This is my 3rd baby and with my 1st 2 I did have an epi.
With my 1st, my plan was to go as long as I could without drugs, but was never opposed to getting an epidural. After being induced on pitocin and in labor for 12 + hours, extremely hungry and only dilated to a 4, I opted for the epi, them breaking my water at the thought that the baby would be out in the next 4 hours. I was able to get some rest and sure enough baby was out in less than 4 hours.
With my 2nd I went into labor on my own and contractions were extremely painful, one on top of another and constant for hours with very little dilation. I opted again for the epi so I could get some rest and relief. The only problem was that I had to have them redo it since I still had pain on one side. But after I had it I was just fine.
Recovery was fine afterwards, I was still up and moving within an hour or so after both deliveries and pain was low and I never needed any other medication after delivery except maybe a Tylenol.
I was very anti-narcotics and only went for the epi for pain relief.
I think if you choose to go med-free you need to educate yourself and mentally prepare for that as much as you can before you deliver. Most people that I have talked to, if they go in with a heart set on eh, if I need an epi or drugs, will end up getting one. But (short of medical emergencies) for a regular med-free birth, the more you prepare yourself mentally, the better off you will be with sticking to it.
Either way, if you are passionate about having a med free birth, go for it! I'm in the camp that I wouldn't go get dental work done without novacaine, and I don't see myself giving birth without an epi. ;o)~