Swedish Study Says: Just Get The Epidural

Illustration for article titled Swedish Study Says: Just Get The Epidural

Science guy says: "Our conclusion is that natural childbirth preparation with psychoprophylaxis does not reduce the need for epidural analgesia or improve the birth experience, when compared with the standard form of antenatal education." Translation: watch the labor scene in any rom-com!

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Before we get into the actual, you know, issue, a brief note: how annoying is the portrayal of childbirth in rom-coms? You know the drill: Knocked Up, Nine Months, She's Having A Baby, Father if the Bride 2: hilarious antics ensue! Particularly annoying is when the crazed mom-to-be starts screeching about how much she hates the guy for knocking her up! LOL! Here's an egregious and typical example of the genre, from the classic Fools Rush In. Start at 6:20.

Anyhoo. Many of said films feature a 'natural birth plan' which then leaves the woman screaming for drugs midway through. And a new Swedish study claims to give the lie to "natural is better" - or, at any rate, claims that natural childbirth classes are fairly useless. Says the Beeb,

More than 1,000 mothers-to-be took part in the Swedish trial, thought to be the first major analysis of the efficacy of such preparation for childbirth....They attended one of two classes: the first taught natural coping methods, the other emphasised pain relief. but the BJOG study found no difference in the use of epidurals between the women when they went into labour. Just over half the women in each group ultimately opted for the spinal analgesia which reduces or eliminates the pain of contractions.

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While one natural-birth advocate claims this is no argument against antenatal education - which, at the very least, fosters partner cooperation and can lead to a sense of relaxation and control, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says, rather smugly, that "this research may temper the statements of the more pro-natural people."

It was our general impression that women who opted for natural childbirth - or indeed took prenatal classses - did so not because they were under the impression that lamaze could simulate the numbing effects of an epidural, but rather because they wanted to experience the birth sans drugs, or didn't wish to expose the infant to them. If a woman went into natural childbirth expecting a pain-free cakewalk, well, sure, that would be a pretty rude awakening. Doesn't everyone know that childbirth in the post-infant-mortality modern west is a warm-hearted farce in which the mother is temporarily transformed into a pain-crazed clown prior to the father's transformation upon holding his child for the first time? Clearly the "pro-natural people" need a dose of Matthew Perry-style reality (with amusing paramedics, of course!), stat.
Natural Birth Classes Questions [BBC]
Fools Rush In [YouTube]

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DISCUSSION

nex0s
nex0s (Jezebel Kink Squad)

My reasons for opting not to have an epidural are not because I think birth is going to be easy - it's because epidurals have been shown to slow labor, and lead to more interventions that can damage both mother and child. They also have a number of side effects - spinal headache is one (how would you like to have a migrane for 2 weeks from the drugs in your epi?), and a whole host of others as well that can temporarily and sometimes permanantly injure women. Plus - the epidural stops the *nerve* pain of your labor - but does nothing for the *bone pain* of your labor as your child moved through your pelvis. So you still have to cope with some pain. And epidurals don't work on everyone - some women get no relief from them at all.

My mother had me without drugs. She said it hurt to have me, but it was no where NEAR as bad as she had been lead to believe.

I think a culture of fear surrounds childbirth, especially in the United States.

Ultimately, I think every woman should make the choice for themselves - but make it in FULL KNOWLEDGE of what you are doing to yourself. Learn not just the pros of epidurals, but also the cons! Same thing for natural childbirth! Learn the pros AND the cons! Only then can you make a fully informed choice about what you want to do when you give birth.

Choice extends past the first trimester! Knowledge is a good thing. Explore, read, learn, and then decide what is best for you.