If you've spent any amount of time in a mom's group or have read the comments section of any parenting website, you already know that mom shaming is a real thing. Maybe you aren't currently acquainted with a person who has their camera out ready to catch you in the fast food drive-thru, but I'm sure you know someone would be appalled to learn that you've had, or are considering getting, an epidural. The reality is that not every woman can have an unmedicated birth — and that's OK. But how do you know which route is best for you? There are actually some signs you should have a medicated birth, which doesn't make your birth experience any less real.
"I feel that the epidural gives women a level of comfort that allows interaction with their significant other and truly enjoy the birth experience. There is an ugly side to unmedicated birth, including vomiting, screaming, and pushing when not ready. There is no reason to suffer."
Although Hechtman is a big fan of epidurals, she does respects her patients and their wishes. If your doctor doesn't do that, then it may be worth seeing someone else. Whether or not you are planning to have a medicated birth, here are some reasons your health care provider may recommend one.
1. You Have Elevated Blood Pressure
"In patients that have elevated blood pressure — preeclampsia, gestational hypertension — ideally we would want them to have an epidural so their blood pressure does not increase because of pain," Hechtman says. As far as safety is concerned, a study in the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology found that in 444 patients with hypertensive disease, an epidural did not increase the frequency of C-section delivery, renal failure, and pulmonary edema when compared with patients who did not receive an epidural.
2. You Have Diabetes
It is a long held belief that moms with diabetes can only deliver via C-section. According to What To Expect, that's because moms who have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes are more likely to have a baby with macrosomia. Thsi condition, according to the Mayo Clinic, leads to a baby weighing more than 8 lbs. 13 oz at birth, which can make vaginal delivery impossible for some women. Your healthcare provider may suggest a medicated birth to keep you comfortable during a vaginal delivery, especially if your baby is larger than the typical newborn.
3. You Suffer From Obesity
Moms who suffer from obesity are also at risk of having a baby with macrosomia, according to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Because the delivery of a larger baby may be difficult, Hechtman says a medicated birth may be recommended.
4. You Are Actively Using Drugs
According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, pregnant women who use drugs are at a high risk of hypertension, premature rupture of membranes, placenta previa, placental abruption, premature delivery, rapid labor, infection of amniotic cavity, intrauterine death, and poor fetal growth. "In situations of active drug use, moms should have anesthesia to prevent spikes in blood pressure and the possible need for emergency C-section," Hechtman says.
5. You Have Low Pain Tolerance
Only you know your own pain threshold. For people with very little pain tolerance, the pains of labor can tire you out so much that you may end up needing other methods to help you deliver, according to North Shore University Health System. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of a medicated birth, especially if you have a low pain tolerance.