- Some women hold up the idea of natural childbirth without medication as an ideal to achieve. They rave about it! But the reality is that the pain of birth may too much of a burden to bear. Is there any reason to be ashamed if you decide to ask for relief? Is it safe?
Not afraid of controversy, Dr. Gilbert Grant
, a New York City
based anesthesiologist, has just published Epidural Without Guilt: Childbirth Without Pain.
Dr. Grant explains the state-of-the-art techniques that women can use to alleviate the pain of childbirth. His book seeks to dispel the many myths and concerns women may have about having an epidural during delivery.
Childbirth is the worst pain a woman is likely experience in her life. Dr. Grant makes the point that women today can make a choice, and that they don't have to experience the pain of childbirth if they don't want to. By choosing to use an epidural it's possible to eliminate all the pain of labor and delivery, and there is no reason to feel guilty about it at all.
Drawing on his knowledge of the latest medical studies and his professional experience with thousands of women giving birth, Dr. Grant sheds light on the options available and choices a woman can make during childbirth. Here is a sample of the many ideas he offers:
• Ask for an epidural early in labor, before the pain gets severe. When you go to the dentist, do you wait until the drilling starts before you get the local anesthetic? No. You get the local before the drilling. Why do it any differently in labor? The anesthesia should be given before the pain begins.
• Do not believe that you have to wait until your cervix is four centimeters dilated before you can get your epidural. This myth has caused untold suffering for countless women who have been forced to wait, even though some have severe pain at one centimeter dilated.
• Don't believe the myth that taking an epidural increases the chance of a cesarean. It's simply not true, and has been disproven by many scientific studies from around the world. But the myth lives on in a classic example of "don't confuse the argument with facts."
• Understand that you are allowed to fine-tune the amount of pain medication you get during labor. You simply have to ask your doctor. Only you can determine how much pain you're having. You can be the one who controls the amount of pain relief you get. And the more control you have over the situation, the better you will feel.
Dr. Grant believes that it is important for women to understand that there are many downsides to experiencing the pain of childbirth.
• Unrelieved pain during childbirth can have consequences for mother and baby. Apart from the obvious suffering caused by unrelieved pain, pain has also been identified as a risk factor for the new mom to develop post-partum depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
• The pain of childbirth doesn't end the moment of delivery. After a cesarean, there is significant pain. A difficult natural delivery can also cause considerable pain, especially if a lot of stitching is required.
• Women who experience severe pain during and after delivery may have more difficulty nursing their newborn. Pain reduces the amount of milk the mother produces. Also, if they are in pain and feeling lousy, they are probably less able to focus on someone other than themselves.
Dr. Grant says that there is simply no rational reason to feel guilty about using pain relief when giving birth. There are some women out there who are very vocal advocates for non-medicated childbirth. They hold it up as a badge of honor. They make other women fearful and ashamed of even thinking of asking for help. It's wrong for them to do this.
Every woman's body is her own. There is no reason to make other women feel guilty for using epidurals if they choose to. Every woman has the right to make her own decision when the time comes. It's her choice and it should be respected.
Dr. Grant urges women to learn about the types of pain relief that are offered at the hospital where they will be delivering and to discuss the options with their obstetrician or midwife.
That way, when labor begins, they will be able to get the type of pain relief they want, when they want it.