An article from an Australian news source has a male midwife (that just looks weird…but midhusband just looks wrong…hrm) that says that the pain of childbirth is the only way for a woman to bond with their baby (or babies, as the case may be), and that epidurals are an epidemic.
It’s time to break out another episode of:
First of all, this is a guy.
He has no idea what the pain of labor feels like, and no idea what even a period cramp feels like.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll continue with the rest of his statement.
I’ll agree that epidurals are over-utilized. Numbing your body from the mid-back down can have some serious consequences. To wit, a friend of mine had a baby in Korea while her husband was stationed over there – I believe I’ve mentioned this before. She had an epidural, but it was faulty, causing her to not only feel everything on one side of her body, but she now has lasting nerve damage.
Sure, lots of women have epidurals without ill effects. Lots of people have no allergy to peanuts, too, but we still have warning labels on every freakin’ food product that could have possibly come into contact with a peanut at some point in history (including packages of peanuts, for fuck’s sake). Why? To prevent lawsuits. Everyone will talk about how pregnant women should avoid eating too much of certain foods in order to avoid an allergy developing in their baby, but not many people will talk about how birth procedures can have ill effects on not only the mother, but the baby, as well.
If you’ve ever had a dental procedure done that warrants numbing, you’re familiar with a nerve block.
If you’ve ever chewed the shit out of the inside of your cheek and/or your tongue due to the aforementioned numbing, then you’re aware of just how hard it is to control the parts of your body which are numbed.
Before I go much further, I’m going to clarify something: I have such horrible menstrual cramps that my legs stop working due to muscle spasms. I’m aware of how much pain a woman can be in, and how much pain in the “girly bits” can affect the rest of the body. I’ve spent nights vomiting up even the tiniest bits of fluid, desperate to keep anything down, unable to move from the bathroom for hours. When I lived in St. Louis, I started keeping a large towel in there for the express purpose of covering myself up when I would lay on the bathroom rug and try to sleep in-between puke-fests. It sucks, and that’s putting it mildly. So I’m not trying to belittle anyone with this next thing I’m about to say – I’m just voicing my opinion from my perspective, as someone who’s dealt with monthly pain for the past 14 years that I’m willing to bet would rival the labor pain of some women (at least, from the stories I’ve heard):
Put on your big-girl panties, ladies!
I’m a big believer in the squat-and-push method of childbirth. Gravity is our friend. A baby “drops” before birth because that’s where gravity is pulling it to position it for its journey out of the womb. Putting a woman on her back pretty much negates the whole point of the way her body is shaped. Hips don’t spread for better traction on delivery tables, folks – they spread to allow a baby’s head through. Incidentally, you shorten the length of the vaginal canal when you squat – you’ve probably noticed this phenomenon during intercourse. If you haven’t, well…try it with a consenting adult.
The shorter the canal, the faster the journey for the baby’s head.
If you don’t have the leg strength to squat, there are special chairs that are basically birthing toilets – you sit on them, you push, and there you go.
Laying a woman on her back is one thing – laying her on her back and then numbing her so that she doesn’t have control of her muscles is really, really stupid. Sure, your body pretty much knows what to do – ask anyone who has to take a shit really badly what happens when you try to fight it to the bitter end: eventually, your abdominal muscles will win. But isn’t it better when you sit down and let nature takes its course with a few grunts thrown in for extra measure?
(Yeah, I’m comparing childbirth to taking a shit. You’ll get over it.)
I totally get it that it hurts. It sucks. You’re, as Kirstie Alley put it in Look Who’s Talking, pushing “something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon,” and holy shit, what a visual. Ever watch a video of childbirth? It’s enough to make me want to sew my vajayjay shut.
And yeah, women tear. I get that you want to try to reduce at least THAT part of the pain. I’m not a fan of episiotomies, either…the human body, when it’s injured in such a way as to tear itself, will usually tear along a natural stress point, and will heal better than a cut, at least in an area that is so densely-packed with nerves as the “gooch”, as it’s called in less-cultured circles (of which I am a part – hey, at least I can admit it).
Either way, whether you tear or you’re cut, you’re going to have some stitches, some more pain, and you’re going to have trouble wiping your ass for as least a week (they give you a squirt bottle for the purpose, BTW, which I somehow find hilarious). Frankly, I think I would rather experience the tear, which has got to be the worst of the pain, so that the stitches are nothing more than an annoyance during healing, and not a separate pain all their own with nothing else to compare them to.
Then again, I’m kind of strange when it comes to things like that. When my rotator cuff goes into a spasm (it’s been torn, scarred up, torn again, scarred again, etc., ad nauseum), I actually look forward to the part where the pain is the worst, because after that, it’s all good, and anything after that point feels like a relief. The endorphins afterward feel like a rush of warmth through the upper region of my back/neck. It’s pretty awesome.
To get back on topic a bit, I also understand that there are special cases. Another good friend of mine had twin girls, and she had what is known as a “high-risk” pregnancy. I’m fuzzy on the details, but I think there was something having to do with her narrow hips, along with the fact that most pregnancies with multiples can turn out badly if you’re not careful. Due to these issues, she had to have a C-section, but she waited until she was actually in labor to have it, rather than scheduling it to fit her life.
C-sections (particularly scheduled ones) are an entirely different monster, and I won’t talk about them today.
Needless to say, however, my friend had to have an epidural before having the C-section.
Think about that for a second.
A nerve block so powerful that major abdominal surgery can be performed with no pain and very minimal sensation of pressure – how is this viewed as commonplace and “okay” in childbirth?
When did childbirth become viewed as elective outpatient surgery?
Before you ask, no, I don’t intend to have children at this point in my life, if ever. First, I’m not all that sure if I could if I wanted. Second, there are some fucked up genes in my pool, and I’m not all that thrilled about the prospect of passing them down. Third, I’m in-tune enough with myself to realize that I’m just a wee bit selfish, and the thought of having a small human rule my life from the hospital onward doesn’t exactly thrill me.
So yeah, I can say all I want how stupid I think it is for a woman to elect to have an epidural when she hasn’t even tried anything aside from laying on the bed with a contraction monitor strapped to her belly, because, much like the male midwife in the article, I have yet to experience it.
However, I know a problem when I see one, and the current attitude toward childbirth is a SERIOUS problem. That much, I definitely agree with.
When someone walks around, squats and grunts, uses the toilet chair, and has no improvement for a couple of hours, you can tell me you’ve tried everything you can think of.
Until that point? Quitcherbitchin’, and cop a squat, Sis.