When You Feel Pressured To Get An Epidural

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Image via Flickr/ koadmunkee

As a labor and delivery nurse and a pregnancy writer, I am a firm believer in advocating for women to have the type of births that they want. I'm fully aware that the “birth plan” often changes and that emergencies can arise in the blink of an eye, but I also believe that women are the ones in control of their births, not doctors or midwives.

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In the healthcare world, the theory is that healthcare professionals are here to serve as advocates for their patients, but in some cases, it's important for patients to understand that they are their own best advocates. 

I admit that I have offered epidurals to women who stated emphatically that they wanted all-natural births, even more than once. 

It's a hard position to be in on both ends; on one hand, working as the nurse, you want the patient to have the birth she has dreamed of, but on the other hand, no one wants to see another human being suffer. It's hard to see the struggles of a first-time mother, especially one who may not have been fully prepared for what labor would feel like, along with the million other facts that go into labor, she may simply be exhausted, mentally and physically.

Nurses and doctors want to show women all the choices they have during labor, but offering an epidural, even a well-intentioned offer, at the moment when a woman feels like she can't go on, may feel misconstrued. 

If your doctor or midwife or nurse offers you an epidural while you are in throes of labor, understand this: it's not about admitting defeat or telling you that you aren't strong enough. It's about wanting to help you have the best labor you can have, and for many women, an epidural is the answer they didn't necessarily know they were looking for. 

Your labor and delivery team doesn't want to make you feel pressured to get an epidural, even if they ask you (more than once) if you're sure you don't want one–they simply want to know that– if you're really, really sure you don't want one. Because obviously, there will come a point when it's too late for an epidural and some women may regret not making the choice to have one. 

I believe that mental state makes a huge difference in labor, and if you are committed to a natural birth, don't let staff offering you an epidural make you feel pressure to get an epidural–you call the ultimate shots in your labor and delivery.

But hopefully, there will be someone in your corner to help guide your way. 

Did you feel pressured to get an epidural? Or did you feel like your labor and delivery team supported your decisions? 

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What do you think?

When You Feel Pressured To Get An Epidural

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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3 comments

  1. Hope says:

    I felt pressured. I went 20 hours of labor w/o one. The nurse asked me repeatedly if I wanted one. Finally at about 1130 pm she said, the anesthesiologist is leaving at midnight, if u don’t get one now, you won’t be able to later. I felt like I was scared into it. 4 hours later I had my daughter. I think I would’ve been fine w/o it had she not scared me into thinking I needed one in the first place. Had I had moral support to not get one, I don’t think I would have. My hubs was asleep and had no idea I had one when I was pushing her out @ 4 a.m.

  2. Sara says:

    With my first child I had no time for one, I got to the hospital at about 1:15 and had my son in my arms by 1:38 am. I am now pregnant with my second son and I really don’t think I want one this time either. I have yet to have this discussion with my OB/GYN but it is still early yet, and who knows maybe I will change my mind when I am in the hospital and am truly in the pains of labor.

  3. Kristi says:

    For me it was the opposite. I kept asking when I could get one and it was like they brushed it off. 14 hours later I finally asked obnoxiously loud and they said “you can have an epidural whenever you want one” I had originally planned as natural as possible but I was ready for those contractions either. So important to speak up if you’re not getting a straight answer!

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