Just finished reading this great post on epidural rates in BC as compared to other provinces. I really like this blogger’s take on the issue, which, in a nutshell, is that as long as the women who want epidurals are able to access them, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a natural childbirth or a medicated one. What does matter (and what people should be concerned about) is that you are supported. It’s so important that women feel informed and respected in their decision-making and I’m saddened by the amount of judgement that flies around whenever any birthing mama states what she has decided to work towards for her birth. Women who choose homebirths are accused of being selfish and ignorant (despite the fact that we know that homebirth is safe or safer for most women in Ontario), women who choose to learn the sex of their baby prenatally are accused of being gender-biased, women who decline ultrasounds are accused of being ignorant “hippies”, women who choose epidurals are accused of being wimps or dupes who bend to the whims of their authoritarian caregivers. Enough! These are all individual, personal choices that different people make for a wide variety of reasons and none of them are anyone’s business but the birthing woman’s and, in some cases, her partner’s (though I would argue that the choice to medicate for pain or not lies solely with the woman in labour).
All the guilt that is heaped on moms for making their choices (and it really does seem like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, doesn’t it?) leads to this bizarre impression that there is a wide gulf between natural birth moms and epidural-choosing moms. Not only is that gulf a complete fiction, but it is a harmful fiction. It leads people to believe things like “only women who want natural births need doulas”, which is just plain crazy. Every birthing woman deserves unconditional, continuous, one-on-one comfort and support; every birthing woman deserves a doula.
Sure, I believe passionately in the power of natural birth – I know that women’s bodies were designed to do this work and that those who wish to experience it should have the right to try without being chastised, mocked or frightened (and that if they are given that right, they are much more likely to succeed). But just because I believe that you can do it, doesn’t mean that I think that you ought to do it. That is the clincher. If you hire me to do be your doula I will make it my top priority to ensure that you are knowledgeable and confident and that you feel supported and cared for in whatever choices you make, even if they bear no resemblance to the choices I would make for myself.
It’s your body, your birth, your baby, your choice.