Vote now: did an epidural affect bonding with your baby?

One of the most pernicious lies spread by natural childbirth advocates is the claim that childbirth pain promotes bonding, and pain relief interferes with bonding. This lie originated with Dr. Michel Odent, although he never bothered to supply even the most basic scientific evidence to support it.

The lie serves two purposes. First, it is a backhanded way to scare women into refusing epidurals. Despite reams of nonsense about “natural” ways to reduce pain, NCB advocates are well aware that most of these methods are ineffective. The average woman when encountering agonizing pain is going to want pain relief. How to discourage this normal human response? NCB advocates have hit upon the idea of telling women that epidurals will decrease their ability to properly mother their babies.

The second purpose of this pernicious lie is that it offers natural childbirth advocates yet another way to demean women who make different choices than they make. NCB advocates can tell themselves and each other that refusing pain relief is a loving choice, and that they have a head start over other mothers in developing a relationship with their infants.

Those of us in the real world know that pain in childbirth does not promote maternal-infant bonding, indeed has nothing to do with maternal-infant bonding. I’d like to give you an opportunity to be heard. I’ve posted a poll in the sidebar inviting women to weigh in on whether they believe that pain relief affected bonding with a newborn. Natural childbirth advocates claim to be big believers in “embodied” knowledge, which is a fancy way of saying “personal experience.” The poll will reflect women’s embodied knowledge about pain relief and bonding.

Please feel free to write about your personal experiences in the comment section. If embodied knowledge is indeed authoritative, NCB advocates ought to pay attention to the results of the poll and the stories of personal experiences.

  • Lynn Burek

    Why would you ask a person who had an epidural about bonding when they do not know how they would have felt had they gone through pain? For every possitive in life there is a negative and there is no free ride or something for nothing. Nature has woman go through pain or a negative to have a stronger motherly connection and bond or a possitve. Women who want a free ride and no pain or a possitve end up feeling easy come easy go or negative because they never felt the pain or willing to die for their child. An other words, easy come easy go. And, what about the epidural or drug getting into the baby? My friend had an epidural and her baby was born with swollen lips and face plus the baby had a lopsided head from having to use sucktion or foreseps to get the baby out. Not to mention it took day for the medicine to get out of the babys system. And, anyone could see when the baby looked normal weeks later. But no one dares say anything negitve to new parents. It a choice and I think if God has it that way do it and if man changed it beware. It’s the same with processed food, GMOs, hydrogenated oils, etc, etc. I saw the difference and I choose Gods way or natural. No debate.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Tell us more. What you have to say is so revealing. You are building quite a case. Seriously, keep talking.

      • sdsures

        I’ll get the popcorn.

    • Box of Salt

      Lynn Burek “I choose Gods way or natural. No debate.”

      Then why are you using the internet? It’s not natural.

      • Gozi

        If that is the case you shouldn’t be using pain relievers for everything from headaches to surgeries. And you better not be dying your hair or straightening it.

        Why is pain relief acceptable for everything but childbirth?

    • Nick Sanders

      Nature has woman go through pain or a negative to have a stronger motherly connection and bond or a possitve.

      No, “Nature” has a woman go through pain because our brains are so damn big that a head cannot fit properly through the birth canal.

      Women who want a free ride and no pain or a possitve end up feeling easy come easy go or negative because they never felt the pain or willing to die for their child. An other words, easy come easy go.

      If you think that’s how weak mother/child bonding is, that speaks very, very poorly of you, not other women. Millions of women have had epidurals and are no less attached to their children for it.

      My friend had an epidural and her baby was born with swollen lips and face plus the baby had a lopsided head from having to use sucktion or foreseps to get the baby out. Not to mention it took day for the medicine to get out of the babys system. And, anyone could see when the baby looked normal weeks later.

      So, the effects, (which couldn’t have been caused by the epidural, as they had to do with the size and position of the baby, something set long before an epidural is given) were temporary? Then what was the problem?

      But no one dares say anything negitve to new parents.

      Why the fuck should they?

      It a choice and I think if God has it that way do it and if man changed it beware.

      God gave us brains. I’ve chosen to use mine.

    • sdsures

      I have chronic severe migraines that do not respond to any of the usual prophylactics. There are cancer patients who experience the worst kind of pain possible – bone pain – and some of them are children.

      Stephen Fry was asked, if there is a God, when Fry gets to the Pearly Gates, what was the first thing he’d ask or say to God?

      “Bone cancer in children – really?”

      You know what else God does to innocent babies? Shoulder dystocia. Nuchal cord. Tay-Sachs. Necrotizing enterocolitis.

    • Paloma

      If that is the case for you then you should:
      – Go live in a cave or in a field, because man made houses and that isn’t how god intended us to live
      – Go hunt your food and pick fruit and vegetables from trees in the country, because farming is also an alteration created by man, therefore, bad.
      – Stop using telephones, the internet, etc. Because all of those are also changes created by man.
      In conclusion: no modern medicine, advances, housing, farming, etc. If God had it that way it was for a reason, man had to change it, so beware. It’s not like nature created men with a brain so they could use it to their advantage, right? That would be ridiculous.

    • demodocus

      If pain=better bonding, then my kid and I should have had an awesome level of bonding via breastfeeding for 11 1/2 months. Especially the last couple months when he pinched and twisted the whole time. And the blisters. Dad always says God helps those who help themselves. He should know, he used pain meds, chemo, and surgery to keep cancer at bay when I was a toddler.

  • linden

    Epidural. I had no trouble bonding with the little one. I think I also bonded with the anaesthetist, I was so grateful!

  • Linda

    The kind of woman who uses the birth of her child to make it an experience for herself might have a narcissistic personality. Narcissists have a hard time bonding with anyone. Therefore, unless this experience is all about her (mother) and she’s the queen of the moment, she probably would have a hard time accepting this new little life who totally usurped her moment. It kind of makes sense now. My epidurals and c sections did absolutely nothing to hurt the bond between me and my kids. Because for me, the birth was about getting my precious babies out, even if they have to saw me in half to do it.

  • Jenna

    I’ve had three kids and epidurals with all three. The idea of someone telling me I didn’t bond as well with my babies because I had an epidural is offensive. All of my babies were alert and able to breast feed right away. I love all my kids immensely and couldn’t feel more bonded with them. Also my mom had five kids and her last baby went transverse after her water broke and she had to have a sudden c-section which devastated her. I asked her if she bonded as well with my little sister as she did with us other kids and she said of course she did! She said the c-section never once affected her bonding with my sister. I think all this not bonding due to epidural is hogwash. I had a friend who chose to go drug free and her labor was so hard and intense, she encouraged me to get an epidural, saying she was so sick and puking and exhausted after her birth she couldn’t even hold her baby for a day. I for sure didn’t want that. I say to each their own, if you want drugs use them, if not don’t. And those that want a natural birth, don’t make those of us that don’t want them feel bad. All that matters in the end is delivering a healthy baby.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      I think all this not bonding due to epidural is hogwash.

      Of course it is.

      Did you ever notice who actually claims such things? Generally not the people who have had epidurals or c-sections. Or, if they have, they are deep in the NCB trap. Otherwise, it is from those projecting onto others.

      Do an actual survey of people who have and haven’t had epidurals or c-sections and you won’t see any difference.