When I was pregnant with my first child, I read every book, took all the prenatal classes, and watched hours upon hours of A Baby Story. I considered myself a studied, if not yet practical, expert on labor and delivery. I educated myself on the benefits of unmedicated childbirth, and learned about the pros and cons of using anesthesia. I knew that I wanted an epidural, but I was surrounded by people who put so much value on giving birth "naturally." There were still so many myths about epidurals floating around, and I felt ashamed to admit to anyone that I was all in.
My friends who had gotten epidurals confessed to it guiltily. They made sure to tell me how far they had dilated, how many hours they'd suffered, and the number of laps they'd walked around the hospital before reluctantly calling in the anesthesiologist. It was clear that getting an epidural made you seem weak or lazy, and took some of the accomplishment away from giving birth. I could only imagine how my C-section friends felt.
On the day I went into labor, I stuck it out for a couple of hours. "This isn't so bad," I thought to myself. But the moment my water broke in the delivery room and my body felt as though it was being turned inside out, I got that epidural. A few minutes later, after I was sitting comfortably again, I called a friend of mine who was due at any moment, and I gave her my one personal piece of advice, "Get the epidural."
Recently, I came across a humorous essay by a writer named Jessi Klein titled "Get The Epidural," and since then, I've shared it with all of my pregnant girlfriends. Don't be shamed into decisions based on what others feel you should or shouldn't do. Don't let anyone tell you how much pain you can or can't handle. And, most importantly, educate yourself.
Here are some myths about epidurals that you may have heard, and can now put to rest.