Thoughts On Epidural Versus Natural Childbirth

How do you decide about epidural versus natural childbirth?

The decision about epidural should depend on your personal beliefs and goals and then on how your labor is going. One way to think this through ahead of time is to consider how you have reacted in other situations. What is the greatest physical challenge that you have faced? A hard hike? Knee rehab? The Boston Marathon? If meeting challenges makes you feel good, natural childbirth may be for you. Women have given birth without drugs for millions of years -- you can do it too! And women who meet this challenge often find it to be the most empowering experience of their lives.

On the other hand, if you avoid discomforts, and don't have a lot emotionally invested in "natural" birth as a rite of passage, you will probably be happier with an epidural. Epidural makes childbirth more enjoyable for some women, as they don't have to work as much on coping, and can focus on the miracle at hand. Even with an epidural, pushing out a baby can be a challenge.

I don't believe natural childbirth is a moral decision; it is just a personal choice. Birth is fulfilling whether the baby is born in a teepee in the woods or by cesarean section in an operating room, as long as you have participated in the decisions and made choices that were right for you.