How To Deal With Natural Labor Pain Before An Epidural | Fit Pregnancy

How To Deal With Natural Labor Pain Before An Epidural

When your natural birth plan hits the wall.


Here’s your plan for what to do before you change your mind about a natural birth. When you hit the wall, commit to going through each of these nine steps before you ask for an epidural:

1.  Change positions or take a walk

2.  Get in the shower or tub

3.  Try an entirely different breathing or relaxation technique

4.  Ask for a massage

5.  Tell your labor support people the pain is more than you can handle.  Ask for a progress report.  That might mean a cervical exam where you’ll find out you’re 10 centimeters and almost done or that you’re 3 centimeters and have hours to go. That information can help you plan your next steps.

6.  Wait 10 more contractions before you do anything else

7.  Try IV medication (narcotics) if they’re safe during your stage of labor

8.  Repeat steps 1-7. Sometimes all you need to get over a rough patch is a plan.  You might repeat these steps many times and that’s all you’ll need.  If they’re not though, proceed to step nine

9.  Ask for an epidural and be OK with that decision.  Epidurals are tools —that’s all. They’re not the enemy. They’re available to help you deal with a job that’s a lot harder than you ever thought it would be.


If you get through labor without medication…and that’s what you wanted to do … that’s great. If you found it was a lot harder than you expected and got an epidural … that’s great, too.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT beat yourself up about it. Millions of women deliver naturally and millions use epidurals and there’s no judgment in either approach. We’re mothers. We use the tools we need to get the job done. 

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.


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