Epidural = Not Natural Birth?

By Expert Contributor: Lisa Dowling

 Image via: elhospital.com

Image via: elhospital.com

I enjoyed a lovely visit recently from a Mom who attended a GentleBirth Childbirth Education Workshop with me a few months back.  She had her gorgeous little baby with her.  With chatted a little about her birth and she remarked that on a forum she was on there was on-going discussion about how having an epidural means you did not have a natural birth.

It made this first time Mom feel dis-empowered and guilty for having an epidural! Personally I think it is absolutely awful to watch women cut down other women in the postnatal period when they can be feeling quite vulnerable.

My own belief is that having an epidural does not make your birth any less natural then someone who had a completely un-medicated birth. 

Fact is everyone’s pain threshold is different so I think an epidural is a great tool to have on the day if you have exhausted all avenues and you don’t feel like you can cope or if you simply wanted an epidural on arrival.  As long as you understand the side effects of the epidural and are making an informed decision on it then there should be no guilt or worry as to what any other person will think. 

Aside from the outcome of the birth being a physically healthy Mom and Baby, the next thing that needs to be of high importance is Mom’s emotional health.  We want all our Moms to have a positive experience of birth, if a Mom has labored for long hours and is finally close to baby arriving but NEEDS some sleep if she’s to have the energy to birth her baby then an epidural may be the right choice for her. 

If she continues on for the sole reason that someone told her “it wouldn’t count as a natural birth” if she gets an epidural and suffers emotional trauma as a result of that statement impacting her decision then I think we need to seriously re-evaluate what constitutes natural.