Would You Choose a Birth Center That Bans Epidurals?

Image via Daquella manera/Flickr
Image via Daquella manera/Flickr

I've always been an advocate for women doing birth their way. 

In my own case, I delivered my first two daughters with a nurse/midwife in a hospital setting with full access to everything medical that my baby and I could need—but still with the luxury of having a care provider who let me labor in a tub, be free of monitors, and eat a light snack when I started to feel nauseous. It was incredibly hard (and painful), but in the end, I was very happy to go the all-natural route. The experience was so intense and life-changing. 

And then with my third child, I went in a completely opposite direction and checked myself into the hospital, where I happily indulged in my first-ever epidural. My labor was a mere four hours long, and I enjoyed two hours of it sitting up in bed, chatting and laughing with my husband through contractions. (Sidenote: My husband was amazed that labor could go down as anything that remotely looked like fun.) 

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Now, pregnant with my fourth child, I'm wondering if I'm ready to change things up again. Part of me is looking for a more natural, holistic, family-friendly approach to this birth, especially because it will most likely be my last—go out with a bang, so to say. 

A few days after I found out I was pregnant, I started researching birth centers in my area. A few of the local hospitals near us boasted free-standing, attached birth centers, meaning they have separate birth centers that are actually attached to the hospital in case of an emergency.

It sounded like the best of both worlds until I started reading a little bit more.

For instance, I came across a lovely center not far from me that boasts family involvement, whirlpool-laboring tubs, exemption from IVs … and no epidurals? 

This particular birth center actually bans epidurals. As in nada, no go, not going to be an option whatsoever. 

Now, call me crazy, but something about the fact that the epidurals are banned seems a little extreme to me. As a labor and delivery nurse, I get it somewhat, because epidurals require an anesthesiologist, special equipment, monitoring tools, and medications. But still, it's not all that hard to do. 

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It just seems a bit well, final, to lock myself into a delivery route that absolutely bans epidurals. I am thinking that, quite honestly, I would like the option, especially now that I know what it's like to deliver with an epidural vs. the all-natural route. 

I'm just not sure. On one hand, I like the options available with the birth center—like the tub and the fact that I wouldn't need an IV—but to know my beloved epidural is gone forever?


I just don't know if it's worth it.

What do you think? Would you deliver at a birth center that bans epidurals?

What do you think?

Would You Choose a Birth Center That Bans Epidurals?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Olivia says:

    I wouldn’t go anywhere that didn’t offer epidurals. In my last delivery with my son, he was born via c-section 6 minutes after them deciding it needed to happen. If I did not already have the epidural I would have missed the birth of my son because they would have had to give me general anesthesia.

  2. Julie says:

    When I bathe I end up in birthing position sometimes but I don’t see him going out the way he went in! I don’t think I can do it naturally I would need epidorial

  3. Member says:

    Most birth centers, free standing or attached to a hospital, don’t offer epidurals. They are staffed by midwives and nurses, neither of whom can administer an epidural. A friend of mine chose a birthing center attached to a hospital and was transferred over to the hospital when her labor went too long and she decided she wanted to have an epidural…no problem whatsoever.

    If you want the convenience of being able to choose an epidural than choose a hospital birth but if you really want to give it a natural try, then choose the birth center. You’ve done both so you should know which one you’d like for this last baby.

    Also, any good practitioner knows when baby is in distress before it becomes a life threatening emergency for both baby and mama and will transfer care immediately. The birth centers attached to hospitals are prepared for that and have gone through the required transfer details so that if the need should arrive time isn’t wasted. Most births will happen completely naturally without intervention or emergencies.

    • Megan Klay says:

      My experience has been the opposite with birth centers attached to hospitals. I have interviewed several midwife groups in our state that service birth centers within hospitals and all offer pain medication, including epidurals. And all offer the ability to perform a C-section by a physician, if needed, without having to be removed from the birth center. Everyone just needs to do their research locally to find a place which works for them!

  4. Lala says:

    I would go to the hospital. U said it was easier. In plus u already did two Unwater birth. So y not two hospital. Plus less pain. In yo husband was stress free also. I kno the no medicine biryh u was cursing yelling n ranting. I say go to hospital.

  5. Christina says:

    I chose to have an epidural so that, in case of an emergency, I would be ready to go for a C-section. When a baby goes into distress, every second counts. Even if the birthing center is attached to a hospital, you still have to be transferred over, and THEN get either an epidural or be put under. Brain damage occurs after three minutes without oxygen. There are just too many things that can go wrong. Not everything can be prevented, but being prepared can make a big difference.

  6. Miranda says:

    I wouldn’t be against going to a birthing center that bans epidurals as I do not want one. Also I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about epidurals, so I can see where they would ban epidurals for comfort and/or medical reason. There are other pain relief methods and they will still have an iv hooked up.

    • Jennifer says:

      I had two epidurals and two children without. I loved the epidurals LOL. They were my best friend. Only problem is where they put it in to this day (my oldest is almost 16) feels creepy if you touch that exact spot for too long. No paint, just odd LOL

  7. Jasmine says:

    what do they do if something happens and need to do a c section? i know they can probably do a spinal block but come on they dont do ivs what will happen if you need to have a change in the middle of giving birth?

  8. Jen says:

    I would like to have a natural birth but I don’t think I would choose a birth center that bans epidurals. Some women may choose that they would like one.

  9. Brittany says:

    With my first I had gotten an epidural and felt so much relief. The process went very well and to be honest I didn’t even fell it! I was up the whole night in pain so that little bit of relief was a life saver. It gave me a little time to relax and get ready to push. As long as me getting an epidural didn’t harm my baby then I was okay with receiving it.

  10. Chrissy says:

    Not really because both epirdural injections I had hurt more than the contractions. Not to mention I had to get the injections during a contraction. I also heard of them causing side effects like mental illnesses that I didn’t have before having the epirdurals.

  11. Rosario says:

    Yes with my litte baby I have

  12. Aubrey says:

    I’ve had 3 kids au natural, so it wouldn’t bother me. As long as emergency care was available in case of an emergency, then it would be fine with me. My first was sunny side up, and came so fast they only had time to give me an episiotimy before I pushed him out (again, without painkillers) Birth is supposed to be painful, there is supposed to be time between contractions for your body and the baby to rest and breath that the drugs that they administer don’t allow you to do. Go as natural as possible 🙂 for as long as you and the baby are safe.


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