Birth is one of the few things we do today that is natural. Whether or not you get an epidural and/or c/s, it is natural and primal to grow a baby inside your body and get it out of you somehow. Nothing else in our lives (OK maybe some of you but not most, myself included) is natural anymore. The completely natural primal human is hunting, fishing, farming, foraging, living off the land, all with handmade tools they or fellow tribespeople made themselves, building their own living structure to protect against the elements, and fashioning their own body coverings from what they can find or kill themselves. Ummmm, anyone doing any of those things? I sure am not. We have made our lives very far removed from what is a truly natural lifestyle for human beings. And some people still live that way, but if you are reading this, I'm guessing not so much. But birth, your birth, may be the first truly natural primal thing you've done in a long time. Perhaps ever. Besides bodily functions, which even those we do neatly with indoor plumping, we are completely removed from what is natural. But then here comes your birth, and damn is it real and natural and all the many skills you have acquired and learned to adapt and be successful and survive in this modern world are falling short of what you need to survive and hopefully enjoy this birth.
So what do we do about it? Well I know if I were stranded alone with some land and some seeds and a spear, despite plenty of game and fertile soil, I would probably starve to death. Or maybe a slow death if I could find some berries and they're not poisonous. What I would really love to have there, if I had to be there and couldn't get a ride out to the nearest hotel, would be someone who knew how to do this. Preferably someone who had grown up living off of the land. Someone who knew how to make food grow out of the ground and how to hunt and trap. And my husband can be there too because I love him and we're in this together, but he really doesn't really know about any of this either so lets be sure and get some experienced help. And then, I know it would still be hard, but at least it would be doable and we'd have a much better chance of survival. And I would want my guide to be really experienced, and nice, someone who knows about surviving droughts and hurricanes and all that stuff. Someone who won't make me feel dumb for not knowing any of this. Or for asking questions. Kind of like, well you know where I'm going with this.
Natural is hard. Get some help. I can help you. :)
It only makes sense to get help when going somewhere new, doing something new and even better when its experienced help. And the more important the experience is, like survival, or the birth of your child, the more important that you align yourself with the best resources to make it as positive an experience as possible.
What about epidurals???
Then comes the next part. To epidural or not to epidural. I am the type of doula and person who really supports all choices in childbirth, parenting and life in general. This event is so deeply personal and its so important that each woman feel supported in her decision. That said, if you are not sure, here is my opinion to help you. Yes there are medical risks to getting an epidural. But I'm not going into all of those here. You can google that to learn more.
I want to dispel the myth that if you get an epidural you can't move. You will be limited to being in the bed by the hospital protocol and all the attachments, but you will still have some if not nearly all mobility in your legs. You are never "strapped down" to a bed. On an epidural there are many accoutrements that go with it. Namely: a blood pressure cuff that stays on and goes off automatically on a set time, probably every 15-30 minutes, a contraction monitor (internal or external), a fetal heart rate monitor (internal or external), a pulseometer on your index finger monitoring your pulse and blood oxygen levels, a urinary catheter (because you won't feel the urge to pee and you'd otherwise distend your bladder), possibly an oxygen mask (if needed, and the O2 mask is not just for moms on epi, anyone can get one if needed), an IV in your arm/hand and of the course the epidural itself which will be a catheter (tiny plastic tube) in your spine taped to your back.
OK, yes that is a long list and a lot of stuff attached to you. But for the mom who wants pain relief, its not a bad trade off. You can still move around in the bed, and myself and your partner will help you detangle with the tangling of all the cords. I will also suggest positions and position changes on an epidural to help facilitate progress.
But why would anyone get an epidural if its so much trouble and a has to be inserted with a needle in your spine??? Well my friends, the answer is very simple. Because many, not all, but many women experience childbirth as painful. And if a woman chooses to lessen that intensity, that is her perogative.
But she will miss the high that Ina May talked about!
Yes, I agree, she might. But to this I say that is again her choice. There are many highs in this life to choose from. Some people choose to deliver naturally. And many of my clients have delivered without an epidural and are grateful to have had that experience. And it does come with fewer risks when you deliver with less to no interventions including no epidural. And some people choose to grow their own food. And I'm sure that when I buy food labeled organic at Whole Foods, I know its not really all organic. Maybe some of it. And I know I would probably add years to my life if I grew my own food. Then I would really know what I was eating. And I know there is a joy and a high to doing so that I just won't experience. And that is OK with me. I also know there is a high to running the marathon. My friends who have run have told me its amazing. And I completely believe them. But as much as I love running. 3 miles is good for me, 4-ish miles is my current max. And I bet there is some amazing primal feeling going on with hunting and fishing, but again, not my thing.
Giving birth, I loved it. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I want to help you have great births too! We all define "great" differently. I'm here to help you discover what great means to you for your birth.
Having now seen over 140 births and seen many women choosing to epidural or not epidural, I'd say they all chose what was best for them at that time. And all of them love their babies.
I totally understand that we are all choosing what challenges we want when. So if your goal is to get through this birth naturally, I totally support you. And if you just want to make this birth a little easier with a little epidural at the right time, I totally support you too. We all choose what monumental feats we want to tackle when. There is no wrong or right way to go about it, only what works for you in the moment as your birth unfolds.
Here's to you! Here's to your baby/s! Congratulations and wishing you a beautiful and healthy birth!