Are Epidurals Bad?


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It is true that an epidural may make a woman have an easier birth, but may also complicate matters? Recently, I heard of a new study written by an anesthesiologist, stating that epidurals do not increase the woman’s risk of cesareans. I immediately dismissed it as an attempt to sell a book. The audience is for women who are wanting the validation that it is OK to have an epidural. Guess what? It is OK to have an epidural. If that is what a woman wants, I am all for her right to choose. However, there are still risks with any medical intervention. To sell a book to women who are wanting an epidural and convincing them there are no complications is a farce. This author loves what he does. He loves to save and protect women from the “horrors” of labor contractions. I would love to have him inside my labor and delivery room, if I desired an epidural.


I am passionate about what I do as a childbirth educator and a birth Doula. I have been at hundreds of births from the first to the last contraction. I bet money that this physician has never seen a natural delivery in a hospital setting where the mother is silent, controlled, enduring, and taking each contractions as it comes. These women act as if they have the whole world supporting them. Some of these women never seemed to have any discomfort because of the body's endorphins. They view birth as natural and healthy and they don’t need to be saved.


With the typical birth in the hospital, most deliveries will be induced or augmented with pitocin. Pitocin makes the contractions stronger and more intense than nature intended. Other medical interventions will take place sooner than later. The woman is stuck in bed with a lot of pain. She isn’t able to move around and treat labor as natural, normal and healthy. Therefore, she has no choice but to have pain medications to endure the “wrath of the managed labor. ” That is why I am glad that the epidural is available for those women really needing it.


The epidural vs. no medication is this analogy. Are you going to hike up the most beautiful mountain canyon or are you going to take a tram? The ultimate goal is to reach the top. Both ways will reach your goal. One will endure more beauty as you take part of the entire scene. Taking the tram allows you to see some beauty but not all of it. You miss the power that you see in yourself as you hike. You miss out on the support system that is there to help you endure.

I have had two epidurals myself which I will never apologize for. However, I have also had the most beautiful unmedicated delivery. I did say immediately after that delivery that I wanted to do it all over again. It is true that no one throws you a party for not using the epidural. But, I will never forget the love, support and guidance from my birth team. I would not have had that if an epidural had “saved me. ”

Julie L. Johnson is a wife and mother of three who has experienced every pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding situation there is and has lived to tell about. She is a Certified Lamaze Childbirth Educator, Certified Doula and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant practicing in Southern California. Her website provides services and products to help ease the transition into motherhood.


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