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Yes I took an Epidural but that Doesn’t Mean I am Weak


October 21, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Mother & Baby Care,Pregnancy & Childbirth,Raising a Parent


es I took an Epidural but that Doesn't Mean I am Weak

Most new moms face judgement in some form or the other, whether it is about how much weight they have put on, whether or not they breastfeed their child, whether they choose to co-sleep or not, even how they brought their own baby to life! There is a stigma in our society about anything that is not a “natural” or “normal” delivery and moms are shamed for opting for any medical intervention, drugs, pain relief or C-sections. Well, I did opt for an epidural for pain relief during my labour and I am not ashamed about it. 

 

A Little Background:

I did everything I could to try for a drug-free delivery. Ever since my second trimester started, I practiced prenatal yoga, lamaze breathing and went for walks regularly. I watched birthing videos and listened to garbha sanskar music to maintain positivity. I also trusted my doctor completely. So when I was past my due date and my baby had not yet descended, when my doctor suggested that chemical induction would be the safest option in my situation, I agreed to go ahead with it. However I was not mentally and physically prepared for what happens after the induction. Inducing labour causes the whole labour process to be compressed into a much shorter time span, resulting in contractions that come stronger, faster and much closer together.

 

The onset of contractions was so rapid and with such frequency and intensity that I was unable to handle the pain in spite of trying all the breathing and exercising that I had been practicing for so many months. So when the doctor asked if I would like an epidural, again I readily agreed. Here is why I am not ashamed about it:

 

1.There is nothing “unnatural” or “abnormal” about childbirth:

There is a lot of undue stress on natural and normal delivery. I don’t know what these words mean. Giving birth is one of the most natural and incredible things a woman can do, no matter how she chooses to do it. Yes, our ancestors gave birth for centuries without any drugs, but the risks and deaths associated with it were much higher too. Today science and technology have advanced enough to alleviate many of the risks of pregnancy and labour. And if going natural all the way is such a big deal, then we should do away with sonographies, foetal heart rate monitors, progesterone shots, anything that science or technology has provided to aid in pregnancy right? Why is there no stigma associated with any of this?

 

2. I had taken an informed decision:

Well before my delivery, I had discussed the benefits and risks of an epidural with my doctor and my prenatal instructor. I had also done ample research and was well aware of the pros and cons of the decision I was taking. Even before taking the injection itself, I had a long discussion with the anesthesiologist. It was not a decision made under pressure from the doctor or under duress of pain, but a well thought-out and informed one.

 

3.There is a lot of misinformation about the risks:

Yes there are risks associated with taking an epidural, as you would from most medical procedures. However the cases of long-term side effects of an epidural are extremely rare. I would urge you to discuss these with your ob-gyn and take an educated decision yourself, based on what works best in your own situation.

 

4. I could conserve my energy for the actual delivery:

The first stage of my labour started at around 6am and Baby N was born at close to 11:30pm, post which I would need to spend another hour in the delivery room and then be up nursing several times throughout the night. I received epidural at 8:30pm and by then I was already exhausted and demotivated. Thanks to the relief in the form of the epidural, I was able to get a break, rest, refocus and conserve some energy for actually pushing during the delivery and then giving my newborn baby the attention and care he needed.

 

5. I could actually enjoy the most profound and life-changing experience of my life:

After labour was induced, I was in so much pain and so tired, rather than enjoying this beautiful experience, I just wanted it to be over. Almost as soon as I received the epidural, I felt instant relief. For the last 3 hours or so of labour, I was in a much better place, holding hands with my husband, laughing and talking to the doctors and nurses. This is how I would have wanted my birthing experience to be, relaxed and happy, not a crying, screaming mess.

 

6. I was able to push!:

One of the common misconceptions is that epidural impedes the woman’s ability to push during a contraction. Epidural is primarily an analgesic which provides pain relief, not an anesthesia which leads to total lack of feeling. So I did feel my legs becoming weak but not entirely numb. Also doctors usually monitor and adjust the dosage of epidural to increase or decrease sensation in the lower body. Usually before delivery the dosage is dropped, so that I was able to feel the pressure of the contraction and I was able to push as required.

 

7. I don’t see what the big deal is:

When we are unwell or injured, we take medication and pain relief without so much as batting an eyelid, though we know many of the side effects of these drugs too. Would you think about undergoing any medical procedure without an anesthetic? Then why be so critical of a woman choosing pain relief during childbirth?

 

I have huge respect for those who choose not to take an epidural. But that doesn’t mean I have any less respect for myself for choosing to take one. My body, my choice and I did what I had to. People say it doesn’t give you the “full” experience of childbirth but I beg to differ. What was most important to me was having a healthy and happy birthing experience and that is exactly what I got. So I request you to please stop with the epidural shaming!

 

They say “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” So if I chose to be comfortable during my labour, does that mean I am weak or any less courageous? Sorry, I have to disagree here. Ask any mom and she will tell you that giving birth to and raising her children is probably the most courageous things she has ever done.


I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. This post is for the 20th October prompt: “You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.

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    Comments
    1. Roshan Radhakrishnan said on October 21, 2017 6:55 pm:

      As an anaesthesiologist, I am the guy giving these labour analgesics and epidurals and I can assure you that people trying to belittle you for taking an epidural are outdated fools. I’ve done plenty of these (including a minister’s daughter) and always had a favourable outcome – this allows the mother to be an active part of the delivery and yet frees her from pain. It is a wonderful option that every woman should be given when the time comes. Pain is no longer essential to deliver a child.

      1. Baby & Beyond said on October 23, 2017 10:49 am:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment here Doc! I hope more people read this so that they are able to take informed decisions and not get swayed by public ignorance.

    2. Aesha Shah said on October 21, 2017 8:40 pm:

      This is so true Mahak. Sometimes we choose comfort as a mom while taking some tough decisions but that doesn’t make us less courageous. Wonderful take on the prompt.

      1. Baby & Beyond said on October 23, 2017 10:48 am:

        Thank you Aesha. You are one mom I really admire so means a lot to read this comment from you.

    3. Sreedeep said on October 21, 2017 10:45 pm:

      This was a good read, Mahak. When my wife gave birth to our first son, the first thing the doctor said when she saw me was how courageous my wife had been. Up until then, that was one trait I didn’t associate with her, and I had known her for barely two years. But I felt so proud when the doctor said those words and indeed, birthing a child is the most courageous thing a mother could do!

      1. Baby & Beyond said on October 23, 2017 10:47 am:

        Thank you Sreedeep. I’m sure it would mean the world to her to know that you felt this way. We are lucky to have such supportive men in our lives.

    4. keerthi vydyula said on October 22, 2017 11:21 pm:

      Giving birth to a baby…having a new life budding in ur belly for 9 months and carrying additional weight….what not the list goes on! All the phases and moments that include from becoming pregnant to child birth and after years of their growth are something a mother takes up not as a challenge but as a loving responsibility which i feel only a mother can do. It makes her courageous in every aspect. People should feel shameful to even point-out a mother’s choice. It his one’s own ABSOLUTE RIGHT to choose what they want! Do not worry about the name callers Mahak, I sometimes feel worried what kind of values they will be giving their children if they themselves are so narrow minded! Sigh!

      1. Baby & Beyond said on October 23, 2017 10:46 am:

        True Keerthi. I don’t know why people are so quick to judge others.

    5. Naythar said on October 23, 2017 12:11 am:

      Good on you mama. My first birth was induced and without an epidural because I wasnt even informed about it. It was a horrible experience for me which I prefer not to remember. For the birth of my second I took an epidural and it was a much happier labour and I came out of the experience less scarred. So good on you for choosing whatever you are comfortable with because it is your body and your life.

      1. Baby & Beyond said on October 23, 2017 10:45 am:

        I am so happy to read this! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Even for me, having a healthy and happy delivery was more important than being all hung up on going “natural”.

    6. Leo said on October 23, 2017 10:30 am:

      Glad you’ve persisted with the challenge, and once again, love that Roo-N photograph!

    7. Apeksha Rao said on October 23, 2017 12:57 pm:

      Kudos to you for having the guts to choose what was right for you!

    8. Anjana said on October 25, 2017 9:42 pm:

      Like Roshan said, epidurals are a boon for mothers. My gynaec, who is also my aunt, told me that an epidural lets you be calm and available during the labour to enjoy the arrival of the child. Two epidurals and happily doing great! <3 Hi-five there!