The decision about pain control in labor is highly personal.  You may have experienced that unspoken competition between women when they swap birth stories..”I had mine all natural…” one recalls as she puffs her chest and squares her shoulders.  “I loved my epidural,” the other says while she smiles and remembers the relief it provided.  So what’s the answer? There isn’t one. Some women are dead set on going it without so much as a sniff of the narcotic vial, and others beg for drugs before they are ever really in labor. It’s just the difference in women.

I have to say that epidurals, while they do have their share of risks (and some serious) are relatively safe as a whole and provide effective, adequate pain control that usually lasts throughout the labor and delivery process. I know…don’t write me letters and tell me how yours didn’t work. I had one of those myself–and I called for a second. Call me a wimp, but I got the second and then bottomed out my blood pressure which made me feel like I needed to walk into the bright light. They brought me out of that, and everything turned out fine. While some women want to experience child birth for all its sensations–the good and the bad, I wanted to spend those precious hours not writhing in pain and blind from the misery but instead smiling, talking and concentrating on what was to come.

So what’s good about the more natural method of delivery? A lot. First, remembering that child birth is in fact not an illness, but a beautiful event, there really is no need to intervene with such tremendous measures.  Allowing the mother’s body and the baby to make their paced decent as it was intended to be–without monitors, lines or drugs–is the way that many parents want the experience to be.

Does one mom “get more” out of her birth than another based on how much pain she experiences? I don’t think so. If I have learned nothing else from my years of holding other women’s legs, it’s that child birth is a subjective experience.  No matter if the labor process is filled with travail, or not the end result is the same–a baby that is born healthy, and a mother who cherishes her most precious creation.