The natural childbirth industry: devoted to ignoring, demeaning and ridiculing women’s pain

woman screaming

There’s something perverse about an entire industry predicated on the concept that excruciating pain is good for women. I’m talking, of course, about the natural childbirth industry, and the books, blogs, courses, videos and celebrities that comprise it. The”natural childbirth industry isn’t always sure that the pain of labor exists, but they are sure that if it does, it’s desirable that women feel it.

The unalterable bedrock of “natural” childbirth advocacy is that women should refuse effective pain relief in labor. The “ideal” situation is for women to embrace their pain and pretend that it is “good pain.” Of course, there is no such thing as “good pain”: they just made that up. The pain of contractions and the pain of vaginal distention do not differ in any way from any other kind of pain. It is not carried by different nerves, it is not conducted through the action of different neurotransmitters, it is not routed to different areas in the brain. It is exactly the same as any other kind of pain. So the take home message of NCB is that the excruciating pain of childbirth should be ignored.

And not merely ignored. What’s worse is that the NCB movement pretends that women are improved by experiencing the agonizing pain of childbirth, although they cannot think of any other instance in which human beings are improved by agonizing pain. The irony is that “natural” childbirth advocates have beliefs that are strikingly similar to the Victorian clergymen who opposed anesthesia in childbirth when it was first introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century. The clergymen believed that is was wrong to abolish labor pain with anesthesia because God intended for women to feel the pain. NCB advocates appear to believe that it is wrong to abolish labor pain because “Nature” intended for women to feel the pain. There is precisely zero concern for the effect of that pain on a woman herself.

The natural childbirth movement routinely demeans women who do not want to tolerate the pain. They are portrayed as weak, as “giving in,” as uneducated and uncaring because they don’t understand the “risks.” Or worse. The ultimate insult, implied, but not always stated is that “authentic” women can and should accept the pain, and that, therefore, women who opt for an epidural are somehow less womanly.

There is one strain of NCB advocacy that simply denies the reality of the pain. In this view, the pain of childbirth is psychosomatic in the true sense of the word. It does not reflect actual neurologic signals, but rather the social conditioning of women by a medical, technocratic culture. Pain is a manifestation of the fact that the woman has not “educated” herself that the pain doesn’t exist, doesn’t “trust” birth, and, once again, is not an “authentic” woman.

There is another strain of natural childbirth advocacy that acknowledges that the pain exists but that it can and should be “managed” in ways that are “natural” and inherently ineffective. The goal is not to abolish the pain; that would be wrong. The goal is to tolerate the pain so that the incentive to abolish it will be reduced. Hence the emphasis on hypnosis, water, and labor support. The pain is real, the pain is severe, and it is acceptable to reduce the pain. But it is only acceptable to reduce the pain in ways that involve no technology, and it is never acceptable to actually abolish the pain.

The “support” people in the NCB movement exist primarily for indoctrination. The childbirth educator exists to convince women that pain is good for her, and pain relief is bad. The primary function of a doula is to interfere with a woman’s desire for pain relief. At every point, the doula counsels the laboring mother that she does not “need” pain relief, that she’s doing “great” and she “can do it,” with “it” being enduring labor without an epidural.

At the fringes of the natural childbirth movement is a group that not only denies the existence of the pain, but inverts it. Childbirth is not painful, it is pleasurable. No remotely plausible physiologic explanation is advanced for this claim, beyond the inane observation that the tissues that produce the pain of childbirth could, in different circumstances produce sexual pleasure. The explanation makes as much sense as the claim that kicking a man in the groin could induce orgasm because sexual pleasure can be produced by contact in the same area.

Why are NCB advocates so invested in the idea that women should experience excruciating pain in labor? Why are they invested in the idea that women benefit from experiencing labor pain? Why do they direct the bulk of their efforts, both before and during labor, to pressuring women to forgo effective pain relief? Why do these efforts include misinformation about the risks of epidurals, and insinuations about the fitness of the laboring women as a mother, and even insinuations about her fitness as a woman?

I don’t know all the answers to these questions, but I do know this: it is inherently wrong to ignore the pain of women and to pretend that agonizing pain is good for them.

 

This piece first appeared in April 2010.

  • karen

    This article is pretty funny to me. I am due on July 14th and have done lots of research on both pain relief and going naturally. I ultimately have decided on a birthing center and that I would like to try natural but keeping an open mind that I do have alternatives if it is just too much. I find that I am constantly bullied and poked at by the majority of my family and friends about how crazy I am for making this decision. Women who I know and love basically bark at me that I’m insane yet most of them had c-sections, were induced for no particular reason, and have had horrible tears in the experience. I have yet to find anyone who has gone natural who berates anyone else, in fact most have said that everyone’s experience is different and it should be totally up to the individual.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Is this your first? If you have a personal history of easy births, that’s all good and well (though no guarantee that this birth will be easy), but if you haven’t…You say that your family members are giving you a hard time about your decision and that a lot of them have had complicated births. Family history counts. Women from families where the births are difficult are probably more likely to have a difficult birth. I’d strongly advise you to find a nice crunchy hospital or birth center in a hospital to give birth in. If all goes well, great, you can brag about it afterwards. Feel free to come back here and tell me specifically “I told you so”. But if things go badly, at least you’ll be in the right place to get help.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Lots of research? How many scientific papers on the topic have you read from start to finish? Zero, right? Reading books and websites written by laypeople for other laypeople is NOT research.

    • anion

      Wow, they had c-sections AND tore horribly? My goodness! How do you know they were induced “for no particular reason,” btw? And what’s wrong with c-sections?

      I guess it’s just me, but if a bunch of people I know, trust, and love, who I know love me, were to advise me against a particular course of action–which they have experienced and I have not–that carries no real benefit anyway…I’d listen.

      But then, I’d also look at the fact that the women in my life are proof that so much can go wrong and so many complications can happen, and take that into account when making my decision, too.

      My sincere best wishes for you and your baby.

  • Jessi

    I find this post to be an ignorant rant. I’m not sure why the “risks” of epidural is put in quotations here. In the USA, 30% of babies are born by c-section. The WHO states that any developed nation should have no more than 15% of babies born by c-section. A huge reason for all of these c-sections is in fact medical intervention, such as epidural. I don’t think any woman should be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to but a woman’s risk of c-section rises with every such intervention. Far more women are discouraged from natural childbirth than they are discouraged from an epidural. Too posh to push?

    • theNormalDistribution

      Too posh to push?

      Yup.

    • DaisyGrrl

      The WHO has long since retracted the 15% figure, admitting that it had no evidence to put that number forward in the first place. Also, what’s wrong with wanting an epidural? If I’m in pain, I want pain relief. If you don’t want pain relief, don’t get it.

    • Guesteleh

      Research shows that epidurals don’t increase the risk of CS. You’re confusing correlation with causation–women with difficult labors are more likely to request the epidural and these women are also more likely to need CS for reasons unrelated to pain relief.

      Re: your too posh to push comment: I knew a woman who had two homebirths. Her first one caused her agonizing pain. Despite that, she opted for a second homebirth because her midwife reassured her that second births are always less painful and that she’d get the beautiful birth she deserved. The second one turned out to be more painful, so much so that she blacked out during labor. When the baby was born she refused to hold him because she felt so much rage from the pain she was in. She found it a shattering experience and had to seriously question all of her beliefs around natural childbirth. If she’d transferred for pain relief, her memories of those first moments with her child would likely be much better instead of the horror show they turned out to be.

    • Noel Purser Rosario

      And lets not forget….until c/s, childbirth was a death sentence for numerous women throughout history ;) Even Cleopatra needed a c/s. Thats why it is named after her son, the first baby in recorded history to successfully be cut out of his mother without killing her. In addition to that, pain medication is not ‘evil’. I didn’t need to feel each and every nerve ripping along my vagina to deliver a healthy baby. My son was 10 lbs, 12 oz, (no gestational diabetes, I’m just really tall with wide hips) I was 19, and needed several stitches. Even with an epidural, I was in excruciating pain. My son is in the 96th percentile nationwide for Math and reading….for a grade ahead of his own. I dont think my choice to not deliver him in a bathtub without medicine made much of an impact on his overall well being. How about moms start judging less, think a little more deeply on the differences between causation and correlation, and for gods sake, stop vilifying those of us who enjoy a nurse button and hospital bed?

      • Trixie

        Cleopatra never had a cesarean. Her son was named Cesarion. Cesarion’s father, Julius Caesar possibly had an ancestor who was born by cesarean, but this can’t be verified. Cesarean was invariably fatal to the mother in ancient times, and Cleopatra lived to give birth to twinsand a single child by Mark Antony later.

  • jjjj

    The goal of a natural childbirth for a new mother isn’t, from what I understand, a test of endurance or some kind of maternal bragging right. Some studies suggest/indicate that mothers who give birth naturally heal faster from tears and epistiotmies during birth, are able to breast feed their children easier(if they choose to do so) and get a good latch for baby in those crucial early hours of breastfeeding/ skin to skin. An epidural can affect baby as well making mommy and baby groggy, which can delay the bond between mother and newborn. It has also been indicated that some moms find it easier to know when to push during labor and have shorter labors than those on pain medication. Also not mentioned in this article is painful compared to what? I understand that childbirth is painful, but I’ve had excruciating toothaches that were a 10/10 easily, that would easily rival any pain any one has ever felt for days on end. Pain/pain endurance is a relative thing indeed. If a mother wants to give childbirth naturally,there may be advantages to that, just as there are advantages to giving birth with medication. This article does a poor job at really understanding the science as opposed to the hype about natural childbirth. Regardless of what a woman chooses, she is entitled to know a bit about both and an article does little to aid moms that are looking for facts. If you’re interested in comparing the 2, here’s a good place to start.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8826170

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595040/

    • Young CC Prof

      “An epidural can affect baby as well making mommy and baby groggy.”

      No, it doesn’t. IV or injected pain medication does. Look it up, then talk to us about science.

  • anonymous

    I was refused pain relief by the natural birth lunatics. I screamed so much that my throat was sore the next day. No matter what I did, deep breathing, trying to relax, holding my breath in the hope that I would pass out and not feel pain, nothing worked. I am very angry at those ridiculing women’s pain. That was over 22 years ago. I am still angry thinking about it. As a result of such a horrible experience, I decided not to have any more children even though I very much would have liked to have had another baby.

    Those forcing women to have natural birth should be tied to a chair and have all their teeth root canaled WITHOUT any pain relief!

    I would advice any woman who wants to have a baby to find an OB/GYN who is willing to perform C section.

  • http://www.facebook.com/malvina.bekerkiperman Malvina Beker Kiperman

    Reading this piece has brought on a lot of stress for me, because I was quite outraged by how my whole entire body had suddenly tightened up. I am not a doctor, a midwife or a doula. I am a natural birth advocate, but in general an advocate for all birthing women. I have had two natural births, by choice, at a hospital setting, which I had prepared and studied for. I can tell you I have read quite a bit about natural birth, and as a result I would like to share my response to this article.
    First, I want to point out the Natural Childbirth is not a popular or dominating choicein our North American culture, as most women birth at a hospital setting, either with an epidural or C-section (on average 1 in every 4 births). Therefore even if what Dr. Amy is stating about the NCB is so true, it is very unlikely that it is going to affect a whole lot of women into becoming martyrs or bullied to accepting terrible pain for the sake of Natural Birth.
    If anything, women who choose to have a natural birth are seen as the outcast. When I had mentioned my desire to birth naturally, lots of people laughed at me, told me I was crazy, and even recented me because they thought I was trying to say that I am somehow better than other women who had to resort to the epidural. I am not better than any other women desiring to have a baby. I chose to have a natural birth just as a woman would choose to get the epidural. I don’t know anyone who has had a natural birth with a midwife or doula ever be discouraged from asking for an epidural, but rather, tried to help them deal with pain as anyone would in any other given situation.
    For example. If I had a terrible back pain, rather than getting tylenol for it first, having someone massage the area, put ice on it, etc, could help the pain ease a bit and then maybe I wouldn’t need the tylenol at all.

    I think the bigger issue is that once again its an us vs them problem. I think women should have support from all spectrums but be aware of what their options and choices are, rather than have someone pointing fingers, incisting that having a baby naturally, or even desiring to, is a fanatic choice.
    Malvina Beker
    http://www.startwithmom.com

    • Something From Nothing

      Just because you’ve never seen a mother left in pain because her care provider believes in the power of natural childbirth doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. You sound naive. I am an OB in a Canadian hospital working with well trained canadian midwives and it happens ALL THE TIME. Pain in labor is not taken seriously and is where a significant proportion of PTSD post partum comes from.

  • jayshupe

    So if pain is never a good thing, no matter what, should we give our children oxy-contin when they fall and scrape their knee? We don’t want them to feel the pain that will teach them their own limits. . . I don’t see why society is so quick to medicate everything it can. If you are capable of getting through labor without having drugs, how is that bad? We are told our whole lives that drugs are bad for us, yet in this article you argue that anyone who thinks they don’t need drugs to do something that people have been doing for thousands of years without drugs, is wrong for wanting to do the natural thing. By natural, I obviously mean, without chemical interference.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Ignoring women’s pain: check
      Demeaning women’s pain: check
      Ridiculing women’s pain: check

      Thanks for demonstrating my point for me.

    • Squillo

      Why the fuck should anyone–children or adults–be forced to endure pain “to teach them their own limits”? My kids are learning their limits by striving and achieving actual accomplishments, not by doing things that (as you admit) everyone else can do with absolutely no effort. Tell you what: cut off your legs with a buzzsaw. Because there is exactly as much point in that pain as there is in childbirth pain. And as a bonus, during rehab, you might learn something about humility and overcoming real limits.

    • LibrarianSarah

      I hate to break it to you but everything you do in life is with chemical interference. Your entire body is just a giant mass of chemical reactions. Then entire world is made up of chemicals. You would know that if you passed high school chemistry.

    • Kalacirya

      There’s a world of difference between a young children and understanding rough-housing and safety, and women in labor pain. You paint a ridiculous argument.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        And there is a world of differance between a scraped knee and labour! (NCBers really do love the ridiculous comparisons and killer rhetorical questions)

        And what’s with this “teaching a child its limits”? Is that how you get one of this famous high pain thresholds? Parents explaining that pain doesn’t hurt? And how does that one work with the “never let a baby cry it causes brain damage” bit?

        (Brain damaged babies cry a lot, so that one is a bit backward. And, older, tend to be quite stoic about pain. Nerve pathways get a bit screwed.).

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      We don’t want them to feel the pain that will teach them their own limits. .

      What is exactly the “lesson” from pain in childbirth?

      yet in this article you argue that anyone who thinks they don’t need
      drugs to do something that people have been doing for thousands of years
      without drugs, is wrong for wanting to do the natural thing. By
      natural, I obviously mean, without chemical interference.

      You know what else people did for thousands of years without drugs? Died from infections. Now we have anti-biotics, and infections are effectively treated. Damn chemical interference.

    • VeritasLiberat

      “So if pain is never a good thing, no matter what, should we give our children oxy-contin when they fall and scrape their knee?”

      No, but if they break their arm I’d want them to have something (whatever it is that they give to kids with broken limbs).

      ” If you are capable of getting through labor without having drugs, how is that bad?”

      It’s not, and I don’t think anybody here would say it was. It’s just that there is a certain contingent of women who are convinced that EVERY woman should have to endure labor without pain relief–that women who get pain relief are somehow inferior–and therefore disseminate false information about the alleged risks of pain relief.

      “We are told our whole lives that drugs are bad for us, yet in this article you argue that anyone who thinks they don’t need drugs to do something that people have been doing for thousands of years without drugs, is wrong for wanting to do the natural thing.” Read the article again. Dr. Amy sees nothing wrong with an individual woman who thinks she doesn’t need drugs. Hell, she has had two unmedicated births herself. What she is objecting to is the IDEOLOGY that is promoted by a certain contingent of women — that NO WOMAN needs pain relieving drugs and that it is BAD for women to have them. She thinks it should be up to the person (woman) in pain to decide how much pain she is in and how much pain relief, if any, she needs.

      And sure, women have been giving birth for thousands of years without drugs… because for thousands of years there was no alternative, except maybe entering a convent and vowing lifelong celibacy. People put up with lots of things that sucked for thousands of years (smallpox, deformities, malnutrition, unpredictable natural disasters, etc.) because there was nothing else they could do. Eventually people found ways to not have to put up with these things.

    • Meerkat

      Omg, thank you! I have always wondered that the purpose of pain was. My debilitating migraines? They surely teach me my own limits! My labor pain? Yup, limits limits limits. I learned quite a lot from it, namely that it was awful and that I should have asked for the epidural much much sooner.

      • Ennis Demeter

        My daughter severely burned her feet and they did the first debridement without sedation. She was basically tortured. She learned her limitations at the age of 6!

        • Meerkat

          Omg, how awful! I hope she is OK now!

          • Ennis Demeter

            She, is, thank you. When we transferred to a bigger hospital, they suggested sedation for the next few debridements and we agreed. It actually helps me understand the whole anti- intervention thing because I didn’t know what to do- sedation has risks, but she was in so much pain, and for a long time I was doubtful that I handled everything well by agreeing with the doctors. Yet I could never have let her suffer more. Finally I accepted that I was being ridiculous. Of course we had to use sedation when it was available. She has some scars but all is well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valencia.caro.3 Valencia Caro

    I think there is nothing perverse with trying to make a woman accept what happens with her body, The main IDEA of NCB movement IS NOT TO DENY PAIN, it definetely exists and there´s no doubt about it,
    The purpose of people who support natural childbirth is to ENCOURAGE women to give birth without fears, to make them feel secure and confident with their body, We dont tell woman to avoid it, or that it doesnt exist, or even that it is good for them, we just tell them the truth. The pain is going to be there, its something they will have to go through, because, unless noted otherwise(C-section),natural childbirth is the best option for most women.
    Not all pregnant woman have the chance to pay for epidural anaesthesia, at least not in the country i live in. In most public hospitals, where women with socioeconomic adversities receive medical care, anaesthesia is not even an option. So, for those who cannot afford it,or for the ones who want to experience giving birth in a natural way, its our duty to support them and try to make them feel good along this “natural” process.

    • LibrarianSarah

      Refusing to give pain medication to a person who is obviously in pain is barbaric. Do they do the same thing to people getting amputations or other surgeries?

    • Meerkat

      What does it even mean, “accept what happens to her body?” What, a woman has to resign to feel this horrible pain just because it is childbirth pain?

      • Kim

        you laid in the bed to get pregnant, you took the pleasure that came with that, yet you dont want to suffer the pain that comes as a natural result. Do you people hear yourselves? Ludicrous. In the meantime, the baby is left to suffer the pains and trauma of being squeezed, skull contorting, to fit through your vagina…Alone… while you exclaim in retrospect “my epi saved my life! I felt so much better after that!”

        • Meerkat

          Well, yes. I don’t want to suffer pain. It sucks. You are saying that the reason I should have suffered labor pain was because I enjoyed sex??? What, like a payment for my pleasure? Or a punishment for being a woman? What about women who receive IVF? I don’t imagine that’s enjoyable. Are they allowed to get pain relief when they give birth?
          And doesn’t the baby feel discomfort either way, whether his mom got pain relief or not? Your arguments are ridiculous.
          You want heroic? I had a C-Section to save my son’s life. If I ever get pregnant again, I will gladly have another one.
          Enjoy your labor pain.

        • Dr Kitty

          That is some misogynistic bullsh*t right there Kim.
          But hey, it’s easier when you’re that blatant about it to see how ridiculous you are.

          The entire comment reads like a combination of slut shaming and a bible study about the place of women. No thank you.

          “Suck it up sister, you liked how that baby got in there, and there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”
          Except modern medical technology means that there is, if you want.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Except modern medical technology means that there is, if you want.”

            And that makes some women so mad and jealous. They suffered pain during birth, due to being duped into NCB, and now YOU should too! Remind them that there is a safe way of going pain free and they will tie themselves into knots to reassure themselves that you’ll pay later somehow: You’ll never bond! Your baby will suffer double pain! You’ll never become a real, mature woman!

        • AlisonCummins

          If pain is something that is owed (to who?) to pay for pleasure, something like a credit card system, how do men pay for sexual pleasure?

          What about the pleasure you get from eating a peach, or walking in the woods, or smelling your baby’s head? What kind of pain do you owe (who?) for those?

          The baby might suffer during vaginal birth but that’s not an argument for everyone to suffer, that’s an argument for elective c-sections. (What kind of pleasure was the baby getting in the womb that it had to pay for with the pain of being born?)

        • theNormalDistribution

          We have the technology to alleviate pain, and you want women to suffer anyway? Ludicrous. I don’t see men suffering any pain to bring their babies in to the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jodypmullen Jody Mullen

    I had a planned C-section for my baby’s safety, and he went to the NICU immediately afterward for monitoring. I didn’t get to hold him for 24 hours. Does it look like we forgot to bond?

  • sara

    You all ought to know about this:

    Maryland Families for Safe Birth and supporters all over the world are standing up and asking Maryland State Representatives to pass our bill (HB1202) to allow CPM’s to attend births in Maryland.
    Please read on to see what you can do.

    We have a Rally Date:
    Rally for HB1202 in Annapolis
    Wednesday, February 27th, 1:30-3:30pm
    Lawyer’s Mall, Annapolis
    Follow this link to RSVP for the rally to support HB 1202:http://mfsb.wufoo.com/forms/rsvp-to-the-rally-and-hearing-to-support-hb-1202/

    We need signatures on the petition.
    Every Maryland signature that is collected generates an email that is sent directly to the House and Senate representatives. This is big, especially right now. We want them to see the community support for midwives. Please commit to collecting 10 or more signatures each day (send an email or post on facebook). This is a new petition created for this Bill so if you are not sure you signed our NEW PETITION, please do so.
    To sign our petition go to: http://signon.org/sign/license-certified-profession?source=c.url&r_by=5659821

    We need you to contact your State Representatives
    Our State Representatives are elected to serve us. They only know what is important to us if we tell them. It is time to tell them that HB 1202 -Health Occupations -Certified Professional Midwives – Pilot Program is IMPORTANT TO US! Please use multiple methods of contact to ensure that your voice is heard. Email is quick and easy but is not as highly valued. Handwritten letters are a sign that this is really meaningful for you. A phone call carries weight and an in person visit truly demonstrates your concern. Please make every effort to at least email, write a letter and follow up with a phone call. Even if you know your representative is supportive. We need to keep them supportive! Don’t know who your representatives are? Find your elected officials by address by going to the Maryland State Archives – WHO ARE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: http://mdelect.net/. For talking points and letter guidelines, please go this link: http://www.marylandfamiliesforsafebirth.org/TalkingPoints.pdf.

    We have a hearing date : Tuesday, March 5
    Go to our website to find out more as details develop. If you would like to attend please RSVP here: http://mfsb.wufoo.com/forms/rsvp-to-the-rally-and-hearing-to-support-hb-1202/

    To find out more about the issue, upcoming events, sign up for updates, or have a burning desire to contribute please visit our website:www.mfsb.me

    In service,
    Maryland Families for Safe Birth
    Andrea, Robin, Kathy, and Jeremy

    • Anj Fabian

      I am amused by the name. At least “birth choice” is honest if vague phrasing.

      “Safe Birth”? Referring to CPMs? Disingenuous at best, at worst it is an outright lie.

    • Meerkat

      Wow, how scary. Allowing uneducated, uninsured birth junkies to attend births. I feel sorry for poor babies who don’t have any choice in the matter…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002171364303 Anj Fabian

    spam? again?

  • http://www.facebook.com/amandaholmmes Amanda Holmmes

    Wow
    great article about labour pain relief.
    Personally though, I prefer the natural way. Call me crazy but I think the
    less amount of drugs in your body, the better for your baby.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002171364303 Anj Fabian

      spam?

      • http://www.facebook.com/amandaholmmes Amanda Holmmes

        no!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.neely Kathleen Elizabeth Neely

    I am sooo grateful for that epidural… I had no illusions about natural birth with no pain killers .

  • Desi_redux

    Talking about pain, here’s an article that I’m sure has been shared here and elsewhere, before, but it seemed right to share this again. One of my biggest fears about childbirth is vaginal tearing and whatever little I know about the worse-case scenarios comes from reading. Do enough care providers talk about this, esp. as mothers reach full-term?

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/an-unspoken-risk-of-vaginal-birth/

    • Lena

      Gah, I’m terrified of tearing. If I have a child I will seriously consider requesting a CS for no other reason than to avoid tearing.

      There were a couple of comments that mention upright delivery as a cause of tearing. Does that make sense to any OBs here? Is there any reliable way to prevent or limit the severity of tears?

      I’m always baffled by NCB stories where women gloat about how they delivered vaginally, even with 3/4th degree tears. I can’t imagine suffering injury to my rectum and thinking of it as a successful birth.

      • Karen in SC

        there’s been a poster here that had a torn clitoris! that’s enough to give anyone pause…

    • Captain Obvious
    • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

      Looks like this comment isn’t getting much attention, so i’ll toss out some random thoughts.

      I wondered the same thing. Asians have something like a 2.5% risk of severe tearing — that to me is not a small risk! I thought i saw a statistic on Indian women specifically awhile back, but now i can’t find it.

      Here’s another Dr. Amy post that lists the risk factors for severe tears:

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2012/10/perineal-tears-midwifery-care-and-the-gap-between-rhetoric-and-reality.html

      I’ve typed up enough chart notes on incontinent older women to be very concerned about long-term effects. The pelvic floor physical therapist told me that they used to stitch women up haphazardly, rather than taking care to close each layer separately, which is why so many older women are having problems, but that now pelvic floor issues are generally taken much more seriously by the medical community.

      The PT referral was a routine thing, by the way (the hospital or maybe my practice refers all women with 3rd and 4th degree tears), just one visit to go over Kegel technique. I haven’t had any real lasting problems after my third-degree tear. From what i remember and have been told, the delivering OB managed it well and did an excellent repair.

      Desi, good luck on your upcoming delivery! Looking forward to your post announcing your new baby!

      - S

      • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

        By the way, i think it’s fantastic that whenever i search for info on some random childbirth related topic, one of Dr. Amy’s articles is inevitably near the top of the queue. Thanks, Dr. Amy, for putting such important information out there! – S

      • Desi_redux

        Shucks, I totally missed commenting on your reply! Thanks a load–I had my baby, and guess what, no tearing worries–I had a c-sec after low fluid and an induction gone haywire. I’m doing swimmingly well (turns out some of us are “naturals” at taking surgery!) What you said about older women is very interesting–my grandmom had three (failed) deliveries and one successful live birth with little to no stitching (I think–don’t know the details) and she suffers from uterine prolapse and reasonably bad incontinence now. Is lack of repair (for any degree of tears) worse than bad stitching?

  • INeverSaidThat

    The problem is that pain can very often be the 1st sign of a very serious problem for mom or baby. I was reading a blog of a dr in India and by the time most women arrived at his clinic the babies have passed and the mother is near death herself. Often the labor had stalled or the woman was in much more severe pain than is normal, indicating that there was a serious issue.

    I had stadol with #1, epidural with #2 and #4, nothing with #3. My boys were not only huge at 9 and 10 lbs, but also posterior. My first bruised/broke my tailbone (and other areas) so bad that I was pretty much delirious with pain the first month of his life and could barely take care of him. Even though #2 was also 9 lbs/posterior I had an epidural which made for an easier labor/delivery and no damage. My last baby was 10 lbs/posterior, got an epidural that didn’t quite take. Even though he had a more severe shoulder dystocia that ended with a broken clavicle, I felt fine afterwards and was up and about as soon as I could feel my legs again. I did enjoy the natural labor and birth of my daughter, she was only 8.5 lbs and was on her side so I didn’t have that overwhelming I-just-got-kicked-in-the-butt feeling. I went from 4 to delivered in barely an hour, nurse caught her. Her birth was much different than her brothers and it was all because she was more cooperative and just plain easier lol.

  • ariel schmidt

    For my first one, I had some pain medication, but for my second, I did it without anything at all.
    But that was just because my mom did it that way and I wanted to see if I could too :)

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    A little last minute addition…has anyone linked to this yet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A44oEcmDn1c

    • Susan

      I’m just glad neither one had an orgasmic birth.

  • I don’t have a creative name

    I had a boyfriend in college who always had to win arguments with me, even if I just wanted to drop it. We argued all the time; I actually kind of hated him and heaven only knows why I stayed with him so long. Anyway, his tactic for trying to prove me wrong was to say, “Yeah, well, most people believe ___________ “(whatever his position on the issue was). It began to drive me insane over time. MOST people? Who are these people? Did you take surveys? What percentage? Prove to me that “most people” think this way; otherwise you’re just pulling stuff out of your butt to try to be right.

    I was reminded of it by Good Day Sunshine’s posts. “Most men are fixers; that’s why we had thalidomide babies.” One OB telling a patient not to read too much equals MOST OB’s feeling that way. “Most” epidurals slow and stall labor. (My own OB, who supports a woman’s choice to do an unmedicated labor if she desires, explained to me how and why the opposite is true and how she’s witnessed so many patients over the years insist on no epidural, have a slow, agonizing labor that goes nowhere, then give in to the epidural, be able to relax and sleep, then have a perfect birth. Oh, but what does she know? I bet she’s never even read any of the incredibly informative birthing pages on FB!) “Most” epidurals lead to caesareans. “Most” babies from medicated births look stoned and won’t latch. (Not true for any of mine.) Many medical personnel give a laboring woman drugs and don’t bother to tell her, or what they are. The only time labor can cause PTSD is when things go horribly wrong.(I personally know some people who would dispute that last statement.)

    I could go on and on, but the point is made. I’m not trying to be a jerk or make GDS feel bad or anything like that. Just pointing out that these arguments that she undoubtedly created after hearing some anecdotes online or from friends or reading natural birthing books or websites, are supported by NOTHING. “Most people” means NOTHING without surveys and data, but this tends to be all we get from NCB advocates. Why isn’t it obvious to them how these are not arguments at all, but just broad sweeping statements based on nothing but personal opinion? And often a personal opinion influenced by people with a) an agenda and b) zero medical knowledge or training.

    • MikoT

      I’m not trying to be a jerk or make GDS feel bad
      Why not? She probably won’t change her mind but mocking her might sway undecided onlookers. She might as well be our useful idiot.

      • I don’t have a creative name

        Oh, I don’t know. I guess I just believe something or other about flies and honey or vinegar or something like that. I get frustrated and let the snark fly sometimes, but I try not to be an asshole if I can help it. I really do hope that what is printed here might save some little lives – it already has, in fact. I just think not being outright mean serves our purpose better.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

        Every village needs one!

    • Box of Salt

      Thank you, I don’t have a creative name, for an excellent summary.

      The other thing that bothers me about Good Day Sunshine’s posts is that many (if you’ll forgive my use of that term here) of her assertions contradict my own experiences, as well stories related to me in real life.

      This makes me wonder what percentage of her generalizations are based on actual anecdotes, from real people, and what percentage are just statements generated to fit her worldview.

      • I don’t have a creative name

        Yeah. Check this out: http://www.skepticalob.com/2013/02/my-marriage-long-contains-wedding-disappointmenttrauma-html.html#comment-807928501 (you’ll have to scroll up a bit to see more of the convo) This was where she had initially claimed that an OB had told her friend not to read books, as though that meant all OB’s felt that way. I called her on it, and she changed it to “at least 10″ OB’s that she knows do that. Now I know for certain that she is not being truthful in her anecdotes.

        I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt at first and was decent to her, but she’s just here to tell whatever lies she thinks will benefit the cause. The cause matters more than the truth. I don’t care for liars and am not going to bother engaging her anymore. Also in this same thread of convo: She made the claim that “most” nurses don’t know how to help a laboring woman, an OB nurse here called her on it, and her answer was: “Then you are one of the wonderful few. There are too many that I have
        encountered in my travels that have no idea how to comfort a laboring
        woman.”

        Yes, because I am certain that there are soooooooooooooo many she has encountered on her travels, that she can make a statement like that fairly. Hundreds – maybe thousands! *eyeroll*

        Aren’t there ANY NCB’ers out there that tell the truth and can debate based on logic, data, and reason??? Anyone?? Anyone??? *crickets*

        • Box of Salt

          Exactly why I’ve been finding it hard to take anything she says seriously! Or, perhaps ironically in my case, with a grain of salt!

          On a related note, during today’s comments she has at least spilled that she does believe epidurals cause autism, as hinted in previous comments.

          Any NCBers who actually followed logic, data, and reason wouldn’t be arguing *for* NCB.

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            I think you’re being a bit guilty of using Good Day Sunshine as a strawman for everyone who is in the NCB community. There are plenty of such goofballs* with very “woo” type beliefs, to be sure; but there are others with solid groundings in biology and physiology.

            *Sorry, GDS, but while I’m sure you’re a very nice person, you are not doing the NCB community any favours with your comments.

        • thepragmatist

          No. They can’t. Never will.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Can I just say what a load of bullshit the concept of “bonding” is? Seriously ladies, somebody has really pulled a fast one on us. I see so many posts that tell birth stories, often that end in interventions, and then “Oh but I can’t imagine being more bonded to my little one!!”.
    Well, I *can* imagine being more bonded to my kids. Yep. Just like in labor when I was able to imagine a pain worse than the one I was feeling at the time (“take this pain and add someone pulling off my fingernails”). But just like that imagined worse pain, I don’t dwell on the thought for long. Because: 1) What’s the point? You feel what you feel. 2) The thought of being in a perpetual “bonded” state with my kids feels ishy and claustophobic and infantilizing. I’ve got other things to think about in the world, thanks.
    How did this concept of “bonding” become one involving so much hand-wringing? Who started it? And no I don’t mean who did the caged monkey studies or the institutionalized orphan studies. I mean who started “bonding is important and precarious” as a theme in the popular culture among mothers (and it is almost always mothers, not fathers).
    Don’t you see what tool of control this idea is? It’s used to bully women into forgoing pain relief in labor. It’s used to bully women into breastfeeding when it’s not right for them. It’s used to pressure women to quit their jobs, rather than decide for themselves. It’s a terrible burden for women who don’t immediately fall in love (or never fall in love) with motherhood. It’s got to be a contributing factor for women sinking into postpartum depression. And it’s not even a concept that existed until very recently in human history.

    • Awesomemom

      I only held my kids for a brief time before they were taken away for weighing ect after the csection. I was also very queasy and threw up after the birth (my last two were the worst in regards to that). I didn’t want to hold the baby again until I felt better. I do not neglect my kids or love them any less because I didn’t want to hold them and throw up on them. I never even got that post birth euphoria (other than being pleased that I could breath deeply again) but I still love my kids plenty.

      • auntbea

        Oh please. What could be more comforting to a newborn than to be smothered in her mother’s pre-warmed personal stomach juices?

        • thepragmatist

          It will fix the gut flora of the poor c-sectioned baby, Aunt Bea! You’ve solved the whole riddle! PROBLEM SOLVED.

    • Karen in SC

      Totally agree!!

      I think it’s important in animal husbandry, though more attributed to instinct. When it doesn’t occur, farmers and zookeepers have to step in, But we have brains that logically tell us to take care of our baby. If you are so disconnected that you can’t do that, it’s time to seek care.

    • I don’t have a creative name

      I don’t know. Guess it depends on what you mean by bonding. To me, it’s not some magical force that is out of our hands, it’s the strong, fierce love that causes most of us to have no hesitation in doing the best for our child, even at sacrifice to self. I was never bonded to my mother, who rejected me pretty much from birth, and it’s caused me untold pain throughout the years (though with therapy and support from others, I am doing very very well now).

      I agree though that it being portrayed as something magical that happens ONLY if you do everything the NCB way is cruel and causes otherwise loving, good moms anguish, fearful that they haven’t done everything “just right”.

      Of my three births, one bond/feeling of love/attachment was instantaneous. The others took time to grow. And I had pretty much the same birthing experience each time. And it hasn’t mattered one bit in the long run… all of my kids are awesome and we have a wonderful family life.

      • fiftyfifty1

        I absolutely agree that there are some mothers and fathers who treat their kids like crap. I run into these parents and these kids, and the adult children of these situations in my practice. And I agree it has nothing to do with “bonding” as it is described in NCB. Parents who chronically emotionally of physically abuse their kids have Problems. They have chem dep, or narcissism, or untreated borderline, or were abused themselves, or are sadistic, or who the hell knows what. They are broken people with Problems. These parents are horrible to their kids, and would be with or without oxytocin or endorphins or instincts or baby hats or any other detail of the Cult of Bonding.
        The idea that a mom would turn into such a monster, or perhaps an empty-inside robot going through the motions, because she doesn’t do skin-to-skin or some other bullshit is beyond stupid.
        Do you avoid abusing your kids? Provide for their needs? Protect them from danger? Support and encourage them? Value them for the people that they are? Then I say that is more than good enough. It doesn’t matter when or how much or even if you fall in love with motherhood. It doesn’t matter if your heart swells with feeling of luuuuv 24/7 or if it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if you felt a wave of “mother bear instinct” or whether you spent the first months or years feeling awkward and out of your element.

    • Allie P

      I blame Dr. Sears and the whole attachment parenting bullshit, whereby he had a very difficult baby after having a bunch of easy ones, read one too many articles about poor, emotionally stunted Romanian orphans who had come from horrible neglectful institutions, and decided to conflate the two issues and insist that moms must physically carry their babies everywhere or they won’t properly “bond.”

      Some children are abused/neglected. Some children need more holding than others. It does not follow that children who are decently cared for but not held every second of the day will have attachment disorders.

    • DiomedesV

      I completely agree. This whole new-age concept of “bonding” is almost totally divorced from the excellent behavioral literature on bonding in animals and humans. Moreover, you have to have a pretty skewed picture of humanity and nature to think that the bond between mother and child is so fragile that putting a hat on right away, not breastfeeding, not cosleeping, or not doing any number of things, would completely and irrevocably sever the connection between parents and their children.

  • Karen in SC

    Originally written by thepragmatist, requested by i don’t have a creative name, and found (and posted far below) by Something from Nothing. I’m re-posting yet again so more people can read/re-read.

    Just a word about the use of the term “natural” to describe vaginal birth. I think Dr. Amy has a really good post about this somewhere, but I kind of grimace every time I read the term “natural” applied to birth. What is unnatural about a c-section? Human beings as a species create technology to innovate and evolve past our limitations as a species. We’ve been doing this since our species was wandering out of Africa. We do this in so many ways. Our technology, while advanced and complex, is no different or less natural than any other species adaptation to the natural environment. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said that the division between man and nature is a false construct: that there is no division, since all we do is “natural”. We cannot buy out of nature. We are just as much part of nature as any other species and subject to the same laws. We are, as a species, doing what every species does: adapting to our environment and improving the survival rate of our species. A skyscraper, for example, is not so different than an ant hill, and it can be even argued that an ant hill is by far a greater achievement given the size of an ant, the enormous structures it creates, and its rudimentary technology.

    Of course, as a species, we can be a destructive force: we are just so good at adapting our environment to suit us, or adapting ourselves to suit our environmental circumstances. It still makes us no less natural than a population of deer that has no natural predators and eats its way through a forest unmitigated.

    That said, I do not believe that advances in childbirth, be them safe c-section or comprehensive care for pre-term babies or even surgery within the womb, are negative or harmful adaptations. As we become more precise in our ability to save babies, it becomes less necessary for women to carry many infants in order to produce few offspring, and women benefit greatly from this adaptation– to go on to lead longer, more productive lives, not crippled by bearing offspring, and able to contribute to the advancement of the species due to a longer life-span and less time spent child-bearing. Women have smaller families and offspring live better lives with a high rate of survival. It is more efficient, safer, and allows women far greater time to act as full participants in society.

    I do not feel my c-section was “unnatural” or that I had an “unnatural” birth. I try to use the more specific terms vaginal and surgical birth.
    -the pragmatist

    I also thought it was brilliant…

    • thepragmatist

      *blushes* Thank you for the compliment!

  • Charlotte

    I had an epidural, and I am not at all joking when I say getting the heplock put in while being admitted to the hospital was the most painful and scary part of the whole labor experience. I pushed for two hours but didn’t feel a dang thing. It was awesome. They did end up having to shove the baby back in and do a c-section when they realized she was trying to come out face first and got stuck, but much of her head was in the birth canal already and I couldn’t tell other than feeling like a basketball was suddenly between my legs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

    Epidurals are one of the reasons I stumbled upon this blog. A number of my friends were pregnant around the same time and, since my husband and I were thinking of starting our family, I decided to go ahead and do some research. I’m a plan ahead kind of gal—I had my wedding planned since the age of 10 although, the pink carriage pulled by unicorns didn’t really pan out. One of the first things I looked into was epidurals and honestly, I never knew so much bad information existed on the internet until then. I don’t know if it’s hearing about my mom’s difficult labor with me or the video we had to watch in 7th grade health class of an actual birth in all its graphic detail (note: most effective birth control ever) but, the whole L&D process totally freaks me out. I wasn’t re-assured by the rah-rah you can do it sister, birth is natural and beautiful and empowering attitude on most mommy message boards. If anything, hearing this just made me feel like more of a freak for thinking birth was scary and ummm–I kind of hate to say as it may not be politically correct even here–gross.

    As for the epidurals, even though my BS meter started going off when I read some of the things that were written about them, I had a nagging feeling that if so many women thought they were terrible maybe I was the one who was nuts for thinking they were relatively safe. I’m so glad I eventually found this blog which reassured me that, yes it was the NCB movement that was nuts and not me. However, even among my more reasonable friends there was this idea that a woman *should* at least try for a natural birth and only get an epidural if they absolutely had to. I really started to worry. I know this may sound extreme but, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted kids if without pain relief. I have a very low tolerance for pain and a history of panic attacks under stress. Eventually, I did find some good information, I think from American Society of Anesthesiologists which said there was no reason for women to delay epidurals if they didn’t choose to.

    What makes me feel better about the possibility of facing pregnancy and birth is not to have a cheerleading section dismissing all of my questions and concerns by repeating me that birth is a natural, blissful experience. Finding trained professionals to give a balanced view of the risks and benefits and realistic picture of what to expect was the only thing that put my mind at ease. Ironically, I even feel better after reading some of the stories about women who had epidurals that didn’t work–now I at least know to discuss this potential issue my doctor when the time comes. Personally, I would rather skip the “empowerment” that comes with “trusting birth” and have the confidence that comes with knowing that I have truly educated and informed myself to the extent possible and knowing I can rely on professionals who make decisons based on the best available evidence rather than some silly theories about what is best for women.

  • lacrima

    I just got back from an antenatal appointment, I could hear a young woman in the labor ward screaming like a butchered hog. That was sheer, pure pain, not “pressure waves” and it didn’t sound like the poor girl thought there was anything uplifting, noble or orgasmic about it. The anaesthetist turned up just after I got there, thank goodness, I was so relieved for her when I saw him coming. Made me pretty darn happy to be able to schedule a repeat c-section when I saw the OB today, no fuss or trouble :-)

    • I don’t have a creative name

      Screaming like a butchered hog.. that’s quite the mental image. It reminds me of a book I read by someone who had escaped Warren Jeff’s cult. One of the things Jeffs would do to intimidate his followers and thereby keep them in line was torture animals. She described how one time he brought everyone to a certain area and presented them with a cow. He proceeded to saw the cow’s head off. The cow was tied up or something so that it couldn’t escape. She described the noises the cow made as being like a woman’s screams. It was horrifying to read.

      Er, guess I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, other than it seems like these cults seem to have a commonality… forcing (or coercing) other living beings to suffer for no good reason.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UOPQL75TJVTZBL2FERWA55D3PM Laura

    The landslide response to this re-posting attests to the dark side of the natural birth movement. In the year after my son’s birth I saw a therapist who alluded to patients she had who had suffered physical birth injuries as a result of their insistence on ‘natural birth’.

    Something important to always keep in the forefront–every single birth is completely unique. They can have features in common, but none are identical.

    My ex-best friend (I think this was the beginning of the decline in our friendship) commented to me (as I coped with the fallout from my ‘failure’) that she had ‘always had a high tolerance for pain’. She gave birth without pain relief at the age of 29, no labor complications. Short labor. On the other hand . . .

    I was 38, back baby (failed to rotate), cord compression, extreme heartrate decelerations . .. etc. The best metaphor I ever hit on for the worst of my labor was that it was like being drawn and quartered. For hours. And my childbirth classes had in no way prepared for me it though as I later found out, it was quite characteristic of “back labor”. I had been told it would take nearly an hour to get an epidural after the request. Mine was instant. I was told that once you get to 6 centimeters, you’re “nearly there and might as well hold off”. Um, NO. I was told they wouldn’t give you an epidural past 6 centimeters. False. I think I was 8. It ended in a near-emergency c-section, the only alternative at that point being a suctioning attempt which my husband and I were not willing to risk.

    Why did I put myself through it? Because somehow I’d been duped into thinking that this was the great measure of my womanhood and toughness. Many months later I wrote a weepy, angry e-mail to Lamaze International. An intern initially responded with great compassion and kindness. But I never got any other response. So much for their great caring for women.

    My son is now over 5 years old and you couldn’t imagine a child more healthily bonded to his mother. As an earlier poster put it—it’s like believing that the wedding makes the marriage. I was so ravaged when they finally put him in my arms I remember ‘faking’ my reaction! (“oh . . . he’s so beautiful!”)

    My only experience with doulas was a neighbor who told me that I could fix up my low amniotic fluid by drinking lots of water (I was over a week past due and scheduled for an induction I ended up not even needing). she of course had #3 at home probably in a state of blissed-out oneness with her body that I failed to achieve.

    • mollyb

      I had a very long, rough labor with my first daughter (eventually got an epidural, as you did). My induction began on a Saturday after dinner and my daughter was born Tuesday afternoon. During that time, I didn’t sleep for a minute. By the time she was born, I also “faked” my reaction. When they handed her to me, I cooed but inside I was thinking “Great. Take her to the nursery and bring her back in eight hours.” We are also totally, awesomely bonded! Kudos for you for your honesty.

      • http://breastfeedingwithoutbs.blogspot.com/ Breastfeeding Without BS

        Clearly not a “baby friendly hospital” then.

        BTW, I’m sorry for everyone here who has had shitty birth experiences :(.

    • Jessica

      I faked it too and my labor was not nearly as long and not as difficult. “Oh I love you so much!” as I’m holding my newborn, but only because I thought I had to say something like that. But yeah, as I said below – I felt nothing, really. Today, when I walked in the door after being at work, he laughed and laughed those deep baby belly laughs as I made silly faces at him. I feel pretty bonded to him.

  • LibrarianSarah

    The only “good pain” that I could think about is physical therapy which hurts like hell but if it wasn’t physical therapy I wouldn’t be able walk now so…yay?

    • thepragmatist

      Oh God, what are you having P/T for? I am currently on the couch with about a 7 on the pain scale waiting for meds that are just not doing their job tonight! Is it really supposed to hurt this much? My husband told me he won’t do it with me again if it is going to hurt this much. My pain is just getting worse and worse the more I do it and my GP said it is normal? Or more like, he looked rather concerned and frowned and said it was “expected” or some shit. I don’t know but I can’t get on top of pain! I’m pretty tough and have been through P/T before for another issue (and am glad) but I don’t remember it hurting this much. It’s for pelvic girdle/herniated disc issues. It’s making me limp and my leg go lame and stuff!!! I’m exhausted by it.

      • LibrarianSarah

        I am no longer doing P/T thank god. But I had to do in a lot as a kid as a result as a playground “accident” (School bully pushed me off the top of the jungle gym and seriously messed up my spine among other things). I still remember the pain of all the years of P/T and O/T. The therapist was nice enough and tried her best to make it “fun” but there is only so much you can do. P/T fucking sucks best of luck to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.dalgety Heather Dalgety

    My most vivid memory as a medical student was a midwife telling me ” women don’t feel this ” as she cut an episiotmy at the hight of a contraction ! The patient promptly kicked her in the face – all the time giving her a running commentary that would make Billy Connelly blush ( I trained in Scotland ) This particular midwife was of the aged childess but knows-it-all variety , whose pet hate was what she termed ” pathetic wee girls” who asked for pain relief. Judging by what my classmates thought of her I suspect I could have sold tickets to see her getting a good kicking .

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682572949 Natasha Dothnay Seymour

      Disgusting!! I hope the poor woman complained to the hospital.

  • haditwithdawoo

    I can remember, deep in the woo, reading Spiritual Midwifery. One of the mothers-to-be was worried that the other women would think she was a “paddy ass” (ie soft, too delicate) if she could not handle the pain of childbirth stoically. Ugh.

    I also recall women talking about being “labor warriors” and printing t-shirts with how many hours of labor they endured. When asked what they would do for women who had c-sections, no response.

  • LukesCook

    I’m reminded of the lesson of the widow’s mite. Virtue can perhaps be measured in the cost to the giver rather than the benefit to the recipient, if you’re interested in virtue for its own sake. It seems to me a short step from there to the hair shirt. Redemptive suffering is a prominent religious theme, and it’s perhaps not surprising that it should intensify in women who experience pregnancy and birth as spiritual, beatific processes.

  • HM

    The exercise world is another place where people are told to ignore pain. I was just reading an issue of Fitness magazine from last year. All of these phrases/quotes are from the editor’s letter:

    “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

    “Pain is temporary; pride is forever.”

    “I knew that the mental strength and perseverance it takes to overcome physical pain during a race or intense workout is the same fortitude that will propel me through any of life’s tough challenges.”

    I’ve seen plenty of other similar statements in other fitness magazines and constantly on exercise DVDs. The PE teacher in my school tells the kids that they are “wimping out” if they can’t hold a plank for a minute or can’t do more than x amount of situps. They see anyone who can’t handle the pain as weak, and those who can as strong, a ridiculous idea! I wonder if the NCB world borrows ideas from the fitness community!

    • LibrarianSarah

      I that is why I always hated those fitness types. I have lost over 30 pounds and never hurt once. If you are in pain you are doing it wrong.

    • KarenJJ

      “I wonder if the NCB world borrows ideas from the fitness community!”

      Certainly in the hypnobirthing class I did – it was a discussion on whether breathing through your mouth was better for your stamina than breathing through your nose.

  • Guestina

    Choosing not to opt for pain relief comes from a position of privilege. Poor women don’t have to prove they can endure pain–they endure it every day in various ways, physical, mental and emotional. You have to have a relatively pain-free life in order for the idea of a personal test of pain endurance to have appeal. And the support needed to have a pain-free birth is also a marker of privilege since it is expensive–a doula can easily cost $1,000+ in my area, plus the cost of Lamaze classes, hypnobirthing books, etc. It’s also privileged in the sense that it’s time-limited pain–once you give birth it’s over, unlike pain experienced by poor women in their day-to-day lives.

    • I don’t have a creative name

      “You have to have a relatively pain-free life in order for the idea of a personal test of pain endurance to have appeal. ”

      …or to attach moral value to it.

      • thepragmatist

        Yes, I’ve dealt with a lot of untreated or undertreated pain in my life. There’s nothing honourable about it. It slowly drove me mad! But you know what, this kind of attitude toward childbirth pain is not limited to just pain during labour but women’s pain in general. At least that’s been my experience since menarche. And, in general, our society attaches a moral value to the experience of pain, so in some ways I think this is a symptom of an overall value system that sees those who suffer pain and seek relief as weak. This is typified in my own father who takes special pride in having dental surgery with analgesia. He often sounds no different than an NCB advocate. He uses self-taught hypnosis! If it works for him, great– but it’s definitely a moral judgment and he has judgment for people who “give in” to pain and let it “define them”.

        • AmyM

          My MIL is like your Dad, though not about childbirth, at least as far as I know…she had all Csections. Anyway, she was recently telling my husband that we coddle the children too much by giving them albuterol when their asthma flares up. My husband (and I) are also asthmatic, so we have a lot of experience with it…but when husband was a child, his mother basically denied he had asthma, and I wonder if she believes it is a made up disease. She was a nurse, and she is not woo-tastic, but her ideas about suffering instead of “showing a weakness” by getting help are very strange to me. I suppose you could say that having asthma is a weakness, but since no one I know is out to kill us with asthma triggers, I don’t feel that admitting it is an issue.

          • KarenJJ

            “She was a nurse, and she is not woo-tastic, but her ideas about suffering instead of “showing a weakness” by getting help are very strange to me.”

            She’s certainly not the only nurse with this attitude. My mum is the same.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.neely Kathleen Elizabeth Neely

            People who have High pain threshholds dont experience pain the same way as most of us Chickens!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        I think there is moral value to enduring pain or suffering philosophically or with grace. Just cannot see any value moral or otherwise in seeking out pain that can be avoided. I think I am influenced by the saying that one never sees a philospher with toothache – pain is mind numbing, obliterating and does not make you a better person! It reduces the rational thoughts that make sense of any morality.

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      Hi Guestina, I love your post! This answers the underlying question of “why”…why is enduring the discomforts/pain/suffering/agony/torture of childbirth admirable? Especially when pain relief is readily available.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/UOPQL75TJVTZBL2FERWA55D3PM Laura

      You got it exactly right! We should be putting our energy and attention into helping the women in the rest of the world—where over half a million women die every year from complications from pregnancy and birth. Why don’t the Ricki Lakes of the world focus on that?

  • Sue

    Let’s face it: it’s because of what the NCB practitioners are able (and not able) to
    offer. While they pay lip service to the “enduring pain for personal growth” mantra, they also spend a lot of time trying to perfect not-very-good methods of pain relief: hypno, music, tubs, massage. They talk about “gentle”, “tightenings” etc as a code for “since we can’t do much about the pain, let’s pretend it’s nothing much”.

    Imagine if acute medicine gave you a stick to bite on while you got your dislocated shoulder put back in place, or massage for a bowel obstruction, or for gall bladder pain. And then pretending that it’s better for you to endure the pain.

    They are lying to themselves, as well as families, because they are not able to offer anything very effective. And the ideology is everything.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Penny Simkin calls them comfort measures. I don’t like that term because that term “comfort measures” are usually what you would do for someone in hospice. Anyway, it’s double talk because if it’s such a rush, why in the world would you want to be comforted and distracted from it? Kind of like the midwife who was always telling clients that “babies don’t have a due date like a library book” and then asking if they were doing the pressure points and drinking the herbal teas that would “help them go into labor naturally”.

      • TiffanyEpiphany

        ooo, love your points, Bombshellrisa.

        If the pain is supposed to be a “good” pain, why then do the NCBers in general and the homebirthers in particular try so hard to ease the pain, manage it, and minimize it? Why not let the pain and its effects hang out in all its glory? (Real answer: the notion that childbirth pain is good and noble is a flat out LIE.)

        And so true about the “due” date hoopla. If they really wanted to “go natural,” why take measures to hurry nature along? (Real answer: they’re afraid that they’re actually post-dates, which increases the likelihood of stillborns.)

        • TheHappyPappy

          What about that woman posting on MDC (IIRC) who went home and did vodka shots with her midwife to stop her labor? That seemed completely, totally, batshit crazy to me. There are proven, effective, safe, NON-teratogenic things you can take to stop labor. We know for a fact that alcohol is VERY dangerous for fetuses and regular and/or excessive consumption during pregnancy can result in permanent brain damage. I just remember reading that and having my mind boggle that anyone could be so outright idiotic and hypocritical. You’ll chug back something that multiple studies show could damage your child’s brain permanently and irreversibly because your best buddy says it’s safe, but refuse something that carries no known risk just ’cause it comes from those eeeeeevil doctors?

          And if anyone is wondering why I’m so dead-set against pregnant women having booze, read “Damaged Angels” by Bonnie Buxton. FAS is only the tip of the iceberg. Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder is the real hidden horror.

          • Sue

            It’s the same phenomenon:

            - can’t prescribe tocolytics? Advise alcohol
            - can’t prescribe induction agent? Advise toxic bowel irritant

            - can’t treat GBS? Advise garlic
            - can’t treat severe pain? Either (a) advise that it’s good (b) blame mother’s attitude or (c) massage feet

            If all these things don’;t matter, why make up stuff that doesn’t work to manage them?

          • Bombshellrisa

            Yes, I remember that story. How absolutely “natural”.

          • Susan

            I love the phrase batshit crazy!

  • Adrianna

    My first exposure to “natural childbirth” was when I was 11. I was reading a historical fiction novel and in one scene, a woman was giving birth in excruciating pain (as would be expected in the 1800s). When it was over and the laboring woman was cuddling her baby, one of the bystanders said that labor pains awaken mother love. My first reaction? How massively sadistic and sexist! If an 11-year-old can grasp the misogyny of NCB philosophy, then why can’t college-educated “feminist” anthropologists get it? Also, why can’t NCB advocates see that their philosophy is nothing new and that it is basically old-school, Judeo-Christian (punishment for Eve’s sin, and I’m a Roman Catholic too!) misogyny dressed up in feminist clothing? Obviously, not everyone that embraces NCB thinks like that, nor do they all judge those that make different choices. However, the philosophical underpinnings of the movement as a whole as hugely problematic and frankly, I don’t see how anyone can really believe in them. Thank you, Amy, for stating what many of us are thinking and have been thinking for years. If I read this when I was 11, you would have been taking the words right out of my mouth and it would have saved me a lot of grief later in my life.

  • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

    This I mostly agree with, as concerns most women. But who are we to deny the veracity of the accounts of the small minority of women who describe their experiences as pleasurable, even orgasmic?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      We’re the same people who can deny the veracity of the small minority of people who claimed to have been abducted by space aliens. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and no evidence at all has been forthcoming.

      • Durango

        You owe me a new keyboard. That is hilarious. lololol!!

    • Karen in SC

      I had an unmedicated birth. It was agonizing. When the pain changed to pressure and I pushed out my son, there was a feeling of bliss. I believe it was the sudden turning off of the pain, not any real “pleasure.” That’s my view, anyway.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002171364303 Anj Fabian

        Most women find epidurals blissful for the same reason.

    • Bombshellrisa

      The problem is not the women that describe their experiences that way, it’s the women that sell other women on the idea that this is normal, even to be expected but only if you labor and deliver in a setting where you are comfortable and you do so unmedicated and your birth attendant has to be a midwife.

      • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

        That is a fair point. Dr. Amy makes a different point, claiming these women are lying.

        • Bombshellrisa

          They might be.

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            Sure, and everything you post here might be a lie for all I know. But I’m not accusing you of that, and I don’t think anyone should be accused of being a liar because their claims about a subjective experience do not match someone else’s.

          • Bombshellrisa

            It’s not that they lie, but what they do with the lie. Telling survivors of sexual trauma that they will be able to “heal” if they give birth vaginally and that they will have an orgasm and it will heal them sexually as well. Everything will be solved! Buy it’s not that easy. Being triggered, terrified and not having this joyous orgasmic rush that you are supposed to because you “did everything right” and all because of a lie that is nothing more than trying to one up the next stunt birther.

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            I could believe they were liars if they are selling something: a seminar, birthing classes, even doula or midwifery services. But there’re other people saying this without any angle to shoot.

            Still, as I said in my first comment, I do agree with the overall thrust of this post for most women.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Alan, are you a man?

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            Yeahhh…are there women named Alan? Why do you ask?

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Sorry to ask. I just didn’t want to assume.

            Before I gave birth, there was a small part in my brain that always wondered if childbirth really hurt that bad. After I went through it, I realized that it’s very difficult to completely understand the discomforts/pain/agony if you haven’t gone through it.

            Without being disrespectful, men can certainly empathize with a woman’s childbirth experience, but they will never completely understand it. I appreciate a man’s perspective, yes. But, really, it is outrageous for anyone to claim that childbirth gives a woman an orgasm (or to give these women even a smidgen of credibility).

            Show the evidence, then maybe I’ll buy it. But like the alien abductees analogy, there just isn’t any scientific data to date that supports the claim.

            I think some men (and women) just like to think that ANYTHING passing through the vagina is pleasurable. Sure, childbirth can be “pleasurable” in that a woman is giving life to a beautiful child, but it’s hardly comparable to an orgasm. Is there a high, of course. But it’s not in the same vein. To suggest that the pangs and throes of childbirth result in an orgasm is really, truly an insult to the suffering that women endure because of childbirth, with or without pain relief.

            ~ From a would-have-been homebirther had it not been for Dr. Amy’s writings

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            I really think you are overlooking the fact that I said from the get-go that we were talking about a “small minority” of women who have said this is how they felt. Before I heard of this minority’s reported experiences, I assumed it was extremely painful for all women. I have also had experience with women finding sex painful unless we really carefully eased into it. So your theory doesn’t hold water, not for me anyway.

          • Charlotte

            I’m not sure why you’re so hung up on this.

          • Dr Kitty

            I think it has been mentioned downthread- some men have orgasms from being punched in the testicles or having their testicles stepped on my someone in heels, others get pleasure from fisting or inserting dangerously large objects into various orifices.

            They recognise it as a kink, not as something everyone should aim for. “Orgasmic birth” is the same- a rare accidental happening, not normal, not desirable, and not, for many women, remotely achievable.

            Birth is not “orgasmic”- it is messy, tiring, mind numbingly painful hard work.

            If you found it arousing doing the ironing or mopping your floor, good for you.
            If you suggested that my house wasn’t really clean because I don’t. Or suggested that that fact that I don’t enjoy cleaning at all, and would much rather pay someone to do it for me makes me less of a woman.
            Or if you then spent time lecturing me on how I too could find cleaning my floor sexually arousing if only I tried hard enough, I’d think you were mentally unwell.

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            Hung up on what? I’m just discussing the topic of the post. Isn’t that the point of the comments section?

          • Bombshellrisa

            There are plenty of books written by NCB advocates that mentioned orgasmic birth, also movies made by the same people and it’s always mentioned in every one of those birth bootcamps and workshops. I think there was something about it in Karen Brody’s “Birth!” play that was so talked about in midwifery and doula circles. So perhaps only a few women REALLY do have those orgasms during birth. But the idea that you can (perhaps even should) is put out there for many more people to get the idea into their heads with and then weigh a “birth experience” against.

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            Yeah, I can’t disagree with any of that.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I’m willing to believe that a few women in the history of the universe have had an orgasm with birth. There are case reports of orgasms happening in very weird situations like during sneezing. Some women have reported having orgasms during rape. I would even believe some men have orgasmed during a kick to the crotch, especially if it were part of some planned kink experience and the kick happened to be right over the prostate.
            But what’s the point? That because a few people have orgasmed from rape or sneezing or kicks that we should all strive to during these situations? That a fluke of physiology should be the new gold standard?
            And it does for sure have the “emperor’s new clothes” thing going on. So many women all of a sudden reporting orgasm? Ummm sure….

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            So this comment gets a downrating, like it is spam or trolling or something? WTF

        • thepragmatist

          No. You’ve misread her. Her primary claim is that NCB advocates are lying to women when they tell them that they can turn what is generally regarded as an extremely painful experience into an orgasmic one, and that there is some sort of value in attempting this. It’s just another unrealistic thing NCB presents to women. Another goal post to obtain in the pursuit of that perfect birth experience.

          I am not unconvinced a woman can experience an orgasm during delivery (weirder things have happened) but to make it a goal is 1. unrealistic and unfair to most women (who cannot and will not orgasm) and to me, 2. rather creepy, since I don’t find it at all appropriate or comfortable to orgasm in front of anyone besides my husband, let alone while my child is crowning…

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            I’m not referring to her OP, but to her comment just upthread in which she said it was similar to people who claim to be abducted by space aliens.

  • SophiaK

    So, honest question. I think the community here is a great mix of knowledge, and I’m curious about your opinions on this. I haven’t given birth yet, still hope to someday, so I’m wondering…
    I hear a lot of NCB/non-medicated birth stories that describe the epic endorphin rush post-delivery, largely as justification for the decision. It seems like some of these women would definitely choose no pain relief again, largely for that reason. I haven’t heard the same from women who did choose an epidural; I’m guessing that the drugs interfere with that? I’m just wondering if any of you can speak to the differences there.
    I should say that I’m a complete pansy, and can’t imagine going through birth without drugs. However, I’d be lying if I said the non-medicated birth stories didn’t intrigue me, particularly this focus on a “post-birth high” that seems absent from medicated birth stories. Opinions and explanations from those in the know are greatly appreciated!

    • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.briggs3 Stephanie Briggs

      I have chronic severe migraines. A sudden drop in pain can produce a sense of euphoria, but IMO, just in my case, it’s false/misleading, because my pain levels can skyrocket again just as quickly.

      Perhaps the NCB crowd is referring to the (true or false?) euphoria caused by a drop in pain once the baby is delivered?

      • SophiaK

        That’s a pretty interesting hypothesis, Stephanie – and kinda what I’m curious about. Physiologically, what could account for it? Thanks!

        • thepragmatist

          The body produces oxytocin to tell the uterus to contract. Oxytocin is also the “love hormone”. Whether or not you have a medicated and/or surgical birth, it will not change the natural mechanism of your body to produce oxytocin to tell your uterus to contract– unless you aren’t, for some reason, making enough oxytocin (which obviously happens, since we have to manage third stage of labour). I definitely got the euphoria post-birth and it was like NOTHING I’ve experienced. Then it went on and on… :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

          I am prepared to belief that hormones have something to do with it, because I have never experience anything like it outside of childbirth – you just clearly do not need an unmedicated vaginal birth to feel it.

          What I remember was being so serene and at peace with the world – it was suddenly a beautiful place, everyone in it lovable. I remember feeling so sorry for those experiencing the “baby blues” and wanting to spread my bliss over them. It makes me smile even now to remember what it felt like! Dotty, really.

          • AmyP

            I remember once, when my 10-year-old was a baby, looking out my window at 7 AM and seeing a guy in a suit in the parking lot getting into his car. I felt sooo sorry for him, that he had to go work, while I got to be home with my baby.

            That was my brain on oxytocin.

        • theadequatemother

          when you are in pain, your body produces endorphins…they are natural opioid-like substances and act to counter the pain (a bit). When the pain stops, you are left (briefly) with the euphoric effects (ie runner’s high)

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.briggs3 Stephanie Briggs

          Sorry it took so long to reply – I’m still learning the ropes of commenting on here. Endorphins can be released when one is in pain, according to this article, and they act pretty much the same way opiate drugs do, except in the case of endorphins not assisted by medication or drugs (i.e. heroin), there’s no addiction factor. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55001

      • Squillo

        I have the same phenomenon with migraines. I experienced something very similar after my daughter was born, because I went from mind-numbing pain to almost no pain in a matter of seconds.

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.briggs3 Stephanie Briggs

          Works fast, doesn’t it? I wonder if in cases like that, it’s like being in shock.

    • auntbea

      Dozens of posters here have commented about the post-birth high, whether natural, medicated or c-section. You will be happy because you have a baby, not because you gave birth. To the extent that NCB mothers feel any additional euphoria at all it is because Thank God the Torture is Finally Over.

      • Karen in SC

        exactly what I thought!

      • me

        I’m not sure. With my first the high was a “Look what I made” kind of high, lol. I was so gobsmacked that a *person* came *out of me*. I didn’t expect that feeling, but I was so proud (and I know, I’m not the first person to have a person come out of them, lol, but at the time it certainly felt that way). I did have an epidural, no second stage relief, and there was a ‘thank god the torture is over’ sense, at least until the doc started stitching me up with no lidocaine (ouch), but the high remained for a few weeks.

        With my second I had her unmedicated, and the high was incredible. Not the ‘look what I did feeling’, but a ‘OMG that was awesome’ feeling. I didn’t regard her birth as torture in the least and felt back to myself within two weeks (first degree tears are sooooo much better than third degree episiotomy extensions), but the high remained for literally 3 months. I was ready to have another baby before we even left the hospital, lol.

        With my third (also unmed), I felt good, but there really wasn’t any “high” at all. I was somewhat disappointed at that (not for long, I’ve got three beautiful, healthy girls, so what if I didn’t get a “high” after my youngest’s birth), mostly because I had remembered the intense feelings I had after my second child (and to a lesser extent, after my first) and had hoped for a repeat of that. I can’t figure out what was so different betwen her delivery and the other two…. Honestly it seems so hit-or-miss and random, it’s not worth forgoing wanted pain relief in the hopes of getting some sort of post-birth high. I think it happens or it doesn’t, no matter what transpires during the delivery. JMO.

    • theadequatemother

      I had euphoria when my epidural was put in….huge drop in pain and i was high as a kite. After my son was born I was…relieved….stunned not exactly euphoric. But every day when I look at him now, or when I rock him right before bed and breath in the sweet smell of his baby head and hair, I am in awe, amazed.

      I think its the precipitous drop in pain that leads to the euphoria, nothing else.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I definitely had a post-birth euphoria, despite having not just an epidural but also a c-section. I don’t have any non-medicated births to compare it to, but I was definitely soaring the first few hours after the baby was born.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        Me too – high as a kite after second CS. Large part of it psychological, I think. Relief, achieving what you wanted to achieve.

    • Renee Martin

      I think the reason the “post birth high” *seems* to be left out, is because when your entire birth story is happy because of proper pain relief, the last part isn’t as pronounced. Doesnt mean it doesnt exist. When you have hours of the worst pain in the world, and it ends, it seems like the best thing, Im sure. I think its kinda weird to expirence pain just for a (maybe) better high….

      I had one of each (the unmedicated one was unintentional), but didn’t have an endorphin rush either time.

      • AmyM

        I didn’t experience an endorphin rush, after 22hrs of labor (with an epidural for the latter part), I was exhausted. l remember asking if the babies were ok, and I remember them holding them near my face and saying “Kiss your baby!” while they were waiting on the placenta and stitching the small tear I had. To be honest, I didn’t really feel the rush of love as they say, until the boys were around 2mos old and started smiling at me. I was just too tired, and in damage control mode.

        I asked my husband if he felt any endorphin rush when the babies came and he said no.

    • moto_librarian

      Post-birth after my unmediated labor: I was dazed and largely relieved that it was over. I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Then I started hemmorhaging and got to endure manual examination of my uterus without pain medication (no hep lock). This was worse than delivery, which I didn’t believe was possible. When I got back from the OR after having my cervical laceration repaired, I was totally out of it from blood loss, exhaustion, and anesthesia. My husband was supposed to be bringing our son in for our first real visit. He came in and said, “don’t be upset honey. The baby is fine, but they are observing him in the NICU because he is grunting.” After confirming that our son really was okay, I said good, and went back to sleep. I had no desire to see my baby at that point. Later that night, I woke up wanting to see him desperately, but had to wait until the next morning since I had to be wheeled back. I did feel euphoric when I finally got to hold him, but natural birth actually prevented me from being with him sooner.

      After my epidural birth, I was overwhelmed with euphoria as soon as they placed my son in my arms. He had sudden distress while crowning, and the NIcU team had to work on him for about 20 minutes, and I was so eager to hold him. I was on a high for weeks.

      • Lisa from NY

        Good thing you were in a hospital. Otherwise, the NCB would have said that your baby wasn’t meant to live.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      It is hard to describe the endorphin rush a felt after our first son was born. It was out of this world amazing. It was a high that lasted for days.

      And he was born by c-section.

      Although I cannot vouch for how his mom felt.

      • thepragmatist

        LOL! See my above post about “Dad face”… exactly! My husband was on some sort of crazy high for weeks after our son was born. He got all soft and sweet and super lovey. And he was high, high, high on our son’s birth even though he wasn’t even in the room at the time. The photos of him holding my son show how deeply enthralled he was with his new baby and how blissful he felt. Ah…

    • Allie P

      I was euphoric when my epidural kicked in and the pain stopped. I was also calm. That lasted about five minutes.

      I was insanely euphoric and excited when my baby was born, painlessly. So was my husband and he hadn’t had any pain at all. That one lasted days.

      It’s like hte people who don’t find out in advance the sex of their baby and they’re all “it was such an amazing moment when the doctor said ‘it’s a girl/boy.’” Well, I found out the sex of my baby at 20 weeks. It was an amazing moment then, and then it was ANOTHER amazing moment when the baby was born and the doctor said “Here’s your baby.”

      You get all the moments, just at different times and ways. I don’t think I missed out on anything but excruciating pain by getting an epidural. I don’t think I missed out on anything but waiting another 20 weeks (and maybe more green/yellow clothes at the shower) by finding out the sex of my baby in advance.

    • thepragmatist

      I can tell you that I had a c-section AND an intense endorphin rush once the placenta was delivered. It was the oxytocin released by my body once the placenta detached. My OB told me that the mechanism of the oxytocin rush had little to do with how I gave birth and rather was a mechanism of placental detachment… the feelings of bliss and well-being will stay with forever. I think it’s absolute bunk to tell women that they will not experience that “rush” of love and bliss just because they had a medicated or surgical birth. The mechanism by which oxytocin is released by the body, producing transcendent feelings of love and bliss, doesn’t change through method of delivery. Dads also have hormonal changes at birth: hence the reams of photos of goofy, happy dads with dopey looking love faces holding their brand new baby. We call it “dad face” around here. If you scroll through photos of dads holding their babies in skin to skin post c-section you can see this ridiculous and adorable phenomena that truly fills my heart with love. It’s always sweet to see the big burly men with the soft, soft faces on, reduced to a puddle of love by their wee little babies. :)

      I think that trauma may interfere with feeling bliss and well-being but again, I don’t think that has much to do with the mode of birth as much as it does with fear, pain, etc. All in all, whether you feel that rush or not, makes not a whit of difference to your bonding with baby later.

      I had a non-traumatic, well-managed birth that produced a lovely high. I was “birth high” for months after my birth. Even today, every time I think back on the birth I feel overwhelming joy. And I am a happy c-section mom. If I have another, I have no doubt similar will happen. :)

    • lacrima

      I had one helluva post-spinal block high, thanks to the pain relief, quickly followed by an even bigger post-birth high when I heard my daughter’s first cry. If I could bottle that feeling and sell it on street corners, I’d be very, very rich. I think that “post-birth high after medicated birth” stories are comparatively rare because women who have medicated births or c-sections aren’t proselytizing about the benefits in the way that the NCB crowd has to, in order to justify their position.

      • BigBlues

        I have to say I’m a little jealous of all you folks who had this blissful, euphoric feeling after your babies were born. I had severe PPD/A right from the start after both of my babies, and all I felt was intense anxiety that lasted for months. On a happy note, I did recover both times with the help of good doctors and wonderful friends and family, and I could not adore my children more now, but my fear of going through this again is the main reason I don’t plan to have more children.

        I did have two (mostly) pain-free c-sections, but I don’t think they are the reason I had difficulty bonding at first. The hormonal fluctuations involved with having a baby just caused my brain chemicals to get a little whacky, and I don’t think a med-free vaginal birth would have changed that at all. Unfortunately, this is just the way my body and brain react to having a baby.

        • lacrima

          PPD/A is an awful thing to have to deal with and I’m glad you’ve recovered now. I think it’s pretty bloody unfair that the hormonal fluctuations don’t make everyone euphoric.

          • KarenJJ

            I wish I knew that PPD could manifest as anxiety. I certainly had that. Although it didn’t help that an older relative visitted and stayed for a few days a couple of weeks after the birth and knew all sorts of terrible stories of things that had killed young babies.

        • auntbea

          I was so tightly wound in the few days after my baby was born that any sound in the hospital (there are a lot of sounds in the hospital) would jerk me from sound asleep to on my feet in half a second. My husband said it was like watching a cartoon character.

    • Durango

      I guess i don’t see why it matters? One will love and bond with their baby the majority of the time no matter what the birth was like, “epic endorphins” or no.
      If the high after pain is really that important, BDSM seems like a more reliable and frequent way to get it, though that is certainly not my cup of tea.

    • Dr Kitty

      Blissful, bursting into tears, never been so happy in my life feeling- I had that with my daughter, and I had a planned, prelabour CS with a spinal.

      Holding my baby was enough, honestly- no labour, no pain necessary for me.

      It isn’t something I’ll actually tell people though, because, well, it makes you look like a b*tch- “Oh, you laboured for 48hrs med free and had an amazing post birth high that made up for it- good for you, I came to hospital and painlessly had a baby 3 hrs later and I felt just the same”- doesn’t make you many friends.

    • Suzi Screendoor

      This is one of the fears that NCB philosophy plays upon. It seems quite reasonable and not uncommon for pregnant women to worry about 1) the pain of labour, and 2) whether they will bond with their babies. NCB soothes these concerns by claiming that labour pain is all in your head and going drug-free will guarantee bonding.

      In contrast, there are no guarantees in medicine. Your epidural or other form of pain relief may not work or may be unavailable. You may not fall instantly in love with the baby that has given you months of nausea, exhaustion, heartburn, headaches, and swelling (not to mention kicking the shit out of your insides for at least four months). What a pregnant woman wants is to look at her healthy baby for the first time and know that it has been totally worth it to sacrifice her body for its sake.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Some women get the post-birth high, some women don’t. Some people fall in love with their future spouse at first sight, some people start with friendship and it evolves into love over time. Some people get a high from skydiving, some people hate the experience. Some people adore reading, others never ever read for pleasure.

      I’m ok, you’re ok.

    • Happy Sheep

      My first was a completely medicated delivery, with my son going into distress and the vacuum used right at the end, he didn’t breathe right away amd so the peds team worked on him while we waited for his cries when we heard them we both had a crazy high.
      My second, 2 weeks ago, was completely natural, not by choice – labor was 2 hours from the first twinge to baby out and I felt terrible, I was so shell shocked from the mind bending pain and the quickness of ordeal, I cried, but not from joy or even that the pain was over, but because I never thought that such an excruciating experience would ever happen to me. I never had any sort of high, instead I spent his first 24 hours trying to process that had just happened to me.
      I’m not concerned at all with bonding, since I didn’t feel all that bonded with my first for weeks and now I couldn’t be more attached to him and I know it will come.
      I just feel like everything NCB sells is a total lie. I feel like less of a mom and woman for going through something so painful and for losing all control and I certainly have never felt less empowered than I did while I was stuck in one position screaming my baby out.

  • Jessica

    I knew I wanted an epidural during labor, but my OB, the nurses, and even the hospital literature suggested waiting until labor was well-established (“usually by 4 cm”) before getting the epidural. The problem I hadn’t anticipated is that once my OB broke my water (at about 4cm, while we were waiting for the anesthesiologist) is that I would dilate very rapidly. So by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I was in extreme pain, and when the epidural had to be replaced, I thought I was going to die. I remember collapsing onto the bed and immediately falling asleep once it was replaced. The next time I was checked, not long after, I was at 8cm. (It seems I went from 4cm to complete in about 3.5 hours or so.) Those couple of hours before I started pushing were nice. But the damage had been done: I was already exhausted by the time I started pushing, and when my son was born I felt…nothing. Didn’t cry. I was just so goddamn tired and in shock at how painful it had been.

    Next time, I’m getting the epidural immediately. I see no benefit to suffering through that much pain and fatigue.

  • Renee Martin

    “…the claim that kicking a man in the groin could induce orgasm…”

    I can tell you don’t have experience in certain subcultures, so let me just say that this is not just entirely possible, it happens. I have seen, and marveled over it, even participated in it, many times.

    No one thinks this is a normal, or desirable way to orgasm, though! It is considered a perversion, a kink, a fetish, a mental anomaly and physical abnormality. No one that likes this (they are very rare) would ever go around suggesting that because they enjoy this, that other men should get kicked in the nuts in order to try to feel this pleasure. I can’t even imagine such a conversation between men!

    I do think “orgasmic birth” is possible, in two ways: the enormous distention of the vaginal walls and related pressure, and with standard sexual stimulation during birth. There are people that sexually enjoy enormous insertions, even people that purposely give themselves prolapses (do * not* google this), so why not enjoy the same sensation during birth? I also think that some people can masturbate in any circumstance, so that someone does this during birth is not surprising to me.

    Once again, there is no way this could be considered normal, and no normal person would think to try this out during birth in order to see if they are one of the rare people that enjoy such feelings. The pain usually deters people from such things.

    Unlike those who are into SnM, those promoting Orgasmic birth seek to promote their unique experience as universal! Instead of realizing their experience is out of the ordinary range of human possibilities, they assume it’s would be common and is just misunderstood because of social pressures. They tell all women that they too can feel this way, that if they don’t, it’s only because they aren’t in touch with ancient energy (or something similar).

    It never occurs to them that like a man that likes getting his nuts crushed by high heels, they are outliers on the spectrum of human sexuality. There is nothing wrong with being unusual in this way, the mistake is to believe that when others cannot feel the same way, they are doing something wrong.

    • TheHappyPappy

      Thank you for saying this! I was thinking the same thing, and you expressed it very well.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    Poor men. If only they had some form of “natural” pain that was capable of improving them. We should feel sorry for our male counterparts, because they never get a chance to experience that “good” pain that ultimately makes them more manly. Perhaps they should be required to smash a limb every time their partner goes into labor, so they can experience some of that good and natural self-improvement that can only come with excruciating pain. Women are so lucky. (snark)

  • Mrs. W

    In North America, I would love to know how many women ask for epidural pain relief but cannot get it for non-medical reasons. I want to know how many women are unnecessarily subjected to the pain of labour that they would prefer to forgo. That is the rights violation I’d like to know about and see be addressed.

    • BeatlesFan

      I was nearly one of those women. One of the 2 CNMs who was on at the time I began requesting an epi basically said, “We don’t like to give them,” and walked out of the room. Eventually my husband, who would have likely gotten himself arrested had any of the people denying me an epi been male, spoke to an L&D nurse about it. She in turn spoke to the midwives, and the three of them stood at the foot of my bed, watching me writhe in pain, while discussing whether or not I should be allowed an epi as if I weren’t in the room. After getting a lecture about the evils of epidurals from the same bitchy midwife, I was given the epi they had no reason to refuse me in the first place.

      I switched offices for this baby, and when they asked why I had left the old practice, I told them, without sugar-coating it. I have hopeful expectations of being treated more respectfully during this birth.

      This is why my blood boils when I read complaints online that “A nurse offered me pain meds when I CLEARLY STATED in my birth plan I wanted to go all-natural! How dare they try to pressure me?!” But when someone mentions being denied pain meds when they ask for them? Crickets.

      • Mrs. W

        I see the later being a far graver injustice than the former. It should inexcusable in non-rural/remote settings – further I think the informed consent process for epidurals should happen long before labour when the mother is clear headed. If mom asks for an epidural, she should be given one and should not be made to wait an inordinate amount of time (not more than an hour).

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        They did this to my daughter, and I was getting ready to go and thump someone, She had dilated quite slowly from about 10 am and was getting scared and upset. By 8 pm she was 7cm and it looked like we were in for a tough two or three hours. The bland cheerleader midwives were really beginning to get to me but fortunately the last bit went quick – baby born at 9 pm on the dot. Neither of us are going to forgive those young women in a hurry.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

        It’s a sad state of affairs whey you can’t even trust a hospital to help you when you’re in pain. Scenarios like this scare me a lot more than any cascade of interventions that NCBers keep going on about. To be in a position where you are in horrible pain and you know someone could help but, they turn a blind eye based on their personal assessment that you don’t need help or based on some ideology that you have no interest in, sounds horrifying. It reminds me of nightmares I’d have as a kid where someone was abducting or hurting me and I would be screaming for help but, no sound was coming out or people around were just ignoring me. I feel panic just thinking about it.

        I’d like to know from any lawyers reading if patients have any recourse in situations where they are not getting access to pain relief? I’m not talking about situations where the anesthetist
        is just busy and can’t get there in 30 seconds but, situations where requests for relief are being actually ignored. I’m not the kind of person who likes to threaten a lawsuit whenever something doesn’t go my way. However, if I thought it would get the hospital to take me seriously, you bet I would keep my lawyer on speed dial.

    • Kumquatwriter

      Right here – mine was delayed hours as my nurse pushed NCB rhetoric at me – I had asked for the epidural before I was even in labor and it was in my “birth plan”

  • Leica

    I just had a lovely, pain-free RCS a month ago and can’t imagine being more bonded to my little guy. I was pretty nervous going in – with my first I had a long induction, finally agreed to an epidural, then baby went immediately into distress. Emergency c-section, separated for a while, I was exhausted, recovery was long and painful, breastfeeding never established well, and it took a long time to bond with my newborn. It wasn’t easy to accept when my OB said I’d need another c-section, because I was sure it would be another mess.

    This was worlds different. I went in at 7am after a full night of sleep, not exhausted and starving after hours of induction. The spinal worked perfectly, no pain at all, no side effects. We were all relaxed and joking, I picked the O.R. music, and had my baby on my chest before 8:30. He latched like a champ while I was still getting stitched up and he didn’t leave my arms or right beside my bed until we got discharged. I got out of the hospital only 48 hrs later, not needing any meds stronger than tylenol.

    Frankly, I think a lack of pain is a huge factor in bonding. It’s much easier to feel a rush of love when you’re comfortable and well-rested.

  • Lisa from NY

    Dr. Amy, with all due respect, I have a friend whose blood pressure dropped after she got the epidural and for that reason she needed a C.

    For her next baby, she had a lower-dose epidural so her blood pressure did not drop too much, and had a vbac.

    Also, in teaching hospitals, a woman might get a resident doing the epidural. I have a friend who gave birth in a teaching hospital and suffered severe back pain. For her next babies, she chose not to have the epidural.

    • moto_librarian

      Blood pressure drops are a known side-effect of epidurals, but can usually be managed by fluids. I also had a resident do my placement. It took him about 4 tries. It was uncomfortable, but not painful. I can definitely see how someone who has needle phobia would hate it though.

      I know some women who don’t want epidurals, and that’s just fine. Labor pain varies. I just hate hearing about women who feel like failures for accepting pain relief. That we are even talking about this in the 21st century proves that we have a long road ahead of us before women are true equals.

      • Jessica

        Yeah, my blood pressure dropped after my epidural, and the nurses and anesthesiologist acted like it was no big deal – gave me some fluids and all was fine.

      • me

        I had tweedle dee and tweedle dum residents attempt epidural placement with my third baby (I had previously had an epidural with my first baby, which failed to provide any second stage relief, and had an unmedicated delivery with my second child which was really a pretty easy labor; my third baby took quite a bit longer, I was getting tired and dehydrated and requested an epidural, even tho I figured it wouldn’t provide much second stage relief, I at least wanted to be able to rest for a while before pushing – my first two kids took over an hour to push out). After their third attempt (when they struck bone – talk about terrifying), I said thanks but no thanks. Fortunately in the half hour of failed attempts I went from 6 cm to 9 cm (I still can’t believe I held perfectly still thru all that, lol). In retrospect I’m glad they failed, but sheesh, talk about demoralizing. I remember after they left the room, but before my CNM checked me I was so scared – to not be able to get pain relief (I was so afraid they would do damage or leave me with a spinal headache), but to also think I had hours left to go…. thank all things holy that I was able to start pushing very soon and she was out in 3 ctx! In retrospect I suppose I could have requested that the attending do the epidural, but by the time they were done failing so massively I was to scared to let *anyone* near my spine, lol. NCB was nothing compared to that fear….

        • Something From Nothing

          It’s pretty disrespectful to call them tweedledee and tweddledum. The got through medical school and are doing a residency, which already puts them pretty far up there in terms of academic achievements. How do you think the attending learned to do epidurals and got good at them? Everyone has to learn. Have some respect.

          • me

            Lol. Are they here? Do they know I’m talking about them? No, I wouldn’t call them that to their face – I think they felt pretty bad about not being able to get the job done. The reason I even let them attempt it in the first place (rather than insisting on the attending do it) is because I *know* they have to learn on someone and I was willing to be that “guinea pig” (until they struck bone – that is one of the scariest sensations I’ve ever felt).

            People who are so high on that pedestal (that you are putting them on) should really be able to poke fun at themselves and have some humility. And maybe even learn from their errors. I didn’t berate them or get upset with them. I simply asked “Can we stop? I’m scared and I don’t want an epidural anymore”. The attending piped up and said “Of course we can stop. We don’t have to do it if you’ve changed your mind.” No one’s delicate sensibilities were offended when I decided I no longer wanted to play human pincushion.

            Nobody’s perfect. Lighten up. Learn to take a joke. Grow a sense of humor.

          • AmyP

            It is very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of a bad epidural placement. With my second delivery, I knew from the get go that I wanted one, but it was a fast delivery (4 hours) and what with delays with triage and delays in getting a room, I was in transition before the anesthesiologist got to me. I was having a lot of trouble keeping still. I’m not sure exactly how many tries were involved, but it was easily half a dozen. It started working just in time to interfere with pushing. The epidural placement was terrible (and seemed barely worth it at the time), but from what I’ve read here and heard from my current OB, it was probably worth it to have pain relief during repairs.

            I suspect that the whole thing would have gone much more smoothly if we’d been able to start the epidural earlier, before I was thrashing around uncontrollably. .

    • Leica

      Just being a resident doesn’t mean that they’ll do a bad job. I had a student nurse anesthetist do mine and she was fantastic.

      • Dr Kitty

        I let my friend (Resident equivalent) do my spinal, and stick the largest bore IV (I think it was a 12G) he could find in my wrist. Although my back is wonky, I’m very skinny, and it is very easy to feel the spaces between my vertebrae. I also I have great big juicy veins and no fear of needles so I’m a very easy stick and an anaesthetist’s dream patient. I figured not everyone would be happy to let him do that, I didn’t really mind, and I knew that at least he was already good enough that he shouldn’t have any problems.

        Unfortunately no one is born with the skill to take blood, site IVs or stick needles in spines- you have to learn by doing, and the more you do the better you get. Someone will have to take one for the team so that one day that Resident can be as good as they need to be.

        I think my first day on the wards doing a blood round I averaged about 3 goes for each patient. By the end of the year I’d be beating myself up if I didn’t get first time with even the most awful veins. So, it took me about a month to get good at bloods, but if most of my patients had asked for a senior it could have taken a year…

        Not nice to be the one being the guinea pig even so.

  • Lizz

    Is there anyone here with the relevant experience to say whether labour pain is more painful than fracturing your spine? Since I definitely rate a fractured spine as 10/10 but I haven’t had kids, and if labour is more painful than this I’m not sure I will ever want to try it.

    • Sue

      Lizz – there are no absolutes. Not only does everyone have different pain experiences, and, in labor, different positions, but spinal fractures are also variable in site and nature. Best to leave it that labor pains, like kidney stones, are known almost universally as “the worst pain” you can get. That doesn’t mean 100% of the time, or for 100% of people – life’s not like that.

    • Amy

      Even though lots of people like to say “pain is pain!” I imagine there is a huge difference in labor pains and fracturing your spine. Just like there is a difference in period cramps and slicing your hand with a knife. It depends on how you tolerate different kinds of pain. Although I imagine having had a fractured spine, labor may be likely to aggravate an old injury like that? I don’t know.

      Anecdotally: I have had two unmedicated labors that hurt like the dickens. I cried my way through the 3 minutes it took someone to tattoo one small letter on my finger. I would happily have more children with unmedicated labor, but will never get another tattoo.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      the problem with a spinal fracture is you have bone-on-bone, muscle, and nerve-on-nerve pain. So, you would have to rate each. That is a lot to deal with. I am not sure you can compare. Plus if you fractured your spine in an accident that might cause some traumatic feelings which make everything worse. Labor pain is different and unless something traumatic happens you usually forget exactly what it was like.

  • cwill

    Thank you. I am 100% logically and emotionally behind pain relief during child birth for every woman – except myself. I do my best to make decisions that are rational and not emotional and I did that when I chose to have an epidural. But I still feel guilt over it. For no reason. There was no cascade of interventions. My child nursed immediately. I had no side effects. There was simply … no more pain. My head was cleared of the fog of constant pain. I rested. I was totally present when my child was born.

    So why am I reading your post and the comments here and crying as if I need that decision to be validated? Why do I feel the need to justify a rational, humane choice?

    • Jessica

      You’re feeling the need to justify your decision because of the NCB subculture that works hard to convince women that “good” mothers make certain kinds of choices; therefore, if you choose differently, you’re not a good mother. It is utter bullshit, but getting to the point where you not only recognize that but can effectively tune it out can be hard.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        I think it might be a little bit more complicated than that. I have no time for NCB nonsenses, but I think there is something in human nature (or religious/cultural brain washing) that says that easy should be a source of guilt; that suffering in child birth is a kind of entrance fee and that we are better mothers for enduring it. Of course, NCB feeds and stokes these irrational feelings and turns them competttive instead of challenging what is irrational and unnecessary.

  • I don’t have a creative name

    For thepragmatist: You recently had a post about why everything is natural that was fantastic, and stupid me forgot to c&p it, and because you don’t have a permanent account, I can’t go look for it either! Do you happen to remember where it was?

    • Something From Nothing

      I did cut and paste it and here it is…

      Just a word about the use of the term “natural” to describe vaginal birth. I think Dr. Amy has a really good post about this somewhere, but I kind of grimace every time I read the term “natural” applied to birth. What is unnatural about a c-section? Human beings as a species create technology to innovate and evolve past our limitations as a species. We’ve been doing this since our species was wandering out of Africa. We do this in so many ways. Our technology, while advanced and complex, is no different or less natural than any other species adaptation to the natural environment. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said that the division between man and nature is a false construct: that there is no division, since all we do is “natural”. We cannot buy out of nature. We are just as much part of nature as any other species and subject to the same laws. We are, as a species, doing what every species does: adapting to our environment and improving the survival rate of our species. A skyscraper, for example, is not so different than an ant hill, and it can be even argued that an ant hill is by far a greater achievement given the size of an ant, the enormous structures it creates, and its rudimentary technology.

      Of course, as a species, we can be a destructive force: we are just so good at adapting our environment to suit us, or adapting ourselves to suit our environmental circumstances. It still makes us no less natural than a population of deer that has no natural predators and eats its way through a forest unmitigated.

      That said, I do not believe that advances in childbirth, be them safe c-section or comprehensive care for pre-term babies or even surgery within the womb, are negative or harmful adaptations. As we become more precise in our ability to save babies, it becomes less necessary for women to carry many infants in order to produce few offspring, and women benefit greatly from this adaptation– to go on to lead longer, more productive lives, not crippled by bearing offspring, and able to contribute to the advancement of the species due to a longer life-span and less time spent child-bearing. Women have smaller families and offspring live better lives with a high rate of survival. It is more efficient, safer, and allows women far greater time to act as full participants in society.

      I do not feel my c-section was “unnatural” or that I had an “unnatural” birth. I try to use the more specific terms vaginal and surgical birth.
      -the pragmatist

      I also thought it was brilliant…

      • Karen in SC

        The guy who thought that wanting childbirth to be as safe as possible was due to a sentimentality about babies needs to read this. I can’t remember if it was Adam or Alan. Someone should cut and paste at the top of the thread.

        • I don’t have a creative name

          It was Alan. Who had no problem being sentimental about his own kids, wanting them to be safe and spending his (or society’s) money to ensure safety. But other people should forego that right in order to save money.

      • I don’t have a creative name

        Oh awesome!!!! Thanks!!!!!

  • For real

    Really, I was not a believer in the whole childbirth orgasm thing, but I’ve gotten two convincing case reports, one of which was a woman with a walking epidural which had been turned off for 3 hours of pushing (and tearing). She was VBAC ing, so she was definitely exposed to the NCB cult, but she said it was a sort of BDSM pain/pleasure thing and I thik she was telling the truth. I don’t believe that it is ever 100% pleasurable, or even 20% enjoyable, but I don’t think someone would lie about something like that. The brain can play strange tricks on you. Ending agony can feel like extasy if you are expecting it to, I guess. Nevertheless, this does not make me want to try any BDSM and it is still a lie to tell women that childbirth=pleasure.

    • Mom of 2

      Off topic, but why do you assume someone who is VBACing has been exposed to the NCB cult? Lots of people VBAC who have no interest whatsoever in NCB, myself included. The dr who did my section recommended a VBAC for me (I was a textbook candidate) and that was reaffirmed by my next OB who attended my VBAC (in keeping with ACOG guidelines). I’m a daily reader and big fan of this site as well as an OB nurse, so I’m well aware of NCB, but it had no influence whatsoever on my chosen method of delivery. So what gives?

      • Mom of 2

        to keep it on topic, for said VBAC I planned and got a wonderful epidural and felt nothing but joy upon meeting my daughter. F*#% anyone who says feeling everything would make me a better mother.

      • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

        Yeah my wife’s OB tried to talk her out of doing an elective C-section after previous C-section: he wanted her to at least try for a VBAC.

        • Renee Martin

          I was also pressured into a VBAC buy a hand full of docs at the LnD I landed in with pPROM. It was pretty crazy, and very one sided. Had I not already talked to my trusted OB, I would have been very ill informed. They never even mentioned rupture!

          • http://twitter.com/SlackerInc Alan

            I guess they are trying to get their caesarean rates down? They should concentrate more on avoiding them with primaparas IMO.

  • moto_librarian

    This is spot on! Even when pain is acknowledged in NCB, it is very difficult for anyone to address the intensity of it honestly. There is also a tendency to make broad generalizations. For instance, my childbirth teacher said that women find pushing to be a relief after the pain of transition. While I know this is the case for some women, I don’t think that is true for most, and it certainly wasn’t for me. I was wholly unprepared for the amount of pain during pushing, and I was pissed at my childbirth teacher.

    With my second, I had an epidural within an hour of being admitted. I slept through most of my labor. When the catheter dislodged during transition, I was panicky because I was afraid that they would make me push without pain relief. Thanks to CEFM, they knew my baby was doing well, and the anesthesiologist re-dosed me when I was complete. I could still feel the sensation of pressure and I was able to push quite effectively because I could focus. No screaming, no fear, just enjoyment as I watched my son’s head emerge. This was a dignified, peaceful experience, and part of me still regrets not having the epidural with my first child.

    • Elle

      I had the same experience re: pushing. Crowning was the worst! The only way it was better is that I felt less passive in that I finally got to *do* something. Still, way worse than transition in terms of pain.

      • moto_librarian

        The epidural was so good that I had no pain during crowning. It was fantastic!

      • Durango

        When my daughter was finally born, the midwife said “Reach down and grab your baby!” and I was so out of it with pain and trying to cope that my first thought was, “Baby?”
        It would have been so much better with an epidural!

        • Captain Obvious

          I do this with my patients. Women who have epidurals reach down and feel the baby’s head and help pull the baby out and up onto their chest. Women without epidurals usually do not, they are so focused on the relief of birth and the after pains from stretching that they usually take awhile before having the baby on their chest. Not everyone, but the majority that I see.

          • me

            That’s funny (not ha ha funny, interesting funny). With my first (epidural) I didn’t even touch her until they were done cleaning her up and all (they put her on my chest, but I didn’t touch her). It didn’t even dawn on me to kiss her until they were wheeling us to my PP room, and they dropped her off at the nursery (SOP at the hospital I delivered her at). With my second and third (unmed) I didn’t help to lift them up, but I immediately held, touched, kissed, and nursed them. Maybe because the epidural failed and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that, but I was mentally prepared for the second stage pain with the subsequent births…. IDK. Just found your comment interesting; I believe you, but it certainly wasn’t my experience.

    • CitrusMom

      With my first I only had the epidural for the last 2 cm or so and pushing – had it for about 1.5 hrs. I never, ever would want to go through pushing without pain relief. It seems so horribly brutal and barbaric! With my second, I had a small spot where the epidural didn’t take and it hurt so much in that one spot I was afraid something was really wrong, like malpositioned baby (I had had polyhydramnios). They re-dosed. Knowing how much that hurt, I am honestly terrified at the thought of pusing without. How could it be other than agonizing, especially for your first?

    • ccccat

      I could still feel the sensation of pressure and I was able to push quite effectively because I could focus.

      Exactly. The nurse who was with me when I gave birth was kind of annoyed because I had so much trouble coordinating with my contractions. I attribute it to being in so much PAIN (I had an epidural but it wore off) and being so EXHAUSTED from labor.

      I would highly recommend getting an epidural early and enjoying your birth with a clear, calm mind. I wish I had.

      • ccccat

        Oops, the first sentence was quoted from moto_librarian.

      • moto_librarian

        Same for me with my first! Pushing took an hour and a half because I couldn’t focus and couldn’t sustain a push through a full contraction. I remember the midwife saying at one point, “are you excited to meet your baby?” Honestly, the answer was no. I felt a bit resentful because of the pain. I just wanted it to be over.

  • GoodDaySunshine

    There is a difference between pain that is being inflicted upon you and pain that your body is designed to do.
    Having your arm sawed off because it is gangrenous is inflicted upon you. Having your uterus contract, the way it is designed to, is natural.
    I don’t deny that there is pain in childbirth. But when that pain comes and is at it peak, it is because the end is near.

    Why do we feel the need to erase all pain? Why do we as a country want instant pills to take that can make it all go away? Why can’t we just accept that there are something things that we have to go through in order to get what we want?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      What is unnatural about gangrene?

    • Karen in SC

      Sounds more like a Puritan mindset! You can “go through” it (and I chose to go through it, too), but otherwise, MYOB, please.

    • T.

      All pain is as natural. I don’t understand your point.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Yes, but there is a difference in the type of pain from me breaking your leg to the pain of muscles doing what they are designed to do. One is inflicted and one is naturally inflicted. Yet they should not both be feared the same way.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

          Did you even read Dr. Amy’s post? “The pain
          of contractions and the pain of vaginal distention do not differ in any way from any other kind of pain. It is not carried by different nerves, it is not conducted through the action of different neurotransmitters, it is not routed to different areas in the brain.”

          Oh let me guess, you don’t believe Dr. Amy because she practiced back in the old days BEFORE different types of pain DID affect different nerves, neurotransmitters and parts of the brain…..

          As for the fear thing, I’m sure it would hurt just as much if you got shot in the back and didn’t see it coming as if you had experienced the fear of knowing you were about to be shot. You might think the pain of childbirth is all due to psychological
          conditioning but, then please explain why people who are told again and again by NCB not to fear birth still feel it!

        • Disgusted

          Lies. Sheer lies. If you repeat them enough, they don’t become true.

        • Petanque

          The cause of the pain might be different, but how does pain deemed “natural” cause any less suffering than pain deemed “unnatural”?

          • Dr Kitty

            Sunshine, do you get period pains?
            That is smooth muscle contracting “the way it is meant to”, and yet, for some women it is agony, and there is some evidence that those women have physiological reason why that should be the case (higher levels of prostaglandins, stronger and more frequent uterine contractions during menstruation etc).

            Pain isn’t “good” or “bad”, “physiological” or “pathological”- pain is pain is pain.

            If we have the power to relieve it, and the person in pain wants it relieved- I do not see a problem with relieving it.

    • moto_librarian

      Um, because in the 21st century we have access to safe and effective pain relief during labor. If you enjoy being a martyr, go ahead, but don’t tell me that suffering in labor somehow makes you a superior parent.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Safe is relative..

        • Something From Nothing

          Right. Relative to the pain of childbirth, and the benefits of pain relief, epidurals are overwhelmingly safe. Safe is relative.

    • me

      You know, I was raised that you don’t just “take a pill” and make it all go away, but this is still kind of insensitive. Scratch that. No “kind of” about it. The pain of childbirth is unique (in it’s intensity mostly – there are few other things that are so painful, especially in young, healthy people) and it is a very personal experience. My labors were not all that bad. But I am not entirely without the ability to empathize… just because I had a relatively easy go of it doesn’t mean I can’t identify with those that don’t. Of course women accept that they will have to experience some pain associated with pregnancy, birth, and the immediate post-partum period. But why should they have to suffer? Why should they be made to feel inferior, or weak (as you imply), because they couldn’t or simply didn’t want to “go through” it? Heart attacks aren’t inflicted upon people. Neither is appendicitis or gall stones. These are naturally occurring things and adequate pain management is a big part of treatment. Yes, our bodies evolved to give birth. But, as I tell my 6 year old, who has an aversion to imperfect produce, perfection does not exist in nature. Sometimes labor is dysfunctional. Sometimes it is longer or more painful than expected or anticipated. And, equally valid, sometimes people don’t want to “go through” what can be an incredibly painful experience without help. There is nothing wrong with that.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        The pain of childbirth is unique

        I’ve mentioned this before, 3000 years ago, pain in childbirth was recognized as being so bad that it was attributed to being a punishment from God.

        I am not aware of any other pain being described that way.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        They are naturally occurring things that go wrong when something stops working the way it is supposed to.
        We are not perfect, nature isn’t perfect, but we cannot know what our own imperfections are in birth if we do not first try to let nature take it’s course.

        • Disgusted

          Torturer. Sadist.

        • Something From Nothing

          You cannot know what your hearts imperfections are when you have a heart attack either unless you first let nature “take its course”. Do you realize how foolish you sound?

          • Dr Kitty

            GoodDaySunshine- that just boils down to “pain in childbirth is a moral test”- which is bollocks, and only believed by those who smugly think they passed it.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I don’t even know how to respond to that. Most people don’t know they have an imperfection of the heart until they find themselves in the back of an ambulance.

    • AmyM

      We don’t have to accept there are some things we must go through when it comes to labor pain…at least in developed countries, we have a safe way to reduce or even eliminate pain. This pain isn’t necessary, and it is avoidable.

      We do have to accept that we must go through pregnancy (the exception being adoptive parents) to get a baby. Until we come up with gestational incubators ala Brave New World, we have no choice but to go through pregnancy.

      I am myopic. Instead of just accepting my fate, which nature bestowed on me, I see an eye doctor and wear corrective lenses. If I went blind from glaucoma, I would have to accept it, since we have no technology that restores eyesight after glaucoma. Do you see the difference?

    • Allie P

      THIS MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. All pain is as “designed” by your body. It is the body’s method of saying there is something wrong. When your hand hurts when you hold it against a hot stove, that is because your body system is designed to scream “get my hand off this stove, it’s hot!”

      When we have pain during the beginning of our menstrual cycle, that is not telling us that “the end is near”, and yet it’s also what our bodies were “designed” to feel. But why feel it?

      Why should we suffer through the pain? Are you also arguing that in order to get what I want when I go to have a cavity drilled (i.e., non-decaying teeth), I should suffer through the pain of doing so without anesthesia? If I get what I want when I go to the hospital to have a broken bone set (i.e. a bone that heals nice and straight) should I suffer through having that bone set without any kind of pain relief?

      Why is childbirth the only pain that we should be forced to suffer? How misogynistic can you get?

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        What about people with CRPS, a condition that makes them feel agonizing pain long after a relatively minor injury has already healed?

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004456/

        That’s a condition produced by their bodies. So they should just suck it up.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Because it is not just our bodies being affected. Having a hole drilled in your tooth and birthing a child are different types of pain. Yet fear is applied to both and we are afraid of both. One is being done to treat and cure a infected tooth and the other is nothing more than your own muscles working the way they were designed to, to birth a baby.
        We all know babies are more susceptible to medications because they are developing at such a quick rate. Who is to say that the medications we are given aren’t getting through to them and affecting them some how? There isn’t a conclusive study done on this. There is a difference in how Newborns behave that are born naturally and when they were born to a mother who had the epidural and pitocin coursing through her. One looks stoned and the other doesn’t. One has a harder time latching on to nurse and the other doesn’t.
        Birthing without medication isn’t about proving I am a tougher mom than you, it is trying to do what’s best for the baby from the start.

        • Disgusted

          Ignorant liar.

        • Sue

          “One looks stoned and the other doesn’t.”

          More nonsense.

          • KarenJJ

            Maybe she’s been watching that breast-crawling video.

        • Something From Nothing

          I should have kept reading. Sorry I bothered to reply to you above. Clearly you have absolutely no clue about labor analgesia. And as if that’s not enough, you are making it pretty clear that you don’t respect women. “Best for baby from the start”… Ridiculous.

        • Deb

          Who’s to say medications aren’t getting through to the baby? Physiology and anatomy – that same body you believe is designed to know best.
          An epidural is a local anaesthetic in one of the areas around your spinal cord. Your body is ‘designed’ so it doesn’t get into your bloodstream, and no bloodstream means no placenta and no baby.
          If you believe your body somehow ‘knows best’ in the matter of pain, why don’t you think it ‘knows best’ when it comes to circulation? Are blood vessels not as smart as nerves and muscles?
          And babies looking stoned because of epidurals? No. They don’t. Just because you want to believe something doesn’t make it true. That’s a big claim, I suggest you come up with some evidence.

          • Dr Kitty

            Actually, babies born naturally and quickly can look “stunned”- that is, they really don’t seem enamoured with the idea of having been born at all, and appear overwhelmed and not keen to latch or cry or do much of anything..

            My kid was born after a prelabour planned CS with a spinal- we have a picture of her being lifted out of my abdomen, cord still attached- pink, wriggling and clearly quite pissed off. She looks a lot less “stoned” than the images and videos of blue, floppy, hypotonic, barely moving waterbirth babies I keep seeing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

            My first grandchild looked anything but stoned. This 5lb 35 weeker was the livliest baby I have ever seen. Looked round wide-eyed and interested and knew exactly how to suck. Second one, no epi, full term, rapid exit was not such a great colour and nowhere near as responsive in the first couple of minutes.

            Now, the first is quiet, athletic, thoughtful. Second is a little dynamo who stops for nothing.

        • Allie P

          Pain is pain. The pain of an infected tooth or a muscle cramp or a labor pain is all pain. Pain is pain is pain. My baby was not stoned. There have been many studies about what medications pass through the placenta and what medications do not. Pitocin and oxytocin are chemically identical. You have NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Chemically identical yes, but there is a difference in how our body reacts when it releases it’s own compared with being given it.

          • lacrima

            I assume this is due to the special natural oxytocin receptor system which processes endogenous oxytocin and produces the legendary bonding high, and which must not be confused with the separate oxytocin receptor system which exists in order to process pitocin and activates the intervention-to-c-section cascade sequence?

          • Sue

            LOL, lacrima! (I don’t think she’ll get it, though)

    • Squillo

      Why can’t you just accept that not everyone assigns an arbitrary moral value to pain?

    • Squillo

      There is a difference between pain that is being inflicted upon you and pain that your body is designed to do.

      Explain it, please. Also please explain what kinds of pain aren’t “natural.” Without tautology, please.

    • Bombshellrisa

      You sound like Penny Simkin, who insists that pain is simply a side affect of labor, and that pain medications interfere with the “the hormonal process” that makes a woman unable to be “overjoyed with the birth of a child”.

      • Something From Nothing

        She is a liar and a misogynist

    • I don’t have a creative name

      The better question is, why suffer when you don’t have to?

      Wait, don’t answer that. I don’t care if you choose to suffer. Likewise, you shouldn’t care if someone chooses not to. What’s it to you? We’re not advocating for all women to have pain relief – we’re advocating for women to have a choice either way, and for those like you who want to tear down women for making a choice different than their own, to stop thinking their choices have to be everybody else’s.

      You just told me on another post that the reason we ever had thalidomide babies was because men are “fixers” and that’s why they aren’t good care providers for pregnant women. Is this why you’re against pain relief, too? Because it was likely invented by men and “fixes” something?

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Yes. It fixes the noise we make when we are in labor. We are the most operatic when we are in labor. Some of us curse our husbands, some curse the child being born, some just scream as the baby is crowning. With us all on epidurals, we are no longer making noise. The L&D ward is quiet and peaceful and only filled with the beeping machines or newborn wails mixed in with the sounds of happy tears.
        We (men and women) seem to have a serious problem hearing people make any kind of sound that can be related to pain. Men seem to have a harder time with it. My father stated this plainly when I asked him why they didn’t have more kids, “I didn’t want to put her through that much pain again.” He filmed mine and my brothers births and I have watched (not us crowning, but my mother grunting and the doctors holding us up.)She made noise, but it was nothing past what I made when I had my kids.
        This idea of scaring mothers and husbands into believing that birth is this horribly traumatic and painful thing that we need to medicate is very wrong. I know so many husbands who were scared of their wife being in labor because they didn’t want them to be in pain. Where did they get that idea? It’s from the noises we make while in labor.

        • Disgusted

          You almost sound as if you believe this complete and utter steaming pile of horse manure.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

            either that or she is an especially effective and annoying troll

        • theadequatemother

          Maybe the husbands are scared becauase they know labour is one of the most dangerous days of their wive’s life and they are wondering if she is going to come through it ok ie not bleed to death or seize etc etc.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            That idea came from their grandfathers, who knew nothing about birth. Just as their wives knew nothing about sex until they were married.

          • lacrima

            Or maybe that idea came from their knowledge that birth is not inherently safe, since there are many men out there who are not idiots?

          • Allie P

            Wow, do you believe that? My grandparents knew PLENTY about sex before they were married, given that they got married when my grandmother was 4 months pregnant. As Winston Churchhill was fond of saying, “every baby takes 9 months, except the 1st one.”

          • I don’t have a creative name

            I can beat that – my GREAT grandma was pregnant at the alter, in 1905!

            Honestly, GDS, you make too many assumptions about what other people know and do. Sticking to facts would serve your case much better.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I’m sure they did. But no one told them about it until they went along with their natural urges.

          • Durango

            My husband was completely terrified watching me bleed and bleed and bleed after a longish second stage at our hbac. I wish I hadn’t believed the woo and put him through that and am forever grateful that Lady Luck was on our side for our foolish risk.

        • lacrima

          Newsflash: you can be in appalling, hideous, soul-destroying pain without making much noise. Not everyone screams (or, as I’m sure you’d have it, “vocalizes”) during labor, even when they are in agony. I screamed *once* and apparently moaned quietly for a while. All the screaming was being done on the inside. My partner knows I had a traumatic and painful experience because I told him. Oh, and the couple of years of therapy and meds to deal with the fallout. Besides, what’s so horrendously awful about a L&D ward which is quiet and peaceful and filled with crying newborns and only happy tears? Sounds good to me.

        • Allie P

          In Japan, very few women get epidurals and hardly any of them make noises, even when they are in enormous pain — that is a cultural construct. When I was in an L&D ward in Japan, I was nonetheless quite sure the women there were in as much pain as their American counterparts. It has nothing to do with the pain they are feeling or not feeling. How much noise a person makes in pain is subject to that person’s own comfort level with making noise while in pain.

        • Lisa the Raptor

          So men didn’t know that 1 in 7 of them would lose their life partner in birth? It was other men who told them this? Or are you saying it was not true and men didn’t know anything about childbirth at all so they just made it up? Why do you think the Grim’s tales are so full of step-mothers? I mean, they make great antagonists, but seriously, they were there because lots of people had them.

    • Josephine

      Drinking water that’s come into contact with human waste and contracting cholera is extremely natural and normal, and so is the ensuing pain, diarrhea, dehydration, and death. Please remind me again why doing everything “naturally” somehow makes one more pious/morally superior again?

      I do accept there are things I have to go through to get what I want. I had to go through a lot of hard work and stress to earn my degree and all the knowledge that accompanies it. However, if we ever developed a technology that allowed us to safely deposit a degree’s worth of knowledge into a human brain, I would jump on that in a hot second.

      Do you not understand the whole point of humanity’s pursuit of technology or what? It’s to bring us longer, more comfortable, more knowledgeable, and more interesting lives, generally speaking. If you want to eschew various technologies that’s a personal choice, not a morally superior one.

      • Allie P

        “I know kung fu.”
        Sorry. had to.

        • Josephine

          Bahaha! I honestly didn’t even think of The Matrix when I typed that, but come to think of it, I suppose such technology would have lots of practical applications…including kung fu.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Bringing us more comfortable, longer, knowledgeable and interesting lives, is coming at a cost. Just as our baby boomers and the 1 in 166 that are being born with autism. Science is doing something, but I’m not sure I like what I’m seeing.
        I’m not for doing everything naturally, just the things that our bodies are designed to do naturally.

        • Disgusted

          Your stupidity grows in leaps and bounds! Your hate for all human beings is clear, as well as your ableism and despicable belief in eugenics.

        • Sue

          Science IS doing something – diagnosing autism more frequently.

          How do you distinguish between things that our bodies are “designed to do naturally”?

          DO you walk everywhere? Do you only use your voice, or do you use a telephone? Do you ever listen through headphones, view through binoculars, wear glasses, use a magnifying glass, cut your fingernails or hair…?

          What a load of nonsense.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Yes, they are diagnosing it more frequently. Then what? They know it has a host a different triggers, what if (yes it’s a big what if) that first trigger is pulled during l&d?

            Things that our bodies do naturally are things that they do without us having to think about it. We eat when we feel hungry, our stomach and digestive systems take the nutrients out and pass the unusable’s. No one sits around for hours concentrating on moving the cilia in our small intestine to move the food to our large intestines. Just like, despite our wishes, we don’t go into labor because we want to. There is the chemical trigger that comes from the baby when it’s full term and boom, labor. Yes, some women never get that signal and have to have interventions, but for most labor is something that just happens.

          • Susan

            Cilia in your small intestine? Poop doc help!
            (ignoring the rest of the eternal sunshine post for now)

          • GoodDaySunshine

            they line our intestines………..look it up.

          • Susan

            where? Dr. Karma? Look further sweetie. I understand this is out there on the web but it’s one fool citing another fool’s blog. Really. Please look around it’s villi NOT cilia.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Thank you for pointing that out. I forgot that we have both but they go by a different name in the intestines. I knew what I was talking about, just had the dang word wrong.

          • Durango

            The difference between cilia and villi goes beyond their names. Totally different functions. Although a minor point, it adds to the very strong impression you’re making that you have nearly no idea how the body works, and that therefore all of your pontifications about how the body is supposed to work are worthless.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Biology was not my strong point and it is violently obvious. But then again, I am not in the medical field at the same level as the others on here and I probably won’t have to understand these terms until my children are learning them.

          • Durango

            But then why tell a bunch of OBs, MDs and RNs about how you think the body should work when we have ample evidence to the contrary?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Because we live in a country of Doctors who make mistakes, medications that are created that have deadly side effects, and have a deplorable health care system. Doctors may know how the body works in certain areas, but there are ones who give into the pressures from insurance companies, Pharmaceuticals, and even our own government. The time when we could be sure a Doctor was 100% doing something for our own well being has been replaced by paranoia that maybe they aren’t doing what is best for us or maybe they are missing something. I was raised to question almost everything and to think for myself.

          • Durango

            Right, but you have to know what to question. Should one argue with a doctor that digestion actually occurs in the lungs? Should one argue that humans are designed to have three arms? Obviously not, so you must know enough to question intelligently, and I’m afraid you have not shown evidence of having a good base from which to question and argue.

            That there are widespread problems in healthcare is known, and people who actually understand the system are continually trying to improve it. You keep posting rhetorical questions that read as though you believe you are the first to point things out to the readers of this blog but you are sadly not the first, nor will you be the last.

            To get back to my original point, you are arguing with experts in the field about a subject on which you admit your knowledge is weak. You argue over basic biological facts which you believe to be true but are not and your lack of background makes your positing mostly worthless.

            Thinking for yourself does not mean you get to make things up that conform to your worldview. Understand that there are gaps in your knowledge and work to remedy them. This can take a whole lot of time and effort. You also have to know your biases so that you can evaluate your information as objectively as possible. You’ve shown a whole lot of confirmation bias without ever acknowledging it in your various comments. You may have been raised to question almost everything, but you have not questioned your own biases and beliefs, and have, in fact, parroted most NCB talking points.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

            Thinking for yourself does not mean you get to make things up that conform to your worldview.

            That is a lovely, succinct sentence, which absolutely sums up the NCB approach. It follows the “It stands to reason/Everybody knows” logic of flat earthers, and explains both ends of the NCB spectrum – the intelligent in love with their own “informed” ability to get 6 from 2+2, and the less bright and gullible.

            It’s a form of arrested development, really. The reasoning of a 7 year old, before they discover that the inconvenient facts and discoveries of science make superficial observations unreliable, and that the world is a lot more complicated than it seems.

          • Susan
          • LukesCook

            Villi, if I recall high school biology correctly.

          • Susan

            What a woo lesson one can get from googling cilia and small intestine! Apparently the woo giant minds think Celiac disease means has something to do with cilia. There are plenty of site that talk about the cilia in the small intestine-chiropractors, Lance Armstrong, Dr. New Age name…. but the mainstream sites try to educate the “gluten is an opiate like cocaine” nuts that it’s villi in the small intestine not cilia. Good Ol Sunshine, frequently wrong but never in doubt! Must make life so easy.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I’m not ashamed to state here that I got the word wrong. I know we have both cilia and villi, but they go by different names depending where they are.
            I actually have never googled celiac disease, but thanks for the quick lesson in sarcasm.

          • Susan

            Oh Sunshine. They aren’t the same they function differently. But have you considered how you said you are not an expert in biology yet you have lectured us with your pet theories on obstetrics, breastfeeding, kidney stones and autism? Have you considered you might be wrong about a lot of that too?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I was right about the kidney stones, calcium based stones are found to run in families.
            I’m not going to touch the blow to breastfeeding, because I came here originally to talk about the topics Dr. Amy was blogging about.
            But now that I have my own troll following me, I’m going to say good-day and throw a sheep or two your way.

          • Susan

            Well, I am serious that you might want to consider that if you don’t understand basic biology you might carefully consider what you say and question your beliefs about birth related issues. I noticed you are equating gastric bypass with a cesarean now. I’ve taken care of lots of women who are pregant after gastric bypass and lots of women with C/S. You are again stating things with certainty that are blatantly foolish. Sorry you think I am your troll but if the people who criticize your posts are trolls you certainly have been keeping us well fed. What blow to breastfeeding.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            So someone who finds fault with what a person says and posts replies to that end is a troll…. so Susan is GDS’ troll, but that rule doesn’t apply to GDS, so she’s not Dr. Amy’s troll. Got it.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I actually meant this to go to someone else, I’m sorry if I offended you. There is another who I’m starting to feel is goading me on out of boredom or for entertainment.

          • Susan

            It’s funny I just posted that I thought you might be a Poe- goading us on out of boredom or for entertainment. If you are for real it’s more exasperating than offensive.

          • Rebecca

            Going into labor “just happens” but you say above that we should have a cheering section around us to get to the finish line of delivering the baby. How is the cheering section natural? I don’t invite my husband into the bathroom with me when I need to push out an especially big turd.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Encouraging others is natural and sometimes being told that she is almost to the end is all a mother needs to push out the baby.
            Going into labor, usually, just happens. There are some mothers who never go into labor, but most women they have no say when it happens and sometimes they are even started like something out of the movies.

          • anonomom

            >I don’t invite my husband into the bathroom with me when I need to push out an especially big turd.

            Maybe you should try it; it might be an empowering, orgasmic experience! You could even hire me as a poop doula for only $600…

          • Squillo

            We eat when we feel hungry, our stomach and digestive systems take the nutrients out and pass the unusable’s. No one sits around for hours concentrating on moving the cilia in our small intestine to move the food to our large intestines.

            Trust digestion.

            I guess we can shut down the NIDDK.

          • CarolynTheRed

            Pre-term labour? What’s the rate of that? Those babies are ready at 34, 32, 30 weeks?

            Actually, if you want to explain how labour starts I’d love to hear about it. What’s the chemical trigger from the fetus? What in the fetus detects this readiness? How does this mechanism work?

            I never went into active labour by 41 weeks, 1 day. By this point, I had a huge baby who had passed meconium, and who, all indications say, had a head that wouldn’t fit into my pelvis. Thing is, and those in the field correct me, without a time machine, it’s hard to tell the difference between me and my doppelganger who would have gone into labour the next day and delivered a <8lb baby.

        • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

          So then would you give your kids antibiotics for painful, hearing loss-inducing ear infections?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Only if the antibiotics will help. If it’s viral it’s not going to do a dang thing.

        • Allie P

          Ooh, my bingo card is full. First there was diet, and dangers of epidurals, Now it’s autism… What’s next? Homeopathy? Come on, give us the woo!

          • Hedgehog

            No doubt she would blame my daughter’s Asperger’s/ASD on my epidural.

            I’m not sure what she would blame my Asperger’s on, though, because my mother didn’t have an epidural… maybe my MMR?

            And I’m really not sure what she would blame my dad’s Asperger’s on, because they didn’t have the MMR back then…

            I personally blame heredity. :-)

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Don’t forget to oogle your lucky bingo troll.

      • Lisa from NY

        If you ate only organic foods, you wouldn’t have to worry about Cholera, Malaria or HIV.

    • TiffanyEpiphany

      Dear GoodDaySunshine,

      I see your point, but hold your horses.

      What we all want is a LIVE, HEALTHY baby. Sometimes when the pain of childbirth continues for too long or for the wrong reasons (e.g., mis-turned baby/back labor), continuing on without pain medication is foolish. Your mind starts to leave you and your body starts shutting down. It’s called
      exhaustion, and this is one of the ways women and babies would die before there were hospitals and its accompanying [effective] pain relief. The body quits because it’s had enough.

      So when we’ve had enough, let us learn to ask for help, help that only an epidural is fully able to provide. It gives us our sense of sanity back and allows us to take steps toward the true goal: having a live, healthy baby in the end, no matter how that end is achieved.

      But part of the trick with receiving an epidural, I am learning, is that one needs to have it in a timely fashion. Lots of us wait until we can’t take anymore, but often it’s really too late for the epidural to have its full effect. And so by that time, the body is already exhausted and can’t too what it’s “supposed” to do, whether under an epidural or not.

      So, sure, you say there are some things we have to go through (which is what? The discomforts/torture of childbirth?) in order to get what we want (which is what? A baby? The right to be a mother?). Well then chalk yourself up there with all the men (and women) who want to keep women in their supposed place (weak and in pain).

      It takes a STRONG woman to realize that she has a CHOICE when it comes to childbirth: she DOESN’T HAVE TO SUFFER IF SHE DOESN’T WANT TO.

      ~ From a would-have-been-homebirther had it not been for Dr.
      Amy’s writings

      • PrecipMom

        “So when we’ve had enough, let us learn to ask for help, help that only an epidural is fully able to provide.”

        YES.

      • Durango

        Really, there’s a harder way to do nearly everything. You can live without a roof over your head, you can bake your own bread by the wheat you grew yourself over the fire you built with friction, and you can make paper and write letters to people (rather than using the internet). Have at it! Just don’t try to convince everyone else that you’re superior to them for your own choices.

        • Lisa from NY

          Good idea! I think I’ll eat only raw potatoes and meat, put it through the food processor and tell everyone that I am better. After all, cooking is so not natural.

          • Bombshellrisa

            make sure it’s raw meat and that you use a hand crank-using a food processor is NOT natural

          • Anonomom

            The only natural “food processing” is done by your teeth. And that wholesome raw meat will give you important symbiotic organisms (parasites) that will assist digestion and strengthen your immune system. /sarcasm

          • auntbea

            Ugh. You’re going to buy that meat and those potatoes aren’t you? Why do we as a country want instant access to food at the grocery store? Why don’t we realize that sometimes we need to hunt and gather in order to eat?

          • Charlotte

            Raw food advocates really believe that!

      • GoodDaySunshine

        It does take a strong woman to admit defeat and I have no issues with mothers receiving one after hours of grueling labor. If they are too advanced to have one given, then what they need then is strong support. People rallying them along like the people on the side lines of a marathon who cheer them on. (Ok granted, I didn’t want anyone cheering and whooping when I was in labor, but having true support and being told I could do this and I was strong enough really helped.)

        My biggest issue behind this is what can happen when the epidurals are given. The slowed or stalled labors. These are the ones where the mother is then filled with pitocin. She doesn’t feel a dang thing, but like our c-section statistic show us, the baby does. Yes, the end result is a healthy baby, but that same baby was put into a serious, even life threatening risk, because the mother didn’t give it her all. Is that really worth it?

        • Disgusted

          I hate you and hope you die. There’s simply no excuse for people like you and no room for you to exist on this earth.

          Oh oops, am I venomous? You deserve ten thousand times worse for your evil, hateful, sadistic treatment of women. I have no patience for you and your ilk. Not a whit.

        • theadequatemother

          more lies about epidurals. Seriously, I sort of hope that you continue in your delusions so you don’t have an OMG moment when you realized that buying these lies caused you to experience unnecessary pain.

        • Sue

          GDS – more errors – babies do BETTER with cesareans – and don’t have a big headache! You’re not talking to a bunch of elementary school kids here…if you say silly stuff, you’ll be called out on it.

          • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

            Babies certainly breastfeed better after a scheduled c-section than after a long, exhausting vaginal birth.

        • Something From Nothing

          Ok, I’ll bite again. I got an epidural after four hours at 4 cm and, guess what? Fully dilated 20 minutes later thanks to the relaxation. All the wonderful support I had from my husband, and my nurse ( whom I worked with for years and had a great relationship with) didn’t get me there. Oh well, guess I didn’t ” give it my all”, hey? Screw you and your messed up ideas about pain. I’m finding it hard to believe that we are all entertaining you with responses.

    • MaineJen

      I find this viewpoint misogynistic. Why is only childbirth pain treated with this kind of dismissal? Try telling a man trying to pass a kidney stone that “the pain is at its peak because it’s almost over.” After all, a kidney stone is perfectly ‘natural’ and your body should be able to pass it without any interventions.
      I dare you. Try.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

        I tried this argument with her on another thread. She is totally OK with the founder of NCB being a mysoginist because, to paraphrase, everybody was back then. No, I’m serious……

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        To me, boasting about forgoing pain relief is the modern day equivalent of the 50′s boast of having the whitest laundry. Both are designed to encourage women to compete with each other while remaining firmly mired in a culture that rewards women for domesticity and punishes them for being smart or ambitious.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Because the mans urethra isn’t designed to stretch the way a woman’s uterus, cervix, and vagina are. It’s a simple course of anatomy. The urethra is designed simple to pass urine. The uterus is a set of two muscle layers that work together to push the baby out.
        Kidney stones are often a result of a poor diet unless they are genetically inherited. Women don’t become pregnant because of a poor diet. The two are unrelated and it is an exhausted argument.

        • Disgusted

          Seriously just shut up, you pig. You have absolutely nothing of value to say. You are a sadist who absolutely hates women and wants them to be tortured.

        • Sue

          “Because the mans urethra isn’t designed to stretch” – the stones are in the kidney and ureter
          “Kidney stones are often a result of a poor diet” – not true

          Next?

          • KarenJJ

            NCB love a good dose of victim blaming.

          • Durango

            Boy howdy, do they ever.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            There are genetic kidney stones conditions. That’s why I said Often. Thank you fast food nation and Mountain Dew.

          • Sue

            “There are genetic kidney stones conditions.”Oh? What conditions are they?

        • Something From Nothing

          There you go with your design theory. Did god design the uterus to give birth and the urethra to urinate? Who designed it all, exactly? And why do you think pain was such a big part of this clever design? Your theories are fascinating…

          • GoodDaySunshine

            It is the pain of a muscle that rarely gets used for it’s full purpose. It’s like going from lifting nothing but a glass daily to having to lift 100lbs with the same muscle. It can be done, but it’s gonna hurt.

          • Sue

            GDS – that is nonsense. Please don’t make stuff up.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Glad I’m entertaining you this evening.

        • LukesCook

          I’m struggling to see the distinction you’re trying to make. When you say that the pain is “natural” for childbirth, but not kidney stones or menstruation, do you mean that the pain is a necessary part of the process? Like a design feature?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            It’s similar to the pain we feel when we are working out muscles that we don’t work out often. They have the ability in them to lift 100lbs, but it hurts like heck the first time we do it. Our uterine muscles that are used in childbirth are only used when we bear children. They know how to work, but they don’t do it stretched out that way monthly with out cycles.
            It’s not a design feature, it’s a strengthening feature, if you will. I hope that makes more sense.

          • LukesCook

            But is the physiological pain response a necessary part of the strengthening or is it an unwelcome but inevitable side effect of the exertion? Muscles hurt because they are damaged. They get stronger when the damage is repaired, provided the damage isn’t excessive. The pain is a consequence of the damage, not a prerequisite for the repairing and strengthening which follows.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I think that has a lot to do with the viewpoint of the person who is putting out the exertion. If one is told that we cannot do push ups without ripping our arm muscles, then we will never attempt to do so and the very thought can bring on sheer terror.
            The trouble is that there is no repeat exercise in strengthening the uterine tissues shortly after the tissue is repaired, at least not intentionally. The pain of muscles rarely stretched and worked is short lived in the long view of it’s purpose. This pain is unwelcome, but just like people we see at the gym, some grunt “Feel the Burn!” and others sob “I Quit!” after the same workout. Neither is weak, but their perception of the same thing is quite different. One views it as a sign of strength and the other sees it as a sign of weakness.

          • Sue

            GDS – look up the difference between skeletal muscle and smooth muscle, then come back to us. Also remind yourself that the uterine muscles contract monthly during menstruation. Then you might make more sense.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I know they do. But tell me does yours stretch out to the size of a full term pregnancy during the month and then deflate back down again? Thought not.

    • PrecipMom

      I’ve had 3 natural births. I drank that koolaid. What I discovered, and why I went back to epidural assisted birth, is that my resources are finite and I have the right and the obligation to see that they are used correctly. And I am someone who values being able to persevere through adversity. Of course anyone can have a natural birth. Of course the pain is worse at the end than at the beginning. But that doesn’t mean that muscling through that pain was a good use of my resources. In retrospect, it is clear to me exactly how foolhardy this cost/benefit analysis was in my births.

      There is something to be said philosophically for being able to deal with the hand you’re dealt, and exercising self control and willpower. But there’s also a whole lot to be said for choosing your battles wisely. The calculus for whether a mom wants or needs pain relief in labor is entirely up to her, and I’m going to suggest that a lot of women who are seeking natural births are doing so because they *have* reserves in ways that a lot of other women may not or may be invested in having this one place of success the way other women are not. If you are worried about your electricity getting shut off, you generally don’t care about whether you had a vacuum assist. That we’re talking about the morality of pain relief in childbirth at all is very clearly demonstrative that this is an issue for a very privileged subset of women who are lucky enough that in a problem solving triage equation being able to voluntarily manage serious pain for a period of hours or days is actually on the table.

      It’s often said that birth is like a marathon, and I agree with this in many ways. But I think that natural childbirth advocates would do well to remember that 1. not everyone wants to run marathons and 2. they are unaware of both the marathon that many women run while they’re getting to L&D and of the marathons that many women have to encounter after giving birth to their child. Life is hard enough as it is without demanding that people make more out of their already stretched resources. Taking that relief and opting out of an unnecessary struggle isn’t weakness in those situations. It’s better known as prudence, and possibly even humility.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        Terrific post, PrecipMom.

        To be a lot less charitable, as there seems to be a certain number of women who can be irrational when they are not in pain, maybe they don’t mind being irrational through the pain. Those of us who place a value on self-control and the ability to think straight have a different approach.

        • me

          “Those of us who place a value on self-control and the ability to think straight have a different approach”

          That’s not really fair either. You can’t complain that the NCB crowd is insulting those who make other choices (which of course is wrong) if you are going to insult those who choose differently than you. FWIW I felt more “in control” and certainly could think more clearly during my unmedicated deliveries.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

            Fair enough. Though I don’t complain that the NCB crowd are insulting, I complain that they are dishonest or misleading. I don’t really understand how anyone can think straight when in continuous pain, but if you feel you could and that it was at a manageable level, I have no desire to insult you. I would never have set an unmedicated birth as a goal myself because I can’t see the attraction at all, but if I had found the pain easily manageable then I wouldn’t ask for pain relief!

    • theNormalDistribution

      I suppose women are the only ones who want babies, eh?

      • GoodDaySunshine

        What good is it doing to scare husbands as well?

        • Victoria

          Who is trying to scare husbands?

    • BeatlesFan

      Because, to put it bluntly, pain sucks. And the majority of the time, nobody “has to go through it”. Choosing to go through it is one thing- personally, if I don’t have to be in pain, I’m not going to be.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Not even if that pain is only for one day? Not even if it is at it’s worst right before it is over and as soon as it is over, you are no longer aware of the horrible pain you were in?

        • Disgusted

          Liar.

        • Victoria

          Do you have a money back guarantee on this stuff that you are selling? One day? Try three. I remembered a great deal of my child’s delivery and I wasn’t even in that much pain. I was lucky – others aren’t.

        • Amazed

          No, not even then. I do have some ‘high pain tolerance”. I made it through a broken foot without as much as a tylenol and my whining was about having to stay at home. Anyway, I do take medicine for my menstrual cramps and I sure as hell won’t be in pain even if the whole Google University & Natural Childbirth Propaganda troops gather to sing me mantras about just one day pain.

        • PrecipMom

          Nonsense. I am exactly aware of the horrible pain I was in with my final unmedicated birth.

    • Sue

      SO young girls starting menstruation, with bad cramps, should just put up with it, lie in bed and miss school because it’s what their bodies are “designed to do”?

      • auntbea

        Well, they could go to school and vocalize their way through the pain, but I am not sure how well that would go over with the teacher.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        That is completely unrelated. Menstruation isn’t supposed to be painful. Pushing something the size of a melon our of your body isn’t going to be pleasant. But our uterus’s are designed with two layers of muscles to do this. The cervix is designed to dilate and stretch to let the baby pass and the vagina is also designed to stretch.

        • Disgusted

          I very seriously hope you die. Torturer. Sadist.

        • theadequatemother

          The uterus was designed to contract and push out the menstrual blood and also to kink off the spiral arteries so you don’t bleed to death every month.

          uterine contractions with period = pain
          uterine contractions with labour = pain

        • http://anothersteptotake.blogspot.com/ Christy

          Our bodies aren’t designed to give birth. They evolved to allow enough mothers and babies to survive childbirth to continue the species on.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            So you must also believe we aren’t designed to breastfeed either.
            If you ever have the chance, look up the birthing process, from the chemical signal from the baby to the last contraction. We are designed for it.

          • Sue

            “If you ever have the chance, look up the birthing process”

            Ah – GDS – you do know that this is an OB’s blog, don’t you? Have you guessed that there are lots of L&D nurses, hospital MWs, OBs, NICU nurses and other clinical people here? Ever guessed that many readers might have some idea of “the birthing process”? Perhaps even more than you?

          • Bombshellrisa

            Why? Because you are such a ringing endorsement from Google University that we should all try “educating ourselves”. No thanks.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I read books thank you. I don’t Google unless I have to.

          • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

            We are also “designed” to get appendicitis.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Funny that I haven’t yet then. I also still have my tonsils.

        • Victoria

          Menstruation isn’t supposed to be painful?

          I must be a freak of nature because my labour didn’t hurt as much as my worst period cramps.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I was also on that boat, that’s how I knew I could handle going natural. Normally it’s not supposed to, at least according to the OB I had as a teen.

          • Victoria

            But didn’t you just say that menstruation isn’t supposed to be painful? Now your cramps were more painful than labour? Also I had Pitocin, no epidural – seems like all your claims are getting blown apart by anecdotes as well as empirical evidence. Time to rethink things?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            It’s not supposed to hurt as stated by my OB in HS. I had endometryosis (s/p?) and he thought I was just faking it.

        • Sue

          “Menstruation isn’t supposed to be painful.”

          Are you joking? Menstruation is the same muscles that you so admire, contracting to expel the uterine contents (in this case blood). Please think twice about pontificating about stuff you don’t know much about.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            That is a quote from the OB I saw while in HS.

    • Alenushka

      So, if you son or husband has kidney stones, you would want them to embrace the pain, right? Because kidney stones are very natural. Our kidneys are made to create and pass kidney stones.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Kidney stones are usually a result of poor diet. In some instances they are inherited. But it has been proven that people who eat a poor diet and don’t drink enough water get them.

        • Disgusted

          Ignorant liar.

        • theadequatemother

          it has been proven that people that have unprotected sex get pregnant. What the HELL is your point?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

            Non sequiturs are her specialty!

          • S

            I don’t think it was a nonsequitur; i think it was an analogy.

            (This is meant as a response to Clarissa, but the reply button just vanished along with her comment.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clarissa-Darling/100002189584639 Clarissa Darling

            I thought alenushka was making an analogy between labor pain and kidney stones. Then, GDS replied with “kidney stones are caused by diet”. Other than the fact that this statement contains the words “kidney stone” I dont see a connection to the original post. Is she saying that kidney stones don’t qualify as natural pain because of their cause?

        • LukesCook

          Are you saying that kidney stones aren’t natural or that the people who get them deserve to suffer because it’s their own fault?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Kidney stones are natural, but they happen more often in people who have poor diets. And, I’m going to sound heartless, but yes, most people who get them in a way deserve to suffer because they won’t eat a healthier diet.
            A dear friend of mine, who is a complete moron, has had to have his kidney stones removed surgically, every year for the past seven years. He refuses to eat any kind of vegetable or drink water unless it’s mixed with koolaid. I had sympathy the first 3 times, but now I just hope he will realize that actually listening to the advice given about his diet will stop these things from happening.

      • Lisa from NY

        I can sell you $10,000 worth of natural stuff that will cure it in only three years.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Why can’t we just accept that there are something things that we have to go through in order to get what we want?

      Undoubtedly, there are. But unmedicated labor is not one of them. There is no need to go through a painful, potentially PTSD-inducing, labor to get a baby when you could simply get a low risk epidural and go through labor comfortably and with dignity.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        The only time PTSD is induced with labor is when things go wrong, horribly wrong. And unless you at least attempt to try having a natural birth with pain handling techniques, you don’t know how bad this pain is. It might be within the thresholds of being able to handle it.
        There is no low-risk to an epidural. It brings a whole menagerie of side effects with it, if there is mistake in delivering it, it can kill the mother and baby within minutes. Then there is the fact that it is not JUST the epidural that is given. Since epidurals usually slow and stall labor, they have to give an augmenting medication as well. These two alone have helped raised our c-section rate to an abominable 1 in 3. Anyone who tries to tell me that THAT is because THAT many women had complications while in labor is a fool.
        How is vocalizing and making noise to help you deal with contractions undignified?

        • N.

          I had my mother present at my first birth, she was a woman who’d had four short labours with pain she described as no worse than period pain. I held out for several hours of back labour without pain relief before getting an epidural, which she agreed was the best decision I ever made. Afterward my mother said to me “I never knew labour could be like that”. There are many women with unique pain experiences in child birth who do not deserve the condescension of NCBers telling them they don’t know how bad their own pain is.

        • Disgusted

          Liar.

        • theadequatemother

          PTSD can be induced by labours that do not result in things going horribly wrong (as you put it).

          PTSD can be, and has been, induced by uncomplicated unmedicated vaginal deliveries.

          An epidural is LOW risk.

          Risk of systemic toxicity 1/ 500 000
          risk of death 1/ 1 000 000
          risk of epidural hematoma 1/ 280 000
          risk of meningitis 1/ 30 000
          risk of spinal headache 1/ 100 – 1/200
          risk of not working properly 5% with first placement

          All above, part of my consent discussion.

          Risk of stalling labor -if the effect exists it is small (20-60 min total). There is evidence that epidurals speed labour.
          risk of causing csection – zilch
          risk of requiring pitocin – not increased.

          the total c section rate is 30%. The c section rate for FTM that present in spon labour is 10-15%. The c section rate for multips that present in spon labour is about 5%.

          Any other lies you want to try to sneak past us?

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Then why, pray tell, do they give mothers pitocin when they give them epidurals? If it is not needed.
            If that is true about sections, then why are we on the BOTTOM HALF of the list in countries that have a low maternal mortality rate?

          • theadequatemother

            labour is more painful when it is dysfunctional. That means some women will need pitocin and epidurals. The association is not causation.

            I have never seen automatic pitocin after placement of an epidural, and I place A LOT of epidurals. I see pitocin when it is indicated, not as a matter of routine.

            If you are going to make the assumtpion that maternal mortality is somehow related to the c/s rate, you’d better have something to back that up with – you don’t grasp the concepts of association and causation.

            In fact, the three top causes of maternal mortality worldwide are hemorrage, infection and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. In the US there is the added consideration of maternal heart disease due to inc age at conception, inc proportion of Af american women and lifestyle factors.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

            the three top causes of maternal mortality worldwide are hemorrage, infection and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

            None of which are ruled out be appearing to be low risk and healthy.

            Apart from prematurity, what are the three top causes of problems in the infant?

          • theadequatemother

            prematurity and birth defects account for something like 50%+ of neonatal deaths.

          • Susan

            great points adequate mom and I suspect excellent doctor! It’s great that Sunshine, bless her heart, wants to educate about birth, on the internet, to us naive souls who haven’t heard the message, I am sure she means well and believes what she is saying. I read this last night and concur that as a labor nurse I have never used Pitocin without an indication and it is never routine, epidural or not. I wholeheartedly agree that women who don’t plan or even want an epidural are far more likely to get one because of a dysfunctional labor, and there lies the association. Often women are in so much pain with a dysfunctional labor that they won’t consent to Pitocin without an epidural. It’s the OB and labor nurses telling them a vaginal birth is still possible with Pitocin and an epidural.

          • Allie P

            LIES. They do NOT give mothers pitcoin at the same time as epis if it is not needed. I had an epidural and NO pitocin. What other lies are you going to lie about you lying liar who lies?

            And what the HELL does c-section rate have to do with maternal mortality? Please do tell us what lies you’ve concocted to conflate those.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            How about you go into one of the many mothering groups online and ask if the mothers received pitocin with their epidurals.
            The section rate might have everything to do with it. Despite what people might want you to believe, it is major surgery that has the side effects of any other major abdominal surgery. A few mothers I knew had to be readmitted due to infections, one almost died from it. Sections need to be saved for serious medical emergencies. But it’s hard to draw the line between one that is happening naturally or one that is happening as a side effect to what the mother has been given.

          • Sue

            Epidemiological data is obtained a bit more scientifically than going into “one of the many mothering groups online”, GDS. LOL

          • GoodDaySunshine

            Maybe, but mothers will be the first to tell you that they were not told the risks or what they were given. You know how we love to share our own birth stories.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Or you could ask one of the many health care professionals here. There are plenty of them.

        • Lisa from NY

          Novacaine is a drug that can kill you. You should let your teeth rot instead of having them filled.

        • Lisa the Raptor

          Wrong, had a perfectly fine natural labor with my daughter and nothing went wrong….other than the pain was so horrid I literally have a lifetime chronic pain disorder from it….yeah.

    • Sterrell

      “Why can’t we just accept that there are something things that we have to go through in order to get what we want?”

      Well, because we no longer HAVE to go through the pain in order to get what we want (the baby). Unless you are saying that the end goal isn’t the baby? And you’re jumping through semantic hoops to justify your position.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

      Women did, for generations. Now they DON’T have to, and quite sensibly as far as I am concerned, many won’t. Trying to equate it with people who won’t tolerate mild everyday discomforts doesn’t wash.

      I don’t like needles at the dentist, and if I think the pain will be brief and at a tolerable level, I don’t have one. Don’t feel the need to suffer through a root canal in the hope it won’t hurt.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        Your right, they won’t simple because they aren’t being told about all of the risks carried with them. Not one nurse told the many mothers I know that there are serious side effects with this miraculous medication. The most major ones being stalled labor that results in a c-section and a slip by the person giving it, which can result in it going into your blood stream and killing you and the baby in minutes.
        Yes, they are minute risks and many go without any of them. But knowing the risks would make many mothers hesitate before consenting.

        • N.

          I have had two epidurals and was told all of the potential risks beforehand on both occasions. Which was sort of redundant as it was also covered in our antenatal classes.
          Point being, my anecdotal data is as effective in proving that all woman are giving informed consent about epidurals and chose to take them despite risks, as yours is that woman are not told the risks and wouldn’t have epidurals if they knew.
          Your limited world view does not translate to what is best for every mother.

          • N.

            *women. I was sure I’d typed women, lol.

        • Disgusted

          You know nothing.

          • theadequatemother

            john snow!

        • theadequatemother

          the anesthesiologist or CRNA has the consent discussion with the patient regarding the epidural…not the nurse – that would be outside scope of practice.

          Epidurals do not stall labour and lead to c-sections. There is convincing evidence from RCTs of that.

          The risk of toxicity due to inadvertant injection of medications into a vein is 1/ 500 000 or less. That is why we use test doses and incremental loading (fractionate the injection)…and yes, this ALWAYS forms part of my consent discussion with the patient.

          You are spreading/ believing in lies.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I am not believing in lies. I am doing math. So there might not seem like a risk on paper. What are the side effects on the infants? What are the long term effects of any lingering chemicals in our bodies? What are the long term effects of any chemical changes that happen in the infants while we are hooked up?

            In the long perspective, yes these illness may of exsisted before modern medical treatment, but not in the numbers we are seeing today. So mothers may not have to live in fear of their own births, but what about living in fear that their child will become one of the many? Is that risk worth a pain free birth?

          • Dr Kitty

            “Not in the numbers we are seeing today”- because people were old if they made it to fifty. In some parts of Africa today the expected lifespan is still under 45.

            What conditions EXAcTLY do you think epidurals in labour cause? By what possible mechanism?

            Feel free to spout nonsense, but you know, you will get called on it.

          • PrecipMom

            Citation for the math you’re doing. Show the numbers. Enough of this running around spouting risks without documentation to back your claims. If you are actually doing math, it should be darned easy to show what numbers you are looking at from what sources and how you are arriving at your conclusion.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            THIS. SO MUCH.

            Who wants to bet that this post will not receive the reply asked for?

          • auntbea

            My child may become one of the many…what?

          • VeritasLiberat

            Replicants.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            The many who end up with a disorder that is affecting so many of our children today. Pick one: add, adhd, autism…

    • Disgusted

      Come here and let me punch you in the face repeatedly. That’s good and natural pain. People have been getting in fistfights for thousands of years and they live through it.

      Why do YOU have a sick desire to force other people to go through pain they don’t want to endure? That’s call torture, you sadist.

    • Charlotte

      Are you kidding me? This doesn’t even deserve a reply.

    • Something From Nothing

      Designed? By whom?

    • Bombshellrisa

      You have a narrow view of things and have not done nearly as much research as you think. Would you still give this little speech to someone in hospice? How would you respond to someone dying, tell them that as the pain gets worse, they can know the end is near?

      • GoodDaySunshine

        No, I would not because the pain of death is a completely different type of pain. When one is dying we don’t wonder if that medication we took an hour ago is going to have side effects that are lasting and permanent.

        • Bombshellrisa

          No, pain is pain.

    • Dr Kitty

      Are you talking about labour pain in particular, or all pain. Because that comment reads like someone without any experience of chronic pain or illness.

      We want to decrease pain because we are compassionate, empathetic humans. Pain is a burden and has a cost. It can cost careers, relationships, mental health, physical health, financial wealth…pain is not a test, it is not good, or worthy, or educational.

      Pain is miserable.
      Sometimes at the end of pain you can get something you want ( a baby, a new hip, bigger boobs, whatever) but pain is not necessary, desirable or worthwhile in and of itself.

      This is not “What Katy Did”, disability is not a path to being a better person.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        I am actually living with chronic pain and I would trade birthing a hundred babies naturally in exchange for what my future has in store for me.
        I have a different view of pain. For me it’s not something to be scared of nor something to stop me from doing what I need to do. I guess at my old age of 33, I’m already of the breed of working with it and taking it day by day. I will adjust my lifestyle rather than pop a pill until I have no other option.
        But I guess that’s just me.

  • AmyM

    After reading this blog for so long, I get why some women feel the need to be validated as women, by the NCB community. Maybe they have nothing else to achieve, maybe they are really insecure, etc. The part that interests me is that once indoctrinated into the woo, in order to maintain the facade (that woo/NCB is better/safer/more womanly) they have to 1)Keep insisting their chosen viewpoint is the only way and 2)attempt to convince other women that they will only be real women if they make the same choices.

    I don’t give a crap if a woman has an epidural or not. And I really don’t give a crap about the opinions of those women–they think I am less womanly/feminine? So what? Why should I strive to be more womanly? I am a woman, biologically and that’s all there is to it. From where I’m sitting, it looks a lot like women who made choices that ended up more painful (birth sans epidural) or more work intensive (breastfeeding despite recurring mastitis, for example) have to believe they made the “right” choice, the “best” choice, the only choice,because otherwise, why did they put themselves through such pain or whatever?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all women who forgo an epidural or choose to breastfeed despite mastitis are like this. Those are choices each woman is free to make and affect no one but herself and possibly her baby. I am talking about a specific set of NCB-natural parenting advocates/bloggers who insist that everyone else must do it their way, else you are not only not a real woman, but also a bad mother. Sure, they’ll get validation in their mommy groups and websites and blogs, but why do they keep shouting out to the greater number of women who don’t care? That accomplishes nothing.

    • Renee Martin

      I know that when I was into the woo (CAM, herbs), I felt an overwhelming desire to tell everyone, and convince them of these things, because I was *so sure* I was right. I was honestly trying to share the amazing things I had learned because I believed whole heartedly that I could help others. I was unconcerned by people that thought otherwise, and didn’t hate on “allopaths”, I just thought that I knew better because I had learned the *truth* of CAM.

      A huge part of why CAM/NCB is so attractive is that it gives the believer a (false) sense of security about medical issues that are usually scary and uncertain. Cancer? Have no fear, there *is* a painless cure, and now *you* have the knowledge! (I believed this) Birth? Relax and trust, it’s safe, normal, even empowering. And on and on. This is what I liked about woo, the feeling that I could solve my own health issues, or avoid them altogether, which is extra tempting for the (many) uninsured.

      The belief that CAM was persecuted by the big bad government, and was special, even secret, ancient, knowledge, also drew me in. I was a “rebel”, counter culture, anti establishment type, and the use and promotion of CAM is a big feature of those subcultures. I was predisposed to believe anything that played to this bias of mine because my prior attitudes. Having secret knowledge was also attractive, it was (falsely) empowering to feel the “tie to ancient wisdom”, and let me think I was special too.

      That I ever grew out of it is a little surprising, considering how attractive it was.

      • Something From Nothing

        ? CAM?

        • Deb

          Complementary and alternative medicine.
          The things that haven’t been shown to work, or have been shown not to work.

          • Something From Nothing

            Aaah, yes. Thank you. I racked my brain and couldn’t figure that out…now it’s obvious…

  • Aunti Po Dean

    I think a lot of women fear getting an epidural because of the “cascade of intervention” woo rather than the thought that pain is good, it’s fear that “intervention” is bad. So the woman fears if she has an epidural, she is then “tied to a bed” then she needs “all manner of tubes” then she “can’t feel to push” then she has a forceps or section because she hasn’t been mobile in labour and “helped” her baby move down into the pelvis.
    Correct me if I am wrong Dr Amy or others but I don’t think we currently have good evidence to say that Epidural isn’t associated with increased risk of instrumental or section if such evidence exists I’d love to be able to cite it!

    • auntbea

      Epidurals ARE associated with other interventions. But that does not mean they are the cause.

      • CitrusMom

        As i’ve read here, women who ask for epidurals may be self-selecting because their labors may be longer or more painful and there may be physical causes for that like baby’s position. So the other interventions may have been necessary either way.

    • theadequatemother

      an epidural that is dosed with BPV < 1% in concentration is NOT associated with instrumental vaginal delivery….the chochrane review that states otherwise includes a bunch of trials at epidural doses 2-3x what we use today. The effect disappears with modern labour epidurals.

      The best evidence we have to date (RCTs) show that epidurals are NOT associated with inc risk of CS.

      In an RCT of early vs late epidurals (ie prior to or after 4cm) early epidurals were associated with a first stage of labour that was shorter by over an hour compared to making women wait. There was no difference in the amt of pitocin used in either group.

      In the metaanalysis of epidural effect on labour length (which again included lots of old studies) first stage was prolonged by 30 min or so, second by 15 min or so…but there was a bit more pitocin used in the epidural group (dont remember if it was a trend or significant difference)

      Its all on my blog if you want to find the citations. Good quality evidence exists…even though the NCB advocates like to claim that the studies are somehow fundamentally flawed because they don't show what they would like. They enjoy citing studies from the 1980s that are retrospective because the results are more palatable for them…NBCers pick and chose from the literature.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        So it’s sort of like citing HIV survival rates before anti-retroviral cocktails came into common use and using that information to insist on abstinence until marriage for everyone. 30 years ago doesn’t seem very long ago, but in terms of medical science it really is.

      • Aunti Po Dean

        thanks Adequate mother, I didn’t know you had a blog i’ll look you you up

    • SarahSD

      Yes, this was me, only it was pitocin and the accompanying monitoring that happened first. I believed that it was better to be able to move around, and I feared that the interventions would lead to a C-section. When labor got really intense (pre-epidural) I was not moving around much anyway, since I was so tired that it was all I could do to get through a contraction and then basically pass out. Truthfully, by the end when I had had an iv, bp cuff, pulse thingy (that’s the correct term right?) epidural, catheter, and various kinds of monitoring (wireless EFM, regular EFM, and two kinds of internal monitors (one for contractions and for the baby, don’t remember the technical names) I was pretty irritated by all the wires. But we had had a couple of scary heart rate decel episodes which would not have been noticed without the internal fh monitor, which they used because the external one wasn’t staying on well. The annoyance was way less important than keeping my daughter safe, and while I wasn’t thrilled about the wires coming out every which way, I sucked it up. After getting the epidural these annoyances became negligible. It was the pain that was the problem.

    • Disgusted

      The “tied to a bed” complaint is so ridiculously overblown and pointless. I asked my nurse when I went into the hospital if I could walk around. She said no because once my water broke there was a small chance the cord could slip down and become compressed, which would be dangerous. I really didn’t need to hear anything else. They act like it’s a huge crisis. Oh no! Having to LIE IN BED for up to a day! The horror! (But going without pain relief is no big deal somehow)

  • Mrs. W

    I sometimes wonder about the longer term adverse consequences of severe untreated pain. I think there’s a good portion of PTSD from childbirth that could be attributable to the pain. I was very pleasantly surprised by the near complete absence of pain associated with my elective cesarean – even during recovery. I’d take 10 cesareans over one un- or under- medicated vaginal delivery.

    • RockSci

      Poor control of acute pain immediately after surgery is associated with higher rates of chronic pain developing later. Pain can definitely be damaging in itself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

      One of the things I wonder about is the effect of a painful unmedicated birth on the birth rate. I have known rather a lot of women who were too terrified to have a second child. There was one woman who used to post here who longed for a second child but was too traumatised by the pain of her first.

  • yentavegan

    i did not hire or pay or desire a peanut gallery fanatic to cheer me through labor. My husband sat quietly reading his newspaper while I closed my eyes and breathed through contractions. we were in a nice safe well staffed hospital surrounded by knowledgeable professionals who went about their business and who did not push anything on me. I was smart enough to know that an IV and EFM were standard practice.

    • Klain

      My husband read me excerpts from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. It was great till he tried to explain it to me – I wasn’t really up for an academic discussion at the time.

  • Elle

    I am glad I was able to have a med-free birth, and I would do it again for my own reasons, but I’m coming to see that this is true – even if no one comes out and actually tells a woman “you failed by getting an epidural” it is implied simply through the nature of the subculture. I can see the advantage of learning to “manage” pain without medicine, especially in chronic situations. But childbirth is not chronic! It makes me sad when women use terms like “I gave in,” or “I succumbed.”

    Thanks for this piece… it will help remind me that my choices are mine and mine alone. My birth was empowering in some ways (and not so much in others), but that is something I chose to pursue, and if I end up choosing differently in another labor, I will not think less of myself. This is a good reminder to watch how I phrase things… I would never want to contribute to anyone feeling like a failure.

    • Elaine

      +1. I’m less crunchy now than I was when I had my daughter, but I still want to avoid the epidural next time if I can, particularly as I anticipate a pretty short labor. I was not in active labor for all that long and was at the hospital for only 2 1/2 hours before she was born. It seems like the drawbacks of being poked and prodded and hooked up to all sorts of tubes and wires and having medication that might make me feel funny outweigh the benefits of pain relief if it would only be for a short time (if I’d opted for an epidural, I might have gotten a half-hour of benefit out of it before second stage, if the anesthesiologist was speedy, and that just doesn’t seem worth it). But if that changes, it changes. Now when I talk to other moms I just say, hey, you do what you gotta do, and if you’re in pain and want pain relief, that’s what the epidural is there for.

      • mouskatel

        Hey, me too! I was very crunchy with my first daughter (made my own whole wheat teething biscuits) but by number 4 much of the crunchiness disipated. Someone should do a study of how crunchiness waxes and wanes through multiple children.

  • TiffanyEpiphany

    Thank you, Dr. Amy! Yes, I felt like a FAILURE the first time around for “giving in” to the epidural because I was so determined to not have it, that I was somehow more awesome of a woman if I endured the SUFFERING, thinking that my brain would give me extra love hormones to bond with my baby if I didn’t have pain relief to interfere with the golden moments of bonding as my baby emerged (and thanks to Michel Odent (a man) for that thought of BONDAGE).

    [Let us remember that we bond with our baby EVERY DAY, from gestation to death; it’s NOT a once-or-never thing. What idiot would want to fill women’s head with those lies, that bonding only happens if you experience the torture of
    childbirth?]

    This time around, as I am 4 months away from my second delivery, I am LOOKING FORWARD to my epidural. I will ask for it in a timely fashion, in fact. I am going to ENJOY MY LABOR and NOT FEEL GUILTY about it! I am so glad we no longer live in the dark ages where a woman’s only option is to suffer in agony only to wonder if she or her baby will actually survive the ordeal.

    THIS is what it means for women to be FREE! (and treated as humans not objects)

    ~ From a would-have-been-homebirther had it not been for Dr. Amy’s writings

    • Karen in SC

      Love the post and love your nickname, too!

      • TiffanyEpiphany

        Thank you kindly :)

    • I don’t have a creative name

      Let us remember that we bond with our baby EVERY DAY, from gestation to
      death; it’s NOT a once-or-never thing. What idiot would want to fill
      women’s head with those lies, that bonding only happens if you
      experience the torture of childbirth?

      Preach. As my children have gotten older, my love for them has changed and evolved and deepened. Just like with a marriage, the bond doesn’t stop at the wedding – the ideal is for it to evolve, grow, and deepen for the rest of your life.

      • Olga Mecking

        That’s how I feel as well- the older my children, the more I can bond with them- because I get to talk and play and have real conversation with them, and do fun stuff that we both enjoy! I didn’t enjoy them as much when they were babies.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          A couple of weeks ago, our 4 yo was having trouble falling asleep, so I went in and laid down in bed with him and we just talked about various things, life, what he did at daycare, and so on. After about 15 minutes, he said he was ready to go to sleep. It was absolutely spectacular, and just a wonderful bonding experience.

          • Olga Mecking

            Love! Such a great experience- and I happen to have a daughter in a similar age and especially at bedtimes she wants to talk and discuss things! I love it so much I’m actually looking forward to bedtimes for more reasons than they’re going to sleep and I will have some time to myself!

      • Mom of 2

        Yes. I barely think about my kids’ births but I do think about my kids all the time. Whethere their births were painful or not doesn’t matter in the slightest.

        • Captain Obvious

          This may be stereotypical (and no need to lash out if you have a husband who is perfect) but the husbands…rarely remember the details of the birth. Rarely remember the weight of their baby at birth let along the length. Rarely want much to do with the baby until the child can walk and interact and play. The bond and love for a child does grow as time goes on, and is not predetermined by how good or bad the birth was.

    • Kristen

      I couldn’t agree more!

      Just as refusing pain relief is the prerogative of privileged women who have access to effective medical treatment, the idea that a mother-child bond could be forever ruined by a less than optimal birth seems solely a complaint of women who have had healthy babies.

      I’ll never understand the women who complain they can’t “bond” with their babies*. I could have cut my second child out myself with a rusty knife between my teeth and his first cry would have still been the most amazing sound I’d ever heard. It’s a shame nobody told me our bond should have been ruined by the cephalo-pelvic disproportion, fetal distress, spinal anesthesia, emergency repeat c-section and four day neonatal ICU stay for meconium aspiration. I could have had all “natural” bonding difficulties if only I knew I was supposed to be miserable and upset.

      *I want to note I’m not downplaying the fact that some women are truly traumatized in childbearing. Women who have had a very painful and traumatic labor/delivery resulting in PTSD or who choose (or are forced) to carry and raise a child conceived through rape face incredible challenges. There are many very real obstacles to maternal bonding; it’s not my intention to minimize that.

      • Anonomom

        >I could have cut my second child out myself with a rusty knife between my teeth and his first cry would have still been the most amazing sound I’d ever heard.

        You just reminded me of that mom who was stranded and alone who delivered her own child by caesarian. I have a feeling that she’s pretty bonded to her baby, despite not having a peaceful vaginal birth.

    • INeverSaidThat

      I didn’t bond with my 1st baby because my labor/delivery was so horribly painful that I just wanted to get some drugs and sleep. I barely remember our 3 day hospital stay or what he was like as a newborn because I was in so much pain. My epidural labors were faster, smoother, and I was more alert instead of passing out. I do feel sad that I don’t remember much about his first few weeks, it’s just a haze of pain and exhaustion.

    • Michele CNM

      For as long as I have been practicing, women who set out to have natural childbirth are told they have to be crazy to experience “agonizing” pain, as Amy puts it, and the women that decide they want to have an epidural for pain releief feel pressure and ostracized for their choice and that somehow they must be whimps for having made such a choice.

      Birth is not about the pain it is about the process, physically, mentally and emotionally. Each woman is unique and each experience is unique.

      The pain one feels does use the same neurotransmitters as Amy makes reference to, but what causes the pain of labor is not the same as other pain one may feel, if you break a leg the pain you feel is because there is something wrong with your leg, if you have tooth pain you have something wrong with your tooth. When you are in labor, there is nothing wrong, it is an involuntary response that a woman’s body does that is in the same company as breathing, your heart beating and metabolizing food. You do not have to make yourself breathe or tell your heart to beat. So labor is something women’s body’s have been equipped to do.

      The pain of labor does have a purpose as it releases certain hormones that help with the process during and following birth as well as bonding and breastfeeding. If it were up to me, I would have it be a painless process, but it is obviously not up to me and I respect and put great faith in the human design and after 28 years of practice and being with over 5,000 laboring women and delivering over 2,000 babies, I KNOW that women can birth with minimal intervention. I heard an anonymous quote one time, women do not need to be taught abut how to birth, they need to be taught that they already know how to birth.

      I tell all of my patients, the only difference between a woman who has an epidural and one that does not, is the woman herself. The woman who does not have the epidural sets out and when the labor gets more intense, she does not ask for an epidural but rather says things like how much longer is it going to be, I do not know if I can do this, at which point an increase in supportive care is indicated. The women who has the epidural asks for the epidural when she gets too uncomfortable or possibly just before.

      So back to the debate, each woman needs to decide what is right for themselves and their baby. My recommendation is for women to garner support, don’t skip choices, always try to move from least to most intervention and do whatever they can to lessen fear and enhance inner personal strength! It helps to have a supportive provider and place of birth as well.

      • TiffanyEpiphany

        Michele CNM, I am so glad I am finally reading your post (I am new at this and for the longest time didn’t know how to easily access replies). You give me good food for thought. Thank you, I needed to read this.

      • Riding the menstrual wave

        Women’s bodies are “equipped” to have periods. Mine are debilitatingly painful for a few days, and I know they are coming not through my calendar but when I get awful stomach cramps and have explosive diarrhea. Theses are “involuntary responses” yet I choose to medicate as best I can ( pain never leaves completely) because be effed if I’m going to miss family time and work because my body is doing what it was “designed” to do.
        Childbirth pain for me was horrible, and I had myself medicated to the eyeballs because of it. I wouldn’t change a thing….but good luck to those that are happy with the pain. All kudos and love, you’re obviously better at life than I am.

    • Rose

      I feel the exact same way. I had an unintended “natural” birth that was precipitous, and frankly, traumatizing. I did not bond well with my baby, despite having him on my breast immediately for skin/skin contact and basically attachment parenting (out of the need to sleep-I started bonding well with him after 6 weeks). I am looking forward to a well-drugged hospital birth this time (7 weeks from now), where I can be present and experience the moment, instead of completely insane with excruciating pain that I have no idea if/when it will ever end.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

        I tend to regard the anxieties and rituals around bonding as pretty ridiculous – though I do to some extent get why people worry. I think it may be quite normal to feel anxious about one’s capacity to love this unknown child – but the reality is, you will – more than you can possibly imagine in the abstract, and, I have always thought, the circumstances around birth have zero relevance to that.

        You couldn’t have had less auspicious circumstance than I had the first time – but the idea that it affected bonding is just laughable. If anything, coming so very close to losing one’s child definitely has the opposite effect in my experience. But, reading your post Rose, makes me wonder if maybe SOME forms of traumatic birth do affect – not bonding, but the relationship with the child?

        My daughter undoubtedly loves her second child, and is proud of her determined nature – but hasn’t found caring for her as easy as she did with her first. Like you, she had a precipitate, unintended “natural” birth that she resents. Maybe, after all, that does have some effect? Or maybe it is down to matching temperaments? My first daughter has a personality similar to mine, my second not so much, and while again no problem with bonding, I never found it as easy to “read” her behaviour and temperament.

        As I said, the idea that absence of skin to skin (or hats!) could cause permanent harm I find too superficial and silly for words, or the idea that a cross word can be lastingly traumatic – but our relationships with our children may perhaps rest on other complex factors.

  • MaineJen

    THANK YOU.

    “The primary function of a doula is to interfere with a woman’s desire for pain relief. At every point, the doula counsels the laboring mother that she does not “need” pain relief, that she’s doing “great” and she “can do it,” with “it” being enduring labor without an epidural.” This is the exact reason why I didn’t have a doula, and why I avoided childbirth classes during both pregnancies. I knew I would probably want pain relief, and I knew that the doula and the classes would just try to talk me out of it/make me feel guilty for wanting it.
    And I get sick of hearing “If my grandmother could do it, so could I…” Um. Yeah. Don’t you think if grandma had been ABLE to get an epidural, she would have done it in a second? Come on, now. We are so lucky to live in a time when we can be spared that pain, and yet still be awake and alert to meet our baby! The best of both worlds. What in the world is wrong with that?

    • Olga Mecking

      I agree! However, I think that a doula should support any woman whatever she chooses- I talked to mine and she was supportive of my desire to have pain relief in labor…

      • PoopDoc

        Well, a good doula should. There are plenty who don’t.

      • LukesCook

        But why do women need a stranger to support their choices? It seems to me to be fundamentally opposed to the concept of support or validation that it should be received from someone who is paid to provide it.

        • Lena

          That’s why I just can’t understand doulas. I’m pretty private emotionally and the idea of someone who’s not family, partner, or close friend being supportive in that way is incredibly distasteful to me. The existence of doulas only make logical sense if a women has no support for some reason–no partner or family close by, etc.

          • Elaine

            I think a lot of times that is who the doula is for. Many women don’t have someone already in their circle who they can rely on. Or they may prefer to have someone a little more emotionally removed. Also, part of it can come down to wanting someone with some experience with labor and birth. A friend of mine opted for a doula because she didn’t want her husband to have the burden of being the only one who was clear-headed.

        • Olga Mecking

          Oh well, because not everybody has family to support them, or don’t want their husbands to be there during births, or they know that themselves and their husbands will not be able to advocate for their wishes during birth… for me, I live in the Netherlands, where natural birth is pretty much the default setting, and it’s nice to have somebody who can help me do just that. Another reason is the language barrier- while I speak Dutch, I am not sure whether I can do it during labor- and English is not even my mother tongue!My husband’s Dutch is not as good as mine… A bilingual doula could act as bridge between care providers and ourselves. Also, while I am also a private person, I don’t know which midwife I will have for the birth, and a doula can provide continuity of care regardless of what happens. Besides, I have a birth plan and it has the words: “pain relief” in it- it’s a different situation from the most of you, but well, for some women a doula can be a great help!

        • SarahSD

          The hospital I gave birth at has a really great volunteer doula program, and I was lucky to be able to have one attend my labor. In my experience, it was less about direct validation or advocacy and more about physical support from someone who was experienced with handling women’s bodies in labor. She gave suggestions for how to deal with contractions, and provided counterpressure on my back and hips, as well as showing my husband how to do it. It was enormously helpful for the unmedicated portion of my labor, especially because both my husband and I had been up all night before labor really kicked in, and even if he had had an idea of what to do for me physically, he was very tired already.
          Our doula did not interfere in any way with the suggestions of the medical staff, and she never coached me to refuse anything. She knew I wasn’t thrilled about being induced in the first place, but if she had an opinion about it, for or against, it was not apparent to me. It was great to have a level headed presence in the room, and when, exhausted and feeling defeated, I began to talk about getting an epidural so that I could rest and hopefully have the energy to push the baby out, she fully supported it. I suppose in this sense, she supported my choice. But really, I think the most profound way that she helped me was to be able to stay calm and go with the flow rather than cling aggressively to a “birth plan” (which is the typical image of a doula’s function).
          Perhaps when a doula is hired they feel more pressure to as as guarantor for the client’s birth plan. In our case, our volunteer doula helped me physically, in getting through a day of unmedicated labor, and in a more subtle way, in supporting me as I let go of my expectations. She was great.

          • LukesCook

            “In my experience, it was less about direct validation or advocacy and more about physical support from someone who was experienced with handling women’s bodies in labor. She gave suggestions for how to deal with contractions, and provided counterpressure on my back and hips, as well as showing my husband how to do it.”

            Isn’t that what the midwife is for?

          • SarahSD

            “Isn’t that what the midwife is for?”

            Hm. Maybe in a homebirth or a birth center where the midwife stays with the mother continuously, she would provide non-medical labor support, like massage or counterpressure. I have certainly read stories where that is the case, particularly of home births. The CNMs at the hospital where I gave birth operate more like OBs in that the CNM on call is usually attending multiple laboring women at a time, and they don’t have time for more than a quick periodic check-in until the mother is ready to deliver.

    • Allie P

      She would have. Queen Victoria was a big proponent of women deserving pain relief in labor. They wanted it — they ALL wanted it.

    • Lena

      My grandmother-7 homebirths because she had no other option (and her babies ranged from 8 to 11 pounds, poor thing)-to my pregnant cousin who had been planning an unmedicated birth: “M’hija, why would you do that to yourself?” Since she had spent months waxing poetic about BOBB, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I have to admit, this is one area where I sipped a bit of kool aid. Before giving birth, I thought I had a good chance of getting through labor without pain meds. I always reserved the right to take pain meds if I needed them, but went in thinking that I probably wouldn’t. I had always had easy periods and since people described early labor as “like bad cramps” I thought, eh, a warm bath and distraction in the first stage, concentrate on pushing in the second, maybe a little stadol or something, should be fine.

    Um…wrong. I don’t know about anyone else’s labor, but mine was sheer, unrelenting 9/10* pain from start to finish. Or rather, from start to epidural. The epidural was great. I could still feel the contractions, but now they really were the “intense” sensation that the NCB movement describes, rather than actual pain. And I could still move, though I didn’t actually get up and walk. And when I needed a c-section for malpresentation and chorio, the epidural was right there and just needed a little lidocaine to make the nerve block complete.

    BTW, again, experiences vary and all, but I found recovery from c-section to be much easier than advertised. The pain was never more than 4/10 and that may be overcalling it. So that claim about recovery from c-section being worse than labor? All I can say is “not for me.”

    *I can imagine worse pain, but I’d rather not.

    • MaineJen

      *Early* labor feels like bad cramps, yes. Transition/hard labor (7 to 10 cm) is, on a scale of 1 to 10…approximately a 20. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s an out-of-body experience.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Mine, for some reason, went straight for the extreme pain. The first contraction I felt was already pretty nasty. As in, caused me to scream in pain*. I got the epidural at 1 cm dilation. At the attending CNM’s suggestion. I managed to get all the way to 2 cm, maybe 3 (I think she was trying to be optimistic) when the chorio set in and I ended up in the OR.

        On some level, I guess I’m trying to excuse myself for getting the epidural even though I was only in early labor and really should have been able to tolerate the pain better. The NCB at the back of my brain talking or something, I suppose.

        * I don’t usually go for screaming when I’m in pain. Usually swearing is my go to mode for coping with pain, often intermixed with berating myself for being stupid enough to do whatever it was that caused the pain. But for labor, that wouldn’t do. It was straight to the incoherent swearing. At 3 am. I bet the neighbors were really, really glad that we didn’t try for a home birth.

        • theadequatemother

          check out my post 2 cm, 8/10…most of the women in two large studies made their first analgesia request at OR BEFORE 2 cm dilation….most of them rated their pain as 8/10 OR HIGHER.

          • JC

            My early labor at home (maybe 5 to 6 hours) did feel like mild cramps. When it started to get bad, we headed for the hospital. At the hospital, the contractions became unbearable. When the nurse checked me, I was only 1 to 2 cm and I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe how much pain I was already in. No one had told me it could be that painful that early on. The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural and I said “Yes!” Then I could relax and enjoy the experience.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

            I was with my sister through her (involuntary) home birth. Second baby, low risk. I was very impressed by the first stages of her labour – she carried on as normal, pausing to wince. Several hours in, she took to her bed – and after that it was horrible! About another 8,10 hours of really suffering – and PTSD to follow.

          • yentavegan

            question.. if your sister was clearly in labor why did she give birth at home?

    • Elle

      My entire labor felt like bad cramps, only better because with labor you get a break now and then… but I’ve had many many bad cramps in my life, so maybe that’s why I thought I wasn’t as far along as I was and thus missed the epidural window.

    • Allie P

      Everyone has their own pain threshhold — for some women, it’s entirely possible that their labor is not sheer agony. Mine was agony until the (planned) epidural kicked in. I don’t tell people who claim they didn’t feel pain that they did, and they shouldn’t say the opposite to me.

    • Renee Martin

      I think the NCB description of labor is actually the description of labor *with* an epidural. Sure sounds like it!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lizzie.dee.71 Lizzie Dee

      After my first CS, I had intense pain that hurt how I imagine contractions would hurt. I was woozy from a GA, so not sure how long it lasted – but it had me grunting like an animal, and I certainly would not have appreciated hours of it. Apart from that, the pain of CS was for me at the level of intermittent extreme discomfort, and fairly easy to tolerate.

    • Elaine

      Mine wasn’t too bad until I got into active labor. Then each contraction was painful but I could rest between them. By the time I was at the hospital and into the L&D room, I was 5 or 6 centimeters dilated and my thought process about an epidural basically boiled down to, well, I could get one, but I know that by the time they actually get the anesthesiologist here and do all the consents it might be too late to get one anyway because I’m progressing pretty fast, so let’s just go with it for now and if it ends up dragging out I can get an epidural later. Around 7 cm I started having rectal pressure during contractions and THAT was pretty awful, but at that point it wasn’t that long anymore.

      I suppose if I had a different approach to the situation I would have gone in when my water broke the previous evening, gotten induced, and gotten an epidural, and I’m sure lots of women do just that. My way worked for me, and my care provider (a CNM) was cool with it. My water broke in the evening, I started labor overnight and came in the following morning to have my daughter by 11 AM.

  • Gene

    This is something so foreign to me. Pain control is, for better or worse, the “fifth vital sign” in the ED. We are dinged if a we do not address a patient’s pain. And yet women are encouraged to NOT have pain relief in labor? WHY???

    Having had two kids with two failed epidurals (long story…ginger and weird anatomy), I’ll tell you that I MUCH prefer the pain relief. You don’t (or shouldn’t, bless your heart) get a medal for doing it “naturally”.

    • theadequatemother

      damn gingers!

      • Dr Kitty

        Yeah… I work in Ireland, so I know all about red headed people and their seeming inability to process painkillers like the rest of us.

        • CitrusMom

          My mom was a ginger and she told me this. Even though I have brown hair I do have freckles and her overall complexion. I was fine with epidurals – they worked like a charm – but I need ridiculous amounts of novocaine to have anything done to my teeth or whatever local anesthetic to have a mole removed (as we fair-skinned people so often do these days). I’m so glad doctors are coming to be aware of this!

        • Allie P

          wait, this is a thing?

          • theadequatemother

            yeah…gingers need TONS more anesthesia…not just local but the drugs for anesthestic induction, maintenance etc.

          • FormerPhysicist

            I’m red-headed, but not the Irish ginger type. More of the Viennese look – light olive skin, freckles, but not the same look of freckles. Pretty low pain tolerance, but no idea if I need extra anesthesia. No one has ever told me either way.

        • LibrarianSarah

          I didn’t know that about gingers. Is their any reason why that is?

          • anon

            Gah, I just read this and it already flew out of my brain- there is something on the actual gene for red hair that alters their pain perception, which is I think the real reason why they require more anesthesia (feeling pain more acutely, rather than processing meds differently?) THough I may be wrong. My redheaded friend had serious problems with both of her epidurals, the second one dropped her bp so severely, they had no choice but to turn it off and she had to push out her nine pound son without pain relief. With my very recent third delivery, it just so happened the epidural wanst’ available til I was complete (NOT part of my plan, hell on earth, and it turns out I love this baby the same as my other two, EYEROLL), and I told her- I can’t believe you actually pushed him out without pain relief and didn’t die. She responded, in all seriousness, “I think part of me did.” This is the kind of pain that can alter a person forever, IMO. I am appalled by the valorization of suffering when it comes to childbirth.

          • Disgusted

            I’m somewhat red-headed with Irish ancestry. The epidural worked on me, but apparently a lot of morphine based concoctions don’t, or don’t work very well. This was unfortunately apparent when I came out of surgery for an emergency appendectomy moaning and begging for pain relief only to be told they’d given me the max amount allowed. They switched to a different drug the next day (I can’t remember which) and it worked wonders.

          • yentavegan

            2/5 of my offspring are gingers. All gingers are related, even those born on different continents. It is due to the magic force brewing in their blood. My older son can smell a ginger even before spotting one. He has one small circle of a ginger patch in his brown hair. Gingers are different from other humans. Watch two unrelated gingers pass eachother in the mall. It is that small nod of recognition they give to one another. It is eerie.

        • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.briggs3 Stephanie Briggs

          That sounds insane.

    • Bombshellrisa

      “You don’t (or shouldn’t, bless your heart) get a medal for doing it “naturally”.” YES!!! I have a friend that my NCB friends try and use as their mascot: she gave birth to a 10 pound baby boy without benefit of pain medicine. What they fail to realize is that she had a nurse who kept insisting on using distractions (birthing ball, bath, walking) to ease the pain instead of addressing the pain and labor progressed in a manner that when the call WAS made for an epidural, it was too late. She told all of them that she didn’t want to made a hero for what happened and that “nobody should care how you gave birth”.

  • mearcatt

    i truly do not understand why some women would choose to put themselves through this when they simply don’t have to. i don’t have children (hopefully soon) but i hate when i comment on posts like this and i get attacked by the NCBers as “uneducated” “ignorant” and an overall horrible person because i would dare “endanger” my child. sorry, but i know what my pain threshold is, and it’s not wide. if i’m in labor, i want to have as clear a head as possible in order to make the best informed decisions i can for my care and the care of my child. i’m sorry but i can’t rely on my husband to make those decisions if i’m overcome with pain, since he is a man, and as we know ladies, won’t remember a thing. it only makes sense to remove as much of the pain as possible so i can process what is going on for myself. all that matters is a healthy baby, regardless of how they come out.

    • me

      I opted for the epidural w/ my first child (I had gone in with a ‘wait and see’ attitude; if it had been manageable I would have gone without the epidural, but I was open to it). Because it failed to provide adequate (read “any”) relief for the second stage, I opted to go without the epidural with my subsequent two children. With the epidural I felt very claustrophobic – I was in intense pain, but did not have enough control over my limbs to effectively change positions, which I found extremely distressing. I didn’t know if it was just poor placement, or if it was something inherent in my physiology, so I decided to skip the ineffective epidural (I find the labor part easy, it’s pushing that causes the most pain for me, and that is precisely what the epidural did not help with, so why bother with it). I was very lucky to have had pretty straightforward, uncomplicated deliveries all three times. I do see my first delivery as the worst of the three, and, ironically enough, the most painful, despite going unmedicated the other times.

      That being said, I didn’t opt out of pain meds because they are “unsafe” or they would “interfere with the progress of labor” or because I would be “less of a woman” if I accepted them; mine was a decision based on my own relatively unique set of circumstances. I don’t agree with others attacking you for planning on accepting/requesting pain meds.

      I do think the notion that our husbands are too idiotic to make decisions about their kids kind of offensive. Okay, more than “kind of”. Speak for your own husband. Mine is a combat veteran. Childbirth didn’t cause him to bat an eyelash and I would trust him fully in making decisions for myself or any of our three girls any day (including their birthdays). Obviously you know what your man is capable of, and maybe he wouldn’t make a good proxy, but it is really offensive to assume that every man is the same. Just as offensive as assuming every woman can/should give birth unmedicated…. just sayin’

      • theadequatemother

        YOu know what would probably work for you, and other women in your situation, for the second stage? A mini-spinal. With a combined spinal epidural a very small amount of pain medicine is placed in the spinal fluid…about 1/6 to 1/10 the amount of local anesthetic, and 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount of short acting narcotic that would be used for a c/s.

        You could still move and push because the motor block is not intense, but a small dose spinal has greater success freezing the sacral nerves (S2-4) that provide sensation to the vaginal canal and perineum than an epidural does. Some women with an epi get no perineal numbing, others get some because the sacral nerves are hard to freeze via the epidural space.

        I also want to make my own decisions during labour. A husband or partner can be a good proxy if you are incompetent but I want to make my own decisions for my own body.

        • me

          It’s really neither here nor there since we aren’t planning any more kids lol. I had wondered about a saddle block when I was pregnant with my third, but I didn’t know if that would be any more effective, and the idea of holding still while someone comes at me with a needle during transition didn’t appeal to me, lol. I’d never heard of a “mini spinal”; I wonder why these options aren’t more widely discussed…

          FWIW I was able to make my own decisions during labor, particularly the unmedicated ones. With the (failed) epidural my OB cut an episiotomy without consent and used vacuum without consent. I didn’t even find out about it until afterwards. At least when I was unmedicated I knew what was going on and was able to participate in my own care. Of course, I find being in pain a lot more tolerable than being in pain while being immobilized and when you factor in the mindset difference: failed epidural = why me, why isn’t it working, OMG I can’t do this, I wanted relief, etc, whereas deliberate unmedicated = yes this hurts, but the epidural would hurt just as much and I wouldn’t be able to move (at least that was the difference in my mindset), well, I really didn’t want to even go there. Unmed, for me, really wasn’t that bad; certainly no where near rendering me unable to make decisions. Breaking my ankle hurt worse, and I was still conscious and expected to consent when that happened, lol. Of course, everyone is different.

          • theadequatemother

            so true…which is why choice is sooooo important and judgy judgy mcjudgy pants should be banned from all delivery rooms

          • Something From Nothing

            Just being devils advocate. You got pretty snippy with the poster who couldn’t rely on her husband to help her with decisions. Where was your husband when you had a vacuum and episiotomy that you weren’t aware of? Why be so quick to jump on each other?

          • me

            He was there. But it was our first baby, so neither of us really knew a whole lot. I had a very ‘go with the flow’ attitude; now I’m “that patient”, lol, and I’m not afraid to be. Heck, my mother (an RN) was present and she didn’t say anything either, of course, with her she might have seen it as pretty standard practice (well, at least the episiotomy), so she said nothing. I try not to focus my ire at them, tho, my mother and my husband are not the ones who cut me without consent. I assume the doctor was just an asshole, and so I went on to have CNMs deliver my subsequent children. I did make sure that my husband understood not to allow anyone to carve into my perinium without telling me ever again – if he had to end up in jail to protect me, so be it. Fortunately the CNMs I saw only rarely cut women, and only when truly needed, so I wasn’t in any danger with them. No one is perfect, and I never dreamed a doctor would do those things without at least telling me, so no, I don’t blame my husband (!). I blame the shitty doctor. And now I am much more vigilant about my health care. Lesson learned. The hard way.

      • Guest

        I also reacted badly to the epidural I received during my first birth. I got uncontrollable full body shakes, felt tremendously claustrophobic, and it didn’t help that much with the pain. I did unmedicated for my second, and while transition and pushing were well…not fun…I still felt better than with the epidural.

        • Captain Obvious

          Nearly every women in labor gets the shakes, whether they had an epidural or not. How would you explain how a woman gets such bad shakes who didn’t have an epidural? Maybe that answer is why you had the shakes. I have seen women with and without the epidural not get the shakes too. Another poorly assigned labor issue the epidural often gets blamed for.

          • Squillo

            I had the shakes terribly after my second, unmedicated, birth. I think it was shock.

        • LukesCook

          I had the shakes after both my c-sections, but shakes don’t hurt.

      • Hmph

        Funny, I got an epi for my first that did a bit for contractions but nothing for the pushing part, I got no epi for my second and screamed like a banshee, I got an epi for my third that did nothing for the contractions (cervical pain) but numbed up the birth canal nicely so that I didn’t feel the tearing. I have a lot of scar tissue in my spine.

        • Lisa from NY

          The scar tissue is from the epidural? That means that the anesthesiologist made a mistake.

          • Captain Obvious

            ? How is that the anesthesiologist mistake? Scarring or adhesions is usually how a person heals from an incision or puncture. Some people get keloid scars because they are predisposed to keloids, not because its the surgeons fault. I have seen my patients have great CS scars and some not so pretty. Except for wound infections which may worsen a scars appearance, the appearance is mostly determined by how one heals. Partial blocks from epidurals may be because of not enough medicine, not turning the patient to get the medicine over all the nerves, arthritis or previous scar tissue from not allowing the medicine to get to all the nerves.

          • Lisa from NY

            How many get wound infections?

        • AmyM

          I had an epidural too, and it made it so I could feel contractions but they didn’t hurt. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for the pushing, which was quite painful. I think the doctor added a local for the few stitches I needed, as well.

      • mearcatt

        again, wow. calm down, apparently no one here knows how to take a joke? i find it ironic that everyone jumps on me for a single comment about men when really, you know you’ve all complained about your husband at some point in time to your girlfriends.

        • Poogles

          “you know you’ve all complained about your husband at some point in time to your girlfriends.”

          I think the difference is complaining/venting about a particular man’s flaws versus extending that to ALL men – the first is fine, the second is a bit problematic. It’s the same as a man complaining about how his wife maxed out all their credit cards on shopping sprees and then following that up with “since she is a woman, and as we know guys, women will spend all your money”.

        • me

          Perhaps, but I have never said he wasn’t capable of remembering things (he is capable, tyvm). And if I DO complain about my husband, I don’t extend it to every man in existence. That’s all.

    • Josephine

      I think having a clearer head and more focus is a great reason to choose pain relief in childbirth (actually any reason is a great reason), but I find the notion that men “won’t remember a thing” to be incredibly sexist and not at all funny.

      • Elle

        I agree. Women don’t like such things said about us… it’s only fair to treat men the same.

      • mearcatt

        wow… way to take it to the extreme. you’ve never met my husband, can’t multitask at all and i know in the labor and delivery room won’t be able to remember to say something to a nurse i told him 3 months ago. lighten up. maybe you’re lucky to have a husband who can multitask but they are rare.

        • Poogles

          “you’ve never met my husband,”

          Very true, and if you had left it at talking about your husband’s shortcomings, no one would’ve even noticed; but you didn’t, you extended it to all men, and that is what people are taking issue with.

          “maybe you’re lucky to have a husband who can multitask but they are rare.”

          How is this different than a man saying, for instance, “Maybe you have a wife who doesn’t spend all your money on frivilous purchases, but they are rare?” Sexism is sexism, regardless of which gender/sex it is directed towards.

          • mearcatt

            wow, glad the “solidarity of sisterhood” is alive and well… and way for everyone to get completely off topic by nit-picking one insignificant comment someone made. i thought most people here were of similar mindsets but clearly i was mistaken.

    • PH Student

      I opted for a natural birth the second time around because I had HELLP Syndrome the first time and was unable to get an epidural due to low platelet count. Believe me, that was something that was never, ever addressed in the class required by the anesthesiologist! So I went from “epidural please!” as soon as I walked in the door to having to give birth with no pain relief while on Mag and pitocin and not having a clue how to deal with the pain (I’d missed the hospital’s childbirth class due to bed rest). When I was pregnant with my second I made the deliberate decision to prepare for a natural birth, figuring that if I wanted an epidural and wasn’t able to get one again, then at least I’d be a little emotionally prepared. Obviously my situation is unique (I’m literally the only person I know who was unable to get one because of a low platelet count), but my reasons were my own; albeit, they had nothing to do with the baby being “affected” by the epidural. :)

      And the thing is, I don’t doubt what you’re saying about people commenting on “endangering” your baby with an epidural because I’ve unfortunately seen it myself, but I think women who talk outside the NCB community about opting out of an epidural get a lot of flak, too. I made the mistake of mentioning my plans to some family friends and when my husband was hanging out with them one night without me the husband asked if I was still planning a natural birth and then urged my husband to talk me out of it. I actually don’t even talk about my son’s birth with people because I feel so judged for not getting one. I always want to shout “I couldn’t get one the first time! This is not about me judging you!”

      • Elle

        That’s a very good point. The judgment does go both ways. I’ve seen people openly post “Get the drugs!!” on women’s facebook posts when they say they’re pregnant. It’s none of their business! Imagine the flak I would get for posting “Don’t get the drugs!” like that.

        • Squillo

          The thing to do, when anyone starts asking you about your choices regarding pain relief during labor, is to ask them about their choices regarding pain relief during dental care.

          • KarenJJ

            Or look at your watch and say ‘oh is that the time, I need to mumble mumble’.. and back away and walk off quickly.

      • me

        I get the same reaction over my unmed deliveries. Even after I tell them what happened the first time, they still act like I must be insane. The sanctimommy flows both ways ;)

      • Karen in SC

        You aren’t the only one! My SIL experienced HELLP and couldn’t get the epidural she was planning on. She told me that the nurses and her husband were great. They had a few days stay in the hospital but both come through wonderfully!

        • PH Student

          So glad she and baby came through ok! Thank heavens for wonderful L&D nurses!