Does natural childbirth equal faster recovery time?

I have heard and found it to be true myself that natural childbirth does equal a faster recovery time than when you have an epidural.

I had epidurals with both of my first two children.

I was 10 days late and was induced with my first one. I got the epidural right away with the first one because the labor was so intense. (The later you are, the more receptive you are to the Pitocin and it was painful!) The labor went very slowly because I couldn’t walk around or use gravity to get the baby out.

After Rose finally delivered, I didn’t want them to do a catheter because I heard you could get infections from it. Also the epidural was pretty well worn off and I was certain I was going to feel it. I asked them if I could try to walk to the bathroom. They left me sitting up too long and I got light headed so they were forced to do the catheterization.

With Walsh I was third in line to get the epidural and really needed it by the time I asked for it. They gave me some type of drug that made you feel drunk to tide me over until it was my turn for the epidural.  I actually liked that drug a lot. You were happy even though you could still feel the contractions. I got the epidural and just slept. I was frustrated after getting the epidural that I couldn’t prop myself up vertical to push. I just remember sleeping and nursing the whole next day.

I wouldn’t have characterized my first two recoveries as difficult until after giving birth naturally to my third. The third recovery was almost non-existent. I felt like myself immediately after giving birth. I literally got up to pee just minutes after giving birth and was able to walk around and move. I had energy while they were taking care of the baby and slept well when we were finally in our room. The next morning I had lots of energy and was just moving around like nothing had happened. (Now could that have been because it was my third or was it because I had no drugs in my system at all?)

So I am wondering what other mothers have experienced? Did you find that you had a faster labor and easier recovery when you went all natural? What side effects did you find from the epidural or other drugs administered?

Do you think there is a connection between women who have birthed multiple children going natural because they are just easier to get out after you’ve already had one and then it seems like an easier recovery? So it’s not the natural birthing but just having given birth several times that speeds recovery?

Let’s hear from moms that had thirds or fourths on epidurals or other drugs? Was it an easier recovery than your earlier births?

34 comments Add your comment


July 30th, 2010
2:23 pm

OK – I had an epidural with my first and I was miserable. The labor took forever and I couldn’t move around. Afterwards I was itchy and cold. With the second, I planned the epidural and it was promised to me. However, the little guy just wasn’t interested in waiting on that so he came natural. I remember hurting a lot beforehand, but that only lasted during the labor. Like you, I was walking around just fine not long afterward. I have always said that if I were going to have any more children I’d do it natural. The labor was faster (of course I’m sure due to it being a second child), and I could concentrate on what my body was telling me to do. I recommend natural without drugs over epidural to everyone.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 30th, 2010
2:28 pm

I only have a joke to contribute to this topic from a comedian I heard one time….

this guy was talking about how his wife constantly held it over his head that she went through the trauma of giving birth to HIS child for him and how he should always keep that in mind and feel guilty/appreciative that she did all the work.

Apparently she took it too far once and said “I had a NEEDLE STUCK STRAIGHT INTO MY BACK so that I could deliver YOUR child”….referring to the epidural. He responded “you can’t hold that over me….you BEGGED for that needle to be stuck in your back!”

Have a great weekend folks.


July 30th, 2010
2:31 pm

I think there are too many factors in childbirth (the mom, the baby, how she reacts to drugs, how good of shape she is in, her age, how long the labor and delivery last, how big the baby is, if this is a first or subsequent birth, etc.) for this to be a legitimate conversation about what ‘normally’ occurs.

I only have 1 child and did not have an epidural. I like to think of that as birth control because it has been a major deterrent in me wanting to have any more children. The labor and delivery were awful. I was a week overdue and the dilating stopped tho the contractions and labor didn’t, so they gave me Pitocin. 28 hours into labor I finally delivered my son. I was weak and exhausted and only wanted to sleep as soon as he was born. I could make my way to the bathroom and didn’t have to have a catheter but I by no means recovered quickly.


July 30th, 2010
2:40 pm

Theresa you didn’t say how the natural birth was as far as pain, etc…you only talked about recovery. Isn’t that why we do the epidural in the first place? How big was the difference? I guess that would be a big factor in deciding if longer recovery time would be worth it for some people?

I only have one child and I had an epidural so I really can’t comment on the other. But, I will say I was in labor for about 14 hours and there is no way I would have not had the epidural if it was available to me, which it was. Made the rest of it pretty easy. Just some waiting, resting, and then later pushing and out he came. Recovery wasn’t that bad either. I was numb for a while but after that it was no big deal.

Lady Strange

July 30th, 2010
3:01 pm

I had an epidural when I had my son. I tried to go natural but I was so miserable & sick after 12 hours of labor that I decided to have the epidural so I could get some rest and not be so sick. Recovery for me was fine, I was able to move around fine after the epidural wore off. Catheders do suck though, a lot. My son was a month early and had some breathing problems when he was born but that wasn’t related to the epidural. He’s a wild healthy little boy now though :)

Lady Strange

July 30th, 2010
3:03 pm

Forgot to mention the most pain I had was from where the epidural was. They had to do mine twice since the first didn’t take. And the brusies they left were huge and painful for about a month afterwards.


July 30th, 2010
3:12 pm

I freaking LOVE a good epidural! I didn’t want one at all with my first, and the back labor finally started making me delirious and my blood pressure spiked so I got one. It didn’t take so well. My back labor stopped, and for that I was thankful, but I felt everything else. I remember thinking that there was NO way they could do a c-section or anything without a lot more drugs! For my second I was all set to have an epidural the minute I could get one to see if it made a difference. I think I had a crappy anesthesiologist the first time (a friend of mine who delivered at the same hospital a week before had a similar experience), but this time it was FABULOUS! I went to sleep for 5 hours and woke up to push! By the time I got back to my room from delivery I could walk and do whatever I wanted. Other than the lack of sleep from getting up several times a night to breast feed, I went home the next day pretty much feeling like my old self. I think it really depends on the individual. Regardless -if you give birth vaginally and have 25-40 stitches like some I know -you’re going to hurt for awhile! If you labor for 24 or 48 hours -you’re going to be far more exhausted than if you labor for 6 and require 2 stitches. It’s a really individual thing.


July 30th, 2010
3:19 pm

I had the epidural with both my deliveries and if there is ever a third I will have it again. I liked being able to relax during the hours leading up to delivery and not be in pain. I’m allergic to pain and honestly have no use for it. I was up and walking around in about an hour with my first and in about 2.5 hours with my second child. I’ve never had back pain, headaches or any other side effect from the epidural. I don’t even remember the catheter so I apparently didn’t have a problem with it.

I really think it depends on the person. I had a wonderful experience both times and I believe it was largely due to the epidural.


July 30th, 2010
3:35 pm

I ended up with an epidural/saddle block for my first one (C-section) because it ended up being a semi-emergency and it was quick. Honestly, I don’t even remember what hurt worst, though, afterwards! Who knows if the epidural made it better or worse afterwards — I was so miserable, it didn’t really matter!

With the VBAC, I didn’t have an epidural — I don’t have any aversion to needles, but somehow, having a needle poked in my spine just gave me the heebie-jeebies. So the second one was natural. I can’t compare the recovery to the first one, since the experiences were both very different — I was practically dancing the next day after the second one!


July 30th, 2010
3:39 pm

I guess the whole catheter-as-part-of-an-epidural thing never phased me. I’ve had multiple catheters over my lifetime due to urinary tract and bladder problems, so it wasn’t a big deal. They removed mine immediately after I had my babies though.


July 30th, 2010
3:42 pm

@DB -I’m with you on the “needle in the spine” thing. That’s why I was determined NOT to have one with my first! The mind-blowing pain of the back labor combined with the intensified pitocin contractions I was having drove me over the edge though. I seriously didn’t want to have a c-section, and the doctors told us (mainly my husband because I was already delirious) that my blood pressure was spiking and the baby was starting to be in distress, so I could have an epidural and hopefully that would calm things down so I could deliver vaginally, or I could have an epidural anyway and a c-section. It got me over my fear of the needles in the spine, but it is weird -I’ll give you that!


July 30th, 2010
3:50 pm

Sorry, no experience here since I’ve had three C-sections. I was induced with my first, and didn’t want the epidural either. (No one was shoving a needle in my spine!) But after 12 hours of labor and progress slowing, I was fine with it. Heck, at that point I would have been fine with anything! I just wish dr’s would stop with the whole “You’re going to feel a little burn now.” That’s not a little burn, which is exactly what I yelled at the doctor doing my epidural. :-) I was more prepared with the next two, but putting in the epidural actually worried me more than the fact that the doctor was going to cut my abdomen open only a few minutes later.

Just from what I’ve heard, I think it’s more about how much tearing that you have rather than whether it was natural or not. I have a friend who has done both of her birth all-natural. One she recovered from quickly, and the other took her almost the full 6 weeks to recover.


July 30th, 2010
4:09 pm

EPI with both….First one I was up and bouncing around 15 min after she was born. I am serious it was the most awesome thing ever (no episitomy!)

2nd child—whole other story. 8 years later still recovering from that–need a drink thinking about that L&D. (yes everything works correctly still).


July 30th, 2010
6:38 pm

I had epidurals 3 times with my 9-10 lb babies. Unfortunately they did not work. i could have danced, and with the last was gotten up to go to the bathroom less than an hour later and had a spinal headache for more than 2 weeks. Overdue babies, pitocin, and labors of 23-25 hours. I have nothing good to say about the experiences except I got great children from them.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 30th, 2010
6:43 pm

YUki — because I had never gone into labor on my own I didn’t realize when I was really in labor. I had gone in twice over two days telling them I was in labor and they sent me home both times. I had been in that morning they had sent me home. they said I was have labor pains but they weren’t strong enough to throw me into real labor. I was progressing slowly. They said it would take another day or two to hit four and then I would go into labor. They scheduled me to be induced the next morning because I was late so they could go ahead and just induce. They sent me home with ambien told me to take a nap and then take one before bed and report to them at 5:30 the next morning. Well I took the ambien that night and couldn’t sleep through the pain. It was awful. I didn’t realize it was “real” labor. I just thought i was a wimp. After several house of walking around the bedroom yelling and clutching furniture i finally told michael we have to go to the hospital. We went in and I had done transition in the car — I believe I was an 8 when I got there and my water broke within seconds and I went to 10 immediately. and delivered less than 23 mins at the hospital. But keep in mind I had been in labor for like four days warming up to that and then four or so hours at home in tremendous pain. If I had been at the hospital Yuki I would have asked for an epidural. I would never have made it natural if I hadn’t labored at home without access to drugs. The recovery was fantastic. The pain was tremendous even with my third.


July 30th, 2010
7:24 pm

Only one child–no epidural, no drugs, no stitches. Yeah, it hurt, but it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life, and I would do it again in a minute—–if only I had been blessed enough to get pregnant again.


July 30th, 2010
7:42 pm

There is no possible way to compare experiences because every person, every hospital, every doctor and every birth is completely different. I had the most wonderful epidural ever — I could sleep beforehand but then I had enough feeling in my body to know where I was pushing. Both the epidural and the catheter were virtually painless (it felt like a small prick — and I have a low tolerance for pain). However, I did have a large amount of tearing and my baby was only 6lbs. This just means that on my own particular experience I had an incredible doctor administer the perfect amount for an epidural. My body does not have as much ‘give’ in certain areas which resulted in the tearing. Who knows what will happen with my next delivery.


July 30th, 2010
8:03 pm

@tiger that was priceless lol…finally something made me laugh today and i thank you for that :)
baby 1-in labor for 12 hours…they did the epideural and son was born 10 minutes later…i really never even felt the epideural until after he was out…why oh why did they do that??? i couldnt get up for hours and i was numb and it really sucked!!! he wieghed 7 pounds
baby 2-labor started at 6:30 am…(she was 4 weeks late) and was born at 11:32 am naturally no meds at all…was up and at em very soon after she was born..felt great..a tad sore-she weighed 8 pounds
baby3-labor was long…baby weighed 9 pounds (i weighed 120 when he was born) so he was a big baby…they had to induce because the labor wouldnt progress…that HURT!!! but still natural….felt great as soon as the little sucker was out…
baby 4-had placenta previa-c-section at 22 weeks….she weighed almost 6 pounds…had the old fashioned cut straight up and it hurt really bad…was a terrible experience…she wouldve been my only one if she had been my first!

i would never willingly have an epideural…i hated it. didnt like the way if felt getting it….the numbness after…and my back hurt for a long time afterwards. my recoop time was awesome with the natural ones….


July 31st, 2010
1:57 am

I had three births and three epideurals. By the time I had the third child, I didn’t need anyone to hold my hand while I was stuck in the back. I was two weeks over due with the last two and ready for them to come out. I was not in the mood to feel any pain after they induced me. My recovery was fine for all three (and the kids are spread apart so I was a lot older with the third). I was walking around and ready to so home. The last child was a boy, very slim and I didn’t tear/rip.


July 31st, 2010
3:42 pm


Patiently Waiting

July 31st, 2010
3:59 pm

I only have one child and I had an epidural. 3 hours later, he was born. After the doctor finished doing her job, I walked to the bathroom (no cath for me) and I didn’t have a hard recovery. I was actually running up and down the stairs 2 days later (but I also ran down the stairs up until delivery). I wanted natural but didn’t get the chance but I can’t say the epidural had a negative effect. I felt no pain and that was wonderful!


August 1st, 2010
2:31 pm

No epidural with any of my 4. I was induced w/ cervidil and that was enough for my 1st. Six hours later and some stadol he came out. I also had an episiotomy w/ him that took me (no exaggeration) a year to recover from.

My 2nd was easy-peasy and she was out in 3 hours flat. No induction, no drugs, nothing. I had to have, I think, 2 stiches from tearing afterward but was fine otherwise. Interestingly though, labor w/ her was more painful than the 1st go around. I had actually asked for something for pain but they said I was too far gone & it was too late.

My 3rd was almost a repeat of my 1st. Induced w/ cervidil & nothing else needed. I had her in about 5 hours and a few doses of stadol. Some stiches for tearing afterward but that was actually the hardest part. The medicine to numb me up “down there” had no effect whatsoever and I felt everything. I screamed more from the stitching than pushing her out. Still makes me hurt to think of that.

My 4th & final was awful. That was an easy enough labor (as easy as it can be) until I stopped dilating. Then they put me on pitocin to get things going again. I have never been in such awful, extreme pain before. It was evil! I thought my insides were coming out. The stadol didn’t help anything either. By the time I’d reached my breaking point & started asking for an epidural, they said it was too late & she was ready to come out.

I think the reason I was so opposed to getting an epidural at first was that I’d heard too many horror stories from people who had bad ones. And the human body is pretty amazing to be able to deliver a baby so I knew it was possible to do it. But after my 4th one I know that if I ever had anymore children, I’d probably opt for the needle. No more children for me though. I’m done!


August 1st, 2010
9:20 pm

I have had two children. The first completely naturally (not by choice, but by quick labor), and the second after being induced (due to quickness of first delivery) with an epidural. I totally recommend naturally after having experience both. I was up and walking around almost immediately after the delivery and never took any ibuprofen, etc. after the delivery at all. I felt great, and like my mom told me, I totally forgot about the pain after seeing the baby. With my second, I had pitocin and an epidural. the delivery took longer (mind you I was scheduled for an induction a week prior to due date) and the recovery was much more painful. I was begging for something to stop the pain after delivery (uterus contracting back to original size…which I do not recall at all from the first birth).

Lenise Bostic

August 1st, 2010
9:44 pm

I had an epidural with my first and had a difficult recovery. With my second, third and fourth I had them natural and had a great recovery. Then I had twins which required a c-section and that was a very difficult recovery. With my last child I had her natural at home with just my husband and I. That was the best child birth ever. We had no distractions and it was a simple stress free birth. So after having seven children I felt that my natural births were much better than the ones with drugs.

atlanta mom

August 1st, 2010
11:07 pm

My sister in law has a theory about pain and child birth. She thinks there is a certain amount of pain associated with child birth. You can feel it during the birthing process (natural), or you can feel it afterward (epidural).
I agree with everyone who has commented on pitocin. It is nasty nasty.


August 1st, 2010
11:23 pm

C-section for the first; natural for the second with 3days in the hospital; epidurals for 3 and 4. Catheter only for the natural one. Both 3 and 4 I was ready to go home within 8 hours. No quick labors. Pitosin with #4. Pain is not a virtue. I’d go with an epidural again.


August 1st, 2010
11:56 pm

I labored for 26 hours with my first BEFORE the epidural, and 5 more after with the pitocin. I was so close to a c section, and I too did not care about anything once she was finally born. It was so horrible! The second time, I was TERRIFIED when I was pregnant about labor. It’s one thing to not know, but to know how bad it really can be was horrifying. I got the epidural as soon as I got to the hospital, and the labor definitely would have been over an hour sooner without it, but I did not care. It lasted 6 hours start to finish and I recovered wonderfully. I was up and around the next day with no problems and even was okay to let my hubby leave to take an exam for law school (great timing eh?!)

I’d say it more depends on the labor than the epidural. 26 hours of natural labor was not empowering, it was terrifying, and I won’t ever do it again. My first words to the nurse when I got to the hospital with my second were “epidural, NOW!” That pretty much sums my feelings on the matter up.


August 2nd, 2010
12:26 am

I always recommend an epidural for the first baby to new moms-to-be because it does make you relax a lot. Plus, your body hasn’t been through it all before so there is a lot more adjusting that has to happen.

I did an epidural with the first. It was great, I slept through most of the labor, couldn’t feel Anything when I delivered and was up walking around some fairly soon. The at-home recovery though was not as good, I was walking around gingerly for quite a while.

With the second, I was going to get an epidural again but didn’t have time. Delivery was painful especially since I had no frame of reference from the first time. Recovery was Amazing! I had no trouble going up and down the stairs at home, could walk without discomfort fairly soon. My husband commented on the extreme difference in recovery between the two.

Enter number 3 – breech so I had a C-section. The absolutely worst recovery hands down. Catheter in for way longer than I thought was necessary, couldn’t walk around without discomfort for many, many days.

#3 is the last so I don’t have to make that decision again; which is good because I’d have to consider the VBAC question as well.


August 2nd, 2010
1:32 am

3 babies, 3 epidurals, and no problems at all. Recovery was tylenol for the next day or so and that was not for anything epidural related. I waited a really long time during the first labor before I asked for an epidural. After baby 1, I wised up and asked for one as I was in the wheelchair being rolled into L&D. I think I was more rested and better able to take care of babies 2 and 3 right away because of my epidurals.


August 2nd, 2010
1:50 am

Recommend eipdurals….With baby #1, I was determined to have him naturally. Labored at home for about 10 hours, went to hospital, and at about 10 pm it was decided to give me demerol to “numb” the pain. Worst mistake ever! I was so dizzy and felt out of control…..I couldn’t sleep. Had an epidural the next morning at around 10:30.What a God send….baby born at 4:15….after being in hospital 24 hours and being threatened with C-section…..Episiotomy was the roughest part of that labor, well, other than the long labor itself. I think that my putting off getting the epi really prolonged that labor.
Baby #2 18 months later…stayed at home a really long time before heading to hospital based on first baby. Got to hospital about 1:00 pm, got epidural, baby born @3:00…..just a couple stitches. Very easy recover when compared to the first and I have the pictures to prove it ; )
Baby #3….C-section after the baby turned breech week and half before due date. Epidural was great during delivery and 24 hours as a way to manage pain. However, recovery from c-section was very long. If I had a 4th, I would have definitely done a VBAC.
Bottom line, epidurals are awesome and I would definitely recommend for any mom!


August 2nd, 2010
6:45 am

I had three all natural births, and like my grandma had experienced, I labored without pain for most of it and hard labor started only after the Doctor broke my water each time. With my first child labor was 4 hours total from first hard contractions at home to birth within the hour after arrival at the hospital. With my second child I felt very uncomfortable, went to the hospital at 11pm, and because I had labored so fast with my first, they let me check into the hospital, gave me something to make me sleep, then after the Doctor broke my water the next morning, she was born within two hours. With number three I was freaking out that I would not make it to the hospital in time, and begged my doctor a week and a half before my due date to let me come in so that he could break my water, and I could be in the hospital to deliver. He agreed, and the next morning after he broke my water, hard labor started immediately, and my son was born thirty minutes later. Recovery after each birth was fast for me because I was not exhausted like so many of you from a long painful labor. However, after my third I did have some very painful contractions after delivery and took some Tylenol 3. I took Lamaze classes before each birth, and the breathing got me through the worst of the pain, and helped me to focus. I also had an episiotomy each time, and had no problem with the healing.


August 2nd, 2010
9:07 am

TWG–I had a similar experience with my first as you related to YUKI. I felt funny and went in at 11AM that morning. They could see I was uncomfortable but said there was nothing they could do (real labor hadn’t hit). I went to my mothers and got “antsy” in that I could not sit still and felt “crampy”. I got home that night about 9 and father to be said–take Tylenol that “pain” is all in your head if you would relax you would be fine. After 3 hours of clutching furniture etc…and timing my own pain in the WRONG way because dad to be kept saying I had been to to dr and they said nothing going on here…I called the number. I was admitted at 1:30 and they SLOWED my contractions down with the IV stuff…I was 4 cm when I walked in…the nurse said Honey your having a contraction. The father, said “we were here earlier and were told she wasn’t close.” The nurse rolled her eyes and said “Sir this is a contraction, she is having a baby.” The dumbfounded look on his face after he had been screaming at me, throwing the coffee pot across the room, tossing furinture etc, because I was “making a racket so he couldn’t sleep” was PRICELESS!


August 4th, 2010
2:18 pm

i delivered my first child naturally six days ago. i was only in labor for 4 hours, and the only discomfort i had were 2 stitches. i would deffinately recomend having a natural childbirth to anyone.


September 14th, 2010
9:49 pm

what do i do to for fast delvery i walk two times a day long walk what els should i do for fast birth?
any advice helps.