When I knew I would be induced for this delivery, I found very little out there about having a successful pain-med-free labor induction. I posted a question to my favorite Facebook mom group, and was able to hear some different experiences that were both encouraging and terrifying. Laboring through pitocin-induced contractions without pain relief seemed like an impossible feat not for the faint-hearted. I felt like it was pretty unfair that there was not more support out there. Doubting your body in the final days before labor can be pretty earth-shattering for a hormonal mama.
With both pregnancies, I knew I did not want an epidural and wanted to deliver as naturally as possible. I am very hesitant to use the word “naturally” as the mommy shaming trend is very much alive lately. When I say naturally, I mean vaginally and without the help of pain relief medication. Numbness causes me intense claustrophobia and the thought of an epidural is just too much for me. Additionally, I tend to react pretty strongly to medications since I don’t take them often and I wanted to avoid any side effects.
You can read Wyatt’s full birth story here, but to summarize, I went into labor 2 days before my due date and delivered him without pain medication. From the time my water broke until he was earthside about seven hours had passed. For my second pregnancy, I was induced 2 days after my due date. Although my gestational diabetes was diet controlled, my doctor felt it was best not to let things go too much further.
Guys, I cried and cried. As I mentioned in this post, I don’t get really hung up on a formal birth plan. My one “thing” is no epidural. I’ve heard time and time again it is damn near impossible to power through an induction without the help of pain medication because pitocin-induced contractions are super intense. I knew I had a lot of mental prep work to do if I was going to attempt to do this on my own.
For those of you who have been scheduled for an induction but would like to go without pain medication, I put together what worked for me. I don’t sugar coat it because it IS intense. But you CAN do it!
Prepare for a Pain-Med-Free Labor Induction Throughout Your Whole Pregnancy
Start preparing for the worst pain of your life from the moment you pee on the stick. This may sound a little too real, but think of pregnancy and delivery as training for a marathon. A lot of physical and mental prep must go into training in order to make it through. The athlete doesn’t just show up on game day.
I reminded myself that each excrutiating wave got me that much closer to meeting my baby. Since our first is the spitting image of my husband, I wondered if our second would have any of my traits. With each wave I tried to focus on that amazing feeling of holding my baby, (and seeing what he looked like), pain-free and finally relaxed.
Just Let Go
If you are at all self conscious – of your face as it clenches, the primal sounds coming out of you, the swears you may be spewing, the thought of a big ole’ #2 in the middle of pushing, you will get distracted. I looked back at my labor photos and I laughed so hard at the faces I was making. It wasn’t cute. I was definitely more uptight delivering Wyatt, but this time I just did what I had to do to make it through. My sister even took a photo of the clock when I dropped my first f-bomb. Classy? Nope. But at the moment it was highly necessary!
Pick Your Birthing Team Carefully
My husband, mom and sister were in the room during my pain-med-free labor induction. Since my mom had both my sister and me without meds she knew exactly what I was feeling emotionally and physically. She’s mentally a very tough lady so I needed her as my rock to talk me through this process. That kind of unwavering support and strength is vital. Towards the end I truly didn’t know how I would get through, and she knew her role was to convince me otherwise.
Before my pain-med-free labor induction my husband and I talked about my plan. He knew not to even mention an epidural as an option and never brought it up once. Ev was completely on board and supported the decision and told me how tough I was which made me feel pretty badass in those weak moments.
My sister was on photo duty, and supported me through this task. She knew I wanted to capture the rawness of having a pain-med-free labor induction and she nailed it with candid shots.
Choosing the right doctor is also important. My OBGYN and her APRN were completely supportive of my decision, reassuring me that I am healthy and totally capable of whatever plan I wanted.
Walk, walk, and walk in the early stages after pitocin is added to your IV. I can’t remember how many laps I did around the labor and delivery area. Once the hardcore contractions start, you’ll be less likely to manage moving a lot, so get your position changes in early. This delivery, I found the birthing ball especially helpful and comfortable. I rocked, did hip circles, whatever would help through those contractions. When I was 7 cm, I laid in the bed because the pain kicked up drastically. If you are laying flat in bed, try to switch sides between contractions.
doTERRA Deep Blue Pain Relief Cream
I was in no way paid to mentioned this stuff in this post, so this opinion is completely not solicited. My mom rubbed this essential oil-based pain relief cream on my back for hours through wave after painful wave. It helped so much and was worth every penny. Essential oils are HUGE right now so you are bound to know a rep who you can get it from.
Eat & Drink Prior
When you’ve decided to deliver without pain medication and go into labor on your own, one of the biggest tricks to success is staying home as long as you can. During this time you get to fuel up to prepare (remember my marathon analogy from earlier.) One major downside of the induction is that once admitted, you get cut off from food and water. What’s worse is that you have zero idea how long your labor is going to be. This was a real cause of anxiety for me.
With nerves on high, I barely ate a Clif bar the morning of my pain-med-free labor induction. My body is used to a big balanced breakfast but I felt too queasy. I was HANGRY AF by 10am and it was pretty distracting. Do your best to eat some protein and a whole grain carb. Eggs and toast with some almond butter will fuel you for the task ahead. Avoid dairy and anything really acidic (in case you get sick at some point).
Pretend There is No Other Option
I basically put the mere notion of an epidural’s existence out of my mind. The “I’ll labor as long as I can then decide” mentality won’t work. Embracing the mind game and committing fully to your desire for a pain-med-free labor induction is very important for success.
Disclaimer: I am not a doula, midwife, or medical professional. I’m simply a mom sharing her birthing experiences to help others make their own personal decisions. I’d love to hear your personal experiences in the comments or over on Facebook & Instagram.