medicated epidural vs. all natural birth stories

Epidural vs. Natural Birth 3 Women Share Their Stories

Unmedicated Natural vs. Medicated Epidural Birth Stories

When pregnant we are always directed to layout our birth plans. You may aim for an unmedicated natural birth, getting some pain relief with medication, or a full epidural.

But what is having a baby fully unmedicated really like when compared to having a baby under the strong drugs of an epidural? Which one is really better for you?

**This post contains affiliate links to items I own and love and am confident will benefit you immensely! You can read the full disclosure here.**

I have interviewed multiple women who have gone through BOTH a fully unmedicated birth as well as birth with an epidural. They have come here to share their stories and experiences to try to help give you a real idea of what each type of labor was like for them.

It is hard to really get an idea from your birth classes and prenatal books what each experience is really like.

Sure, they will describe what an epidural does and how it is administered, but you won’t get the details that you will get from moms who have been there.

  • What and epidural feels like or doesn’t feel like.
  • What natural birth feels like too.
  • AND the pros and cons of both experiences for them. This post will answer all those questions for you and finally give you a REAL idea of what birthing a baby naturally vs. with an epidural is like.


My Personal Experience with Natural vs. Epidural Births

I myself am a mother who has both birth experiences under my belt. My first labor went nothing as planned. I wanted to go all-natural, I wanted to have as little intervention as possible. But then I went 1-week post-date and my doctor forced me into having an induction.

Already having unwanted interventions, after hours of waiting to dilate and finally begin labor, I eventually caved and got an epidural.

Interested in hearing the full story where nothing went according to plan? You can read all about my first labor here.

My second labor was an entirely different story. I mean worlds different. 5 years later I was so much wiser when it came to childbirth, the preparation, and my options. I ended up having that baby with no interventions or medication whatsoever! It really is an exciting labor story.

Want to read about my all-natural birth experience and learn how I plan on having my 3rd baby in a few months? You can read more by clicking the link!

(I am building those stories right now… and the links will be inserted soon! This pregnant mommy needs some extra sleep most days and I’ll get those posts up soon!)

For now, read the wonderful stories from 3 experienced mamas.

If you haven’t prepared for your labor and delivery yet by taking a birth class it’s really something you should consider. It helps so much to calm your fears, make you feel prepared to handle the soon to be task at hand, AND helps you layout your birth plan the way you want.

I didn’t really have time to fit a traditional birth class into my plans last time, and instead stumbled upon the best birth class ever! You can take it online, in your pjs, whenever you and your hubby have time. Check out the perfect Prenatal Class now so you are totally prepared when the big day comes!


comparing epidural and all-natural labor and delivery stories


1. Lauren’s Epidural vs. Natural Birth Stories

Having first an epidural and then a natural birth has led me to appreciate both sides and I think you will come to your own conclusion on which is better by the end of my story.

Lauren’s First Birth: with an Epidural

With my first child, my son, everything was perfect and normal in the pregnancy up to 20 weeks. It was after our first perinatal exam that we found out he was running behind in his size. The next one revealed the same thing and by the time 32 weeks rolled around my doctor, who I really was not too happy with, told me that I may not make it to 36 weeks as she wanted to induce me earlier.

Every time I left the doctor, needless to say, I was in tears.

They put me on partial bed rest, though I really just rested a few times per day, and had me eating as many fat-rich foods as possible.

Approaching 38 weeks, I asked for a second opinion and got in writing from a second perinatologist that I could go to 40 weeks. My OBGYN took this as if it were written in gold and had my induction scheduled on my due date. I was set and determined to not be induced and wanted to do the whole thing naturally without an epidural. 

The day before my induction, I had my last OBGYN exam. That was miserable, to say the least. My husband drove me home as I was sobbing with the idea of what would soon come.

I spoke to an old friend who recommended trying a labor-inducing drink. We found a birthing center that made it and drove 40 minutes to get it.

This contained:

  • castor oil
  • almond butter
  • lemon something or other
  • and some other nasty stuff that was supposed to give the uterus a kick.

I drank it all down and waited.

We decided to then order pizza for dinner as we didn’t have time to cook much.

I then spoke to a midwife who had been helping us on the side and she ordered me to come to see her right then. Before the pizza even arrived, my husband swept me into the car and away we went.

She did a thorough pokey poke up there and I felt an incredibly painful jab that I later found out was the sweeping of membranes. She sent me away with some other homeopathy type things and off we went.

The pizza was still good when we got home (my mom helped to receive the pizza while we were away) and we ate and waited.

Around 10 that night I started noticing some pains in my stomach and at first, couldn’t tell if it was from the pizza or not.

They then started getting more regular and after they had been going for over an hour, I knew this was not indigestion. Never in my life had I been so welcoming of pain than at that moment.

This was a good pain, an exciting pain.

This meant that my son would be arriving soon! We quickly got in the car and arrived at the hospital around 12 AM. After going to triage, it was confirmed I was in labor and shortly after my water broke.

And remember that labor drink I had taken? Well, that ensured that my insides were fully flushed out.

Going to the bathroom at the same time as having a contraction is a feeling I never wish upon anyone ever. 

Back in the room, the pain slowly increased, but the dilation just wouldn’t get past 6… my husband and my mom were wonderful, by my side with every contraction, holding my hand and rolling ice-cold soda cans on my back.

I was ready to do this fully natural.

By 8AM I was so exhausted and two things tipped me over the edge:

  1. The anesthesiologist kept “checking in” to see if I had changed my mind about the epidural. That is like holding water up to a man who has walked through a desert, especially when you haven’t slept for 24 hours.
  2. A nurse made the stupid mistake of telling me at my most painful moments “Oh, looks like you will be getting into transition soon!”

The thought that it could get any worse than I felt was just too much for me to handle.

I screamed for help. And they gave me the epidural shot and I entered into the drug euphoria where everything seems peaceful…

But boy was that a mistake as the contractions majorly slowed down and the dilation almost stopped. They then had to lower the dosage of the epidural so that I could contract more.

Finally, I reached 10 cm and it was time to push, except that I couldn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t feel my stomach and I certainly couldn’t tell if I was even using the right muscles.

I ended up pushing with the nurse for an hour waiting for the doctor to come from God knows where and apparently my poor baby was stuck somewhere up there.

I felt that I had the worst body for this and that I would never get my angel out.

When the doctor finally did show up, she threatened me with a C-Section.

But how the heck was I supposed to do my job when I couldn’t even feel where I was pushing?

I looked to my husband so freaked and he just kept reassuring me everything was going to be 100% okay. That is really the best thing you can hear from someone when you are mid this.

Note to husbands out there. No matter how freaked you may feel on the inside, you must, must, must keep your cool for your wife. She needs to know that you are with her and that you know she can get through. 

The doctor then offered the vacuum suction as a solution.

At that point, anything to get my baby out, I didn’t care. So with the help of the vacuum and somehow pushing with who knows what muscles, my sweet baby Liam was born and tears and tears of so much happiness came with him from my husband, my mom, and my dad.

He was a healthy 5 pounds 12 ounces and to this day my other OBGYN on my next pregnancy could not believe that this doctor was so incompetent that she couldn’t get me to get a 5-pound baby out!

On top of that, I got a second-degree perineum tear which she horribly stitched back together, causing me pain for months afterward.

Instead of six weeks of healing, it turned into six months. I went back to her to get corrected and she used colloidal silver on it which was more painful than any contraction EVER. And this did NOTHING to heal it.

I then had to go to another doctor who said she did a full botch job with one look at the perennial area. And he had to do a whole repair surgery! I had to actually go unconscious with the full surgical procedure 3 months postpartum.

So I feel this all was the result of me giving in to the pain.


Lauren’s Second Birth: All Natural

The next pregnancy was unbelievably smooth, with my daughter having zero complications.

The same thing happened where my induction was scheduled a week after my due date, just because it was time to get her out and I got my membranes swept (no pain this time).

Just like her big brother, in the middle of the night, the day before the induction was supposed to take place, the contractions came on.

They woke me at 1:38AM and I waited until 2:00AM to wake my husband and we ensured after an hour consistency that it was, in fact, the real deal.

We got in the car and arrived to the birthing center by 3:15AM. They took me to triage where I refused to even change into a gown as I was in such intense pain.

A side note here is that I had tested positive for Group B Strep, so I was supposed to get antibiotics 4 hours before delivery. Well, in triage the nurses could not get a needle in me to save their lives and so after literally 20 pokes later, it was determined it ain’t gonna happen.

I then started having excruciating back labor pains, so I walked to the labor room and seemed to swap her around in there as the pain went back to the front.

I told the nurse I needed to go to the bathroom as I felt this incredible urge to push, but she nailed it when she said “No, that is the baby coming…let’s get the doctor in here now.”

And not 2 minutes later I was pushing and pushing and at 4:38AM my beautiful Ella Rose arrived in my arms.

It was the most intense, incredible, empowering experience.

I will admit I was screaming, but the pain gave me a vigor, a drive, an almost superhero power to do what I needed to do to get that baby out.

I could feel every muscle and knew where every push was needed, with the guidance of an awesome doctor and my amazing husband (whose hand was very sore afterwards from my squeezing).

That was what it meant to be a mother. I felt this incredible sense of accomplishment at the end as I held this miracle in my arms.

The only downside is I did get shingles after my second labor, which lasted 6 weeks. I really believe it was from all of the needle poking and the fact that I refused to sleep for 48 hours afterwards as I wanted to hold my daughter the whole time.

Would I have an all-natural birth again with no epidural to mask the pain?

Absolutely! I don’t like feeling out of control and that is what the epidural made me feel like. The first labor paves the way for the rest and it goes SO fast that there really isn’t any time for even thinking about getting drugs with the second.

I would imagine the 3rd would be just as speedy too, if not more so. I wish all mothers the absolute best and I truly respect your choices. No two labors are the same and you need to be prepared for all scenarios, being willing to experience anything.

But no matter which way you go, the end result is the same: a beautiful baby that YOU created and brought into this world.

These heartfelt birth stories (which I can incredibly relate to) were shared by Lauren Gonzalez. Check out Lauren’s blog and the company she created to help moms: Nena and Nene!


epidural birth vs. all natural birth stories

2. Karen’s Epidural Vs. Natural Birth Stories

It seems everyone starts out with having an epidural with their first birth. None of us seem to endure a natural birth and then switch to an epidural the second time.

This is the story from a mama who had four epidural births before then switching to attempting a natural labor and delivery.


Karen’s Epidural Birth Experience

I remember with my first pregnancy my birth plan was natural labor.

I was convinced that I had a high enough pain threshold that I would not need an epidural and would be able to labor naturally.

Well, of course, that didn’t happen. As soon as I got to the hospital and was confirmed to be actively in labor I requested an epidural- the pain was too strong and when my doctor told me I could be in labor for many hours up to a couple of days I knew I needed the epidural.

Once I got it the pain greatly decreased, of course, I could still feel the contractions but not nearly as bad.

The actual delivery was uncomfortable and tiring but not painful.

I naturally assumed that I would need epidurals for all of my other pregnancies as well.

With my second delivery, I noticed that the only pain I had following delivery was in my back at the epidural site and that I could not lay down properly or sit for a few days following.

With my third, I got to the hospital at 8 cm dilated and still requested an epidural.

As a nursery nurse, I was shocked that they gave one to me that far along, but they did.

I just remember how scared I was having to sit still during those intense contractions while they were inserting that huge needle into my back and unfortunately it did not take effect before delivering.

I survived the delivery but it was very painful and I hated that I was confined to the bed and couldn’t move around during those intense contractions.

Then I promised myself that I wouldn’t make that same mistake with my fourth and made sure to get to the hospital with enough time to receive my epidural.

My thoughts about the epidural for the last three pregnancies was that the epidural was worth the trade-off of taking away the really intense contractions and dealing with the really bad back pain afterwards.


How Karen’s Labor Story Changed: Her 5th and All-Natural Labor

When I found out that I was pregnant with my fifth baby, I switched from my usual Ob-gyn to a group of midwives, because I wanted a more natural pregnancy overall.

When my midwife explained the water birth process to me I decided I wanted to try that this time around.

My husband was convinced I would not be able to handle labor without an epidural but I wanted to prove to him and to myself that I could. And more importantly, I didn’t want that back pain for the following three days while caring for an infant, again.

This labor and delivery was better than my four prior.

I went in with the mindset that I was just going to be in intense pain for just a few hours-after all it was a fifth baby, it couldn’t last that long anyway.

Of course, the contractions were intense, but once I got into the water they eased up for a little while and I was so relaxed.

Until they started up again and they got intense real fast. I told my midwife at that point “I think I made a mistake, I need the epidural!”  But she reassured me that I could handle it and when she examined me it turned out that it was time for me to push.

In an effort to make the pain stop I pushed as strong as I could.

All I can say with regards to the pain is they don’t call it the “ring of fire” for nothing, but after two pushes he was out. I just felt so relieved and proud of myself for accomplishing my goal of a natural birth and I loved the fact that I had no recovery pain at all.


In Another Labor Would I Choose Natural or an Epidural Birth?

Chances are I will have to do this again sometime in the future, and when I do, I would do it epidural free again.

It is such an empowering feeling to allow your body to do what it is designed to do without any intervention and without any unnecessary recovery pain.

This wonderful contribution from a truly experienced mama came from Karen at Crafty Organic Mama.



Megan’s Natural Birth vs. her Epidural Birth

Another strikingly different set of experiences for one woman and her two labors.

Megan’s Medicated Epidural Birth Story

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was on a mission to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. I worked out every day, ate healthy, and was doing everything in my mind to have my dream delivery.

My birth plan was to go into labor naturally, go med-free, and avoid any pain relievers at all costs.

However, due to preeclampsia, I ended up being induced at 38 weeks. My body was not ready.

It took nearly 24 hours for my body to progress and the back labor was awful! In the middle of the night, after having been on the induction meds for almost 12 hours, I decided for an epidural.

Laboring with an epidural was an interesting experience.

I was not in pain for most of it however my epidural kept “failing” on one side of my body which grew exhausting, confusing, and a pain.

This was the start of what I knew would be an emotionally frustrating delivery.

As I proceeded and it became time to deliver my son I felt completely out of control.

They would tell me to push on my next contraction but I couldn’t feel anything so I had no idea how to “listen to my body” and push when it was needed. I remember feeling frustrated and angry because I wanted so badly to be able to do this on my own but my mind and body were so disconnected.

Thankfully, throughout this entire process, he was fine and was born a beautiful and healthy little boy.

Recovering from a medicated delivery was painful. I had to continue on medications because as I weaned off of them, the pains were extreme.

My entire body hurt. Every muscle. Thankfully my body recovered pretty quickly and I was back to my normal self in a few days.


Megan’s Completely Different Experience with an Unmedicated Natural Birth

My second pregnancy, just a year after my first, I knew would be different.I felt different (better) through the entire thing and gained significantly less weight.My birth plan this time around was all natural and hopefully not to be induced.

I had lower expectations and my delivery blew all my expectations out of the water.


I went into labor at 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant.

It was a very subtle experience. Not painful just uncomfortable.

I woke up at 1 am and felt like something was changing so I called my doctor. He told me to go into the hospital just to see. We got to the hospital a few hours later (again, I barely felt like I was in labor) and as we were in triage they checked to see how dilated I was.

As the nurse checked me she mentioned that my waters were bulging, and then she accidentally broke it! I laughed because it was a flood for the next 20 minutes. SO MUCH WATER.

Because of my waters breaking so quickly the nurse was worried the baby would fall and get the cord around his neck or the cord would come out first so she kept her hand inside.

Yup. The nurse kept her hand inside to hold the baby up while the waters flowed out.

Finally, I was ready to go to the delivery room. We went up to the room, feeling contractions the entire time. I decided to stand and walk around in the room, as that felt best for my body.

The nurses encouraged me to sit but I declined. After about 10 minutes, I knew baby was coming.

Problem was, there was no doctor. So the nurses kept “encouraging me” not to push.

Oh boy. I remember turning to the nurse and saying “then what do you want me to do?! The baby is coming!”

Everyone moved around but nobody expected me to deliver right then and there. I turned, threw up in the sink, my mom said “the baby is coming” so she threw towels on the ground and was ready to catch the baby.

Yes, my MOM caught the baby ON THE FLOOR because the nurses were waiting for the doctor.

After a few pushes our son was born, perfect as can be. Moments later the doctor came in and asked who delivered the baby, and nobody said anything.

I said, “I did!”

He was born at 9lbs and was healthy and happy. Just perfect!


If Pregnant Again, Which Birth Experience Would Megan Choose?

This unmedicated natural birth was the most amazing experience ever. I would absolutely do it again this same way.

Recovering from a natural unmedicated birth was quick, quite painless, and amazing. My body jumped back into the swing of things so quickly. I bled less, had more energy, nursing was easier, and everything was just perfect.

You can read more about pregnancy and parenting on her website, Realistic Plant-Based Mama.


Wrapping Up This Collection of Natural vs. Unmedicated Birth Stories

I find it striking how similar this collection of unique birth stories were.

Not one mom went into her first labor planning on getting an epidural. Yet they all caved to that overwhelmingly intense pain for the relief that it seems hospitals are waving in front of you like “a glass of water to a man who just walked through a desert” as Lauren so cleverly explained it.

I also noticed in each story, the mothers relaying to the difference between recovery from an epidural birth vs. that of a natural birth. It seems quite often epidural births have a more difficult recovery.

The last striking similarity I noticed was that every one of these women would choose a natural birth if given the opportunity again!

It is amazing that so many women would choose to feel such intense pain after having both experiences.

What will you choose? Are you planning on giving an epidural a try? Are you completely set on an all-natural birth? I’d love to know more about your thoughts in the comments below!

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    1. Your welcome. I hope the post gives you a better idea of what labor can be like with an epidural vs. what all-natural labor can be like. With more knowledge, you are always more prepared for the big day ahead!