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Epidural in hospital VS. Natural in a birthing center - anyone who has done one, then the other?

Okay so first, I'm not pregnant yet. I've just been thinking about this a lot. I want to have another baby, and this is just something that I can't get out of my brain.
With my first I really, really wanted to have a natural birth. I've heard it's so much better, etc. I wanted to have a water birth - supposed to be easier on both mom and baby, gradual transition, weightlessness and all that. But my insurance wouldn't cover the only birthing center around that does that. So I just stuck with an OB who is close by and hoped I would be able to have the most natural hospital birth possible - just walk and move around and change positions and use massage and everything to handle the pain. It's easier to deal with pain if you can move, right?
What really wound up happening was, I was in labor for 4 days without success, so they had to give me pitocin to speed things up. On pitocin, you wind up strapped to the bed pretty much, with a catheter. So, without the option of moving around, I opted for the epidural, since I was just strapped to the bed anyway. By the time they got it in I was 8cm and hadn't experienced any noticeable amount of pain. With the epi, the only pain I felt was when it came to be time to push. My daughter was fully alert when she was born, the epi did not have any bad effects on either of us.
Anyway, so I loved my OB. He was great through my whole pregnancy. Having miscarried 3 times before, he dealt with my fears and needs very well. Now, there is a new birthing center, that does waterbirths, and they take my insurance. Except now, I'm wondering...does it really matter? Is it really worth it? I can't remember why having a natural birth was so important to me in the first place, except that one of my good friends did it with 4 of her 6 kids.
I enjoyed my first birth experience, what is so much better about going natural and being in pain? I'm going to have to decide if I just want to stick with my fantastic OB, or risk doing the natural thing and possibly regretting it.
Has anyone had one child with an epidural and all that, then the next child natural? Would you do natural again, or go back to the Epi? If you preferred the natural birth, why? Why is it so much better, when you have to be in so much pain? On the flipside, has anyone done natural the first time, then opted to get the epidural the second time? What was the better experience for you, and which would you repeat?


Asked by FluffyMamaBunny at 11:47 PM on Dec. 3, 2010 in Pregnancy

Level 19 (6,861 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (13)
  • Having a doula with you should you decide to go from birth center to hospital will be very helpful, because then even if you don't get your OB, you will still have someone fantastic to support you and make your birth experience wonderful. Doulas really are a godsend.

    Another important thing to keep in mind... you do not have to consent to any procedure. If you DO end up on pitocin again, you do not have to have a catheter. I was stuck in bed with pitocin only because my blood pressure was high if I wasn't on my left side. I did not have a catheter, nor did I need one, since I could get up to the bathroom by myself.

    Do some soul searching and make sure that whatever you choose, you will not be left wondering if it could have been better. I loved my home birth, it was incredible. If you will always wonder what waterbirth is like, then try that, is my advice :)

    Answer by Ati_13 at 11:57 PM on Dec. 3, 2010

  • I have had one baby in the hospital with pitocin (no pain meds, though) and one at home (also obviously no pain meds). The reason natural birth was so important to me was the empowerment. To know that I can do this how women have done it for millennia. And to fully experience my children's births. I didn't want to be numbed, I wanted to feel the miracle my body could produce, growing a baby for 9 months and then giving birth to it. Equally importantly, I did not want to increase my risks. Epidural increases the risks of all other interventions up to and including C-section, and then it often increases the risk of breastfeeding and bonding difficulties after the birth.

    Something to keep in mind. If you get to the birth center and don't like it and want to be in the hospital with an epi you can always switch. You can't switch to the birth center, though. CONTINUED

    Answer by Ati_13 at 11:54 PM on Dec. 3, 2010

  • I have had two med-free births, the second being at home. I would sign up for that again in a heartbeat, despite the fact that my second birth was more painful then my first. Although avoiding unnecessary risks of unnecessary things was important, equally important was that I was not drugged or strapped down after birth. I literally felt so good after, there is no comparison. NONE. I would not pass that up for a few hours of avoiding labor pain. On top of physically feeling great, I felt so in awe of birth, of my own body, of everything. It was like a new awakening. At the same time though, it felt so normal, and so "everyday" because of the lack of stress (during the homebirth, that is). Both births were incredible, encouraging, painful, trying, exciting, challenging, intense, indescribable, etc. I would encourage you to read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, especially the birth stories. They are so inspiring!


    Answer by squish at 12:41 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • I would say that it is also not premature to take a tour. Knowing what to expect now and what questions to hash out now could ease your mind a lot and give you the confidence to rely on that decision instead of making it when you are chalk full of hormones. :) Many women I know start the interview process prior to pregnancy or even when they are not pregnant yet. When you start thinking like a consumer when it comes to prenatal care, your outlook is very different.

    I would also suggest looking int Bradley Classes (which we did as a couple, it was great), or Hypnobirthing or Birthing From Within classes (which many women love).


    Answer by squish at 12:48 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • I hope to have the next one at a birth center (ideally a home birth, but I know that after my complicated first delivery, DH won't hear of it).
    With DS, I had planned on a natural birth. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. My water broke long before I had contractions, so the hospital was pressuring me for an induction. I finally agreed to Cytotec (my first mistake). It got things going faster, and I was in full blown back labor soon after. The pain was bad, so I tried Fentanyl. It didn't even touch the pain. So I opted for the epidural. I think that even though I was hell

    Answer by musicpisces at 12:13 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • Bent on a natural birth, knowing meds were available changed my frame of mind. I ended up with pitocin, as the epidural slowed my labor, an internal pressure monitor, a fetal scalp electrode (both because they were having difficulty monitoring DS), and of course, the catheter. I felt a good amount of pain from about 7cm on, and with the epidural, i disnt have the benefit of endorphins (the feel good hormones). DS's heart stopped when I was pushing, so I ended up with an emergency c-section. With all of the complications, we struggled for 6 weeks with breastfeeding (we finally figured it out). I was really traumatized by my experience, and suffered major PPD. I plan to hire a doula next time. Even though DH was awesome, a doula offers so much more. I'm studying to be a midwife, and I worked for a year at a local free standing birth center. I would LOVE to give birth at one. Have you done a tour of the one where you

    Answer by musicpisces at 12:18 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • Are that takes your insurance? You should go check it out. Plus, midwives offer such a different experience than OBs.
    That said, if you're happy with how things went last time, and you choose to go with the same kind of experience next time, there's nothing wrong with that. You need to do what's right for you and your baby, and only you and your SO cam decide what that is. If you decide to go natural (and even if you don't), I would recommend a doula.

    Answer by musicpisces at 12:20 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • I haven't taken a tour yet - figured it would be a bit premature with me not even being pregnant yet. :)

    Comment by FluffyMamaBunny (original poster) at 12:31 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • You don't have to choose drugs OR pain....

    There are many ways to cope naturally.

    Why natural birth?
    Because you don't add unnecessary risks to your baby / yourself. I think this is a big deal~

    Once you are supported, encouraged, and educated, you will be able to see that you have plenty of accessible options!

    I have never had a hospital or medicated delivery myself, but have attended other women with theirs, as well as have been to home births and birth center births.
    There is a big difference.
    If you want a lovely, safe, natural, happy birth, avoiding a surgeon (OB) and hospital might be a priority.

    My deliveries were waterbirths with midwives in a BC.

    Answer by doulala at 3:21 AM on Dec. 4, 2010

  • I think that one of my main reasons - and the one thing that I would have changed about my birth experience - is that I wanted my baby handed to me right away. They had to take her away for a couple minutes because there had been some meconium present in the fluids when I was pushing and they had to clear her lungs, I guess. That was just from me being in labor for so long though.
    Also that someone told me they should wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it, but I don't really understand why that is important, so it wasn't one of my big concerns.
    Why are there risks with the epidural? We did just fine. We had problems with breastfeeding, but it was because I had flat/slightly inverted nipples (which, thanks to 16 months of nursing, are no longer in such dismal condition, lol.)
    The other thing is that the birthing center is about an hour and a half away, and the hospital is only 15 minutes. Not a huge deal.

    Comment by FluffyMamaBunny (original poster) at 3:55 AM on Dec. 4, 2010