A large number of women want to avoid pain. Some just don't fancy the pain [of childbirth]. More women should be prepared to withstand pain.
Who are these wussy women who for some reason "want to avoid pain"? And don't they care about their babies? Clearly not, because they don't understand that, as Walsh continues,
Pain in labour is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby.
See, the pain of labor is apparently great training for, say, taking the kids to soccer practice or cooking them regular meals. If you don't sacrifice your autonomy by handing decisions about epidurals over to a midwife like Dr. Walsh, you'll never accomplish the total erasure of selfhood that is the mark of a great mom. But how are dads, cruelly denied the chance to "withstand" childbirth pain, supposed to prepare themselves for their responsibilities? (Mobster Junior Gotti may have an idea!)
Walsh does offer what sound like some useful alternatives to epidurals, such as "yoga, hypnosis, massage, support from their partners, hydrotherapy and birthing pools." And he advises that "in the west it has never been safer to have a baby," and women shouldn't be afraid. But ob-gyn Dr. Justin Clark says most of his other claims are bogus:
He's exaggerating the risks of epidurals. They aren't overused. In the main they're a good thing and almost always necessary, for example when there are complications, like a breech delivery or a prolonged induction, where the woman will get tired. It would be wrong to suggest that modern women are somehow less stoical than in the past.
Obstetrician Dr. Maggie Blott adds that the use of forceps, which Walsh says is made more common by epidurals, is "relatively simple" and often preferable to pain. She says, "Do not under-estimate the pain of having a baby - it is a very, very intense and painful experience."
Some women prefer a drug-free childbirth, and Dr. Blott says that birthing pain can serve a physiological purpose in some cases. In those cases, Walsh's alternative pain management techniques sound like a good addition to the menu of childbirth options. But assuming that women who choose epidurals are simply sissies who "don't fancy the pain" — and that they will be lesser mothers as a result — is simply insulting. The only thing this attitude "prepares" moms for is a lifetime of being judged.
It's Good For Women To Suffer The Pain Of A Natural Birth, Says Medical Chief [Observer]
Women 'Should Go Through Pain' In Childbirth, Says Male Midwife [Telegraph]
Pain In Childbirth 'A Good Thing' [BBC News]
Related: Junior Gotti Says Stone Agony 'Worse Than Childbirth' In Bid To Get Freed On Bail [NY Daily News]