I loved my epidural, and I'm looking forward to it this time. My baby was not born limp or floppy, though we were both sick. Pain medication is a funny thing: if you get too much of it, it can affect all kinds of things adversely. If you dont' get enough, it doesn't do any good.
My plan was to deliver all naturally, no drugs or interventions. Yes, I knew that giving birth would hurt, and probably hurt a lot. I was well aware going in that it would be painful. What I wasn't aware of was that I would spend the better part of a week in active labor, unable to rest or relax, barely able to move. Hell yes I think epidurals are a Godsend! I'm eternally greatful for mine. It was the only part of my labor & delivery that was bearable.
Yes, I think that women should have accurate information about medications during labor. (I'm a big believer in accurate information about everything.) What they don't need is to be placated by doctors (and I'm still trying to figure out where these people are practicing, because I haven't met them) or to be terrified by natural birth zealots. I would encourage your friend (SIL?) to do some research of her own on the subject, and to come to her own conclusions. There's plenty of information available, and even though some of it is confusing, once you wade through the jargon and the scare tactics there's a lot of good, useful information out there. Heck, I'll even help. I'm up for a good research project!
About the nursing problems: From what I can tell, nursing problems seem to be more closely associated with how close to/far from term the baby was born than with medications or lack thereof during labor. Eli did have some problems, but not until my milk came in. I became engorged and my breasts were so big that he just couldn't latch on anymore without major help. His little mouth just couldn't open wide enough to get enough of my nipple.
It had nothing to do with the drugs at all.