Natural Childbirth vs. Labor Meds: What's Right for You?

Deciding whether or not to go drug-free for delivery? Here are a few things to consider.
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ByAshley S. Roman, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
May 2017
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Photo: Jeanni Dunagan

Deciding whether to have a natural birth or opt for labor pain medication? There’s really no wrong answer here.

Some of the reasons why women choose to go “natural” include a desire to avoid medical intervention and to minimize baby’s exposure to medications. Some want to make sure they can feel contractions as they push, to help get the timing perfect.

If that doesn’t sound like you, there are safe medications you can take to help with the pain. Over half of the women who have hospital births choose epidural anesthesia. It allows for a steady flow of medication through an injection near your spinal cord, preventing you from feeling most pain below the waist. If you get one, know that you may not be able to walk once it’s administered and you may still feel its effects for hours after delivery. Some other options are a spinal block (similar but lasts only a couple of hours) and a local anesthesia.

If you do opt for a drug-free labor and delivery, it’s important to know some pain-management techniques. Take a natural-birthing class so you’ll know what to expect every step of the way.

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