Natural birth vs. Epidural birth

During pregnancy many women are adamant about one side of the birthing spectrum: those that are all for a natural birth, and those that would opt for the epidural birth when given a choice. This choice is dependent upon two equally important, but sometimes conflicting things: the women’s personal preference and the status or progression of labor. Making this decision may not be an easy one, so it is only fair that you know the good things and bad things about each side.

The Difference

To avoid any confusion, let’s look at what both of these things are, and then we will determine what is good and bad about each of them. Natural birth involves no anesthesia, medication, or surgery. Epidural is a safe form of pain relief during childbirth using an anesthetic. Epidural is short for epidural anesthesia. It is injected into the spine while the woman is awake and numbs her from the waist down. She will be well aware of what is going on, and may even feel some contractions, but certainly not the major ones involved in child birth.

Pros and Cons of Natural Birth

  • Mothers who choose to have a natural birth are more free to move around as they please, including sitting up, going to the bathroom, and pushing with more control during labor.
  • Since the woman is not numb at all, she is able to have a better idea when to push, and she is better at actually pushing.
  • In most instances, babies are more alert after a natural childbirth and spend more time breastfeeding for the first few hours of life.
  • Some women think that the childbirth experience is better because it is a very intimate one.
  • The techniques for natural childbirth are not invasive and, therefore, there is a lower risk of infection for the mother and the baby.
  • Some women like to feel in charge of how the birth is progressing.
  • During natural childbirth, there is no need to be hooked up to an IV machine, so there is more room to move around with ease.
  • Women who go au natural are less likely to need another medication to speed up contractions.


  • The pain is not eliminated, so women must be very confident and strong to get through with natural labor.
  • Pain management may be more difficult if the labor is prolonged.

Pros and Cons of Epidural Birth

  • If the labor is prolonged for large amounts of time, the mother will be able to rest somewhat comfortably.
  • Some women think that the childbirth experience is better because the pain is reduced.
  • Epidural is the best type of pain control during childbirth.
  • Having an epidural may allow more room for relaxation and rest to get you ready for the tiring but rewarding process of childbirth.


  • Some women may have an allergy to the epidural medication.
  • In some women an epidural may greatly assist in a faster progression of labor, but in others, women may find it difficult to push, unnecessarily prolonging the labor. There are times when the woman may not be able to even feel the contraction, so the assistance of a vacuum or forceps may be required.
  • It is very possible that the women’s blood pressure could drop; in this case, the baby’s probably will too.
  • Very rarely a woman may get a sore back from the medication.

Exploring the Options
All women need to have a birthing plan. It is very important for the process to go more smoothly. Once the contractions start, there is no time to discuss if you want to have a natural birth or one assisted with an epidural. There may be some instances when unexpected things happen, but it is always a good idea to know what you want.

Last updated on Aug 9th, 2010 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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