Epidural or Drug-Free Birth?

From Darkness to Delight

Back to my story. After I spent a very unpleasant hour or so on Stadol, my doctor finally agreed to page the anesthesiologist, who gave me the epidural. After one or two more contractions, the pain was gone. It was almost dawn, and the sun coming up outside my window was the perfect metaphor for the way my mood changed from darkness to delight. Before the epidural, I couldn't even look at my husband, Jeremy. As soon as I relaxed, so did he. Now I was able to lie back peacefully and hold his hand while he read me the recap of last night's Mets game. I was able to think about the baby and shake off the miserable persona I had unwillingly taken on. I reverted to my happy-go-lucky self -- and that was the person who I thought should greet my baby when she entered the world.

The price I paid for that transformation was that in the dozen more hours that I labored, I was subjected to a steady stream of interventions: Pitocin, an internal fetal monitor, a catheter. It's true that these interventions made me a prisoner of my hospital bed, but hey, I wasn't going anywhere anyway. I had the newspaper, my husband, a TV, a telephone. I was perfectly happy to stay put. And then, just after 7 p.m., I easily gave birth to a healthy little girl, without having to suffer through any more agonizing pain.

Do What You're More Comfortable With

The whole crazy debate comes down to this: we are all becoming moms, and if a mother-to-be will feel more triumphant and healthy and ready to tackle motherhood after a natural birth, then she should absolutely go forward with a natural birth. But if she feels more secure, comfortable, and ready to be a parent after a medicated hospital birth, she should proudly and guiltlessly do it.

Marisa Cohen is the author of Deliver This! Make the Childbirth Choice That's Right for You -- No Matter What Everyone Else Thinks (Seal Press).

Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2007.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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