I just found an interesting abstract on epidurals… I’d like to read the whole thing and may have to break down and buy the issue of Midwifery Today so that I can. It basically sums up epidurals as being given so much because a woman’s friends are doing it and likens anesthesiologists to drug pushers.
This year, about two million women will get an epidural legally, but hopefully not lethally, in the US. As a result, about eight of them will never walk unassisted again. In Westernized countries, roughly 50–70% of birthing women have epidurals for pain relief. Research on who gets an epidural and why draws a profile very similar to the people who were taking drugs in the ’70s. Most women are getting epidurals because their friends are doing it.(1) In a recent, large study of epidural users, the most often cited factor in deciding to have an epidural was having heard about positive experiences from friends and family. Having already had children and having fear of the side effects of an epidural each reduced the odds of choosing one by half. In other words, the older or wiser women get, the more they avoid the epidural trip. Overall, those who did not choose an epidural reported wanting to be in control and having more confidence in their ability to tolerate labor pain.(2)
Go here to read more of the abstract.
After having an epidural, I knew immediately I never wanted another. I didn’t appreciate not being able to feel anything at all during the experience. I did not like not being able to move. I didn’t like the feel of the nurse and my husband holding onto my legs in an effort to “help” me push the baby out. Above all, I didn’t care anything for the fact that, even since that epidural, I’ve had countless issues with my bladder. I would only learn after the fact that that’s a pretty common side effect of epidural.
Not to mention the obvious factors of risk to baby and the fact that, after a cesarean, it’s vitally important to not have an epidural because, in the rare event of a uterine rupture the woman will never know, thereby posing a much larger risk of death. Definitely a risk I do not care to take.