Saturday Morning Quote: Medicated Labor is Not Painless.

“The myth is that the medicated labor is painless. But it is the medicated mother who later talks most about pain (and it is she who is often seen during labor suffering and out of control). She may have thought drugs would see her through labor, so she didn’t take the opportunity to get her mind and body ready.

In contrast, the trained, natural-childbirth mother talks primarily of hard work- because she knows what to do in labor.”

-Natural Chilbirth The Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon, p. 5.

Disclaimer:  My regular readers will know that I am not against a judiciously placed epidural or other pain medication when it is truly needed. I just found the concept that medicated labor is not painless a very intriguing one.

Proper preparation for what is to come, though it’s not necessarily a guarantee of an easy labor, can truly help the mother to navigate what she is experiencing. Even if plans end up changing completely or she decides she needs pain medication after all, she at least has the satisfaction of knowing that she was working with her body and the comfort of being prepared for the changes to come. Conversely, it seems that simply assuming that the pain meds will get you through labor easily is sure to land you for a real shock. Just as preparation is not a guarantee of a fast and easy labor, pain medication cannot be relied upon solely for the woman’s comfort.

What is your take on this quote? Has anyone experienced both a medicated and an unmedicated birth? And, if so, which one did you feel was more difficult?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. A close friend of mine had her baby 6 months ago and is still feeling pain from her epidural. She can not sit or lay down without a painful tingling sensation in her lower back. I, for one, am much more afraid of an epidural than the pain of childbirth.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Amy on November 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I had an epidural almost two years ago and it was a great experience. There was pain durning delivery, but I knew that would be the case, so I was not surprise. Other than that, however, I had no pain while i was laboring. I thought that it was interesting that she commented that medicated mothers were out of control, my experience was just different I guess. I was on fb,I took a nap, I read books, I visited with family, all during 16 hours of labor. I think any mom should be prepared to give birth with or without meds. I was mentally prepared beforehand that I might not be to have an epidural, as my doctor told me to be… You never know what going to happen.

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment, Amy! I very much agree that mothers should be prepared mentally for going either way… with or without meds. I think it could be a very shocking experience for a medicated mom to expect zero pain and then experience bad breakthrough pain- OR for a natural childbirth advocate to be stunned to find that unmedicated labor was something she felt unattainable once she faced it.
      As far as the “out of control” issue, my experience has definitely not been that all moms with epidurals were out of control at the end- some are, some aren’t. I think it depends on a variety of individual factors at the time- mental preparation, level of pain tolerance and/or comfort, level of shock if the epidural is turned down at the last minute for pushing, etc. Regardless, it should never be an issue up for judging. Birth is not a performance art to win or lose. (And heaven knows I wasn’t entirely in control during pushing at my own unmedicated birth!) 🙂 You are right that every time is different, and that’s totally okay. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply

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