Epidural: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

by Kelly Brogan Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & ChildComments: 106

Epidural anesthesia

By Dr. Kelly Brogan MD

The modern woman is task-oriented. She lives in a world demanding of her competence, attention, and efficiency. We use technology, tap into our communities, plumb the depths of our reserves to navigate an often hyper-masculinized world while retaining our most vital feminine powers. The power that fundamentally defines our exemption from this contemporary lifestyle trajectory is baby making.

This primal empowerment forms the bedrock of a woman’s most untouchable gifts.

We have lost sight of this fact; however, and have allowed our inner compass to be co-opted. It’s certainly no wonder, that after 9 months of hypermedicalized pregnancy “management” (often following months to years of assisted reproductive technologies), birth is considered another task on the to-do list to complete.

As a type-A taskmaster, myself, I understand the lure of a predictable and painless depositing of your newborn after the long and fear-punctuated journey of pregnancy.

I’m here to tell you; however, what your obstetrician won’t.

Labor is a physiologic process that recruits neurochemical, endocrine, and immune systems into a dance that we barely have the tools to conceptualize.

When we meddle with this, when we attempt to standardize it, we put women and their babies at grave risk – physically, psychologically, and even spiritually. We rob women of an opportunity for psychospiritual transcendence.

As a science-minded medical doctor, I don’t wield this phrase with ease!

The process of conception, gestation, and birth cannot, however, be reduced to daily activities and routine life occurrences. There is something built into our consciousness that makes room for its own expansion around these life transitions. The process of bodily separation – woman from her newborn – involves a passage through a space of trance-like awareness.

I can only describe it as the sensation of floating and grounding, simultaneously. It is an experience that demands we move out of the space of our mind and into a space of sensation without judgment. It is being present, truly present, to behold a glimpse of what we are capable of as mammals and most importantly, as a human female.

In this way, a natural birth is an opportunity for redefinition and reconnection to one’s most core self. It is the way women were intended to pass through the gates of motherhood, to the next chapter of their actualization.

If you buy the potential significance of these considerations, you may want to know what represents your greatest obstacle and impediment in achieving this life milestone. You may be surprised to learn that it is epidural anesthesia. This discussion is meant to shine a light on elective epidurals – that, “Why not? Who wants to feel crazy intense pain?” choice that 2/3rds of women (and up to 90% in some hospitals) opt for every day. In my opinion, the epidural intervention is the most reprehensible of all – because of its largely dismissed risk profile, and because of its auspicious position in a cascade of interventions, unnecessary, ill-conceived, and rife with unintended consequences including death.

If we can empower women to question the validity of this procedure, then they can retain the right to preserve the integrity of their birth experience.

What’s the big deal with Epidurals?

A 60% rise in C-sections since 1996 is prompting the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to fidget self-consciously in their white coats. A study revealing the prolongation of the second stage of labor thanks to epidurals has been influential in identifying the iatrogenesis doctor-caused harm – at the root of the cesarean problem.

It appears that, thanks to an antiquated but still sanctioned construct – Friedman’s curve – the hospital clock starts ticking loudly upon arrival, and the alarm goes off after 3 hours of second stage labor with a epidural. At this non-evidence-based juncture, interventions including IV fluids, continuous monitoring, food and drink restriction, and immobilization conspire to invite pitocin, forceps, vacuum, episiotomy, and surgery into the delivery room.

Obstetrics is vulnerable to practicing consensus medicine – habitual practice that is not predicated on sounds science. As I discuss here, metanalysis has demonstrated that only 30% of current obstetrical recommendations are based on quality data. What’s the rest based on? Fear-mongering and personal opinion? Let’s look at what the evidence suggests about the risks of epidurals, considering that up to 41% of women never properly consented for this intervention.

Epidurals are offered with a plethora of accoutrements including catheters for involuntary urination, blood pressure monitoring and IV fluids for changes to vascular physiology, and continuous fetal monitoring because of risk to the baby of decreased oxygen flow.12

The changes to natural labor progression are compounded by risk of fever in the mother that leads to further separation of mom and baby after birth, secondary to testing and assessment for infection. This separation represents a stress to the shared adaptation to early postpartum life and may predispose to psychiatric pathology in both mom and baby through early epigenetic influences on gene expression.345

This separation may also interfere with breastfeeding establishment. In this way, epidurals may be directly and indirectly responsible for breastfeeding struggles67. Breastfeeding appears to prevent the onset of postpartum depression if it is established within 3 months, in addition to being a continual source of immunologically essential information trafficked from mom to baby.

Shooting Up You and Your Baby

epidural catheter_miniEpidurals are a delivery method for narcotic pain-killers that pass through the placenta to the baby and have largely unpredictable effects on the birthing woman. Evidence supports risks to the baby including reduced tone, poor feeding, jaundice, withdrawal, and sensorimotor impairment.8

Physiologic risks to the mother include acute and persistent problems such as numbness, tingling, dizziness, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrest, nerve injury, abscess, and death.910A user-friendly description of these considerations was explored by Pathways to Family Wellness, here.

Hurrying Up

When epidurals lengthen the second stage of labor, Pitocin, or synthetic mimic of the brain hormone, oxytocin, is delivered to augment the process. Because Pitocin does not cross the blood-brain barrier, it does not stimulate endorphin release. It also interferes with feedback loops suppressing natural oxytocin production while hyperstimulating the uterus without appropriate relaxation between contractions. The significance of this is just being revealed and may even reach to risk factors for autism.

Cutting Up

The increased risk of c-section1112 in the wake of epidural anesthesia is easily explained by relaxation of pelvic muscles that detach a woman from the instinctive guiding forces of an uninhibited labor, by the baby’s increased distress secondary to narcotic exposure and malposition, by the recruitment of Pitocin which causes uterine and therefore fetal distress, and fetal monitoring which, while superficially reassuring results in increased interventions (2-3x c-section rate) without improved outcomes.

Your doctor may fail to mention that a surgical birth brings with it these risk considerations: protracted recovery, infection (including necrotizing fasciitis), organ damage, adhesions, hemorrhage, embolism, hysterectomy, wound dehiscence, early infant separation, higher risk of respiratory problems for baby, and an exponentially increased risk of placenta accreta, a potentially lethal complication of surgical birth, contributing to a 3.6 fold increase in maternal death after cesarean relative to vaginal birth.

Of primary interest to clinicians who appreciate the role of the gut microbiome in child and adult health, abdicating a vaginal transfer of beneficial bacteria may set the stage for chronic disease including a 20% increased risk of obesity.

Opting out of epidural anesthesia: Choosing to feel

What are the best ways to help your body, mind, and spirit align for this tumultuous but life empowering journey?

Movement – Staying active during pregnancy is optimal mind-body medicine. Yoga, home-based routines, and swimming in unchlorinated water are excellent choices, at least 3 times weekly.

Chiropractic – With advanced perinatal training, holistic chiropractors are critical experts in proper alignment and nervous system support to facilitate a physiologic birth.

Acupuncture – Applied before and even during labor, acupuncture can gently and effectively facilitate a healthy labor and delivery. According to a Cochrane Review, acupuncture and hypnosis meet evidence-based efficacy criteria for pain management in labor.

Controlled Breathing/Meditation – Perhaps the most important tool for a new mother, learning to engage the relaxation response in pregnancy will help you to know what it feels like to be present to the labor experience, to go inward, quiet your mind, and release fear. Hypnobabies and hypnobirthing are well-regarded methodologies.

Diet – The physical experience of labor and delivery is best supported by stocking the shelves up front for a healthy hormonal response with minimization of inflammation and maximization of nutrient-density. Eat sustainable, organic meat, fish, eggs, veggies including root vegetables and squash, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Leverage the complexity of food-based information to promote optimal gene expression in that growing baby, and support a healthy delivery and postpartum experience.

Doula – Preparation for labor, and support for mother and spouse have been traditionally left in the hands of a woman’s most doting partner, a doula. No woman should birth in a hospital without this advocate. Evidence supports a doula’s ability to help you achieve an intervention-free birth.

While my most heart-filling emails every day are from my homebirthing patients, I aim to sit in a place of true advocacy for the women that I treat and advise. I believe in informed consent, and I observe that this is not occurring in hospitals today. Explore resources that will help to expose you to the known risks and popularized benefits, so that you are making your own decision with your eyes wide open.

As most women who have experienced natural birth would attest – just when you think you can’t do it and your mind demands surrender – you meet your baby, and the world stands still in a moment of unparalleled beauty and wonder.

About The Author

As an undergraduate at M.I.T., Dr. Kelly Brogan studied Cognitive Neuroscience and worked with Harvard undergraduates to create a public forum for the discussion of alternative medicine, directing conferences for the Hippocratic Society.

She attended Cornell Medical School where she was awarded the Rudin Scholarship for Psychiatric Oncology and began her work in Reproductive Psychiatry, which she went on to train in during her residency at NYU/Bellevue.

A strong interest in the interface of medicine and psychiatry led her to pursue a fellowship in Consultation Liaison/Psychosomatic Medicine at NYU/Bellevue/VA Hospital.  Since that time, she remains on faculty and has focused her efforts on her private practice where she cares for women across the life cycle including pregnancy and postpartum.

A passion for holistic living, environmental medicine, and nutrition are the bedrock of her functional medicine practice. She has published in the field of Psycho-Oncology, Women’s Health, Perinatal Mental Health, Alternative Medicine, and Infectious Disease.  She is Board Certified in Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, as well as Board Certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine.

You can learn more about her at www.kellybroganmd.com, and connect with her on FacebookTwitterand through her monthly newsletter

Sources:

1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15957994

2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12011872

3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24552992

4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12011872

6 http://www.nutricionhospitalaria.com/pdf/6395.pdf

7 http://www.internationalbreastfeedingjournal.com/content/1/1/24

8 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12011872

9 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/S0091-2182%2897%2900052-9/abstract

10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17447690

11 http://www2.cfpc.ca/local/user/files/%7B8030D89F-B698-4F9D-B6A7-190AD9866E59%7D/Kotaska%20Klein%20epidural%20oxy.pdf

12 http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD000331/epidurals-for-pain-relief-in-labour

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Picture Credit

Comments (106)

  • Adriana

    Just really annoyed that you fail to mention inductions! Inductions, in my opinion are the main reason for increased c-sections. Forcing a body to labor that is not ready to labor! I went into labor at 40+5 days on my own. I asked for an epidural because my natural contractions were one on top of another and I was only 4cm. I never got a drop of pitocin during labor. I couldn’t catch my breath, I couldn’t regroup my thoughts. My doula tried everything but they wouldn’t ease up. I got the epidural and went from 4cm to complete in less than 15 min. My body was so tense that I couldn’t dilate and my baby was already at +2 station and I was beginning to have urges to push at 4 cm, which was dangerous! For me, it was a godsend.
    Every woman needs to make informed medical decisions and they need to start by avoiding inductions.

    June 5th, 2015 12:50 pm Reply
  • Sue Sunshine Jelly

    Wow, lots of emotion and opinions from this article! Thank you to all the women who shared their experiences with and without an epidural. After supporting over 500 moms as a doula, I have seen many great births with and without an epidural. While I appreciate Dr Kelly’s information, I do think it could be more balanced and include the births where women are being induced, or just in so much pain, fear, exhaustion, that an epidural is the best path! The other pain medication options can be tried first. I have seen many babies latch right on and have no problem at all after an epidural and on the other hand I have seen babies struggle to get latch and mom need a lot of breastfeeding support with a totally natural birth. There are so many different paths to birthing and every mom needs to be respected and allowed to make the best decision for herself during her labor!

    April 5th, 2015 8:18 am Reply
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  • rachael

    Oh my goodness, where to begin? I know this is a very touchy subject but just have to throw my two cents out there! I firmly believe that some women truly do just have more pain than others. I have a high pain tolerance but with both of my children I had back labor and the pain was HORRIBLE! I went for a while with my first without an epidural and made it to a 6 but then I just couldn’t take it anymore. I think it’s important to note here that my doctor burst my water because she said I wasn’t progressing. Within 2 minutes of her doing that my pain and frequency of contractions increased incredibly and that’s when I decided to have an epidural. My contractions were 1 minute apart and lasted 1-2 minutes. On the monitor measuring my contractions it was shown that they were going up to or above the highest reading. Once I received my epidural, my labor experience was so calm and pleasant. I hung out with my mom, sisters and husband until it was time to push and then they all got to witness my son being born. Before the epidural, everyone except my husband and doula had to leave the room. With my second I was determined to go without an epidural. I felt that my labor was so bad before because my doctor burst my water so I wasn’t going to allow that for sure. Unfortunately, my next labor and delivery was very traumatic. I will say though that while much of that was because of the pain a majority of it was actually because I had a reaction to pain meds via IV and then my epidural was inserted incorrectly! I really thought I was dying because my whole body went numb, my left arm was hurting, I could hardly breathe, etc. So, up to this point it may have sounded like I’m totally for epidurals but truly the point I’m trying to make is that even if you relax, breathe, let go, etc. labor for some people is incredibly painful and even traumatizing. My epidural was stopped because of the issue I had with my second son and I actually had some moments where I thought I was doing pretty good. I would stare up at the ceiling, really focus on something and take long, deep breaths. This helped tremendously but in the end I was still in so much pain at some point that they actually tried the epidural again! So, I had an epidural for the first hour approx. and the last hour approx. To some reading this you may think I should have just endured vs such a short time of relief, but at the time – not knowing when the pain would end – I was in such agony that I just needed something to help. Total I was in labor about 12 hours I believe (it’s hard to say for sure because I’m known for labor starting with inconsistent contractions that with my first lasted a week). I do see what some are saying about feeling more connected to the experience, but again, I guess I just don’t like some of the responses and insinuation (including from some people I know personally) that the pain is very manageable if you just do “this” and “this” during the experience because that’s how their experience was… My conclusion after the two births I’ve had is that I’m very wary but I do want to have more children and I do want to try without medical intervention. We’re waiting probably 3-5 years to try again so that life can calm down and we can really try and get healthy so that hopefully that will make a difference. I’m in very good health now overall and not overweight. We also try to cook at home mostly and prepare good, balanced meals, however, especially during pregnancy (nausea, cravings), I’m not always consistent and I didn’t grow up on foods that were really that great so I probably need to detox (though at the time we thought it was healthy). I’m really, really hoping that if I’m more active before and during pregnancy (if I haven’t been active before pregnancy then all I can handle during it is short walks), really prepare my body nutritionally, do stretches, and so on, that I’ll have a different experience next time. I was also told that because I slouch in a certain way when I sit that it was causing my baby to be in a poor position which causes back labor. So we’ll see how it goes next time. I guess worst case, as my mom says, it’s only one day in your life to bring about a precious little human being. I did basically have a natural birth with my second since my pain meds were used such a short time compared to the whole duration. It was so painful and hard and I kept telling myself in the middle of it that I was never having another child but now I have my beautiful son who is 8 months old. It is just one day…hopefully :) I hope I don’t scare anyone with this comment or come across too negative. Just sharing my experiences and really hoping and praying truly healthy, balanced living that is consistent will make a great impact, as I said. It’s such a shame the repercussions of the SAD (standard American diet) most of us were raised on and modern medicine. I really think my first labor would have been hugely different without meds if she hadn’t stepped in as she did. But, I digress. Sorry for the long, babbling comment :)

    November 13th, 2014 3:54 pm Reply
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  • Elisa

    I like articles that encourage women to have a natural birth…but sometimes this is not possible. I prepared myself for a natural birth with classes, regular exercise during pregnancy and healthy eating.
    I was in labor for 20 hours and then got stuck at 9 cm for 3 hours. Usually the transition lasts about 15 minutes, mine lasted 3 hours…I was in hell, literally. The first intervention was an IV with saline water as I was vomiting at every contraction b/c of too much pain. They told me I was completely dehydrated and I needed that IV, which I hated hated hated. When I heard that I was still at 9cm after 3 hours of extreme hell, I thought I was going to die. I started screaming for an epidural. I had to be moved to another room, as I was in the “alternative birthing center” where they don’t have equipment for doing an epidural.
    I don’t know why my labor was so horrible, and why I got stuck at 9cm during the transition stage. I was always lean and fit, religiously exercised during pregnancy…pretty much did everything I could to birth naturally.
    After the epidural my contractions became much much slower and went from no break between them to having 5-6 minutes between contractions. Then, they gave me pitocin to speed up my labor. After 3 hours of pushing I had my baby with a help of a vacuum and a huge episiotomy. The only part I liked about my labor was that I did NOT have a C-section. The rest was horror and hell. Literally!
    The article talks about “floating and grounding” and a transcendental experience. Really? I think this is total BS. Any natural birth is painful. My mother told me that labor is worse of better depending on the duration. 20 hours of hell are worse than 5 hours. My mom had 4 natural births and she told me mine was worse that her 4 combined. She was with me in the room together with a doula, a midwife, my husband and a doctor at the end who did the episiotomy. I know women are different and some feel less pain than others, but ANY NATURAL BIRTH IS PAINFUL IN HUMANS!!! The only people who believe otherwise are those who never gave birth to babies!

    June 5th, 2014 11:01 am Reply
    • Cristy

      I’ve given birth to two, one two years ago and one three months ago, and I can tell you that for some of us, the pain really isn’t that bad.

      Nobody is saying there is no pain, but some women have the ability to manage. I found personally that paying too much attention to it made it hurt. Letting go all control made everything so much easier.

      June 7th, 2014 11:19 pm Reply
  • Angela

    I have 4 children. I had epidurals with my first two, unmedicated with my third, and an epi with my fourth. I totally understand your point, but think you may be a little harsh in your delivery. My first two experiences with epidurals was great but I read about the possible side effects and decided to go all natural with my third using the Bradley method. The labor was very manageable until the last hour and (excuse my language) then all hell broke loose. Maybe other people have a higher tolerance for pain but for me it was TRAUMATIC! I screamed uncontrollably. I had no control over my breathing or body. The contractions were coming so fast and the baby came out in 3 pushes. Yes the pain was short (about 45 minutes of intense pain) but that didn’t diminish the trauma of it. I was in so much pain, I really didn’t experience the joy of seeing my baby for the first time. For my fourth, I decided I would go unmedicated again. Not because I liked that way, but because I felt so much guilt for kind of wanting an epidural. I thought I was a better mom because I didn’t expose my child to all those drugs. My husband was very supportive but honestly the last delivery scared him to death. He didn’t want to see me suffer so much. After 8 days over my due date I opted to be induced due to a lot of scheduling issues with the care of my other 3 children. I tried to avoid an epi but it is extremely difficult to do with all the crap they attach to you in the hospital. My husband and I decided I would get an epi and y’all it was wonderful. The delivery process was so calm and I could really focus on my baby instead of being so consumed with the pain. My baby was perfect just like the other 3 and I didn’t have any trouble nursing her. I am totally supportive for those wanting to go unmedicated but let’s stop making those who do feel as though they are not good mothers and they are threatening the safety of our child.

    June 5th, 2014 9:54 am Reply
  • Brittany

    Typo: I WASNT connected to the epi IV drip, I basically just had the small tube in my spin connected to an empty syringe, that gave me my initial dose.

    April 4th, 2014 12:27 pm Reply
  • Brittany

    Though I greatly appreciate the thought and knowledge behind this article, I don’t necessarily agree that epidurals are a bad decision or that having a baby naturally offers a mother transcendence or whatever you call it.
    I wasn’t going to get an epidural when I had my daughter because I’m a pretty crunchy mama. We eat only organic home cooked meals, no vaccinations, and I’ll opt for home remedies before taking my daughter to the doctor.
    The pain for me was pretty unbearable so I opted for the epi and I’d do it all over again. Unfortunately for me, I was connected to the drip for the epi, so once my initial dose wore off, I had my daughter naturally 3 hours later in the hospital. My doctor was rough and my nurse wasn’t very supportive. It was a horrible experience all around. The only good part was when the excruciating contractions stopped and I had my daughter in my arms.
    I’ve been with my sister for the birth of her two daughters and she had an epi both times and made it look pretty easy to me. I remember crying from the pain, while she was laughing while the nurse and I talked when she was pushing.
    I’d take her experience over mine any day. Ultimately it comes down to the mothers decision when she is in the process of having her child and either decision is good and shouldn’t be judge by anyone unless they are in the same person circumstances.

    April 4th, 2014 12:20 pm Reply
  • Sheri

    Please be very careful to communicate actual facts in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation. Most studies do not do this- they,as does this article, cherry-pick various bits of information in order to further an agenda. You leap to conclusions that are not proven or justified.
    Women are having more interventions because they are demanding them. More and more women seek elective induction of labor, with all the increased risks. Some also try to demand elective cesarean sections. I’m not in favor of either of these things, but am aware that it’s because they are taking charge of their lives and pregnancies, not because they are being pushed from health care providers or the hospital. Women are also self advocating with regard to pain management.
    I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years. I’ve done this on both sides of the country, and while working primarily in 2 vary different settings over the past 20+ years, I’ve also filled in at almost a dozen others. Women come to their first birth with either a plan to go “natural”, a plan for an epidural, or (most common) a “wait and see” attitude. Nobody likes the idea of a needle going into their back. Obviously, since the GREAT MAJORITY of women request or demand an epidural before transition, there is something happening that makes this seem like a good idea. We try to support the patient, and to honor their plan. Sometimes they/we are successful, others not. Our hospital has a cesarean rate of less than 20%. Our midwives (who see low risk patients) have a c/s rate below 10 (yes- ten) percent. Most of the patients have epidurals. As in- the big majority.
    From a personal perspective- my first birth was “natural”. It sucked. I spent a great deal of effort blocking out what was happening- trying to be somewhere else in my head. This was before I worked in L&D. I chose to have epidurals for the next birth- and the ones that followed. The labors were much shorter, obviously this is the norm for multips. I was present, happy and aware of every contraction. This is not something I share with my patients, as it has NO bearing on their labors. I am careful to never, ever let my feelings or history impact someone else’s decision.
    After looking at your Bio I’m left wondering exactly what sort of experience you have. Have you even done a residency in OB? How many births have you taken part in? Because you present yourself as an expert- but what does “science-minded medical doctor” actually mean in the hard currency of experience? I’ve only delivered a hundred or so babies myself, but have cared for thousands of women in labor. What exactly is your experience based on? Because you don’t really sound like you know from experience. You sound like you’ve read many studies. Or at least enough to convince some people that you know what you are talking about. People who don’t know better.

    March 29th, 2014 10:47 pm Reply
    • Sue Sunshine Jelly

      Thanks for sharing!

      April 5th, 2015 7:57 am Reply
  • Megan

    It hit home because I’m sick of women who are naturally thin taking the moral high ground and lecturing those who have to work hard to maintain a normal size and in many ways are healthier than those unfit skinny people who are doing the lecturing. Your ability to stay slim is likely assisted by your healthy lifestyle but I promise you that your genetics have had a far larger role in that than you would like to admit. You can take very little more take credit for that than you can for the color of your eyes. If you have never struggled with your weight you will never understand this. Never in my life will I have been described as slim having the muscular build that I have but for most of my life I have been far fitter and healthier than many of the skinny people around me. And being that fit did not help me in my pregnancies not gaining a lot of weight and/or having difficulties (much to my surprise). Despite my plan and desire in my first pregnancy to have a drug free natural childbirth I ended up with a caesarean and then a scheduled one the second time, yet I have had no recovery problems and no issues whatsoever breastfeeding.

    March 20th, 2014 5:12 pm Reply
  • Annie

    Megan,
    You can have your opinion as I have mine.
    If you didn’t like my opinion it must have hit home with you!!

    Be Well..
    Annie

    March 20th, 2014 3:18 am Reply
  • Annie

    What I do not understand is, where are YOUR own personal Gyno Dr. that you went to for almost 9 months?
    Where are your Babies Drs.Why are they not checking your babies when there 1st born?
    Why are your Drs. not delivering your babies?
    Who doesn’t have there own Dr. to deliver there baby, but leaves it up to a nurse when they are in labor, and get to the Hospital!!

    All this should have been discussed with your Drs. when you first got Pregnant, not when you get to the hospital to have your baby..

    I have two grown children, and Grandchildren. One has a 7 mo.Healthy baby, and is nursing..Her choice..
    She had a Epidural after 7 1/2 hours of labor at the hospital, and had the baby in another 1/2 hour..
    Her Dr. was there to deliver the baby…
    Never a mention of a C section..

    Nobody is going to like this remark..but we all exercise , and are slim…
    My Daughter had a easy birth with a Epidural, her baby was over 9lbs..she gained 20 lbs, and lost it right away..She is also considered a older parent to have a baby..

    That said, ALL my friends that where heavy before getting pregnant, never even went out for a walk to exercise, and had little babies, about 6 lbs, and where in labor for hours, if not a couple of days!
    I do think its important to eat healthy..When I hear some people that are over weight say to me, I can’t afford it! (whining)/
    It is very affordable to eat health (organic). If they stop eating processed food, junk food, no sugar & fast foods…
    I’m not saying all Women that are thin have easy births , but most do, and most over weight have a hard time being pregnant and giving birth..

    If anyone is seeing a Dr. that from the get go says, mentions a C section, Run..It seems now that allot of Drs. would rather give a C section, cause that fits in to the play time!

    I’m no martyr, and I do not see a reason to suffer with pain in the last stages of labor.
    All our Children are Healthy, happy, and so are we..We all had an Epidural.

    Years ago there was something called a Spinal when you gave birth..If you had a un-esperiance Anesthesiologist, he/she could hit a wrong place in the spine, and you could become paralyzed. Never heard of that happening with a Epidural before. Although the shot is in that area.

    Interview more then one Dr. when you get pregnant..

    Take Care,
    Annie

    March 19th, 2014 9:30 pm Reply
    • Megan

      Half of your post is senseless rambling and the rest is offensive.

      March 20th, 2014 2:05 am Reply
    • Casey

      Annie, I think your post would be more well-received with some grammar checking and complete sentences. I think that’s why Megan called it “senseless rambling.” I did not find your comment offensive at all, I just wanted to give you some constructive criticism as to how to come across more articulate in a public forum.

      June 5th, 2014 12:53 pm Reply
    • cj

      I’m not slim and I worked an office job. I somehow managed to calmly birth two children with no medication in less than half a day each.

      June 7th, 2014 11:22 pm Reply
    • amy

      This is an informative and thought provoking article, and I appreciate knowing that there are alternatives that may be effective for women… I have long felt that women are often under-informed about the potential issues with various treatment choices. That said, your comment to megan that your article “hit home” seems harsh. I have had experiences where perhaps less than ideal methods were used in an emergency and experiences when I got to choose a wiser approach for me… the healthy lifestyle and staying fit advice I had read and heard and sought was greatly insufficient for me until factors began to be addressed that most doctors didnt even seem to be aware of. I sympathize with Megan’s concern that she was doing the ‘right’ things and didn’t have the expected results, because a lot of women with hormone issues, allergies, autoimmune and other issues do not necessarily know what to do besides what their doctors and the media have told them. That is why information like this is helpful, so we have alternatives to consider, however I think responding with compassion is imperative- while she may be incorrect that it’s genetics, she is probably correct that it wasn’t all her fault… In a world with many toxins, that is probably true! I think one aspect of the higher reality you describe is compassion. Everyone is different, but perhaps the fault is less due to the women accepting what the doctor says in crisis. Perhaps people in the medical community could begin to research alternatives considering the risks you mention.

      June 13th, 2014 2:27 pm Reply
  • lori

    I had 2 epidurals and 2 c sections. Beautiful healthy babies and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I guess my point is, to each her own.I am so tired of authors like this telling us what is right for all, I have no issues with home or natural births. I enjoyed my epidural and the first c – section was medically necessary (thankful was in great hospital) and I chose my second c – section (happy for the right to choose, although probably was necessary).Don’t be so preachy. Btw…chose not to breastfeed….no problem with those that do. Don’t even start…my tween and teen are bright and healthy (healthier than the kids who were breastfeed but I am sure it’s a coincidence that my kids never miss school, never had strep or earaches or viruses….. )And….no organic foods. Let’s not judge each other. That’s worse than be in preachy :)

    March 19th, 2014 2:21 pm Reply
  • cdm

    every woman is different, every labor is different. a hundred years ago women and babies died during childbirth so you can’t argue that it’s always best to go all natural. personally i would rather have myself and my baby monitored. also, many women labor for days without any dilation…sometimes even after their water has broken which was the case with me. i was not offered an epidural at all for fear it would prevent me from being able to dilate. i was given a c-section after 36 hours in labor with zero progress. THANK GOD for modern medicine or my baby may not have survived. clearly i have a faulty cervix. and BTW i had NO mental fog during or after my c-sections (yes, i had 2) and my babies latched right after birth. i had no real problems recovering and both my babies thrived.

    March 19th, 2014 1:51 pm Reply
  • Rebecca Fellows

    I had two natural childbirths. No pain control at all. This was due to less than careful monitoring at the hospital and I was in transition before they administered. I can say the pain does take you to a new level. For a while after, nothing seems to be worth worrying about. Perhaps this is natures way of preparing the mind for the new baby. The focus changes. But it is not without side effects. It took me 6 years to have my second child. I was afraid of the pain. Some people tell me it is not pain, but pressure. And then I ask how much Demerol they got. I made the doctor promise I would get meds the second baby, though not an epidural. They blew it again. You will have benefits the more natural you go though. It prepares you mentally somehow. But you have a right to know it is really going to hurt.

    March 17th, 2014 11:28 am Reply
  • Kathy

    6 pregnancies. 6 natural births. The first of which was a frank-breech. I am a very stubborn woman!

    March 17th, 2014 8:09 am Reply
  • Due Diligence

    You make the statement that there is an “increased risk of caesarean section in the wake of epidural anaesthesia” and then cite two articles which do not support this hypothesis. The Cochrane review you cite specifically concludes “Caesarean delivery rates did not differ overall and nor were there effects of the epidural on the baby soon after birth; fewer babies needed a drug (naloxone) to counter opiate use by the mother for pain relief.” and the Kotaska article found there was no increased risk of caesarean section following epidural in 7 of 8 studies he analysed, and an increased risk in 1 study. Very sloppy.

    March 17th, 2014 6:32 am Reply
  • Stana

    I have been a childbirth professional (as a massage therapist, doula, educator & activist for over 11 years. This is one of the best pieces I have ever read. Thank you so much!

    March 16th, 2014 11:33 pm Reply
  • Val S

    I WISH someone had shared this kind of info with me 8 years ago, when my first was born. He was induced (at 38 weeks), because my doc thought I couldn’t handle the pregnancy anymore (and convinced me of it). Then I was given epidural, then they ‘accidentally’ put a LATEX (I’m allergic) catheter in, which I made them remove about 10 minutes later, but I was already swollen and in trouble from it. Then I refused another catheter, and went to the bathroom. After that, they said my sons heart-rate bottomed out (from what I know now, probably faulty with the equipment because of my moving and the catheter issue. Then I got a lovely emergency C-section. 14 months later when my second was born, my water broke and my body never actually went into labor… yet another induction with pitocen, this time the epidural didn’t work because of scar tissue (another risk they don’t tell you about), then my daughter got STUCK literally because my pelvis didn’t widen the way it should have, then of course, followed another emergency c-section… I warn every pregnant and might get prego woman I know about staying away from induction, epidurals, and looking into a more natural birthing process then most hospitals offer.

    March 16th, 2014 10:14 pm Reply
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  • Cara

    Hi. Am not not pro-epidural for everyone. I didn’t use it for my second birth and I breastfed with absolutely no problems for 20 months and yet I still ended up with postnatal depression. So blaming the epiduaral for causing depression and crediting breastfeeding with preventing it is a bit wild. I’m a midwife and childbirth educator and support my women with all their choices without passing scare techniques and personal opinion onto them. Most women would prefer not to have one and personally I don’t like them either and would rather support and coach a woman in other ways. However, it is not my birth experience and not my place to judge. For those women who need it and who are informed of realistic pros and cons the epidural can make an amazing difference and some feel more positive about their birth experience because they used this option.

    March 15th, 2014 6:16 am Reply
  • jenny

    But what can be done to help the women that has been laboring at 10cm for hours, when positions, water nothing works for her….
    I have attempted 2 drug free births. Used hypnobirth, done yoga, swam in the ocean regularly and of course eaten a diet of non gmo and organic food. Both births ended in epidurals. By request. I strongly feel women can birth babies with no intervention. Me however is another story. We will see with baby 3 eventually.
    Granted both my babies were not born in typical presentation. Maybe I am not meant for that path…

    March 14th, 2014 11:36 pm Reply
  • Lisa

    I’m not sure what study the author is trying to cite above, since none comes up when I click, but it’s well established that epidurals given *after 4 centimeters* do not increase your chance of a c-section and they only lengthen labor by an average of 15 minutes. Here’s the “gold standard” on epidurals, a massive meta-analysis that came out in 2011. I’ve read the actual study but I don’t own the rights to post it here, so this is the abstract:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000331.pub3/abstract

    For a much better explanation of why our c-section rate is “high” see this and the 26 sources cited therein:

    http://bostonwed-murakami.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-home-birth-natural-child-birth-and.html

    March 14th, 2014 9:25 pm Reply
  • D.

    I have no doubt that the rise in epidurals and the rise in C-Sections is the major cause for why all of the sudden the NICU’s are full to capacity all the time. 10 years ago you rarely even heard of a NICU. Now every baby goes there for some reason. Strange happenings instead of letting nature do her thing. I let nature do her thing with three births and don’t regret a minute of it. And my first baby (born in 1975) was breech and face-up presentation. All I had for “anesthesia” was pure oxygen. The doctor tried to turn her around, but that wasn’t happening so he just let her come naturally. Nowadays I have no doubt they would have rushed me into a c-section and who knows what the consequences would have been. I’m so glad I’m done with this part of my life. My DIL is studying to be a doula and I will certainly share this information with her.

    Thank you so much for broaching the subject. It NEEDS to be talked about and discussed by more women – at length.

    March 14th, 2014 8:27 pm Reply
  • Helen T

    DECADES ago I asked someone who was an expert in childbirth techniques what she considered was the best method: “Don’t go near a hospital” was her response.

    Boy, was I surprised at that – but not any longer……

    March 14th, 2014 4:00 pm Reply
  • Melissa Savage via Facebook

    It was created for every specific reasons. if you read the ‘fact/use’ sheet that comes with the drug it has a list of reasons when not to use and it lists a lot of common birth events. it is misused and over used. But keep in mind this isn’t the same as a spinal tap should you end up getting a c-section. All medical procedures to have risk. Know your BATNA always. Risk of action v risk of no action.

    March 14th, 2014 8:49 am Reply
  • Sonja Moors via Facebook

    For me, just the idea of a giant needle being inserted into my spine terrified me far more than the pain of labour and birth. Each baby came out wonderfully alert and contented, which the nurses all attributed to drug free saying epi babies are usually very lethargic.

    March 14th, 2014 12:16 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve felt this and quietly said a lot of these things for years. I was a labor and delivery nurse for 10 years. It was eye opening and some of why I left that position had to do with the fact that I felt helpless against the interventions that were constantly being used. It saddened me that birth had become mechanistic and I often felt like I worked in a factory.
    I hope this reaches many. Women should not be afraid to discover the power they have within themselves. We’re amazing creatures! I strive to dispell the fears that hold us hostage. This article was a great way to do that. Thanks for sharing!

    March 14th, 2014 12:08 am Reply
  • Natalie Davis Salden via Facebook

    As a nurse anesthetist, I could not disagree more.

    March 13th, 2014 11:58 pm Reply
  • Kirsten M. Lovan via Facebook

    Kimheng Meas meanwhile a mother in a US hospital dies in childbirth due to complications caused by interventions and a lack of care and resources. Don’t talk about first world problems when the US spends more money on birth per capita and still ranks 50th in maternal mortality. Break it down state by state and it gets worse. There are 2nd and 3rd world countries doing a better job… All mothers have a basic human right to birth with trained, qualified, compassionate care, epidural or not, first world or not.

    March 13th, 2014 10:57 pm Reply
  • Darcie Mayo via Facebook

    Had the worst experience with an epidural …and worse I have permanent back dangerous that im almost positive came from that.. I always urge expectant mothers to stay away from them if they can help it… I red an amazing old book “spiritual midwifery” for my second and had the most amazing natural labor and delivery . .

    March 13th, 2014 9:59 pm Reply
  • Kimheng Meas via Facebook

    First world problems. Meanwhile a mother in a remote village in Sudan dies from childbirth.

    March 13th, 2014 9:05 pm Reply
  • Daniella Cerasani via Facebook

    I had a very healthy pregnancy. Did chiropractor care during. Was very active. Good diet. Said no to drugs. I really was hoping for all natural, and at the end I wasn’t dilating and had to have a c-section. I was at 7cm. It was really hard for me because I never thought I would have a csection.

    March 13th, 2014 8:52 pm Reply
  • Susan Faia Eaton via Facebook

    Thankful for two drug-free births.

    March 13th, 2014 8:27 pm Reply
  • Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition and The Entwife’s Journal

    Yes I believe I would have a brain dead or completely dead son if I had an epidural with him. Instead I have a healthy strapping 14 year old who is very capable and bright. I didn’t have the epidural and I am so glad.

    March 13th, 2014 8:18 pm Reply
    • Casey

      What!?!? Brain dead or completely dead son due to an epidural? My wife was one of those on whom an epidural (and consequent Petocin) was made over-available to, and our son was born after a lengthy, excruciating labor. While my wife is determined to have this next baby without the unwanted interventions, our son is healthy, smart, and happy. Let’s not be over-dramatic and pretend that an epidural is a death notice.

      June 5th, 2014 1:04 pm Reply
  • Virginie Ferguson via Facebook

    This is an interesting read. I trained as a midwife in France but now live in the UK, where I had my 2 babies (on paracetamol only ;)). I can attest of the approach being very different, France being overmedicalised in my opinion. While I agree epidurals are a necessity for some cases, for too many others it has just become an everyday convenience and too few mothers are making an informed decision. This article brings the science behind some of the beliefs and ideas I had about epidurals based on my experience, thanks for sharing.

    March 13th, 2014 7:15 pm Reply
  • Yuliya Childers via Facebook

    I do agree with the author in principle. We are naturally programmed to have labor we have, therefore we are perfectly capable to endure it. However, you can’t discount some cases in which epidural may not just be medically necessary or justified, but is also needed for other reasons. My case was weird, but I think it was one of those where epidural was a big help. I was basically in labor for two months leading up to the actual delivery (which was still three months early!). I was in so much pain for two months being in and out of hospitals, barely sleeping and scared out of my mind that when it was time to have the baby I felt it was important for me to have no pain, to be more in control of the labor process. I didn’t want my pain to dictate decisions I make, and I wanted to have calm and peaceful experience. And I was grateful to get that last minute epidural because after prolonged misery I experienced, I had what I needed most — calm and clear mind. Also couldn’t help pointing out that some of the alternatives outlined could be hardly afforded by many women. Some of them aren’t covered by insurance either.

    March 13th, 2014 5:20 pm Reply
  • Mary Ann via Facebook

    So true! Thanks for posting.

    March 13th, 2014 4:59 pm Reply
  • Orly Partiyeli Tabibi via Facebook

    Thank you! Fiona Yousef

    March 13th, 2014 4:42 pm Reply
  • Cheryl Dwyer

    My children were born 37 & 40 years ago, when epidurals were fitst coming out. We were young & on welfare, and I distinctly remember the OB on duty when my son was born telling me that epi’s were only available for women with private insurance, not ‘welfare rats’. In the end, I was grateful for the minimal care. I delivered both my children, with my mother coaching me, and recovered faster. I was up walking an hour after my sons birth, just to get up and move. Since then the rules have changed, but then you were discharged as fast as possible, with no baby care packages to go with you.

    March 13th, 2014 4:22 pm Reply
  • Lacie Parker via Facebook

    I had my epidural at 8 1/2 cm. They shouldn’t have given it to me. My speedy labor slowed way down, babys heart rate dropped, I pushed for over two hours and I still have HORRIBLE lower back pain almost four years later. I’m only 23. I should not have back pain yet lol. NEVER AGAIN.

    March 13th, 2014 3:37 pm Reply
  • Amy Dewire via Facebook

    I had an epidural with my first and it only worked on one side. They offered to redo it, and I declined. I told them they had their chance and botched it, the next time they might kill me. The solution however, since I was stuck in the hospital bed due to the monitoring they insisted on doing, was to give me extra medication and have me lie on the side where I had pain. This further restricted my movement. No surprise that baby came out drugged and sleepy with poor feeding. The next two babies I skipped the epidural. Laboring in the water at home was more comfortable than an epidural.

    March 13th, 2014 3:25 pm Reply
  • Joyce Williams via Facebook

    Lauren Williams

    March 13th, 2014 3:01 pm Reply
  • Megan DeFee Russo via Facebook

    One of the reasons I became a doula! There’s nothing like natural birth!

    March 13th, 2014 2:56 pm Reply
    • Plexus Slim Marlene Farley

      Megan, please add me on Facebook :)

      March 15th, 2014 11:59 am Reply
  • Patrice

    I think this article is extremely harsh and insensitive towards the expectant moms who are physically unable to have a safe vaginal birth. After having a myomectomy at the age of 26, I would be at risk for uterine rupture which would be fatal for both me and baby. I would love to see a more balanced approach to this topic as this article does not provide it.

    March 13th, 2014 2:42 pm Reply
    • Pat in TX

      Oversensitive much? Of course she was not referring to someone who cannot safely deliver vaginally! And she was not referring to baby-saving c-sections either (except for the high number of babies who “need” a c-section due to medical interventions in the first place)! She was referring to the majority of women. Those who go to a hospital, don’t get the support they need, and cave under pressure. Try not to experience criticism from those who are not looking to criticize you, and in fact are not speaking to your situation at all:-)

      March 13th, 2014 3:50 pm Reply
      • Kate Handy

        I think the one overreacting may be you. This article is an extremely biased and full of hypocrisy. This article is full of fear mongering with terms like “cutting up” and “shooting up” all with the intention to derive negative imagery and connotation making the people who elect these procedures seem like irresponsible individuals. Shame on her.

        March 13th, 2014 4:03 pm Reply
        • Pat in TX

          I guess we can all see your opinion from your “I loved my anesthesiologist” comment above. We all make different choices, and Dr Brogan has a right to inform women of the consequences of their choices whether they agree with the mainstream physicians or even your opinion. Any woman who is facing those choices should do more research – long before she is in labor – and not take the opinion of one woman, be it yours or mine or even Dr. Brogan. If you don’t agree with the lifestyle promoted by this website, why hang out here and complain? I am sure there are plenty of blogs promoting your views as well. The people Sarah allows to post here, as well as Sarah herself, are a light in the darkness to many women.

          March 14th, 2014 7:03 pm Reply
          • Megan

            Lots of people with different viewpoints read these articles who have many different, and quite possibly still valid, opinions. Not everyone who values this site are agreed on everything. Personally it drives me nuts when people quote the Bible at me on this forum which is about health but that is just not a belief that I share with them, doesn’t mean they don’t belong here because we don’t share it.

            March 20th, 2014 5:04 pm
      • Marlene

        Well said

        March 15th, 2014 11:54 am Reply
  • Josee Gagnon via Facebook

    Nina Mazloum Sylvie Brujic Aisha Hajjar

    March 13th, 2014 2:36 pm Reply
  • Robert Jurado via Facebook

    Allison Bell Belt, I have no reason to doubt that the Psychiatrist who was featured in this article is highly qualified to speak about the complications she sees. They may well and truly be related to epidural analgesia, which is typically what is performed–not epidural “anesthesia” as mentioned in the article. I can’t say that I am confident in a complete lack of bias (in the biostatiscal/epidemiologic sense of the word) in assertion that epidural analgesia for labor is necessarily bad. This article smacks of fear-mongering regarding epidural analgesia for labor. I’m sure there is plenty of empirical experience of uncomplicated labor epidurals. I am sure that many parturients (thousands? millions?) have epidurals without issues, and I bet this Psychiatrist sees very few of those. Naturally, that would be the case, because there would be no reason for a Psychiatry consult in those millions of uncomplicated cases. So, if all one sees is the cases with complications, I would expect that one might think that complications are more common than they actually are. All that being said, epidurals are not benign procedures. There are complications. There are errors–as in all of medicine and surgical care. Sometimes, yes, the consequences are catastrophic. These procedures should not be taken lightly. A cavalier attitude about epidural analgesia for labor is not advisable. I do agree that they may be done too often in this country–for many reasons, including what happens to be common medical practice (or common patient expectation) in a particular place and time. As an Anesthesiologist I would advise patients to take with a grain of salt, and a little bit of healthy skepticism, anything a non-Anesthesiologist has to say about matters pertaining to Anesthesiology. Patients need to be truly informed to make these decisions about their care. They need to see both sides of the issue.

    March 13th, 2014 2:24 pm Reply
    • Kate Handy

      Awesome response! I loved my anesthesiologist!

      March 13th, 2014 3:52 pm Reply
  • Kelly Burns Lieber via Facebook

    The strange thing to me is women who liken getting an epi to novocaine at the dentist’s and request one immediately as feeling discomfort isn’t sn option. really?

    March 13th, 2014 2:01 pm Reply
  • Rhvonda Lee Launsby via Facebook

    That’s why I had my babies at home did not want to be drugged

    March 13th, 2014 1:51 pm Reply
  • Daniel Lenochka Khashchuk via Facebook

    Loving my homebirths! Dont have to worry about epidurals :)

    March 13th, 2014 1:45 pm Reply
  • Angela Ahlstedt via Facebook

    However, for some of us, a c-section was not our choice. My daughter was breech and I took every avenue to turn her but my doctor and I were unable. We found out during the c-section that it was because her cord was wrapped around her neck. I don’t think it’s fair to have such harsh words because some cases are unable to be prevented.

    March 13th, 2014 1:44 pm Reply
    • anne

      The cord was around my son’s neck too. He was baby #2. I ventured on to spinningbabies.com An Amazing site !!!! No luck with turning and had a c-section. I had a successful V-bac all natural with a staff of nurses and Doctor all ready for it. Thanks be to God it went as well as it did. It seems that hospitals are coming around a bit with pursuing and encouraging natural birth. Child number four; God willing, will be with a midwife.

      March 14th, 2014 11:28 pm Reply
  • Teodora Nutas via Facebook

    I am blessed with a great doctor!!! She rocks!!!

    March 13th, 2014 1:34 pm Reply
  • Fiona Yousef via Facebook

    Orly Partiyeli Tabibi

    March 13th, 2014 1:33 pm Reply
  • Julie

    Like Julie Homer, I’m wondering how much this article is an exaggeration also. My doctor and the hospital (which has the 2nd highest number of deliveries in country) would not give epidurals until at least 8 cm dilation.

    March 13th, 2014 1:30 pm Reply
    • Sara r.

      Why on earth would anyone need an epidural if they have already made it to 8cm?! The worst is nearly over.

      March 17th, 2014 12:55 pm Reply
  • Lisa Schell via Facebook

    Interesting read. Thank you.

    March 13th, 2014 1:14 pm Reply
  • Alison Bell Belt via Facebook

    Robert Jurado, When that psychiatrist is a Reproductive Psychiatrist. I’m sure she’s imminently more qualified to speak on this than the average GP or Ped is to speak on nutrition or vaccines and that doesn’t stop them from talking.

    March 13th, 2014 1:08 pm Reply
  • megan

    its not a natural birth if you the birthing women is not in total control of everything. know one telling you what to do and no one touching you except your hubby/man when you want him to. I birthed home just me hubby baby and the Lord. AWESOME! the way God intend it to be. and hurt sure but not as much as those who are forced to lay on back or side for Dr pleasure. I was in position that I knew I needed to be in. for me that was on my knees. http://www.unhinderliving.com

    ..scripture..

    GENESIS 3:16 “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.

    its suppose to hurt and if you don’t let it you are cheating you and the kid. but be in position that you know is right not what someone tells you They think i right for them. its you birthing.

    March 13th, 2014 1:04 pm Reply
    • Dove Elbers

      Good for you having so many strong beliefs that obviously supported your very positive birth experience! Have you heard of HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method)? So much of HypnoBirthing is in line with what you’ve put forth… except for one thing: the interpretation of God’s intentions around labor sensations. The HypnoBirthing curriculum provides an alternative interpretation of these teachings – that after the fall, humans had to work. After the knowledge gained from eating the apple, we had to labor and toil in order to live (and birth). This is different than severe pain. HypnoBirthing teaches that we can experience birth more calmly and comfortably when we can set aside our fear of birth and for many women the main fear is that they will not be able to tolerate the pain. The main premise of HypnoBirthing is that when we think it’s going to hurt, our birthing muscles react by tensing up – which prolongs labor and creates pain. I am curious to hear your opinion about HypnoBirthing and how I can teach it to women with a strong Christian faith in such a way that it supports their belief in God’s good intentions for them. Thank you for your post. It is inspiring!

      March 15th, 2014 9:56 am Reply
    • Megan

      I dare you to tell a woman who gave birth without drugs regardless of who ‘caught’ the baby that it was not a natural birth – to their faces…. haha so much judgemental attitudes in this forum sometimes

      March 20th, 2014 5:00 pm Reply
  • Jamie Lynn via Facebook

    I didn’t say they were demonizing epidurals. I just stated my experience with it and stated that women need to educate themselves before going into labor. All these routine and medically necessary epidural are not necessary. That is why women need to fully be in control of their bodies, know their limits, and say no to someone pushing for something.

    March 13th, 2014 12:57 pm Reply
  • Robert Jurado via Facebook

    Since when is a Psychiatrist qualified to comment on Anesthesiology?

    March 13th, 2014 12:31 pm Reply
    • Johman

      She’s a bit more than your run of the mill psychiatrist, Mr. SmartyPants.

      March 13th, 2014 1:46 pm Reply
      • watchmom3

        Thank you Johman, as I was about to tell “Mr. SmartyPants” the same thing! Amazing how some want to “shoot the messenger” when they just don’t like or agree with what is being said. Kelly is not only a breath of fresh air,, but one smart gal!

        April 4th, 2014 1:41 pm Reply
    • WBD

      Since giving birth is primarily a brain-firing-hormone process that has most everything to do with neuroscience and most nothing to do with anesthesiology. And lets me honest, compiling statistical facts doesn’t take an anesthesiologist to figure…

      March 14th, 2014 12:09 am Reply
  • Brandy Mills via Facebook

    With my fourth child, I strongly believed I was in transition. The doctor came in and checked me and said I was barely 3 cm and had at least 8 more hours to go. He was so adamant that I was in for a long labor, it broke my spirit! I said fine, I need some pain relief! So I had an epi and not 20 minutes later I was complete. If I had just listened to my body instead of some doctor! To make matters worse, they did not give me fluids with the epi and my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat tanked. I had blood pressure too low to read for at least 90 seconds. I woke up to a nurse screaming in my face to push or I was going to lose my baby. The operating room was down four floors and in a trailer outside due to remodeling. He wouldn’t have made it. Somehow I got him out in less than two minutes. Now, I take him to speech, physical and occupational therapy three days a week for an hour and a half. Was it worth it? NO WAY.

    March 13th, 2014 12:31 pm Reply
  • Julie Homer via Facebook

    I’m not sure I believe everything this person wrote. How does epidural pass through to the baby? It blocks nerve sensations in the moms spine. Most every baby I have delivered with epidural has has 8/9 apgars. I spoke with a nurse and in her 40+ years of epidural use in moms there has never been a paralyzed mom.

    March 13th, 2014 12:27 pm Reply
    • Jacqueline

      Ok, a PT here with 20 years experience. I have seen a woman with spastic paralysis of both legs after an epidural during pregnancy. She was separated from her infant for maybe 2 months after birth. I also saw her again in rehab about 5 years later, still with spastic paralysis and using a wheelchair. Also, a woman with scleroderma who had an epidural during a toe amputation, ended up with paraplegia and died a few months later. Lastly, a man in his 50s had an epidural for a bunionectomy, spastic paralysis of both legs. No, it isn’t common, but it does happen.

      March 14th, 2014 8:13 pm Reply
  • Jamie Lynn via Facebook

    I had an epidural and it was amazing. I labored for over 36 hours with no sleep for 48 hours. By the time I got to the hospital, I was 5cm and exhausted. I had no strength and no energy to even think about pushing. I was fully informed of my options, not pushed. So I decided that yes, I wanted it, so I could at least get a nap in. The thing is, I educated myself before I went into labor. I was not pushed into anything. Women need to educate themselves so they don’t feel pushed or forced into anything, especially at such a vulnerable time.

    March 13th, 2014 12:24 pm Reply
  • Monica Lenne via Facebook

    While I agree that when medically unnessary, an epidural/c section is more risky than beneficial. And I do notice more and more of these planned deliveries and c sections but there are cases where c sections (which require anesthesia) are medically necessary and life saving. I don’t believe in demonizing in generalizations.

    March 13th, 2014 12:18 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    I certainly agree that there are many risks involved in medical intervention. But sometimes there is very little the mother can do.
    I planned for and longed to have a natural water birth. However, after 42 hours of active labor and very little progress, my husband & I, along with the advice the doula & the midwife made the decision to try an epidural & low dose of pitocin. I was nervous about the risks involved, but I was even more concerned about my exhaustion & the possible need for a c-section if my baby went into distress.The epidural allowed me to get a few hours of much needed rest so I could regain enough energy for 2 hours of pushing.
    We were blessed with a son who was born perfectly healthy & I had no personal side-effects or issues with breastfeeding.
    Sometimes the risks are just worth taking. And although I was disappointed that my plan of a natural water birth went by the wayside, I was at least able to labor in the water for a while & I don’t feel that I ‘failed’ as mom- I did everything I could. The best I could do for my baby in the end was take care of myself to prevent further need for intervention.

    March 13th, 2014 12:14 pm Reply
    • Becky

      I have had very similar experiences to you twice. I understand the risks but sometimes that is a risk worth taking. I know I may be an exception but I felt much better and recovered better after my epidural births than I did after my all natural deliveries.

      March 13th, 2014 12:34 pm Reply
    • Eva

      I agree and I too had a very similar experience. I did yoga and birth-hypnosis for months before my due date and was sure that I would do a natural birth. But after being in labour for 24 hours with nearly no progress I was so exhausted. I said yes to an epidural and it was like going from hell to heaven. I immediately fell asleep and got some hours of well needed rest. When it was time I had no problem pushing. I could feel the contractions quite well but they were not unbearable. For me the epidural made me be able to enjoy the birth.

      I felt a bit bad about it for a while afterwards but then I thought that who would do surgery without anestesia? And then go around bragging about it? Yes there are risks, but sometimes it’s worth it.

      March 18th, 2014 5:54 pm Reply
  • Nicki Morin Black via Facebook

    16 years ago I read up on epidurals, and spoke to a woman across the country who was permanently paralyzed from hers. This was one of the catalysts that steered me toward a completely med-free birth.

    March 13th, 2014 12:12 pm Reply
  • Sara Frogner via Facebook

    so happy, I desperately wanted an epi, but the 1 anesthesiologist was busy in a c section when I was 9cm so it was too late…I was pisssssed but knowing that I couldn’t even tell a difference from my 1st delivery WITH the epi & this time without…SO MUCH BETTER! And way easier too!

    March 13th, 2014 12:12 pm Reply
  • Magda

    I can’t recall now how I started on my path to the eventual homebirths (2) of my two sons but I’m SOOO glad I did. I have 2 healthy pregnancies and 2 lovely homebirths (both were pretty long, coming in at 24 and 20 hours). I have nothing but good memories.

    March 13th, 2014 11:50 am Reply
  • Skylar

    The more I learn about all this the more, I guess, angry I get about my own experience with my the birth of my son. I was 21 and had an extremely healthy pregnancy and I was not high risk at all. I started feeling contractions in the afternoon the day he was born, they were inconsistent and tolerable so I didn’t think I was in labor although I was two days late. After about 2 hours my family sent me and my husband to the hospital to find out if I was in labor. When I got there I was told that I was already 4cm dilated and in active labor, second stage labor. Immediately after that someone came into the triage room and started prepping me for an IV. I had wanted a natural birth because of having JRA (Arthritic), and I did tell them this beforehand. We asked them what the IV was for and they told me just in case. I said I didn’t want an IV and they told me it was hospital policy. They stuck the IV in my wrist and immediately someone else came in with a bag of fluid. I asked what the fluid was and wasn’t given an answer, so I said assertively I don’t want any medicine. The nurse said it was going to help my labor progress, but neglected to mention that it was pitocin (I found out later, long after my birth, like a year after). Keep in mind I had progressed from 0cm to 4cm in a matter of 2 1/2 hours. I didn’t need any help progressing. So after that they brought me into the delivery room, those contractions that were tolerable before that I was breathing through were no longer so tolerable and they felt like they were suffocating me. I reached 8cm in another hour and a hlaf but I couldn’t take the increased intensity of contractions the pitocin caused. So they offered me the epidural saying “we don’t usually do it this late in the game but we see how intense your contractions are”. They had hooked up to monitors from the moment I sat in the delivery room. I was in so much agony I said yes. They put the epidural low in my spine, I felt the electric shock and the pain went away along with my mental clarity. I started pushing about 15 minutes later. I couldn’t feel a thing. Shortly into the pushing the nurses and the OB started to panic. They said my son’s heart rate was dropping and to prep for emergency c-section just in case. They like that term, just in case. I said no. I told them I will not consent to a c-section. They told me my baby would die if I didn’t. Finally one nurse who had some sense stepped in and gave me an oxygen mask and told me to breathe for my baby and push as hard as I could. I did that and less than hour later he was out. He had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times which they conveniently blamed the low oxygen on. I had a scan two days prior and he was head down and no part of his umbilical cord was around his neck. They unwrapped him cut the cord and immediately took him to the little table thing where they cleaned him and did their little tests which I was not informed of or asked if I consented to. Finally they gave him to my husband first. Yeah not me. My husband brought him straight over to me. I wasn’t able to breastfeed him for some reason. They took him away to the nursery about a half hour after he was born and left me alone in the delivery room basically temporarily paralyzed from the waste down. My baby was totally healthy, so I can’t figure out why they did this. They left me on a pitocin drip for hours after that telling me they were just going to let the bag finish. I was on pitocin for 8 or 8 hours that day and my labor only lasted about 4 hours with 1 hour of pushing. After a couple of hours they allowed my husband to bring my baby back to me. They had given him a vaccination by bullying permission out of my hubby who wanted to come ask me first. His first feeding from me occurred several hours after his birth, the nurses had already fed him formula from a bottle twice. Needless to say I had so many problems breastfeeding that my supply dried up after a moth. It was the best and worst experience of my life. The best because it got my beautiful son after 9 long months. No one could take that away from me, not even the hospital. But it was a horrible birthing experience and it took me a long toime to finally get angry about it. The more I learned the angrier I got. Now I know better for next time. Next time I’m having a natural birth at home if I can. If not in a birthing center. Sorry I’m so long winded. Every time I think about it I just have to rant about it.

    March 13th, 2014 11:06 am Reply
    • Josella

      Thank you for taking the time to post this. Babies and mothers seem to be in a safer environment , when NOT in a hospital birth situation. MOST hospitals have this same protocol, that you were under the authority of. Pitocin apparently ‘whipped’ your uterine muscles around so violently as to cause the cord to wrap around your baby’s neck. Luckily, all turned out okay- thanks to that thoughtful nurse. It would be so good for this alternative birthing venue involving a Doula to increase exponentially – I sure wish that I had known about it for the birth of my three sons. NOTHING in magazines, t.v. or newspapers teaching me of the possibility of having a Doula assisted home birth. So had never learned of this possibility. Unfortunately, only SIX global corporations own all of the world’s teaching venues of t.v., newspapers, books, and magazines, etc. –and then channel the $$$$ to hospitals, global pharmaceutical companies, Con Agra, and all huge, global corporations, etc.

      March 13th, 2014 11:56 am Reply
    • Christine Rodgers

      Please, Rant your heart out! I had my last baby in 1977 and it was NOT as barbaric as your birthing experience! The hospitals had finally gotten around to accepting natural childbirth if you requested it and you and your husband had taken the classes. The nurse was trained and joined us to support me from the time I was in second stage. Basically the Dr. was called to catch, so to speak, but since my son was face up, the Dr. did prove helpful. It was an amazing experience and all those hormons caused me to bond intensely with my baby and my husband as well as that great and competent nurse who knew how to coach.

      It was much better than my two other births, ten and eight years before where I was left alone basically with someone to check on me and time contractions periodically. I received an IV at some point and then at the last minute a team ran in, gave me a spinal at which point I felt nothing and was paralyzed from the waste down, the Dr. gave me a huge episiotomy and then some guy standing over my shoulde literally pushed hard on my stomach to push the baby out. But I swear your experience sounds worse than mine in the late 60’s. At least I didn’t know any better. I guess the late 70’s in the mid-southwest US were a window of hospital awareness and civility..

      March 13th, 2014 12:10 pm Reply
      • megan

        Amen! the dr catches. I hate when pompous dr nurses midwives say they delivered the baby. no the deliver is from the mom! it came out of her. I have been asked so many time who delivered my baby at home and then I explain this and its like a light goes on in peoples heads that mom does do that. then I say hubby/ daddy catch her. I could have but left that for him so he had part in this. or she could have just come out on the blankets we had right there as the floor was no more the 4″ away when she came out it would not have hurt her.

        March 13th, 2014 1:19 pm Reply
    • megan

      unhinderliving.com. read this and push for what right no mater where you decide to birth. I did the at home as you can read below in comment. but anywhere you north push for what you want and know is right. I would have pulled out iv if they svn mange to get it in me. nothing goes in with consent!!!

      March 13th, 2014 1:13 pm Reply
    • Pat in TX

      I suggest you find a lactation consultant or meet with La Leche League before your next baby. They will help you establish a good nursing relationship with your baby. It can make all the difference!

      March 13th, 2014 3:56 pm Reply
  • Carolina

    Great Article! I definitely cringe when I hear women who have their birth scheduled on a certain so that it doesn’t interfere with other commitments. I will definitely be sharing this article!

    March 13th, 2014 10:44 am Reply
  • Sara R.

    Shared on my doula FB page! I think that so many women don’t understand the risks, and feel like they “deserve” an epidural. Personally I can’t stand being numb and realized pretty soon into my first pregnancy that I was going to avoid that if at all possible.

    March 13th, 2014 10:40 am Reply
  • Lea

    Thanks for the great article! Very interesting points.

    March 13th, 2014 10:23 am Reply
  • Miriam Kearney

    I was lucky enough to have my babies (40 years ago) in a progressive (read: new) hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. They were great about natural childbirth there while other hospitals merely sneered or just refused to do it. I delivered my first child in the middle of the night and I remember them asking if I wanted an epidural because they needed to know whether they should wake up the anesthesiologist. Not sure how I had the presence of mind at that point to ask a pointed question. How much longer do you think I’ll be? They then said something utterly amazing to me. Oh, maybe another 20 minutes. I had been in labour for several hours by this time. I remember laughing when they said it. If I had been find all this time, why 20 minutes before she would be born would I want to do that to my baby? Why would they even ask?

    March 13th, 2014 10:18 am Reply
  • Stephanie

    GENIUS article! I have been teaching HypnoBirthing classes for 8 years and this will definitely be going on my website as a link!

    Thank you, Sarah, for getting the word out by posting this.

    March 13th, 2014 10:18 am Reply
    • Lita

      I wish I could find a dr, midwife, or something around here like this! My first and im 30 weeks and they already keep insisting I schedule to be induced and everything. I think id rather have her at home by myself then go. everythings fine, no concerns so why should I have to schedule it?

      April 18th, 2014 3:34 am Reply

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