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Labor on Pitocin: Is it really that hard?

Pitocin is often used to further stimulate labor, increasing the strength or frequency of contractions.  When I was given pitocin during my first birth, it was because - although fully dilated - my contractions had died down in strength and frequency.  My doctor wanted to be sure we could birth the baby before any complications occurred.  I didn't question the suggestion to start pitocin, as I had already delayed the pitocin for several hours, hoping that my contractions would naturally resume.  But, they didn't.  So, I had some pitocin.  My doctor told me that I probably didn't want to have powerful pitocin contractions without an epidural, so I also agreed to the epidural, fearing the superhuman contractions.

An urbanMama recently emailed who wants to know, is it possible to survive an induced-labor, without epidurals or other painkiller interventions?:

My little sister is now pregnant and unfortunately she's started off with a complication:  blood clot in the leg.  Due to this she will be on blood thinners throughout the pregnancy and then when it's time for baby, she will need to be induced (so they can manage the timing of taking her off the blood thinner so she doesn't bleed too much....).  She has attended several births and is committed to a natural, intervention-free labor.  Her concern is that by being induced, her chances of making it through labor without painkiller interventions are less.  Immediately I thought of urbanMamas as being the place to ask that question.  Are there any mamas out there who have been through labor with and without induction?  Any mamas who've been through induction of labor and got through it without an epidural? 

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My thoughts will be with your sis. I would HIGHLY recommend she get a 2nd and 3rd opinion about being induced. I was induced with Cervidil and Pitocin and ended up having a c-section. Induced labor doesn't always lead the baby down the birth canal.

That being said, if she must be induced, I was also hoping for a natural labor, but about 15 minutes after they hooked me up to the pitocin I was in the most agonizing and incredible pain of my life. What I've heard about pit is that your body doesn't have time to adjust from smaller contractions and that is the biggest reason for needing pain relief. The contractions start out incredibly strong (they can adjust the delivery, but seem to always crank it up...) and for me became unbearable. I asked for the epidural, got it, and then 8 hours later needed it anyway for the section.

Again, best thoughts with her and the entire family!!! (The most important thing for me in the end was the healthy delivery of my baby, but I do wish it had gone differently...One thing that could help your sis NOW to prepare is to possibly start shifting her "vision" from an all-natural labor to what will undoubtedly be one with interventions. Just that change of thinking before my induction possibly would have reduced my great disappointment...)

I was induced with pitocin and had a thoroughly normal vaginal delivery. I did, however opt for an epidural after my doctor broke my water about seven hours after I was started on the drip because things were going rather slowly. I did not even feel my contractions until that point. I agree with Kimberly that it is really important to keep a flexible attitude about pregnancy and delivery, because frequently, things simply don't go according to plan. I've known many a mama to mourn for the loss of their "plan" when life got in the way. Four months of bed rest and an induction were never part of my plan, but I made peace with that immediately when my daughter was born gorgeous, healthy and full-term.

I am a labor and delivery nurse at St. Vincent and I personally have seen a lot of unmedicated labors/deliveries while on Pitocin. There is hope!:) The real issue with unmedicated labors and deliveries lies with what number baby this is for her. With first-time moms and babies, the labors and deliveries tend to be longer and less efficient due to the fact that mom's body just hasn't been through this process before.(Average first-time mom labor through delivery takes 18-24hours) And because of that, she has less coping skills for the pain (exhaustion, hungry etc.). In my opinion, Pitocin contractions are not any stronger than natural labor contractions, the bottom line with labor, in general, is that labor contractions must be painful and frequent to have the baby.
I do agree with the above mama, some people respond very quickly to Pitocin and that is hard. But most people usually respond within 1-3 hours, not immediately, ideally it should be a gradual increase in pain. I teach a great childbirth class and have lots of this info. and more! (6hours of total class time). Check out my website for more information or email me with questions anytime. Also depending on your sister's particular situation, there are some options within the induction itself...let me know if you'd like to know more! Dena, also an urban mama and currently pregnant with #2 :), babyloveworkshop.com, deenzrn@yahoo.com

I had an unmedicated delivery after a pitocin induction. My water broke at just shy of 37 weeks, but labor wasn't starting. After waiting for something to happen for 17 hours, I consented to the pitocin. My "plan" had been to labor at home for as long as possible with as few interventions as possible - so much for that! My midwife and the nurse agreed to start me on the lowest possible dose and increase it as gradually as possible. The drip started at noon and I didn't really feel discomfort from my contractions until 4 pm. Three hours later, I was at 8 cm (the first time I was checked in the hospital), and 30 min later, I was complete and ready to push. Two hours later, my daughter was born. It was painful, for sure, but getting an epidural never really crossed my mind. I had enough of a break between contractions that I could manage the pain. Having great support from my doula and my husband also helped me tremendously.

One thing that may have made a difference in my case - at my 36 week check the week prior, I was 3 cm dilated. I've heard from others that pitocin is more effective when your body is already showing signs of labor. If your cervix is tight and closed, it can be a harder road.

Best of luck to your sister!

I did it. Faced with the same circumstances, I would NOT do it again. However - and it's a big however - due to a bunch of other interventions, I was stuck in the bed, unable to move around, get in different positions, use the shower, etc. If that's what awaits your sis my advice is: get the epidural!

On the other hand, if she will be able to avail herself of other, natural strategies to manage her labor, then I think she might fare better than I did.

I found the pitocin contractions unbelievable painful and unrelenting. Somehow I had missed the vital information that pit contractions are worse than the regular kind. I thought this was just what women had been through for eons and I would, too. By the time my baby was born I was so exhausted and demoralized I really didn't care about much of anything.

On the other hand...with my second kid I had back labor and that was so bad that I took the nubain (narcotic) they offered, thinking it would be not as bad as getting the epidural. What a mistake!

What I say is, if anyone gets to the point where they decide on drugs, go directly to the epidural. Nubain, which makes you fall asleep between the contractions and wake up for them (seriously - WTF?!) isn't designed to "take the edge off" of anything but your sanity.

Best of luck to your sister.

I am on blood-thinners also (and am currently 28 weeks pregnant). Lovenox and aspirin, to be exact. I was on the same blood-thinners when I was pregnant with my son (less than 2 yrs ago). I did not require induction and I had an unmedicated vaginal delivery- uncomplicated by bleeding or other problems. My doctor (a Perinatologist-- which is a high risk OB) just told me to not take any more Lovenox or aspirin once I started labor. My labor was 18 hours long and I had no issues with bleeding during or afterwards. They did do labs when I arrived at the hospital to see what my coagulation studies were- to make sure they weren't too wacky.

I am a Nurse Practitioner, so throughout my pregnancy I knew a lot about what was happening and wasn't afraid to voice my desires... My advice to your sister would be to ask if there is any way around induction... perhaps she can just discontinue her dosages at the onset of labor, as I did. I don't know her whole situation though- so I have no idea if that is safe/realistic.

On another note, I know quite a few women who made it through labor on pitocin without pain meds. What I've heard is pitocin doesn't cause superhuman contractions... rather it just takes you from "0 to 60" in a VERY quick time, whereas normal labor has a slow buildup. Both are going to be painful :)

My first birth was all-natural and 24 hrs long, the first 12 being very easy going, the middle 6 requiring lots of focus, and the final 6 a feat of epic proportions. But I'm SO glad I did it that way!! What an amazing experience.

Second birth started the same as the first--with my water breaking early in the morning, but contractions never started so I had to start things with Pitocin the next day. From my experience, the two labors were NOTHING alike in terms of pain intensity. I think the body's ability to change and cope more slowly with natural buildup of labor pain has a lot to do with it. When they started the drip, I could barely feel anything, but this one time they cranked it up, and I was in agony. The epidural was a total relief--we listened to music and read books and just laughed and hung out until out she popped!

I love the idea of a natural birth, and would highly recommend going that route if you can, but it sounds like your sister might not be able to, and that's okay, too.

speaking as a doula, my experience, and lots of statistics, say: no.

but there are always exceptions to rules.

My advice to your sister - change her plan. The plan is: have a baby. How the baby gets into the world is not going to matter after she is holding that little bundle.

I tried for an unmedicated birth with my first born, which was an induction with pitocin. I made it to 8cm before asking for the epidural. I went through transition while waiting for the epi to come and they put it in anyway. Once it was in, it was pushing time, and there she was. I was disappointed that I ended up with the epi, but soon realized that it just didn't matter.

My second was also an induction with pitocin for different reasons. It was twins, so I knew I'd have to have an epidural anyway (since there is always the chance of a C-section with twins, and I didn't want to be knocked out for it). This time I asked for the epidural before my doctor broke my water. It was super quick after that point, and all was fine. The second birth was far more enjoyable. I hung out chatted with my husband, etc., without much pain.

I did it. I was going for a non-intervention birth but my labor (back labor, baby posterior) stalled after over 24 hrs. I ended up with pitocin with no epidural. Next step would have been c-section so the pitocin seemed ok to me at the time. Until it started. I sure don't recommend it...it was like being on the rack, just being instantly POUNDED with waves of overwhelming intense pain, nothing like my already intense labor pains before the pitocin. But we were fine afterwards and all is (almost) forgotten.

2nd time (also posterior) i chose an epidural and needed no pitocin. Quick and easy labor...much less stressful and scary. Both babies were fine, i tore both times. I had them turn the epi way down for the pushing part so i could feel it and am glad for that.

Just a shout out to Dena, who was my L&D nurse. I had pitocin and an epi, but she was AMAZING!!! Hope to see you again in November when I'm due with #2, Dena!

WHAT! Labor WITH pitocin hurts more than labor without it! I never knew that! I was induced with my first and NO ONE EVER told me anything about pitocin and labor. All I knew was that it brought it on... not that it made the labor more painful, but after reading all the comments, it makes perfect sense! Why did I never know this!?! And here I was amazed at women who were able to endure natural childbirth... when all I ever knew was the agony of contractions brought on immediately by pitocin. I'm now pregnant with my second... due in October and for the first time am actually considering trying for a natural childbirth... if I'm not induced that is. I'm just stunned I didn't know this!

I was induced due to having a condition called Cholestasis at 38 weeks. I too so wanted to give birth without the epidural, but after 6 hours of pounding and fast contractions, I was only at 3 cm. I had an incredible team helping me through them, but they were unrelenting. When my doctor said that I had about another 6 to 7 hours of contractions I broke down and sobbed. I had always considered myself a "tough" person, but not that "tough". I was so disappointed and exhausted and said OK to the epidural and was instantly relieved. The labor lasted another 7 hours and I was able to rest. The anesthesiologist (who reminded me of Dr. Ruth) was understanding and caring and timed the epidural perfectly so that I could really push during the delivery. My biggest fear was that it might effect our baby girl, and it didn't seem to effect her at all. I echo the advice of being flexible and if she can have someone like Dena with her, that is the best. I have to say, all three of our L&D nurses at St. Vincent rocked!

I had an induction and epidural for my 1st. When planning for my 2nd, my dr agreed to try as many natural induction methods as possible. I was already 3-4cm dilated when they broke my water. Then I was on and off the hospital-grade breast pump (the size of a microwave!) until we were ready to push. Much easier recovery and I wasn't nearly as tired. But that could have been because the 1st birth can be such a shock.

Now I'm getting ready for baby #4 and I expect the experience to be even easier than babies 1, 2 and 3! Although, I'm hoping this one isn't so late that I need to be induced like 1, 2 and 3.

http://www.birthpsychology.com/messages/pitdrip/pitdrip.html

An interesting link with some good information about pitocin augmentation in labor. Definitely information that should be more widely available, or maybe just more widely dispersed.

Best wishes to your sister, I hope that the remainder of her pregnancy is comfortable and not further complicated, and that she has good support for a healthy birth.

I had a natural birth (epidural free) birth with pitocin. My water broke & I had very mild contractions but they were not picking up. After 28 hours or so & agreed to inducing. I wonder if the fact that my body was already prepared for labor made the pitocin easier to take. Not that I'm saying it was pain free - it was agonizing. By the time I was in heavy labor I hadn't really slept in like 36 hours & I was falling asleep between contractions, which helped too I think. Next time I think I would try acupuncture before pitocin, but it didn't occur to me at the time. I had pretty severe tearing & actually ended up having an epidural AFTER my baby was born for the repairs. They tried with local & there was just no way I could tolerate it. Part of avoiding the epidural to start with was my fear of the process. Even though I have survived having a needle in my spine once, I will choose a natural birth again next time, unless that is absolutely not possible. I recommend taking some sort of birthing class aimed at preparing for a natural birth. The Bradley Method class I took was helpful. Good luck to your sister, it can be done.

I had an induction for my first with pitocin. I would much rather have waited until she presented naturally (they're going to be born at some point!). However, the inducted birth was not much different from the following two: quick labor and 20 minutes pushing. I definitely think it all depends on the individual's reaction to the pitocin, the prgnancy, and the labor. It's as unique as the mother and child.

I had a fabulous experience being induced with my first pregnancy. I always planned to have an epidural so I can't comment on the pain factor. I was induced the day before my due date (long story but it was the right decision for me).

I had been nervous because so many people talk about emergency C-sections, slow labor and other horror stories with inducement(why oh why do women do that to each other?!). My labor was an absolute breeze. Three hours of active labor and 15 minutes of pushing, no complications and very little tearing.

I agree with Leslie -- it all depends on the individual's reaction to the pitocin, the pregnancy and the labor. Each woman and each pregnancy is different and while it's good to be prepared for anything, there's no reason to be unnecessarily fearful because some have had bad experiences.

My experience was with miso(prostle?). My water broke at 6am and I was beta strep positive, so by noon, with no contractions, they wanted to induce, but decided to do the miso because it was more mild (NOT!). I had my first contraction while the miso was being inserted, and within 3 hours I wanted to die, literally! The pain was so intense and each contraction was right on top of the one before. By the time I asked for the epidural, it took an hour to get it and it was 7pm! I could barely sit still to have the needle inserted because the contractions were about to kill me. But, behold, the epidural took over, and the rest of the experience was magical! I really enjoyed it. People wanted me to sleep, but I was so high from the pain being gone that there was no way I could sleep! Pushing was a riot! They turned down the epi but I felt nothing. I kept cracking jokes.

I think one of the issues was that my friend didn't think I wanted the epi, but that wasn't the case. It was to be a last resort, but she kept talking me out of it and I felt guilty. Also, next time I will push to wait longer for induction. Also, miso is just as bad as pitocin. And most of all, I am a big fan of epidurals, if needed, as it definitely enhances the pleasure of the moment!

And lastly, I liked what someone said about altering your plan: have a baby. It's good to have a written plan, but be flexible. Nature is unpredictable. And all births are natural, no matter how much intervention you have!

I have had pitocin with both of my labors and to be honest it was incredibly intense. The contractions were one on top of another and they didn't seem to ever stop. Two differences between having my first and second were, with my first I wasn't allowed to walk around b/c their wireless monitoring system wasn't working. Since you must be monitored on Pic, I had to stay in bed and that seemed to make the pain that much worse. I will say that I transitioned extremely fast; when i finally caved and had an epidural, i had already transitioned and should have been pushing instead. With my second, I was allowed to walk around and although the pain was still consistent and incredible, i was able to work through it and was epidural free.

Good luck to your sister, I pray that all goes well!!

Ah, that 1st birth. I got induced with vaginal misoprostol (2 weeks overdue, my blood pressure getting a little high). I was group B strep positive, and contractions started fast and hard when my water broke. I had a birth plan like 3 pages long, had my spouse and doula there, and was with the OHSU midwives, laboring in the birthing tub up there on the hill. (OHSU midwives--they were incredible! So gentle! So knowledgeable! So caring!)After about 6 hours of that, moo-ing my way through those contractions, I very clearly remember my decision and my words: "Ok, well I'm sure that I could do this if necessary, but I see no need to, and I'd like my epidural now."

Anyway, just sayin' that the misoprostol induction took a few hours to get started, but when it did, it was pretty fast and hard, but it took 24 hours to get dilated enough to push, so I was very glad for the epidural.

Anyway, I want to add my strong agreement to those who intone "It's about getting a healthy baby and a healthy mama at the end. How y'all get there really doesn't matter." Stuff happens. Try to let it go, because all I cared afterward was that we were ok.

You definitely can do it if you have to -- I was given pitocin (along with something else for dilation) after being in labor for a week with no baby arriving. I never had any narcotic, and I didn't have the epidural until about 30 hours after the pitocin started. (My Dr only asked me to do it then because a. I hadn't slept in over two days and she wanted me to rest before pushing and b. she thought I was going to have to have a section if another 6 or so hours passed.) It worked, I fell asleep, and about 6 hours later I was able to push (for another hour!) and avoid the section.

So, yes, you can be on pitocin with no painkillers. I did it for over a day.

I have to add, I'm also getting new info here -- the idea that your epidural could be turned down? At my hospital, and every place I've heard of, it is turned OFF before you push. I assumed that was universal!

Induced with my first b/c of preclampsia (sp?) - took about 4 hours, but then the labor was so intense I sprinted to the epi. After that it was very pleasant and they turned it down for pushing, which I felt every part of! Induced for no. 2 as well (no. 1 was big and almost didn't make it out w/o a c-section, so no. 2 got kicked out early) and it was the easiest experience ever - also got an epi, but I really enjoyed and was present for the whole experience. It lasted just 4 hours, 2 pushes, and I was energized afterward. I agree with many of the posts - it depends on your body, its reaction to the pit, your pain tolerance, the size and presentation of the baby... and for me, the objective always was, and would always be, a healthy baby in the end, regardless of my "birth plan"... given the complications that have been described (the blood clot - which can be fatal to mom and baby) I would make peace with giving up a "plan" and let the birth happen as its going to play out - try for no epi, but if that fails, women should not beat themselves up for not having a "natural" birth. It is not as though a drug free birth gets some sort of gold sticker on the birth certificate or it makes you more of a mother - the object is healthy baby - focus on that and the rest will fall into place.

All 3 of my labors were eventually induced with pitocin, 2 after my water had broken, 1 before. I was able to walk (attached to a monitor) and move around with all 3. With all 3 I eventually had some sort of pain-killer like demerol, but no epidural.

The most painful of the 3, was the one which was induced before my water had broken--more painful than the back labor I had with a different one. (With the others, 1 time my water naturally broke, the other the midwife popped it.) I don't know if it matters, but all 3 were induced at 41-weeks and with all 3 I had shown previous signs of labor (mainly dilation).

To put it in perspective: I once compressed my spine and herniated 2 discs in my back. That was by far more painful than any of my 3 labors--put together.

I have always wondered though, if each labor is different, how does one know if pitocin actually makes the labor more intense?

Much to my chagrin, I was induced for all three of my babes (two were large, one had lost all amniotic fluid). My experience was that pitocin was v.e.r.y. slow in helping my body get going from point 0 (I swear my kids would still be in there, if given the choice). With one had epidural during long day, but off before pushing; one with epidural for the whole deal (heaven!); and one with needle in back but no meds due to reaction.

As most others have said here, having a healthy baby is what matters. I really didn't want to be induced, but I also didn't plan on an 11 1/2 pound baby with no epidural (how big would she have gotten if we left her in there past her due date?!).

Each woman's pregnancy & delivery experience is totally unique and completely her own. What a cool thing that is!

Because of high blood pressure, I decided to go with my doctor's recommendation to be induced for my first child and I went on to have an otherwise chemical-free vaginal birth. So, yes, it can be done. At Legacy Emanuel, the pitocin drip is portable, so I was able to walk around while waiting for it to kick in. It took about 6-7 hours before I was having contractions that I would call an 8 out of 10, and I gave birth about three hours after that. Ditto other comments that the short version of any birth plan is "have a healthy baby and a healthy mama".

I've had 2 unmedicated deliveries, both with 4 hour labors, the first with pitocin and the 2nd without. My first delivery was incredibly fast and intense, and of course, painful. Later I'd heard that pitocin tends to make the contractions much more intense and painful so I attributed my experience to the pitocin. Along came labor #2, and when my water broke and I went into labor naturally, I was "excited" to have a less intense labor and delivery. This did not happen. My experience with my 2nd was almost exactly like my first--still really intense, and yes, painful without the epidural, except that time I was probably more excited and less scared than my first time around.

I think it's great to have a plan, but agree that the goal is to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mama. Best of luck to your sister, tell her that an unmedicated birth with pitocin is definitely possible, but every birth is a natural birth regardless of how that little baby comes out. If I ever have a 3rd baby, I might just sign up for that epidural when I walk into the hospital so that I can have one of those "pain free" deliveries that I hear about on occasion. :) Best of luck to her!

I did a non-medicated/natural birth after having pitocin...it was hard, but it worked. I think a lot of it was mental for me--I didn't know until my post-birth checkup that pitocin-induced labors were supposed to be much harder. I just assumed that this was the hard work of "labor." I would pay attention to the pregnant mom's complications, though. For me, my baby was 2 weeks late and was showing no signs of wanting to come out! There was nothing medically fragile about my condition, or the baby's. Our baby ended up needing special attention right after she was born (wasn't breathing correctly, heart racing), and the doctor said that if we HAD used medication it would have negatively affected her. I have never been so happy that I have an aversion to needles! Half-way through labor (and yes, it is hard, and it hurts like hell) I asked about all the pain management options...I didn't think I could go on. But the thought of getting more needles stuck in me scared me more than the thought of more labor pain. I think the thing that helped me more than anything was good prenatal yoga classes and a calm but firm midwife.
Best of luck to your sister---everyone's story is different. I'm thankful my birth happened the way it did, but as others mentioned, the goal is a healthy baby.

Another all-natural birth after pitocin. (Although my labor was only 1.5 hours...I would have taken the epidural if they'd had time). It was doable, and although there were some incredibly painful contractions, they were on par with my third labor, which started on it's own.

I think it's wonderful to make a plan and stick to your guns about what you want, but in the end, giving birth is a miniscule part of having and raising a child. I think sometimes we lose perspective of that -- I know I did, anyway!

I agree with the others who have said be ready to change the plan and nothing else matters than a healthy delivery. I also like the "the plan is, have a baby."
With my first, I thought I would be tough like a cavewoman. No epidural, no way. I've always had a high pain threshold. However, after hours of painful labor and no dilation, they induced with pitocin and broke my water. OH MYLANTA! I have never experienced pain like that. After 2 hours of that particular pain, I begged for an epidural. Out he was within the hour.
With my 2nd and 3rd births, same thing....contractions, no dilation, but i was open to getting the epidural if I needed to. However, just as the pain intensified, I dilated and out they came. I felt good not having an epidural. It seemed just as I thought I couldn't bear it anymore, it was all over.
So keep an open mind...you know what you can and can't take.

This may sound like a silly question but to all those who feel proud not to give in to the epidural, do you also get teeth pulled without novocaine? I just don't understand what is gained from 24hrs of excruciating labor pain when there is an epidural available?

it's worth it because you feel like such a badass afterward!! ;)
and it's not a silly question, but it does kinda sound like a dig at people who decide to forgo pain medications during labor. maybe not meant that way. I can see how women get defensive about their choices when there is so much judgement around natural vs. medicated labor and birthing.

Funny question, Leigh. I've never had to have a tooth pulled but I do have my cavities filled without novocaine. I don't feel any pain -- just tweaks -- and it is totally manageable.

On the other hand, I had an induced labor and when the contractions come on hard and fast, the pain was not at all manageable. I never found out if I could have done it without an epidural, because I ended up with an emergency c-section after an hour due to fetal distress. Healthy baby, healthy mama is a good mantra!

jdey, not meant to be a dig at all. I just don't understand how or why women do it when there is an alternative. I was planning to go natural with my first and my Midwife had the philosophy of keeping an open mind and healthy baby, healthy mama. Well, labor pain for me was like taking the worst menstrual cramp you've ever had and multiply by 1,000. And to think that it could go on for 24+ hrs? After 6 hrs I started vomiting from the pain. I tried the jacuzzi tub, exercise ball, walking, etc, etc. After 12 hours I said, "Shoot me, PLEASE!"

I got the epidural, slept for 6 hrs, woke up and pushed and all was well. I was refreshed, I was able to enjoy the baby since I wasn't exhausted from labor.

I guess we all have different amounts of pain receptors in our bodies. I must have a gazillion!

I am impressed that women can pull it off, I just have a hard time imagining why...though I do love the bad-ass comment:O)

Leigh, I was "blessed" with pretty quick labors with both my babes--4 hours. For me, a shorter labor is a mixed blessing--I didn't have to endure 24+ hours of labor (if I did, trust me, I'd be begging for an epidural!) but I also think my shorter labors are much more intense. I have a friend who had a 20 hour labor and she swears it wasn't that bad, like her body was easing things along. Whereas my body goes into labor and goes full force ahead--contractions right on top of each other and dialating 2-3 centimeters an hour. With both babies, as long as I was dialating I could handle the pain a little longer, and once I was fully dialated and ready to push it was much easier to endure. I know it sounds crazy, but the thought of that epidural needle also scares the crap out of me!

I guess for me I was concerned about what the effects of the drugs could be on me or the baby. Like a fear of the unknown vs. continuing to deal with what is already happening. I wanted to be able to move around, and had heard the with an epidural sometimes you are unable to stand or walk.
For me labor was *pretty* manageable, the pushing was the part I wished I was numb for. Transition and pushing was when I wanted and asked for the epidural, but of course it was too late! I was so scared and panicked about feeling that baby come out! And I'm going to be doing it again in a few weeks and am definitely nervous about it, now that I know what to expect.

Length of labor, I'm sure makes a huge difference. Mine was about 8 hours, and I know I would not have lasted too much longer than that with no help for the pain. Except this time I will be at home, so there won't really be that option, unless I want to bag it and drive to the hospital.
This comment is going way off topic, sorry about that. :)

I too, was hesitant about an needle in my vertebral area since I have a long history of back problems but after feeling those labor pains funny how the fear of needle totally went away;O)

As for going off topic, I think it's OK to do so. We learn from other people's experiences and those experiences are broad.

Congrats, jdey on the bundle that on the way. I wish you well:O) I also wish you manageable pain;O)

i had a pitocin-induced labor, with my water broken, with back labor, for several hours, and took no pain meds. so it is possible! but my doctor said he'd never seen it done before, so it must be unusual.

Mu story mirrors several above - water broke just shy of 37 week, pitocin induction. Made it 4-5 hours of hell to find out only barely dialated, at that point asked for the epidural - I was at OHSU w/ the midwives (LOVE THEM!). I wanted to point out though that after the epidural I was able to move around in the bed and actually sit in a chair and play gin with my husband and Doula for a while before my son was born.. and I sat in the birthing chair for pushing for a while. Not all epidurals and people who install them are equal - also body physiology play into how you react to the epidural.

Interesting comparison with dental work because I was epidural free on petocin but there is no way in hell I would consider drug free dental work. Your question made me thing about this, it does seem sort of odd. But I think these are the reasons: I was afraid of the needle in the back (yes, it is low risk, but not no risk), both my mother & MIL had drug free deliveries at home (I was already being 'wimpier' then them by going to the hospital), I grew up in the country & have seen baby animals of all sorts born, I rarely take medication of any sort (not for head aches, colds etc). Dental work on the other hand freaks me out. Just thinking about having hands in my mouth messing with my teeth.. ugg. Having a baby is something YOU are doing with YOUR body. Dental work is being imposed on you & you have to hold still for it :) My labor lasted about 10 hours, so I don't know that I could have done 24. I understand that everyone has a limit & we are lucky to have options. & I'll take those drugs when I'm at the dentist for sure!

I was induced with my first baby... by choice. He was already week overdue, and it was days before Christmas. I really didn't want to spend the holiday in the hospital, so I scheduled to come in on the 21st.
I was lucky to have a midwife and not a dr, and she only gave me what she called "a feather's touch" of pitocin, since she felt like it is usually used too heavily by doctors. About 2 hours later, I wasn't in heavy labor, so she broke my waters, and my body figured the rest out without the pitocin. I feel like I birthed naturally, and overall, had a good experience because my midwife handled the situation appropriately. Good luck!

I gave birth to my first child 5 days ago at Kaiser Sunnyside. I am a 41 year old mom who had been pressured to induce since week 39. My blood pressure had been climbing near the end of my pregnancy though I never experienced any other symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Once I hit my due date, I went in for non-stress tests, blood tests, 24 hour urine collections etc. every three days. The baby always looked good though the amniotic fluid was getting low. I was repeatedly warned about the dangers of still birth with older moms and the deteriorating quality of our placentas. I, however, really wanted a natural birth. I had educated myself on the dangers of pit and the increased likelihood for c-section. So, I put off induction as long as I could. It was really important for me that my cervix was ready for the pitocin--I think this is so important if possible. I was told that my cervix was ready and agreed to an induction a couple days later. When I arrived at the hospital, the very non-compassionate OB said that my cervix was not ready. My heart just sank. He said that he could give me misoprostol (which I am very against). He took my concerns about the drug flippantly and said if the contractions got too bad on it they could just give me another drug to stop the contractions. So, I was lying there facing 3 drugs in my system -miso, some drug to control it and pit. My husband and I decided that it just did not feel right. I said no and went home to wait a little longer-5 more days to be exact. I agreed to continued non-stress tests, blood tests etc. It was so stressful and emotionally draining to fight for my rights in the system. On the 5th day after leaving the failed induction, my cervix looked very favorable and since the next day was week 42 I gave in. The pitocin took two hours to kick in. They were able to turn off the pit about half the way through my labor and my body took over. The whole labor took only 5 and a half hours and I was able to do it without any pain medications or epidural. If my labor had been longer I would have agreed to an epidural since the contractions were so difficult, fast and my baby was sunnyside up. I was one of the lucky ones as far as how my body responded to pit. Like others have said, every mom's reaction is different. I do think that pre-natal yoga, having a doula and supportive partner plus great L&D staff really helped me do it naturally. Best of luck. Back to the newborn...

I also had to do lovenox injections throughout my pregnancy due to a known clotting disorder. I worked with both a perinatologist who wanted to induce and a midwife who provided me with reasons why I did not need to be induced. I was able to have a med free/non-induced birth. I agreed with my perinatologist on a decision not to have an epidural (risk of spinal bleeding)by not being induced. In my mind, I did not want an epidural anyway.
I went into labor in my 37th week; so, had induction been planned...that plan would have gone out the window. I did go into labor on heparin, which has a shorter half life (shots 3x/day instead of 2x/day). Although, the newer research indicates that it is better to remain on lovenox.
As soon as I was in the hospital, I was given an IV so that, if necessary, venous access was available. And, I was given a pitocin drip after birth because the midwife felt that my bleeding was heavier than she was comfortable with. I agree with those who said that a healthy baby is the goal; but, would advise your sister to advocate for what she wants, too.

I was induced using acupuncture. I suddenly had high-blood pressure during my final weeks of pregnancy and so my midwife recommended that I be induced. I was at 37 weeks. I went to the acupuncturist Friday morning, and by 11pm that night, my labor started.

I had contractions every 5 minutes from the get-go. I had a home birth and I was able to do so without an epidural.

I'm not sure that acupuncture works for everyone, but I just wanted to say that there are options for induction without resorting to pitocin.

I should also add that it was with my first and so far only pregnancy/labor so I have no basis for comparing the severity of contractions from pitocin vs those from acupuncture. I dilated in about 6 hours, but I had to push for almost 5 hours!

I'm late to answer, but just wanted to give encouragement that this can be done. I had to be induced with Pitocin due to high blood pressure. I was determined to have no pain meds and was able to succeed. Labor in total lasted 3.5 hours- so very quick!!! Of course, all labors are different and she feels she needs an epidural at some point, no harm done and nothing is failed. In the end, she has a baby which is the goal!!!

Good luck!

Baby #1 was pitocin induced. Compared with #2 & #3, I definitely felt the difference in an induced vs. natural onset of labor. I don't think I can erase the intensity of the labor from my mind. With birth #3 fresh in my mind, I just wanted to add that aside from a healthy baby is to bear in mind the recovery time and everything that happens after birth. The first couple of weeks post-partum can be challenging - recovery, waiting for your milk to come in, engorgement, round the clock feeding, external pressures, etc. It's not easy! I feel oftentimes we focus so much on the birth and the real challenge lies in what happens after baby arrives. Best of luck to your sister, and her upcoming birth!

It can certainly be done, but I think that some of it will depend on how you react to the Pit. I had to have very high doses over a long period and went drug free for many hours but finally gave in. If the pit kick starts things and your body takes over, or if your body was doing it all right them slowed down it is probably possible. I had 36hrs of labor and my son was definitely ready to stay in there for ever (at 43 weeks!).

It took me a long time to get over having "failed" - which is how I felt about the epi. If your sister goes into it willing to give it a little time but expecting to need an epi she may be in a better place mentally (especially f she manages to go epi-less.

Here's another pit story:

Our baby was two weeks overdue so our midwives at Legacy Emanuel Midwifery Clinic recommended we schedule an induction. I had tried all the natural methods - acupuncture, nightly sex, nipple stimulation, etc etc. I was disappointed about the induction because I had hoped for an entirely natural birth. But even though I was induced with pitocin, I was still able to labor in the shower and tub with my husband and have a vaginal birth without an epidural.

My husband, my mom and our doula (Peggy Sue from Mother Tree Birth Services) went to the hospital on Saturday and the oncall midwife said my cervix was at 3 cm and about 50% effaced. The midwife gave me misoprostel (a type of prostoglandin gel) for a few hours to dilate the cervix, and later pitocin for 5 hrs - with no real change in my cervix. Then around midnight, they took me off the pitocin and let me eat and sleep for a few hours. Fortunately, I started to feel some painful contractions overnight - so maybe the pitocin tricked my body, and by around 3 am my cervix had become more posterior and more effaced. On Sun, the on call midwife for that day gave me the choice between breaking my bag of waters or more pitocin, and we decided to go with another try of pitocin because breaking the bag of waters can start a clock and increase the risk of fever and infection.

At around 11 am, the pitocin started to work - the contractions became very strong and painful. I couldn't believe how painful it was. I labored in the shower with my husband, which really helped with the back pain. Being in the shower was much better than laboring on the bed. I labored in child's pose or cat's pose (or one form of it or another), and used yoga breathing and low tonal moans throughout labor. Yoga also helped with my confidence (and with attitude and recovery after the birth). My husband and doula also kept putting cold wash cloths on me and pushing on my back, which was great. Then around 3 pm, I threw up a few times and transition began; I dilated to 6 cm. After more laboring in the shower, around 5 pm, I was dilated to 9 cm, so they took me off pitocin, broke my water, and gave me fentinol to ease the pain. By then, I was in so much pain and was begging my husband and the doula for an epidural, but they kept saying "let's try the shower, this position, etc. first." I remember saying to my husband - "This is like hell; I'm not enjoying this or thinking about the baby or being a mom or anything, I'm just thinking about the pain" but in broken sentences because I couldn't really talk.The midwife gave me the fentinol, which helped take the edge off and was what I needed to calm down.

By 5:45 I was dilated to 10, and started to push. Even though I was off the pitocin, I still had contractions, which is great. I pushed in the water birth tub for a while and then at 9 pm, I pushed on the hospital bed. I was discouraged by how long it was taking to push out the baby, but I didn't want to go back on pitocin (which could have made the contractions/pushing stronger). A friend of mine told me about her 4 hour pushing, so I thought of her.The midwife was busy with four other deliveries, but when she came back in at 9 pm, her suggestions for pushing really helped and our baby was born an hour later. She was so encouraging and calm.

When my daughter was born, they put her directly on my chest and I got to hold her. Then two NICU nurses checked on her(because she was two weeks overdue) while I delivered the placenta and got 5 stitches. I was able to nurse her after that (within 30 minutes of delivery). Then at 10:30 pm they gave me a catheter because I couldn't urinate and I released 44 oz of urine! I think that's one reason why it was so hard to push.

The midwives were great - we felt like we were always presented with our options and the risks and benefits of each choice. I hope I have a natural labor with our next child, but if I need to be induced again, I hope I will have forgotten the pain by then!

Our daughter was 7 lbs 15 oz, 20.5 inches, and very healthy. She learned how to nurse right away.

I have already tried natural inducers... from walking and sex to acupuncture and herbal remedies. I am now 10 days overdue and our daughter's fluids are dangerously low, so we have an induction scheduled for today. I'm pretty nervous about the pain, but I appreciate the advice to keep the Pitocin levels low and coming at a slow pace. I have revised my birth plan to include this. Thanks!

I've had pitocin with my last five and had the epidural with all but my youngest. Yeah, it hurt. I had a fantastic doula who got me through and I was exhilarated after
Epidurals affect me unevenly and keep me in bed another hour after the births. It was so worth it to be able to get up almost right away, give my baby his bath, and not have to pay an anesthesiogist. Kind of like being on a roller coaster, really sucks while you're on it but when you're done you could SO do that again! Planning to do it again with this baby, lucky number six. I would not have done it with my first, I waited a few kids to make sure I'd always have short one-push labors. Good luck!

I moved to Silicon Valley in the middle of my second trimester. I was fortunate to find Dr. Azad (www.doctorazad.com). She's young, but old-fashioned. She does most her own deliveries, answers her phone calls, and only signs out to women OBs.
She says on her website that her c-section rate is low. So I contacted a friend who's an RN at El Camino Hospital, who then called the nurses on Labor & Delivery, and they confirmed it. The nurses told my RN friend (who then told me) that Dr. Azad sometimes stays at the hospital 5-6 hours at night just to watch a patient who might need a cesarean but she stays and watches them and helps them have safe, natural deliveries. The nurses say she even has gone to do a cesarean and then found the baby was doing okay and the patient was more dilated and has pushed with a patient in the operating room for 2 hours in the middle of the night. That was so reassuring to me, so I went with her.
She was great, I saw her at all my office visits, she came for my delivery and was just wonderful.
What's best, she was so nice, that by the time I had my third child, she felt like family. I couldn't be happier with her!

Hi, I had a blood clot on my lung at full term in my first pregnancy. I was put on anticoagulant injections and a day later I had a leak of amniotic fluid. They told me my waters had broken. After two days and no sign of labour they put me on a pitocin drip. First 2 hours just very weak contractions. I was told that an epidural was not an option due to the anticoagulants. They then examined me and found waters intact. The minute they broke them all hell let loose. I went from being happy laid down to climbing walls. There was no break in my contractions and when they had finished cleaning the bed and handing over to the next shift they read the monitor and decided I was over contracting so they lowered the dose. Much better. They said get used to it you will be like this for a while. From that first proper contraction to birth was 2hours 20 minutes. The first hour was just evil but the contactions were not too bad after that. I managed without even gas and air just because pain relief hadn't even crossed my mind. I probably would have had something had it been offered. I am 39 weeks with pregnancy number 2 now and unless my baby's life is at risk they can keep their pitocin well away from me.

I had a natural delivery even with pitocin after my water broke but labor didn't really start. I labored lightly for about 12 hours (from the time my water broke) with little progress, so pitocin was started. It affected me very quickly. Within 30 minutes, I was having much more difficult contractions. The contractions came harder and faster for the next hour and a half, then I was ready to push. Went from about 4cm to 10cm in 90 minutes. Pushed for 10 min then had a perfect baby girl. It was difficult but completely worth it for me!

With my first I was given Pitocin almost immediately. I let the triage nurse know that I was NOT interested in an epidural and she LAUGHED at me. My L&D nurse came in and I told her the same thing. She explained that she had to explain my pain management options and did so. I the explained that it is not necessary and I did not want to hear another word about pain management. I labored hard from 1cm when I arrived to 10 cm in 9 1/2 hours. After pushing for 20 minutes I had my baby girl. After this experience I found a new midwife for my subsequent pregnancies,I am due with #4 in 11 days, and I have to say unmedicated without piton is much better. Oxitocin, the NATURAL body made form of Pitocin, releases surges of endorphins that act as the bodies own pain management. The labors are painful but I also am more aware of what I am doing and not focused on what the meds are doing to me or the baby. While its possible to labor through a pit birth... if its not what you want, then there is no need to. Good luck no matter what! Just keep your eyes on the prize and you will do GREAT!

I was induced with my first due to placental problems and given Pitocin. I was given an epidural upon labor but unfortunantely, my body rejected it and I was forced to go through labor without any pain meds. I admit, it was extremely painful. With my second I had a placental abruption which is also known to cause very painful, back to back contractions, and I'll tell ya, that was THEE most painful experience I have EVER had. Made my first birth seem like a walk in the park. The pitocin CAN be unbearable to some, and I would definitely recommend getting an epi but if your heart is set on having a labor without any pain management then I would say to go for it. Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into first.

I learned the hard way by being induced with pitocin with my first at a week overdue and not even barely softend. Four kiddos later, I am a birth doula and have learned different ways to bring on labor if baby is ready. Chiropractic can help, and I strongly suggest the myofascial techniques showed on spinningbabies.com. Essential oil Clary Sage rubbed on ankles (DoTerra), reflexology/pressure points to stimulate contractions. Use the rebozo to belly sift (look on utube under rebozo techniques for labor) Herbs (under a midwife's care) or homeopathics. Sweeping membranes(by midwife). I have also had wonderful luck to herbal preparations like 5W and evening primrose oil, to get my body ready ahead of time, but of course check with your midwife before using anything.

Baby #1....water broke, contractions started 2 hours later...back labor...walking...rocking...bathtub....baby. No drugs. Happy, alert bany who started nursing minutes after birth. No complications. Never took so much as a motrin. Worst part was stitches afterward. No doubt childbirth is the most painful thing that ever happened to me...its totally natural, God made our bodies for it. Its a natural thing..no need for medical unless there are complications.

Baby #2.....dilated to 4 for 4 weeks, doc thought labor would be to fast for us to make the hour+ drive once it started. Agreed to be induced with pit. (Knowing nothing about it) 5 days before due date...IT WAS HELL!! Was given pitocen for 5 hours..never felt a contraction until she broke my water...then i about jumped off the bed!! ...Contractions went as high as they could go on the paper and stayed there for an hour and twenty min. until our son was born. I was certain I was dying..could not breathe..and contraction never took a break. My son was born crying and didnt stop for 2 yrs! (Literally..terrible colic) I have fibromyalgia after that birth and excruciating trauma to my body. Sythetic hormonrs are NOT meant for the human body to process! I AM ANTI-PIT- anyway you look at it! Baby will come when ready. Bsides, there are plenty of natural methods that work..
..accupressure, sex, nipple stimulation, etc.
My advice: EDUCATE YOURSELF before doing anything your body doesn't do naturally.
Baby #3....a week overdue today...had membranes stripped and getting a foot massage...waiting for God's perfect timing!


I had my first baby about four months ago. I was induced and I was determined to go natural so I breathed my way through it and did it with no pain meds of any kind. I won't pretend it was easy but if you want it bad enough you can do it. I think too though that it's very heavily based on your individual pain threshold, how dialeted you are to start,and how easy or hard your labor goes

I was induced after going 23 hours without contractions. My water broke and I had nothing happen, so they basically told me that Pitocin was my only option. Going into labor I had decided that I was not going to use any pain meds, not even Advil. My pitocin drip kicked in almost immediately. Contractions started fast and I quickly realized I was having most of the pain in my back. They informed me that it is called back labor and let me tell you it was absolutely terrible. With every growing contraction I just kept telling myself I can do it. They say that back labor is much worse than "regular labor". Over 8 hours they increased the amount of pitocin I was getting and finally I was able to push. I had made it without pain meds. It was the most painful experience I had ever gone through, but I would do it all over again. So yes it is absolutely possible to make it without pain meds. It depends a lot on the person and their pain threshold and determination. Good luck!

My water broke at 36.5 weeks. I checked into labor and delivery at 5 pm and was at 1 cm. around 6-6:30 they put me on a Pitocin drip. At first and for most of my labor I wasn't in any pain to speak of - contractions just felt like muscle tension. The same was true until about 8:30 pm. At that time I started to feel pretty uncomfortable. Labored for another hour or so then requested an epidural - the pains were a good minute or two long with about 15 seconds between them. Pretty awful, actually. They checked me and I was at 5 cm then they started a fluid drip to prepare for the epi. They checked me about 10 min later and I was at 8 cm. Within another few minutes I was feeling the urge to push. They checked me again and I as at 10 cm. No time for an epidural. I pushed 4 times and the baby was here - 10:05 pm. So I went from 1 cm to 10 in about 3.5 hrs on Pitocin. And most of that progression was in less than an hour. He was bruised up a bit from banging his head on my pelvis on the way out, but a healthy 6.5 lbs.

This was my first baby and I was 39. I am terrified at how fast any subsequent labors may go.

If it looks like it is going as fast I probably would go the drug free route again - I was up and walking around just a few min after he was born, shocked at how shell shocked and fantastic I felt compared to what I expected.

I have been induced twice and a week out from my next planned induction (unless I go sooner!) During my 1st, I was at a 0, but fully effaced. I stayed overnight and they gave me cervidil to see if I would start progressing. I was 41 weeks and the induction was chosen because they were afraid he would be over 9 lbs. They started the induction (Pitocin) around 7 in the morning and I was not progressing and then bam!, between 12 and 1 pm, I went from 2 to 10. I was in so much pain even at a 2, but managing...the epidural was waiting at the door; there was no time. I pushed for 30 minutes and there was my boy, 8lbs, 13 ounces at about 1:30. With my 2nd, I was induced about 7 am (Pitocin) and I was already 4 cm and fully effaced. I was 39 weeks and they were afraid again that she would be bigger than her brother if I waited. The pain came on fast and I did take stadol in my last hour which made me loopy and sleepy, but I still felt the contractions and it wore off quickly...just in time to push my little one out which took about 5 minutes. I don't understand how anyone can wait to push; the urge is just too strong. I had her shortly after 11 am so she was a quick one. This time, I am currently 2cm dilated and about 60% effaced and going in because there is a heart defect concern with our son and they want to make sure the right people are in place. They are also afraid that I will progress too quickly and not make it to the hospital; I am a little over an hour away. I think it is possible to go without pain medicine if you are mentally prepared to handle pain otherwise (breathing,a good coach, etc.) but it is not easy and I don't feel as prepared this time! I think that the induction will go much quicker if you opt out of the drugs, but I also understand that even with short inductions, I was in a whole bunch of pain and would have considered it if there was time.

Ive had 4 inductions with pitocin, 4 epidurals. All 4 times i felt like my epidural took longer to heal than anything else. #5 on the way and im trying for natural.

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