I wanted to share with everyone this letter I received from a reader because I think she brings up some important points about the culture our society has created around birth and what should be some very personal decisions made between a woman and her care provider. I share this with you with her consent.
I am not highlighting this story because I’m some rabid epidural pusher. I do not believe that birth would be better for all women with an epidural but I believe birth would be better for all women if they had the freedom to make informed choices in conjunction with their care providers without fear of judgement from either themselves or those loud and proud second wave feminist natural birther types. Nor do a feel any woman should have to face this culture of shame that has been built up to surround those that needed interventions to birth safely. And yes, pain relief in childbirth can be a requirement of psychological safety for the mother.
The second thing I want to highlight is that giving birth is a intense experience that changes you profoundly and, as such, it is a learning experience. The choices you make the first time may not be the same as the choices you make for subsequent births and that should not be at all surprising or unexpected. It doesn’t mean that the choices you made the first time were “wrong,” just that you made the best choices you could at the time with the information you had in conjunction with the context you were in and the relative importance of the values you held. The amount and quality of information available, the context and the relative importance of our values can change over time…which means our decisions will as well.
Let’s congratulate this mother on the birth of her son and celebrate the strength she found in her herself and her partner.
I found your blog through the skeptical ob and I have to thank you for my epidural…
I just had my first hospital birth after two birth center births. The first with a CNM and the other with a CPM. After discovering Amy’s blog I realized what risk I had subjected us all to because of my choices, so this time I chose an OB and figured I’d go natural anyway.
As the pregnancy progressed it became clear that my panic disorder would not be easily controlled this time around and, as my due date approached I began to panic specifically about the intense pain and loss of control I had experienced with my other labors.
On _________ I was admitted into the hospital in false labor. I spoke to my OB about perhaps needing drugs this time and although she was very understanding, I felt incredibly guilty. I slept at the hospital that night, and when I awoke the contractions had stopped. I dreamed that I had used an epidural in labor and in the dream I cried and cried with shame. The next day I tried to sort out my feelings. I tried to ask myself if I really believed I’d harm my son if I asked for one. Was I trying to prove something? To whom?
On _________ labor started for real and I was terrified. While my husband dozed on the couch for a bit I looked around your blog. Among other things I found the post “A Perfectly Reasonable Request“. When I hit 6cm I asked for the epidural even though the contractions were still bearable. My labors go fast and I knew I’d miss my chance if I waited.
I trembled and shook throughout labor. I truly needed help every step of the way, but I was not in pain. My son was born pink and beautiful (my daughter was born blue), and I certainly did not feel that my bonding hormones were suppressed. I cried tears at my son’s birth. This had not happened at the two births before.
In the end it was a much more genuine experience for me to ask for help when I truly needed it. I didn’t feel that I had to play some role of “warrior mama”. I let myself be vulnerable and probably most preciously, I let my husband carry me through it.
Thank you for your post. It enabled me to give myself permission to have that epidural when I needed it so badly.