We just went over induction/epidurals/pain relief in our birthing class this week!
I also do not want to be induced, unless it is medically necessary. The nurse running our class said our hospital doesn't do unnecessary inductions, so that made me feel a whole lot better. My research on pitocin has lead me to the conclusion that it causes stronger, more painful contractions, which can cause fetal distress, and I don't want myself or my baby to go through something like that.
I'm very much considering having IV pain relief throughout most of my labor, if needed. I forget the name of the medications they said they use at my hospital, but the nurse said they're like demerol, which I had after an appendectomy this year, and that did take the majority of the pain away and made me feel a heck of a lot better. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, and I don't want to rush to the epidural immediately if there are other options. I know the IV meds cross the placenta and the epidural meds don't, but I don't believe there is any harm to the baby. Plus, with IV meds, you can walk around, use a birthing ball, change positions, etc. With an epidural, you're confined to the bed. And, if you use IV meds, they do give you injections on either side of your vagina as you are about to deliver so you are numb and don't feel extreme pain or discomfort with the delivery.
Epidurals can either slow OR quicken the labor... it's really hit or miss what it will do to each individual person. I would just rather avoid it for as long as possible and only get it towards the end (if needed) so that I can move around during my labor.