One Born Every Minute
The Labor Divide: Pain Meds or No Pain Meds? Make Your Own Decision
Since you’re about to enter into the elite club of motherhood, there’s something I have to tell you. The streets of the motherhood are lined with subtle and not-so-subtle competitive battles that start in labor, carry on to ‘who walked first and how fast’and still linger until, “my son just went to medical school.”
Sure labor is going to be tough, but what you really need to do is get your labor story together. You know, the story you tell others when they ask or don’t ask about your labor experience. You see, as much as labor is the glue the binds all of us mommies together. It is also a very sticky issue. I wrote about this as a cautionary tale in my pregnancy guidebook, and I’m going to share my juicy nuggets on the “labor divide” with you too.
First of all, every woman has a labor story and she probably has no problem telling you about it. You may not even have to ask. Just mention the word labor, or something that rhymes with labor (like neighbor), and she is off to the races. You may also notice that the same ones who are always yapping about their labor experience have the most harrowing tales—complete with ear-cringing screaming, week-long labors and 72-hours of straight pushing. Side note: Do not listen to these people.
But what’s even more problematic, is that there’s an unspoken rivalry brewing between the women who delivered without pain medication and those who took a little nip from the epidural tap. I’m here to ask you not to fall for any of it. Some women genuinely want the undiluted experience of childbirth. Others (myself included) just want enough of the “pure” experience to guilt-trip the husband and the children for years to come, and then they want out. But some of those in the “no drugs” camp act as if someone stole the true meaning of giving birth by taking away the pain. Here’s my rule: if a baby comes out of you, you’re the real deal. For me, I wasn’t in the labor for the pain. I’m a writer and for me it’s all about the story. Once there had been enough melodrama for me to weave an engaging tale, then I was pretty much done. Hook me up to the epidural please.
Recently a few moms were talking, and of course, the labor stories started to roll. When one woman spoke of her “natural” childbirth and mentioned having some pain medication another mom butted in with, “Well, that’s not natural.” Excuse me?? Who changed the rules and why wasn’t I invited to the committee meeting? What’s next, will we have to break our own waters, cut our own episiotomies and “catch” our own babies to make the “natural birth” cut? I don’t like where this is headed. More importantly, women shouldn’t feel like they are going into labor with something to prove. There is no ticker tape parade, flashing lights or special pudding waiting for you if don’t have any pain medication. And there will be no scarlet “E” hanging on your door if you have an epidural.
Bottom line: make your own decisions. Keep in mind that it’s pretty hard to predict how you will actually feel during labor. Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking you cannot do it without drugs. On the other hand, don’t let anyone make you feel any less than the phenomenal woman you know you are just because you took a numbing hit in the back. The goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. It’s your delivery. Do you!!