Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

10 Ways My Epidural Made Me Feel Empowered During My Labor

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Before I had my first baby, I was so intrenched in the "natural" child birth movement that I lost some necessary perspective. I honestly believed that having a medicated child birth was unhealthy for me and for my baby. I also believed that if I had to have an epidural, I would end up feeling helpless and weak which, as a sexual violence survivor, was seriously scary. As it turned out, my epidural made me feel empowered, not helpless or weak at all. That's seriously badass.

While I totally support pregnant people making informed choices and when possible, consenting to medical procedures (when safe for both them and their babies) — and I think it's horrible when people feel pressured into procedures they don't want — I want to tell everyone about my epidurals. Like, literally scream it from rooftops and call everyone I know. Maybe, purchase a billboard? Honestly, I'm still thinking about the marketing plan.

Before I had my daughter, I was terrified that having an epidural would be painful, harmful, and hurt my birth experience. I was so scared. That's both not OK and really freaking terrible. I went to the hospital scared out of my mind. I didn't feel empowered at all. I tried to keep an open mind, and then I had a conversation with my midwife. She was totally supportive of me choosing no pain medications or choosing all the meds. She explained my options and recommended that I wait and see how things progressed and keep those options open. In other words, she rocked.

Ad failed to load

As it turned out, 18 hours of back labor and no sleep in over 36 hours was my threshold for pain and exhaustion. When I asked for it, I felt so ashamed (which is horrible considering I wouldn't feel ashamed to ask for Novocaine at the dentist). After I got it, I was transformed. I knew I could do bring my baby into the world, I got some damn sleep, and I even laughed with my husband. When it was time to push, I got to push side-lying (not on my back like all my friends had threatened) and my midwife held a mirror so I could watch my daughter being born. I didn't tear, and besides some hemorrhaging (which had nothing to do with the epidural) both baby and I were healthy.

So, honestly, there are so many ways I felt empowered by my epidural, including the following:

Ad failed to load

I Called The Shots

I was 100 percent in control. No one forced me or pressured me. They honestly were supportive of anything I chose. That was amazing. They respected the fact that only I knew what I was experiencing and had a right to decide what I needed. That's how childbirth should be.

Pain Relief

GIPHY

It was amazing. I have no way to describe back labor to people who haven't experienced it for themselves, but it was seriously the worst thing I have ever felt. I didn't feel amazing or strong. It made me feel like I was being stabbed. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and scream f*ck over and over, when I could get anything, but a whimper out.

After my epidural, labor was no big deal.

I Got Some Damn Rest

I hadn't slept in over a day. I was so exhausted, I felt like there was no way I could make it. After my epidural, I took a nap while we watched a movie. I could feel when it was time to push and everything was awesome.

Ad failed to load

It Made Me Feel Strong

GIPHY

It made me feel strong again, like I could physically do this thing which, you know, just so happened to be the hardest thing I had ever done.

When I did it, I realized birth is badass, no matter if you have no pain meds, all the meds, or a c-section.

It Made Me Believe In Myself

I seriously doubted myself. I was no longer a badass warrior goddess, I was a weeping, exhausted mess. My epidural gave me my confidence back. I was a rockstar.

It Shut Down The Shaming

GIPHY

Having an epidural shut down all the voices – my friends, the one nurse who said something snarky, and most importantly, the voices in my head – shaming pregnant people for pain relieve is seriously unkind and uncool, and the phrase, "natural child birth" needs to die in a fire.

Ad failed to load

It Changed My Mind

Having an epidural completely changed my mind about "natural" child birth, which is really something that's freaking hard to do for someone as stubborn as I am. I am now an advocate for choice and doing whatever it takes to get through labor. No one gets a trophy or a cookie for going med-free and there are a ton of "right" ways to birth a baby.

I Realized That Pain Is Unnecessary

GIPHY

Feeling pain doesn't make you stronger, and it's my freaking body. I was just joking with my OB-GYN the other day that if men carried babies, epidurals would be administered at 20 weeks gestation. She said, "No, I think they'd probably have artificial wombs by now." The idea that pain is necessary for child birth is really archaic and misogynistic.

When I Caught My Own Baby

It was amazing have the strength to reach down and catch my own baby. I still felt when it was time to push and knew when she was coming. I truly believe that I wouldn't have been able to do anything at that point, but cry and scream, had a I not gotten my amazing epidural.

Ad failed to load

When My Baby And I Were Healthy

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

That's the point. Right? A healthy baby and parent, and not some mythical experience. There's more than one "right" way to give birth. I am not saying that it's not OK for all pregnant people to choose what kind of birth they want (as long as they are safe), but when I held my daughter close to my chest I realized that, for me, a healthy baby was the most important thing.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}