Are there alternatives to an epidural during labor? The good news is yes there are! Whether you’re planning on going the natural childbirth route or you just don’t like the idea of a giant needle going into your back, there are many reasons you might be considering alternatives to an epidural.
Something to remember when you get an epidural, she brings a friend, the catheter (this is something I was unaware of when I had my first one). Since you have no feeling ‘down there’, you also don’t know when you have to go either (it’s a better option than wetting the bed and having to change your sheets all the time). I didn’t even know I had one in until the aids came to change out my bag; I asked “What bag?” So if you are hoping to avoid an epidural (and its sidekick the catheter), here are some alternatives for you.
Alternatives to an Epidural
Water: It is pretty amazing the affects water has on our bodies, even when we are soaking in it. It acts as a pain reliever and is partially (if not completely) because being in water acts as a mini anti-gravity chamber for your nether regions, therefore taking the pressure off your abdomen and cervix. Also, water will be softening the tissues while soaking, so birth will go smoother than not being in the water. There are other benefits to water births, so talk to your doctor or midwife to see if this option is right for you.
Hire a doula: She is like heaven on earth for those who choose to hire a doula for the birth of their child. You will meet with her weeks before your expected due date, and she will teach you relaxation techniques to use while in labor. The best part? She will be right beside you during the actual labor coaching you along! She will massage you, and help you get into positions that are more comfortable (because if you haven’t labored before, you will soon find out that what was once comfortable, you can no longer tolerate 5 minutes later). Don’t worry, she doesn’t take the place of your hubby (or whoever else is joining you in the delivery room), she will have helpful jobs for those involved so that they can feel as much a part of the birth as possible.
Educate yourself: How is education an alternative to an epidural? You have to understand the pain you are going to experience. Typically, when we feel pain, our instinct is to run away from it (not always physically run but you know what I mean). When you have an understanding of what you are feeling and what is going on in your body, you have a better chance of getting a grip on it and you controlling the pain rather than the pain controlling you. Make sense?
Pain meds: If you’re looking for more medicine-based alternatives to epidurals, these will work! I was not going to have an epidural with my first (then she ended up being an emergency c-section). While laboring I was taking pain meds as scheduled (until the nurse said I couldn’t have anymore, but that is another story). They helped me just fine. I was still able to push and feel what I was doing, whereas an epidural will make you completely numb in the lower half of your body.
You can give birth without an epidural. The only reason I ever had one was because both of my pregnancies resulted in surgery. Labor was painful, I won’t sugarcoat it, but remember that this is something your body is meant to do. Education is key, even if you decide you want pain meds, understanding what is happening to your body is important. A doula can help with that too!