with my next.
CoMMember13608892169649 CoMMember13608892169649 6 years
I can proudly say that even if it wasn't planned (we really just didn't have time for any!), I gave birth to my son without any medication what so ever - with the exception of the pitocin because I was induced! I had an awesome doctor, that told me he actually prefers a delivery without medications because it makes the baby groggy.afterwards. I gave birth to a healthy 9lb 21.5in long 100% healthy baby boy in just 4 hours of labor, with nothing what so ever.
MarshaMais MarshaMais 6 years
What many young women still don't know is that there is another option first of all. The second is that many don't know their rights. You have the right to refuse any part of your treatment. My first birth was a nightmare: enemas, catheters, IVs. The sounds of constant beeping of the machines. And that damned blood pressure cuff going off every 10 minutes! Just too much stimulus...too much intervention. And then the lying in bed leaving me with back labor w/ and epidural. The second go round i made it clear, no needles, no enemas. The nurse had to get me a waiver since I refused the IV. I was not lying in a bed. I was strapped to a machine so i couldn't walk around, but i was standing. And finally when it was time to push, my body said push, which scared the nurse, prompting her to try to hold my baby in. My doc told her to let me push as he was walking in and still scrubbing up. My thrid baby, i said screw hospitals, I'm trying a midwife. As a new Tricare North military wife, I did all the research I could to find out what they would pay for. I stayed on Standard when I found out that the closest midwives to me were only contracted for standard. Luckily, everything but $25 was paid for. I had a team of midwives who remember everything about me without looking in my digi-chart. And for my birth, dimmed lights, a hot shower on a birthing ball for a long as I wanted, and i could walk around naked just so I wasn't restricted. No machines, no noise..except the sound of the water in the hot tub that I loved! I was able to let my body float in a position that that took the baby off my spine. When I felt urges to push, my midwife said push. I was afraid of tearing something and she reassured me that I'd be fine and that it would actually help my cervix dilate, since that was slow going this time around. So when I felt it, I pushed, and it greatly helped things progress. I did most of my labor at home shortly after I dropped my girls off on their first day of school until 3pm. My water broke at 4 and my baby girl was born after 7. The pain was ridiculous and fast; it exhausted me to where I laid down on my side in my bed near the end and just couldn't get up. My husband forgot to get me Gatorade, which is sooo taboo in a hospital setting. So my midwife got me some cran-apple juice. And she insisted I drink. And the best part in the end,something that no one can get in a hospital setting: my husband delivered his baby girl. This was my 3rd, but his first. So that moment was very special to us. Ladies, assert your rights. research and go in with a fist full of knowledge. So long as no complications come up, you're birthing staff should follow your birth plan and respect your wishes. Less is more in this case. Less intervention, more of what will make you comfortable and have a smooth delivery.
JeanneGustafson JeanneGustafson 6 years
Even if you are giving birth in a hospital, having a birth plan to share with nurses and a supportive doctor can be really helpful. When I had my son, the maternity nurses never once offered me or even mentioned any pain medication and were extremely supportive, as was my doctor. Of course, it has to be a hospital that has a staff willing to honor a woman's wishes. A friend of mine had a similar plan at another local hospital around the same time, and it wasn't an hour before pain medication was discussed and ultimately administered.
AlyssaAdamsRuben AlyssaAdamsRuben 6 years
The first intervention is stepping foot outside your front door. Homebirth would be a nice addition to this.
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