I was a complete mess the first time I was administered an epidural. While the anesthesiologist calmly inserted the needle into my back all I could tell myself was "this is going to hurt," "you are weak," and "you failed." Turns out, none of those internal comments were true. My epidural was beautiful, sweet relief after 18 hours of excruciating back labor, and even now I wish I had been kinder to myself and tried reciting some positive mantras while getting an epidural. I didn't deserve to feel so many negative feelings at a time in my life when my body was doing something truly extraordinary.
Thankfully, I learned my lesson the first time around and during my second labor and delivery decided to be a bit more flexible when it came to pain management. So once I decided to get an epidural after another long back labor experience, I told myself things like, "you've got this," "trust yourself," and "good job." And while it doesn't sound like much, those positive comments helped me feel better about the overall labor and delivery experience. I didn't pay attention to the on-call midwife that decided to shame me for choosing to have an epidural, but instead focused on my freedom of choice and the courage I had to change my birth plan when it was necessary. Honestly, I was so damn proud of myself.
As a woman in labor you know what you need and when you need it. As a human being you deserve to go through a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding process with all of the support and pain relief modern medicine can provide if that is, in fact, what you want and need. You also deserve to feel confident and proud of your labor and delivery decisions, which is why I encourage every laboring mom to recite the following mantras when she's getting that magical epidural: