When You Feel Pressured To Get An Epidural
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.
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?