There is no shame in asking for pain relief during childbirth. It may seem obvious to some but now doctors and midwives are behind a move to bust the myth that avoiding pain relief during labour is better for mother and baby.
A passionate contingent of medical professionals plan to present evidence of this at the Royal Society of Medicine’s December meeting in London.
“We decided it was about time the public were told about pain and pain relief in labour by a group without a ‘natural’ agenda,” Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association president Dr Felicity Plaat told The Sunday Times.
“Too often have I been asked to discuss or provide epidural analgesia to women not just suffering from extreme pain of labour, but a feeling that they have failed because they ask for or need epidural analgesia – a feeling sometimes amounting to shame.
“We want to inform women so they enter labour not afraid and for those women who need pain relief, we want them to use it proud of the amazing thing they are doing.”
Busting the ‘failure’ myth
The evidence is expected to explain how stress hormones increase when a woman experiences pain in labour.
“Women should be free to choose their own form of managing pain during labour from relaxation techniques to epidurals,” National Childbirth Trust (NCT) senior policy advisor Elizabeth Duff told The Huffington Post UK.
“There’s no reason to feel ashamed of any of these options. It’s time to bust the myth that woman are ‘failures’ if they choose pharmaceutical help with pain relief.
“It’s helpful for women, and their birth partners, to find out beforehand what different options are available for pain relief, so that they can decide what’s best for them. However, it’s important to keep an open mind as things don’t always go according to plan.”
Royal College of Midwives director of midwifery Louise Silverton says every woman experiences pain in childbirth differently.
She says epidurals can increase the need for instruments such as forceps to be used to help deliver the baby.
“The choice belongs to each woman, and midwives will support them whatever they choose,” she told Huffington Post UK. “However, it is less easy to be active and upright with an epidural, as most remove any sensation below the waist.
“Many women have the ability to manage pain during childbirth themselves unassisted, others do not, this doesn’t make the labour better or worse in itself, but women need to work out what suits them best.”
(via Huffington Post UK)