5 Tips for Natural Birth When You’ve Had An Epidural

Black pregnant mother resting on couch

You’ve had an epidural for a previous birth. But this time you want a different experience. You’re planning a natural birth- a vaginal delivery without pain medication.

*Let me state early on that I’m not a doula who is against epidurals. In fact, I think they’re sometimes God’s gift to childbirth. I’ve seen beautiful births with them and will support you no matter what tools you choose to birth your baby.


Unmedicated birth takes a bit of prep though, so let’s talk about it. Here are 5 steps to a natural birth (when you’ve had an epidural in the past):


  1. Know YOUR why.

Whether it was overwhelming pain, a medical reason, or just different decision making, there was a reason that you chose an epidural last time. That reason was totally valid, and you made the best decision for you at the time. And, since every pregnancy and birth is different, you get to choose differently this time.


You’ll want to be firm in the decision to birth without medication, and you should make it for yourself. Not because a natural birth blog, a partner, or a doula tells you to. Those aren’t the kind of decisions we stick with.

What’s important to you about skipping the epidural? Commit this to memory, because you’ll need to be pretty committed to labor without pain medication.


  1. Tune everyone else out.

Focus is incredibly important in labor, so think of the time up to that point as practice.

You’re likely to have friends and family look at you like you have two heads if you tell them that you’re not going to have an epidural.

They may feel judged for their own decisions, or worry about whether you can handle it. They might tell you about that time you skinned your knee and cried for an hour.

But none of that is your business. And neither are the decisions you make for you and your baby their business. This is your birth, and you (and your baby and medical team) call the shots.

Also, remember that you don’t have to talk about this with unsupportive people. Boundaries are good to have.  


  1. Confront your fears.

Fear of childbirth is common. It’s normal if you have it. Your fear may be specific- you don’t want to poop in front of people. Or it might be more large-scale- you’re worried about what another baby will mean for your family.

No matter what, face the fear. Fear slows labor, and amplifies pain.

You’ll want to deal with it and remove its power.


  1. Find your coping mechanisms.

Last time, you used the epidural to cope with the sensations of labor. And oftentimes, that’s a very effective tool! So if you’re not going to use that tool, you’ll need another.

Will it be visualization? Breathing techniques? Movement and laboring positions? Hydrotherapy?

Vocalizing all of your emotions into a primal moan? We do whatever works in labor and birth.

You’ll want to have some strategies for labor. A childbirth education class, and a labor doula are good resources to help work towards a natural birth.


  1. Plan for your pain threshold.

Do you remember the point when you decided that you wanted an epidural? Was there something that triggered it in particular? If so, have a plan in place to get past that point.

And then make a plan for if you feel like you can’t get past that. Confronting our worst case scenarios is often what helps us avoid them.  

In order to have an unmedicated birth, you have to know that this experience can and will be different from the last. You also have to know that even if the pain is similar, you can handle it differently.

No matter what, as a doula I trust your decisions. You’re going to make great ones! If you’d like to talk through your strategies, just drop me a note.  

1 Comment

  1. Racquel says:

    I love this!!!

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