Let's get real: what it’s really like… to give birth without an epidural 3 years ago

Let's get real: what it’s really like… to give birth without an epidural

Maybe it’s what you had planned all along: going totally pain-free during childbirth.

Or perhaps it's just the way things ended up.


For me on my first baby (similar to a lot of women), it was the latter. And then for my second, I reckoned if I’d done it once I may as well just go along with the whole au natural experience again.

In hindsight, my summation would be as such: you don’t actually need it and afterwards you’re very much glad you took the plunge.

And while each experience of childbirth is different, here’s what I reckon giving birth without any pain-relief (including no gas or oxygen) is really like…

1) Get to the point

If you wanted to have an epidural and you didn’t get one (for whatever reason) you might be a bit panicked at the thought of having to go it alone (I know I was). However, skipping the pain-relief part of labour does allow you to get to the main event that bit quicker. And most women – whatever way they give birth – would probably agree that an emphasis on speed is only a good thing.

2) And breathe…


There is really feck all you can do once those waves of contractions start coming thick and fast. Except maybe breathe - and intently stare at the same spot on the wall.

3) Burn baby burn

What can prepare you for childbirth for the first time? I think the likes of positive-thinking and mindfulness or meditation can be helpful, but overall not a whole load. Still – and in addition to the whole a baby moving through your birth canal thing – I found (especially on baby No.1) that childbirth had a lot more burn than I expected. That searing of the final few pushes arguably aren’t as intense as your contractions, but they’re certainly noteworthy nonetheless. Kinda like a Chinese burn… but internal.

4) Pain will never be the same


Your pain-threshold will be forever reset afterwards. Stubbing your toe, standing on Lego, bumps, bruises, or getting a bikini wax – all subsequently a total walk in the park. Even my hangovers don’t seem as extreme; I’m so much more resilient and stronger now.

5) It’s not that bad

A bit like going to a gym class: you’re seriously dreading it beforehand; then during it there are people shouting at you and you think you’re legitimately going to die. However, by the end you’re really happy and proud you went and anyway, it wasn’t that bad. Actually, in a weird way, you’re looking forward to experiencing it all again.