To all of those women out there who are upset with themselves for choosing an epidural, let’s get something straight – YOU CREATED, GREW AND BIRTHED A BABY!!! You, just like every new mother, are a ROCKSTAR! Whether a baby was born medicated, unmedicated or via cesarean, that simple fact remains the same. You rock! Celebrate your awesomeness and rockstar status!
First off, not every new mama wants to go unmedicated. Some mamas want an epidural as soon as possible. That is absolutely fine. For many others, however, the desire for an unmedicated birth is deep. (Please notice I didn’t say “natural birth.” I view all births as natural, therefore I choose to use the “medicated” and “unmedicated” adjectives.) The reasons for this deep desire to go unmedicated are varied. Some women want the empowerment of the experience while others are just “anti-drugs.” Whatever the reason, this choice is usually accompanied by a strong sense of purpose, determination and “will.”
Having that strong desire and preference is wonderful, as long as she remembers how uncertain labor and delivery can be. As a birth doula I like to encourage my clients to have a “tool box” with them during labor. (This concept of a “tool box” was taught to me by my teacher, and friend, Jacqueline Starkey, and I use it with her blessing.) An epidural is one tool in the tool box. Many laboring women want to try other tools before considering pulling the epidural out of the “box.” Some other tools to help get through the pain associated with labor are massage, counter pressure, focused breathing, position changes, a tub or shower, etc. Sometimes, though, those tools are simply not enough. If a labor is extremely long and mama is exhausted, other tools, like an epidural, may be desired or required. That is perfectly okay!! It saddens me to have women judge themselves harshly if they “give in” and have an epidural. It isn’t giving in, it’s choosing a different tool. Listen, even cesarean surgery is in the tool box should the provider feel it is medically necessary that the baby be born that way. Let’s be glad different tools exist as not every baby wants to make its entrance into the world the same way.
While preparing for the birth of your baby, make a birth plan. This is a written plan of how you would like things to go during labor, if you could write the script. Share that plan with your partner, doula and medical providers. All I suggest is that you bring along the tool box of options, so that you can go with the flow of uncertainties that may present themselves. Be knowledgeable about the tools so you can make a well-informed decision regarding their use. Ask questions so that you are part of the decision-making process. These steps, hopefully, will leave you feeling more positive about your birth experience no matter if it differs from your plan.
So, please, no mom-guilt or self-judgement. Remember, you rock!