Natural Birth vs. Epidural: Pros and Cons


Childbirth was never designed to be a painful experience. Your body is designed to accommodate the changes that occur during pregnancy in preparation for the birthing process.

However, the prospect of giving birth can sometimes leave expectant mothers feeling anxious and confused. Sometimes, this may result in a painful experience. This is what has led to the rise of pain management medications during childbirth, commonly referred to as epidurals.

While a significant number of women still prefer natural delivery, a few mothers opt to go for epidurals. In this article, we evaluate the pros and cons of each childbirth method.

What Is an Epidural?

In simple terms, an epidural refers to a type of medication used to manage pain in specific areas of your body during childbirth. During an epidural, an anesthesiologist will carefully insert an open tube into your spine, and it stays in place throughout labor so that you get a constant drip of the pain-relieving medication.

It is good to mention that an epidural does not “knock you out”.  You will remain conscious and still have natural sensations of labor and childbirth in your body. If you want an epidural, then you must be prepared to give birth in a hospital.

In some cases, an epidural is used as a medical necessity if you develop complications during childbirth.

Pros of an Epidural

Some of the common pros of an epidural include;

  • The most significant benefit of an epidural is that it can lead to a relatively painless birthing experience. Although you may still feel the contractions, the pain is usually reduced significantly.
  • It also helps you stay alert even if you are taken in for a C-section

Cons of an Epidural

The downsides of having an epidural include:

  • It limits your movement during labor
  • Requires that you have intravenous (IV) and constant blood pressure monitoring
  • May result in back pain and soreness
  • Fever
  • Persistent bleeding from the puncture site
  • Swelling in your extremities as the drug wears off
  • Requires wearing of an external fetal monitor all the time until you deliver

What Is Natural Birth?

On the other hand, natural birth refers to childbirth without any medical interventions or medications for pain. Women who have undergone natural birth say that it is a rewarding experience.

You can have a natural birth in your home, birthing center or hospital. If you are planning to give birth naturally, make sure you enroll for HypnoBirthingclasses to learn about the different ways you can use to manage pain.

Pros of Natural Birth

Some of the pros of giving birth naturally include:

  • You don’t have to worry about side effects of drugs
  • You can move freely and change positions during labor
  • Natural birth usually progresses faster than birth with an epidural
  • The pain may not be as bad as you had imagined
  • Most women report feeling better and much more satisfied after giving birth naturally

Cons of Natural Birth

The risks of natural birth include:

  • Sometimes it can feel scary if you imagine the physical pain you have to endure
  • You may be forced to deal with a lot of worry and anxiety before your delivery day
  • Not able to talk or chat with those around you. All this time you will be focused on pain management
  • Sometimes, the pain may be worse than you had anticipated

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