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.