Dear “And You Will Have Kids”,
I am due to deliver my first child very soon. Some of my friends delivered their children “naturally”–in other words without an epidural. I’m scared I won’t be able to handle the pain, and so I have decided to have an epidural. I feel guilty though.
What do you think?
Congratulations on your new child which should be arriving soon!
Please don’t feel guilty about any of this. Child birth, like parenting, is not a competitive sport. Just because your friends delivered without using pain medicine has no bearing upon your birth experience. Each labor is a unique experience!
If you need to use pain medicine–use it. If you don’t have to use pain medicine–don’t. Remember, the goal isn’t to tough it out to see how much pain you can endure, the goal is to deliver a healthy child. Keep focusing on that when you feel guilty!
I’d encourage you to talk with your doctor about your concerns and ask him to go over pain management options. Getting an epidural isn’t the only way to relieve labor pain! Also, read up on unmedicated birthing techniques too. It’s a good thing to be prepared for a number of different scenarios that might happen when you give birth.
When you go into the labor room, it’s best to be prepared and to be flexible, because you can’t really predict what your labor experience may be like. You may end up having to deliver without the epidural that you really want because the anesthesiologist may be tied up with an emergency, or you may need to wait for a while before you can get the medication. It’s possible that your labor may go very fast and that your health care team doesn’t have enough time to actually get you the pain medication. Or, you may need to have a cesarean birth.
I remember when I delivered my first child 16 years ago. My one friend delivered her child without any pain medication and was very proud of that fact. It was something to be proud of too! When my other friend had a very difficult labor and asked for pain medication, she felt like a failure. Instead of feeling like a failure, she should have been proud that she endured her difficult labor so well!
I have to tell you that 16 years later, it doesn’t matter who delivered in which way. My friends and I don’t even talk about it. I can almost guarantee you that it will work the same way for your situation.
For the rest of your pregnancy, let go of the guilt! Take care of yourself and good luck with your labor!