I have beef with anti-epidurialism (a term I just made up)
Okay, here's my beef.
I'm a little upset about the epidural lesson in a recent prenatal class.
A quick preface before I get into it: I have nothing but the greatest respect for mothers who choose to have a medication-free, natural birth whether at home, in hospital or somewhere more exotic. I, on the other hand, decided long ago that pain meds are my friend. Epidural? Yes please!
Now, post preface: The class wasn't an unbiased look at ways to reduce labour pain. It was a thinly veiled anti-medication lecture given by a transparently anti-epidural nuse.
"There's a whole culture of epidural out there," she said, as if the same culture condoned eating babies. "And if you turn it down, doctors will whisper 'oh, my god, she turned it down' as if you're crazy."
This nurse described natural childbirth as a smooth road with few curves. She described childbirth with an epidural as a paved road with awkwardly angled turns. Something that produces "loss of control" for the mother (at least it did during the one labour she had with an epidural), it makes labour painfully longer and may cause your tiny newborn to be "unco-ordinated with breastfeeding" indefinitely after birth.
"There's crazy research out there," she said. But when probed didn't know any specifics. And when asked what "unco-ordinated" meant and for how long, she stammered. "Oh, not long and we don't really know," finally conceding it doesn't have any long term effects on the baby.
But to a roomful of frightened mothers and fathers-to-be, her lesson was enough to elicit anxious gasps.
What the nurse failed to mention was that labour is really, really painful - so I've heard - and mothers who can't properly control their pain, don't fare well during labour and that's no good for their emerging babies either. The hospital-produced labour and delivery manual says this.
Also, pain levels don't stay constant. They get worse. And there is nothing wrong with being made comfortable during labour by using safe medication administered by qualified doctors and nurses - if one so chooses.
True, painkillers, such as Demerol and epidural can be scary. They do affect the baby while they're affecting the mom. But that's why you can't get an epidural at home. Only in a hospital where they have all sorts of monitors and again, qualified medical staff.
So I was disappointed by the nurse and the prenatal class. It's each woman's choice about how to manage her pain. And she deserves to learn the unbiased facts before making such an important decision.
So, that's my beef.