*Let me apologize ahead of time that I’m a bit worked up about this subject after a conversation with a friend this morning. I’m climbing up on a soapbox I told her it might end up in a Facebook status rant, but the more I thought on the subject the more I had to say.
When I was pregnant with my first son I came to the conclusion, for many different reasons (including a recommendation by my doctor), that I wanted to experience birth with no pain medication. Who knew that such a personal decision would bring forward the opinions of so many people I knew! Many of them even being people who had no opinion about anything in my life prior to that moment. I heard everything from, “Why?!” to “Oh, you’ll want that epidural honey!” to “Wow, you’re crazy.” I can’t think of a single person that told me, “You will never regret it,” or “It’s really not a terrible experience.” (But that’s the not-so-scary truth.) And the crazy thing? I’m not sure any of those opinions came from people that had done it. Actually, one of the most popular things for people to tell me was how I would really want an epidural, but theirs didn’t work, so they got some other pain medication. Um, great argument there gals. I even remember someone asking me, just a couple of hours after the birth of my sweet son, “So, are you going to do that again?” I wish I could remember who it was and their face when I said, “Sure!” Two more kids later and I think everyone finally understands that I’m a little stronger, and hard-headed, than they first imagined me to be.
Unfortunately, that’s the one piece of advice I give other moms who have a desire to have a natural birth, “Be hard-headed.” Why, in this day and age of all-about-me must moms throw a hard-headed fit to have a child without pain medication? All the ridiculousness over a stinking epidural! It should not matter to anyone a single, tiny bit if their sister, friend, cousin, sister-in-law, daughter, grandaughter-in-law, or next door neighbor chooses not to get one. They were created to ease the mother’s pain during childbirth. They are not intended as life-saving devices.
Over the last year or two, I’ve had many, many moms-to-be contact me with questions about or seeking support on their choice to go med-free in the delivery room. Sadly, most have shared the same experiences. Very few people in their lives are supportive of their decision. Why? That is so sad. Pregnancy and giving birth should be a happy event, filled with smiles, encouragement, laughter, and love. If you are one of those Debbie Downers saying, “You can’t,” “You’re crazy,” or “That’s stupid,” or rolling your eyes and saying, “Oh-kay. If you think so…” I ask you to take a look at your motives. Is there really any good reason for your comments? I highly doubt it, and if there is a reason at all, it might have more to do with you than them. I’m also quite certain that if that mom-to-be had said hurtful things about your choice to have pain medication in labor, you would be very offended and have hurt feelings. I’ve even heard stories of my friends and aquaintances being told these things in the labor and delivery room! Let’s take a moment to think about that situation. Is it really a good idea to say anything mean to a mother in labor with no pain medication? Joking aside, unless you were there when the child was conceived, you do not have the right to be in the delivery room in the first place. If the mother allows you to be there, even if it is just for a few minutes while she is the early stages of labor, that is a privilege! That is a very private and special time and experience. Your job is to be supportive, calm, and probably quiet. Not condescending, not rude, not ugly in any way. I simply do not understand why everything we are taught about being kind and helpful suddenly goes out the window when a woman chooses natural birth. It’s almost as if she’s committing a sin.
If someone chooses to go straight to feeding their baby formula, that’s okie dokie with me. If a mother chooses to get an epidural, that’s okie dokie by me too. What’s not okay with me, is doctors, nurses, family, friends, and mere acquaintances being rude, unsupportive, and even mean and making fun of mothers because they want to experience something that God made their body to do with less medical intervention. There’s no excuse for such ugliness.
So to those moms that want to go pain med-free, I say – You can do it! It’s a wonderful experience, and you won’t regret it. It’s hard work more than it’s pain, and worth every second. And the whole no catheter thing is pretty great too. Oh, and getting up to take a shower as soon as you want after the baby is born… And leaving the hospital 24 hours later…