Epidural or Drug-Free Birth?

No Regrets

Story of Marisa Cohen

After spending the better part of a year researching a book on childbirth (I interviewed close to 100 women) and listening to moms passionately explain to me why they chose to go through childbirth without any drugs, I absolutely understand why it was the best possible choice for them, and how it made their day of labor an incredible, empowering experience. I sit here in awe of their perseverance and willpower. And I think about everything I went through during my first labor -- the Pitocin and the epidural, the catheter and the blood pressure cuff -- and I realize that while it wasn't quite as beautiful and inspiring a scenario, it worked for me, and if I were to do it all over again, I would still choose a medicated birth.

Mind you, it's not like my preference for a medicated labor is based on nothing. I did experience natural labor for a good six hours with my first daughter's birth. The first couple of hours after my water broke were manageable -- the contractions were mild as my husband and I walked around the corridors of the labor and delivery ward, showing off my new leopard-print slippers to the night-shift nurses and practicing how we were going to tell all our friends the story of my water breaking right after the creme brulee had been cleared.

But by hours three and four, I could not walk. I could hardly breathe. The herculean effort of moving my body even one tiny inch was rewarded by an invisible gremlin twisting a steak knife even deeper into my back. I have dug deep into my psyche and come to the conclusion that for me there was nothing empowering about my stint of natural labor. The only thing I learned about myself was this: I really don't like extreme pain.

And yes, after talking to natural-birth moms, I do acknowledge that my perception of the pain could have been affected by listening to all those stories passed around our culture about the agonies of childbirth. But you know what? It just didn't matter that much to me. Achieving a powerful, organic birth experience was not as high on my list of priorities as having a comfortable delivery, which in my case meant having an epidural.

The thing that really bothers moms like me who opt for medicated births is the idea that this kind of scenario is somehow second-rate. Medicated-birth moms reject the idea that their kind of birth can't be as rewarding as a natural birth. Though we may not experience that rush of triumph that so many natural-birth moms describe, most of us are still pretty blissed out.

Birth Stories: Delivery with an Epidural
Birth Stories: Delivery with an Epidural

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