Should I Get an Epidural?



My husband and I have been making the rounds to all of the prenatal classes that are offered at our hospital, and the most recent we attended was childbirth and labour. I’ve gotta say, I was the most nervous about this one. It’s that fateful class where you just know they’re going to show you birth videos, and as a gal who swoons at the thought of pain or blood, I was apprehensive to say the least. But I hitched up my big girl pants and kept my eyes open the whole time, and I’m pleased to say I didn’t get the slightest bit faint.

With all the worry about watching the videos, I didn’t give much thought to what else the class would cover. But when we got to the topic of pain relief and medication during labour, I found myself a little perturbed. Now, I approach this topic with a bit of trepidation because I know there are lots of strong opinions out there, but I was kind of disappointed with the information we were fed. It became clear pretty quickly that the hospital where we will deliver heavily favours natural births, and that a woman who might choose pain relief is sort of considered a second class citizen.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not 100 percent sure what my decision will be. But I do know with certainty that the information we got felt skewed, judgmental and incomplete. At the very least, I’d just like to have the pros and cons for either side. And that didn’t happen. I actually left the class feeling more scared about my birth experience. All of these new worries surfaced. What if I ask for pain relief and meet resistance from the doctor or midwife? What if I get a shoddy epidural because the hospital doesn’t like doing them? What if my nurse’s disdain for someone who wants pain relief adds extra tension to an already scary situation?

All in all, my solution was to come home and do more research of my own. I’m starting to understand more about the risks and benefits of both natural birth and medication. But that doesn’t mean I’m any closer to a decision. I hate to say it, but I’m just not one of those warrior women who would wear a natural birth like a badge of honour. I’m all about making the birth experience whatever it needs to be in order to get that kid safely into the world.

What are your thoughts on pain relief?

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Image: Chelsea Foy