Epidurals: Time to stop labouring over 'natural' childbirth
Says Dr Gilbert Grant, director of obstetric anaesthesia at New York University Medical Center:
"...that women should get an epidural, even before pain starts. According to him, much of the information that women receive is incomplete or inaccurate, and that the lucrative “natural childbirth industry” creates fear and guilt about epidurals. He believes that opposition to anaesthesia during childbirth is the result of a deep-seated misogyny: “There is no other situation in medicine in which pain relief is routinely withheld. No man would be asked to undergo an appendectomy, which lasts about 24 minutes, without pain relief, yet the pain of labour, which can last for more than 24 hours, is viewed as something women have to endure.
"Natural childbirth has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The fear of epidurals is promoted by those who discourage their use - and who have a vested interest in doing so."
I guess a few things jump out at me here.
1. The comparison of natural childbirth to surgery to remove something. There's so much in that one sentence that is just mind-boggling. The pain of childbirth does not last 24 hours, in a 24 hour labor. Surely the director of OB anesthesia at NYU Medical Center has heard of a contraction. A contraction does not last 24 hours. They are spaced several minutes apart for the vast expanse of a long labor. It's not constant pain, and the laboring women have time to recover and regroup before the next one. Now, again, surely the good doctor knows mounds more about anesthesia than I do. But isn't one of the purposes behind anesthesia in surgery like an appendectomy, besides the clear benefit of pain control, to keep the patient stationary and not bleeding to death? In the course of a normal labor, which is the apple he compares to the orange of appendectomy, that's not something that's necessary.
2. I'm not saying that there is not an industry around natural childbirth, and I'll believe it's a multi-million dollar industry. But please, do not try to insinuate that it's some avaricious enterprise that's taking advantage of women's fears and charging exorbitant fees. I don't know of anyone who is in this for the money. I sure could be making more money doing almost anything else.
There's also quite a bit further down in the article from Sheila Kitzinger and Michel Odent, which I found balanced this piece.
Shouldn't we stop bickering about whether ALL WOMEN or NO WOMEN should get an epidural? Shouldn't we start thinking about how we can facilitate ALL WOMEN making informed decisions that will leave them with positive, empowered memories of the day they became mothers?