We are, unfortunately, living in a time when owning a keyboard seems to randomly permit people to relentlessly subject others to their own opinions and judgments, especially when it comes to childbirth. Why the debate surrounding how a woman chooses to give birth is a "thing," is beyond me, but having been subjected to countless unfair assumptions myself, I'm here to tell you that this particular debate doesn't appear to be cooling off any time soon. I used an epidural during both my labors and, as a result, I heard all the things women who got epidurals are tired of hearing.
For a lot of women, myself included, pain is one of the biggest fears about giving birth. I consider myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance, but when I was coming up with a birth plan, I never even hesitated in telling my doctor that I wanted an epidural. I'm not sure if it was because of how the movies depict unmedicated births, portraying them as a miserable experience, or if it was just because I didn't want to have to bother with having to cope with pain on the day when I would meet my son. Either way, I was confident in my decision to get an epidural and, to this day, have no regrets for how I chose to birth both of my babies.
You would think that how I decided to carry out my own delivery wouldn't merit such ridicule from others, but alas, here we are and here I am; about to tell you all the things women who got epidurals would love to never, ever hear again.
That Our Birth Wasn't "Natural"
We need to stop telling women that their births weren't "natural" just because they used an epidural. I mean, I grew two humans and vacated them both from my body, just like every other woman who has ever given birth. Just because I used an epidural, doesn't mean that my experience was any less important or life changing or "natural" than someone who decided to forgo the use of pain-relieving medications. Every birth is a natural birth.
That We Subjected Our Babies To Harm
Researches have said time and time again that epidurals do not have any long lasting disadvantages for babies. I don't think that any mother would willfully or voluntarily harm her baby, and I seriously doubt that epidurals would even be offered if they were harmful to babies. Unless you, yourself, are a scientist who has conducted your own research that points to epidurals being harmful, please don't judge those of use who used them.
That We "Drugged" Our Babies
Again, no. I wasn't coming down from hard drugs when I delivered either of my sons, and as far as I know, epidurals aren't a category D drug, so my babies weren't "drugged."
That We Took The "Easy" Way Out
I carried a baby for more than nine months just like (most) pregnant women do. I felt the pain and discomfort of pregnancy, and waddled around in misery throughout most of my third trimester, and I even labored through ten hours of contractions without any pain relieving medication. I decided to get my epidural about 45 minutes before I started pushing so, no, I don't think I took an "easy way out" of labor. Epidurals don't make the act of delivering a baby any easier, they just make it less painful.
That We Were Selfish
Being pregnant and giving birth is one of the most selfless things a human could ever possibly accomplish. Using an epidural to assist with my level of pain so that I was physically (yes, physically, because even though I couldn't feel my pelvis the rest of my body was actively participating in the delivery), mentally and emotionally more present doesn't make me selfish. I just don't understand why someone would say this. I didn't want to be in extreme pain when I met my son. I was afraid that if I didn't get an epidural that I would be in too much pain afterwards to actually enjoy getting to hold him. That might not be true for some, or even a lot, of women, but personally, I didn't want to take that risk.
That We Missed Out On The Experience
I was coherent throughout every moment of both of my deliveries. I had two vaginal births, and both of my sons were placed on my chest as soon as they came into the world. I remember their warm, little bodies, their fuzzy heads, and their perfect little cries. I remember every moment of both of those days, and I cherish both experiences. I missed out on some of the pain of childbirth, but not the experience of it.
We Let The Doctors Manipulate Us
I'm a grown-ass woman who is more than capable of making my own educated decisions regarding my own birth plans. My doctor didn't manipulate me or discourage me from any part of my birth plan.
We Were Uninformed
Like most women, I did plenty of research throughout the duration of my pregnancy. I looked into different types of births, the different places you could give birth, and the different people that I could have assisting them, too. Personally, I'm a fan of Western medicine, and since I had been working in the medical field (during other women's births, surgeries, and procedures), I was quite familiar with the benefits of the type of birth I opted for. I was more than informed about the way I chose to give birth. Getting an epidural doesn't mean that I was oblivious, weak, or manipulated.