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Sunday, May 2, 2010

'No epidural for me: I'm brave'

I love Flair on FaceBook. But this one I didn't love - the "epidurals are for sissies" button. A literal "vag badge," perhaps?

That's kind of like the stupid comment I heard on a Baby Center board about VBACs: "No VBAC for me - I love my baby!" What the heck?

I know the person who made this Flair means well, but unfortunately comments like this only serve to further polarize the birthing community. We know that every woman is different, and thus every pregnancy is different. So is our individual level of pain tolerance. What is relatively painless for one woman might be excruciating to another. Add another set of circumstances in there, like fear, psychological issues like prior sexual molestation or abuse, medical issues like vaginismus, and the level of pain for one woman is completely different than the next.

I'm all for natural birth, and feel that out of my three births, the ones with spinal anesthesia produced infants who were slower to take to the breast and generally sleepier. But considering the risks of having an epidural, not to mention the unpleasant side effects that can sometimes happen, sometimes I wonder if the women getting the epidural are the brave ones. It's a good thing you can't see what's going on behind your back.

I'm sure if I looked hard enough, I'd find the "NCBers braid their toe hair and eat granola" Flair or something similar. Private thoughts aside, sometimes I think we need to just smile and nod, keeping our mouths shut. I would hate to have this flair posted to my wall and hurt the feelings of my friends, maybe one of whom had a horribly long, posterior labor that was quite painful. I had back labor for the first hour or so of my VBAC labor before my baby turned; I don't know how I would have coped had it lasted the entire time.

And some women who know the risks and go into it with an open mind end up getting the epi, whether because they were pressured or because the pain was just much more than they expected. I'm sure the one mom I know who suffered major internal damage as a result of her rather botched vaginal delivery was thinking that. I suppose, unless we don't have a horror story to tell, it's hard for us to remember that neither side is a complete walk in the park, and just about anything can happen.

I just like to say, "Maybe you won't need one; just wait and see what happens."


Amber said...

I didn't have an epidural or birth in the hospital because I am not brave and could not have coped with all the needles etc. that accompany such things. A dear friend had three c-sections and she is a far braver soul than I!