What's so bad about having pain relief during birth?

Let me be upfront with you.

I was very skeptical about attending my first parenting class. It’s not that I didn’t think the medical professionals leading the class didn’t have a clue. No, they know stuff. Much, much more than me (I’m still on chapter one of the baby book). I just knew they would have a bias.

Towards having a drug-free/no-medical-intervention birth (but in hospital).

I should also say that I am a lover of medical science. I am a lover of medical advancement. I have never been a suffer-in-pain-when-there’s-a-drug-for-that person. Which means, I am a lover of pain relief during birth.

But… disclaimer:

I honestly don’t care what anyone decides in that moment. I have friends who are advocates (and have had) drug free births. I have friends and family who have opted to have medical intervention.

"I honestly don't care what anyone decides in the moment of giving birth." Image via iStock.

To me, whatever gets you through, that's the right choice for you.

But back to my parenting class...

The one time I don't think you're allowed to have a bias is when you are a medical professional giving advice. Sure, personally, over a glass of wine at a cocktail party, shout out your opinion. But when you are acting on behalf of medical science, I've just always preferred the facts. Free from bias.


I will say that the midwife who instructed my parenting class was pretty unbiased and did a fairly good job. But the way the class was structured and the videos that were picked (which could have been the hospital's choice, not the midwife's), there was definitely a subliminal message: "Drugs are bad".

Check out this woman who thinks the gas is brilliant. Post continues after the video.

First, there was a heavy lean on time given to each topic. They day was five-hours long. Four were dedicated to detailing what happens during birth. And about 40 minutes to an hour about what pain relief options are available.

I understand that even if you opt for an epidural, you still need to know how a baby squeezes out. But still...

"Four of the five hours were dedicated on how to get the baby out." Image via iStock.

Second, the videos... oh the videos. Beside being from the 90s (actually, 80s), I distinctly remember hearing the voice over saying, "The woman is in pain, but she is not suffering. She knows that the baby that she will soon hold will make it worth it." I personally despise this argument when it comes to why you should have a drug-free birth. It implies that mums who opt for the drugs clearly won't appreciate their newborns as much as drug-free mums.

Finally, the midwife instructor let us know that when a women in labour comes in and asks for one of the drugs/medical intervention, she often asks them why they've made that choice. Now, she asks these women so that she understands what they expect from that option. Which is fair enough. But why doesn't she ask women why the hell they aren't taking the drugs?

Throughout my pregnancy, I have been dished advice on every little thing. But I find the most controversial (and annoying) is how I should give birth.

I have found there are three opinions when it comes to how I should welcome my baby to the world.

"Everyone's focus is on how they think I should give birth." Image via iStock.

One. No drugs. None at all.

I should go all natural and feel the spirit of my ancestors who have always given birth without assistance (and had high maternal death rates). Hell, it is so much easier than a drug birth.

Also, don't I know the huge epidemic plaguing pregnant women at the moment?


"Women are losing the capacity to give birth."

This comes from an 84-year-old doctor Michel Odent. Apparently, our drug taking ways is destroying nature. Go lay your guilt-shaming somewhere else please.

Two. Why would you want to be a hippie?

Say yes to the drugs. If you are offered a C-Section, go for it. It's so much easier than a drug-free birth. Usually said by women who've never given birth without drugs.

And three. Both ways suck. But at least you get a baby at the end.

These are said by the very few mothers I have in my life who have had both drug-free and C-Section births. I feel they are the only ones who tell me the facts without bias. They don't advocate for drugs or medical intervention. They don't shame you into having a drug-free birth. They have lived by the motto - whatever is best for you in that moment.

"Let's be honest, labour sucks. The baby at the end is the only good part." Image via iStock.

That's the advice I go with. Giving birth is such a unique experience. It isn't only about getting bub out safely. It is also about making sure mum is okay (because mum's work doesn't finish with the final push).

At the end of the day (or parenting class), the only message is, "Whatever works best for mum".

How do you feel about the drug-free vs drug birth debate?

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