You’re Not Really A Victim of Epidural Shaming

by Ivy B
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Just because I don’t agree with epidurals, doesn’t mean I’m epidural shaming.  I’m not shaming you and I don’t really put the blame on you for doing what I believe to be an unwise decision.   These are my opinions based on my experiences and personal research.  But I don’t judge you for them.

I believe women can birth without an epidural.  The potential side effects (and the needles) of an epidural scare the crap out of me.  And, I believe doctor’s don’t give out enough information before offering an epidural (or any other intervention).

So, you're feeling guilty about getting the epidural during labor? Childbirth didn't go as planned and now you're feeling like a victim of epidural shaming. Why you may not actually be the victim of epidural shaming, rather the victim of doubt created by a society who wants you to take the epidural. | www.sahmplus.com

If I’m epidural shaming, trust me when I say that I shame the doctors.  And I place further blame on the thousands (or millions) of women who would have you believe you can’t birth your baby without drugs.

“You’ll change your mind,” they’ll say if you express an interest in natural birth.  Trust me when I say there were very few people who cheered me on when they learned of my natural birth plans.  I was scoffed at for believing I could push a baby out of my vag without drugs.

And when I was able to birth my babies naturally, I received snide remarks like “do you want a cookie?” or “you got lucky.” (And yes, I did want a cookie, because what new mama doesn’t deserve one?)

Yep, I’m going there … epidural shaming is actually a two-way street.  Just as you feel you’re a victim of epidural shaming, natural birth mothers are often silenced for discussing not having an epidural.  Like we’re not supposed to talk about and inspire others.

If you felt as though you were shamed for getting an epidural, I felt the reverse.  Anti-epidural shaming?

Maybe you're not really a victim of #epidural shaming ... #birth #mom Click To Tweet

Reverse Epidural Shaming

If they didn’t tell me I’d change my mind, these women just had to tell me all their horror stories.  Their favorites were about the ring of fire.  My favorite was the woman who felt the need to tell me she felt as though she were going to be ripped in half.

You know what I found ironic about many of these stories?  Most of these women either hadn’t planned a natural birth or didn’t take a natural birth class to help them prepare.

Scared of Labor: Overcoming Your Fear

We fear that which we do not know.  Not many people experience a natural birth, though the rate of them is on the incline, thankfully.  Because so few people have experienced a birth without an epidural, they’re able to continue propagating fears over the pain of natural birth.

Secrets You Need to Know to Prep for Giving Birth Naturally

The reality is, however, that when we’re prepared and not afraid, the pain is nothing like what we are lead to believe.  That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt because it does.  We’re just better equipped to handle it when we accept it as part of the process instead of acting as though it’s wrong.  The pain of childbirth isn’t wrong … it’s your body’s job at that time.  We learn just how strong and capable we are.  And, those who can make it to the end without drugs will experience an empowerment unlike any other in our lifetime.

Through natural birth, we learn just how strong and capable we are.  And, those who can make it to the end without drugs will experience an empowerment unlike any other in our lifetime.

The Real Shame About Epidurals

I hate the notion that we can’t birth our babies without drugs.  The women in our society are being robbed of learning just how capable we are.  I’m sad that women mainly support epidurals and other medical interventions (yet generally don’t speak about the negative side effects of the epidural).

I’ve been angered that doctors offer interventions, including epidurals, without fully discussing potential side effects.  And I’m disappointed when a doctor leads a woman to believe she won’t succeed at a natural birth.

What You Should Know About the Risks of the Epidural

I feel sorry for you if your doctor never fully supported natural birth.  I’m sorry if you began to doubt your abilities because of the rampant horror stories and mockery if you’d been interested in natural birth.  But, I’m not epidural shaming you for making those decisions, whether it’s out of necessity or the belief that you couldn’t do it.

So, for those of you who keep propagating the fears of poor, unsuspecting moms to be.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  Your experiences shouldn’t dictate how someone else should experience such an important event in their lives.

Stop your anti-epidural shaming and encourage women to research and prepare for childbirth.  Be their cheerleaders no matter what an expectant mama’s plans are.  Encourage … not frighten so that they do what you want.   Encourage mom-to-be to take back their power over birth.  Be inspired by them, instead of holding them back.  And if they end up getting the epidural, you can be there to support that too!

Support Your Pregnant Friend’s Birth Plan

For those of you who feel as though you’re a victim of epidural shaming, take a long hard look at the “support” and “encouragement” you had around you.  How many birth horror stories did you hear vs positive stories?  Were you inspired or did you doubt your capabilities?  How prepared do you think you were?

Perhaps you aren’t a victim of epidural shaming, but instead a victim of the doubt others like to create in expectant mamas.  At least, that’s the way I see it!

[tweetthis]Maybe you were a victim of the doubt others create for #momtobe #birth #epidural[/tweetthis]

It’s okay to feel guilty about things not going as planned.  It’s okay to even feel some guilt if you realize you hadn’t done enough research or prepared enough.  I’m pretty sure that’s natural.

It’s yours and it’s done.

But really, why do you even give a rat’s butt what other people think about your birth?

Truths about epidural shaming you need to know - from a natural birth mama of two.  Birth is an emotional event in a woman's life, but you may not have been a victim of epidural shaming.  A natural birth mom's views on the subject | www.sahmplus.com

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6 comments

Gail October 3, 2017 - 8:07 pm

So epidural was never an option for me, since both my kids were born super fast (3 hour for first, 30 minutes for the second). Because of this, I often feel like I can’t even be a part of the conversation. I have been told that my pain tolerance is so high, I could have been in labor and not realized.

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Ivy B October 3, 2017 - 8:17 pm

Sheesh, 30 minutes? I’d have killed for that LOL.

In all seriousness, why is it even okay that people try to negate that by saying your pain tolerance is high? Maybe you just weren’t afraid or maybe your body was simply REALLY efficient. My first wasn’t painful so much as lengthy at 26 hours. I can say pain tolerance wasn’t an issue with that one, it was up to whether or not I could have labored any longer without losing my mind from lack of sleep. The second one was painful, but that’s a whole different story …

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Lee October 10, 2017 - 6:49 pm

You’re still shaming women in this article. How about we celebrate the extraordinary beauty of being able to bear and have children regardless of a woman’s fear, bravery, misinformation or naïveté? What a lovely thing it is that we get to sweat, curse internally or verbally at the trooper nurses and doctors then straddle a crate of dynamite and get a child (sometimes multiple) out of it. Celebrate our abilities. Because even with an epidural- it doesn’t tickle to have a baby.

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Ivy B October 10, 2017 - 7:26 pm

I admit I shame or place blame on women for creating unfounded doubts in other womens’ abilities to birth their babies. I’m not sure why it’s acceptable to treat a natural birth hopeful as though she can’t birth without drugs simply because this mom or that one couldn’t for whatever various reasons there are. Their birth facts have no bearing on anyone else’s. It’s okay to create doubts in the minds of other women because so-and-so couldn’t do it? Yet, if a woman tries to encourage and inspire women to understand that natural birth is possible, we’re silenced.
When someone found out I had natural births she said “Oh, I’m sorry” as if my choice was disturbing. We have double-standards … let me tell you these things are impossible or terrifying (and that’s okay), but when you do what I deemed impossible I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t understand that logic.

We can totally celebrate each other, but we shouldn’t be trying to tear a mother down before she tries to birth her way. We can celebrate each other by honestly saying “this was my birth story” which has no bearing on your capabilities or how your birth story will turn out. Celebrating each other isn’t making someone think they can’t do something because you couldn’t/didn’t.

Scoffing at a mom who expresses a desire for a natural birth (and telling her “you’ll change your mind”) isn’t celebrating her.

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Elijah September 7, 2018 - 12:21 am

Why do women shame each other, in general? I’m not saying us guys don’t ever do that – we’re human too – but it seems like women are bit more vicious about it. Furthermore, perhaps the real issue here is that your opinion, regardless of what side of the fence you’re on concerning medications/anti-medication, isn’t warranted.

Why would you share that you’re pregnant to begin with, much less how you plan on giving birth. Let me tell you how I worked this out. I am a social guy but I hate social media. I am not going to be on it and my partner agreed that since I am against minors’ pictures and information on social media, she has agreed to never post anything about the family to her social media page. (She has instead turned into a professional outlet).

When she was pregnant, we did not tell anyone – not even grandparents – because it wasn’t their business and we didn’t want their input or their invasive questions. We eventually told our closest friends and the grandparents, but said nothing more than “she’s pregnant”.

My wife decided not to disclose any information about the pregnancy when female colleagues would ask how to feel her belly, how big the baby was, who her doctor was and what she wanted in ways of a shower, etc. as she realized she actually enjoyed not having everyone in her business. Someone did plan a surprise shower but we politely declined and asked that gifts be redirected back to the stores or given to less fortunate people.

We planned things the way we wanted it, called no one/posted nothing when she gave birth but instead simultaneously announced our son’s birth by inviting people (including grandparents) over for a brief meet-the-baby party that we catered about 2 weeks later.

To this day we have not shared any details of the birth, pregnancy or of our son’s personal information and privacy with anyone including grandparents. Why? Because we want to respect our privacy and his, and we don’t see the point in opening ourselves up to being shamed for our choices.

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Ivy B September 7, 2018 - 9:40 am

I don’t know … women can be generally catty (and why I have very few female friends).

Sharing our pregnancy, though, is exciting for many of us. I specifically couldn’t wait to tell my parents. I had a wonderful father and couldn’t wait for him to be a grandfather, knowing he was going to be fabulous one.

In retrospect, it probably would have been better to not disclose information, but I, personally, felt as though that would have taken away from some of the excitement and sharing special moments with my family. That, unfortunately, opens things up for the unwanted comments and advice, but I suppose that’s the risk we take until women can learn to be more supportive of each other 😉

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