Romper

My Epidural Was Perfectly "Natural," Thank You Very Much

Courtesy of Mariah MacCarthy

When the time come to push my child out of my vagina, I got a natural epidural. My natural epidural made of chemicals naturally made my son's day of birth a million times better for me. I was surrounded by healthcare professionals who were naturally stellar at their jobs. And, naturally, my son and I were healthy and happy, just as nature made us.

For some reason, we think a woman in pain is "natural." For whatever reason, when it comes to birth, we as a culture believe that natural is somehow "better." But you know what else is natural? Avoiding pain! I wanted to enjoy the day my child was born as much as possible. I didn't want to spend it crying out in pain every few minutes. So, naturally, I opted for the option that felt like covering my body in a cozy, comfy blanket of no pain whatsoever, like a natural freaking woman.

Home births are "natural." Giving birth in a birthing center is "natural." Having the miracles of modern medicine at your fingertips while you bring new life into the world? Also totally natural! I hear you, anti-epiduralists: "But it's not natural to pump your body full of chemicals!" But, um, water is a chemical. And we are literally made of chemicals. "But you didn't really experience childbirth!" I experienced something super wonderful, so, I'm cool with having experienced that instead of whatever I would've experienced without an epidural. "But the medical industrial complex!" Well, I had to be induced anyway, so I didn't really have a way around that part. Nor did I want one. My doctor and nurses were awesome.

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Every laboring woman tries to just make the best choice for her delivery and her body, and that requires strength and bravery, no matter what role an anesthetic plays or doesn't play. It's not a competition.

Mosquito bites are "natural." Spoiled food is "natural." It's also totally natural to seek the best tools available to you and use them. Air conditioning is not found in "nature," but it's natural to avoid the heat.

And a lack of drugs in one's body does not make a laboring mother stronger or braver than the next mom, just as the drugs in my body did not mean I was any stronger or braver than the next mom. Every laboring woman tries to just make the best choice for her delivery and her body, and that requires strength and bravery, no matter what role an anesthetic plays or doesn't play. It's not a competition. We're all awesome, you guys.

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When I discovered that I had dilated to 9 centimeters without breaking a sweat, my epidural did not prevent me from experiencing utter awe and wonder at my body. My whole system was still doing what it was designed to do: shove a new human into the open air. And that is natural.

I've heard hospital births with epidurals described (often by women who did not have hospital births) as "impersonal," "scary," or "sterile." My experience could not have been further from this description. I was surrounded by incredible women, from my best friends, to my doula, to my doctor and nurses; and the room I was in buzzed with gorgeous feminine energy. It was like taking a bath in a warm pool of love. I've also heard "natural" births described as allowing greater "control," but I felt way more in control after I got my epidural; my contractions were no longer overtaking me every few minutes. And when I discovered that I had dilated to 9 centimeters without breaking a sweat, my epidural did not prevent me from experiencing utter awe and wonder at my body. My whole system was still doing what it was designed to do: shove a new human into the open air. And that is natural.

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I know that to deliver a child with no anesthetic is a feat of physical endurance, and I am impressed by that feat, just as I am impressed by other feats of physical endurance (while feeling no urge at all to try them). I am truly and deeply happy for the women who enjoy that experience. I am also truly and deeply happy for myself and the experience of my son's amazing birth day. Everything about it felt exactly as it should be, organic to the moment, and... natural.