I consider myself a Drake fan and when his song “Trophies” came out I laughed because one of my favorite things to say is “they don’t have no award for that.”
When it comes to childbirth, one might think there was an award for who can tolerate the most pain, who can deliver their baby with no assistance or pain relief, who can do vaginal delivery versus c-section, who had a home birth and who went to the hospital, who had a doula and who had a good ole fashioned obstetrician. The list goes on and on. Why do we do that to one another?
Why do we debate about who is doing it better when pregnancy and childbirth is such a personal experience?
I’ll have to admit that I knew from the moment that I saw that blue plus sign that I was getting the drugs. I mean, I’m a pharmacist, so of course I’m an advocate for utilizing medication safely and effectively. Before I became pregnant, I had no idea this debate was raging beneath the surface for mamas-to-be. You have your die hard “natural childbirth” mamas who shudder at the thought of receiving pain medication during labor, and then you have your moms who want to avoid the pain by any means necessary. Both have the right to decide what is best for their body, their child, and their birthing experience.
I read somewhere that labor pain is similar to getting 20 bones fractured at the same time. So when I met with my doctor to discuss my birth plan, I was sure to ask about getting an epidural. Of course I asked about the risks associated with it, and after about 2 minutes of weighing the options, I said “sign me up!”
My pregnancy was already stressful. At 19 weeks, my cervix started dilating and I was placed on modified bedrest with progesterone therapy. I remember showing up at the hospital the evening of my induction asking for the epidural … I believe I was about 1 cm dilated! Why should I be uncomfortable? With or without the epidural, the baby was coming! And you know what? I have absolutely no regrets.
The fact is, even if you don’t have a stressful pregnancy like I did, you still have the right to make the choice that is best for you.
Does it make you weak because you want an epidural? Of course not! Does it make you a better mom because you experienced the pains of labor? Not at all. Is there an award for that? Nope!
I am not certain why this is a controversial issue for women. However, I do believe sometimes we lose ourselves when we take on the role of mother, and for some women, that becomes a defining pillar of our identity. When something is intricately tied to who we are, we become very defensive about it. We need to feel that we are doing our absolute best for our babies, and we need our choices validated along the way. Our need for validation can sometimes cause us to dismiss the choices and experiences of other women who also are just trying to figure things out and do the best that they can.
This is a call to action for all women to do more to support each other in pregnancy, in birth, and in motherhood. It’s not a race. It’s not a competition. The only validation you need is in watching your babies grow into healthy, happy, young men and women.