This can be a touchy subject. There is so much expected from women that we are most likely doomed to make the wrong decision. Society expects us to be perfect, but also is quick to criticise every move we make.
I feel that if we decide to embrace pain relief we will be seen as ‘less motherly’ for taking the easy way out. But then if you say to someone you want to avoid any pain relief they will judge you for wanting to ‘play superhero’.
There are, indeed, many options available. I want to talk today about the epidural.
Pain Relief: Epidural
This is a kind of local anaesthetic that can only be given by an anaesthetist. You receive it in the form of a shot in your spine. The drug then blocks the pain signals that your lower spine is sending to your brain. But it is not just a shot, as you will also need an intravenous drip and continuous monitoring for both yourself and your baby. The epidural can potentially make your blood pressure drop, but the IV drip will help increase your blood pressure if needed.
An epidural can be a very effective pain relief method. It is growing in popularity and most women that have had one in the past would be happy to receive one again in subsequent labours.
But it does not always work. In some rare cases it can take the pain away from half of your body, leaving you feeling the other half of the pain.
You will not feel the urge to push. The midwife will monitor your contractions and advice when you have to push. This can make labour go on for longer and can also increase the chances of needing an assisted delivery via forceps or suction.
Effects Of Epidural On Baby
There is no clear indication that an epidural will affect your baby in any way. Some studies seem to point out that some babies have difficulties latching on to the mother’s breast after an epidural. But there is not enough evidence to sustain this hypothesis.
An epidural seems to be a popular and safe choice for pain relief, as long as you can get over the ‘needle in your back’ part of it.
I want to avoid an epidural. Some of my friends do not understand why I ‘want to suffer’ when I have an option to avoid the pain. But I am a strong believer in Mother Nature and in the power of a woman’s body. My body has been able to make a human being and will be able to birth him without drugs. I also believe much of this pain is caused by fear. I am not afraid of birthing my child and this will help me embrace labour as an important part of bringing my little chicken into the world.
Of course, this is me now sitting on my sofa with a cuppa. It could so happen that when the time comes I feel I need help and ask for the drugs. And if that is the case, I will not feel any less of a mother. We must be grateful to have the choice. As long as baby come safe and sound we are all able to choose what suits us best. And change our minds whenever we want.
*Update: you can read my story in my post Birth Plan vs Reality