Remember how just the other day I was describing my non-hypnobirthing labour and delivery? Well on the same day that I wrote that post, a Doctor in England made a statement that said more women should forgo the epidural and instead endure the pain of childbirth. According to him "Some (women) just don't fancy the pain [of childbirth]." And "Pain in labour is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby."
Is that so Mr Walsh? Well, having delivered two babies in the last two years - one with epidural and one without - I whole-heartedly and with complete certainty argue that your point is mindless, archaic crap.
First, Dr Walsh is a man. So, fortunately for him, his comments reside in unsubstantiated theories, since he'll never have to endure the pain of childbirth himself. Which is very convenient for someone rolling off such comments.
Having recently been through a natural birth, Dr Walsh, let me try to describe for you as realistically as possible what it feels like to push a person out of one's body. It might be analogous to, say, pushing a lemon through your penis. Think that might be a tad uncomfortable? That's not the half of it my dear. Before the said lemon is pushed through the impossibly small hole, you will first endure a pain that comes in waves and is so crippling that you will beg to be put out of your misery. And that might go on for oh, a couple of hours. *
Dr Walsh's reasons for persuading women to give up the epidural are: that it might have serious medical risks (practically everyone I know was born with an epidural and are perfectly fine - what's the actual statistic for negative effects?); that it may diminish childbirth as a rite of passage (what about the mother's rights?); and that it may undermine the mother's bond with her child (ask any one of the millions of women who have had an epidural if their bond has been diminished. I think you'll find the answer is no and are you out of your bloody mind?).
The thing that really irks me about this, is not that this doctor is recommending natural alternatives to the epidural - because every woman should be able to decide how she wants to approach childbirth. My problem is that this ignoramus is condemning women for making a choice, which they absolutely have the right to, without ever having experienced childbirth himself to make such a judgment. Are we not living in the twenty first century, where modern medicine has brought us so far ahead of our predecessors with medications that cure us and alleviate the "natural" pain that was once endured because there was no alternative? There are plenty of medical conditions that cause pain and suffering. do we try to brave them all?
I mean, I assume, Dr Walsh, that since you're against women having an epidural during childbirth, that when you go to the dentist for a root canal or filling, that you don't get an anesthetic?
He says "Pain prepares women for the demands of motherhood." Utter crap. The extreme pain of childbirth is hardly an indication of the incredible and yes, sometimes challenging path of motherhood that lies ahead.
He also claims that the use of the epidural would be less prevalent if more women practiced alternate methods such as yoga and hypnotherapy.
Well hello, here I am, a perfect case study for you: I tried those things Dr Walsh. After having had an epidural with my first baby, I attempted the natural approach with my second. And when it came down to it the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. My memories of my natural birth are in some ways more horrific than the memories of my epidural birth. And for the record, I would not do it again.**
"It appears that women have never been more frightened of the processes". He says. You know what? The only thing that has made me fear childbirth? Not all the horror stories or the movies of women screaming through their deliveries. But the actual experience. My experience. So much so, that if I ever went through it again there is no doubt in my mind I would ask for the epidural. Hell, I'd be on the phone to L&D asking them to get it ready for me.
But in the end, I just think every woman has the right to decide how to have baby without being judged, whether medicated up to her eyeballs or not. And I do wonder how much evidence really exists to qualify Dr Walsh's claim that the epidural has detrimental consequences to the baby?
I'm interested to know your thoughts on this too...
* I have a very low pain threshold - some women do not find the experience as excruciating as I did!
**I just want to state that for some women alternate, natural methods do work well for childbirth. I just didn't happen to be one of them.