How to Birth: Parenting Choice? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 09-13-2006, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just kind of got into it with another mom.

Get this.......she said to me that her BABY "loved" her epidural.

Anyways.....the point of contention came up in that I said that believe that in women who have the options and education availible to them, that the choice to have an epidural is a parenting choice and that if you chose to have an epidural and don't need one and know the dangers, that it's a poor parenting choice.

MANY others took issue with this.

I'm interested in other thoughts and maybe a better way to articulate this.
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#2 of 51 Old 09-13-2006, 11:14 PM
 
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I speculate that mainstream birthers would take issue becuase of the common misinformation about epidural drugs not crossing the placenta, not effecting the baby. I imagine they see it as not a parenting choice because they assume (and have been told) it effects only them, not the baby. Also, they likely haven't been told fully, in a meaningful way, about the risks to them and, even if they have, have a bit of an 'it won't happen to me' attitude.

If someone told me their baby loved their epidural I would either just turn and walk away (and then come vent here) or ask seriously what makes her think that, and get into it good.
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#3 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 12:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by anothermama
Get this.......she said to me that her BABY "loved" her epidural.
: :.... :

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#4 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 12:56 AM
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Well first of all, it does no one any good to think of this as an us versus them thing. It is not mainstreamers versus crunchy mamas. We are all women here. Some of us know more than others, is all.

I was told all about the epidural I was going to be given because I had to be induced (yes I had to be, long story) but I really did not listen too well as I was in severe pain. I had back labor, severe and disabling contractions, and my tailbone was breaking. I think a lot of mamas are worried about the pain and they are told the complications but since they are less than previous pain relief methods (my mom "slept" through giving birth to me : ) they do not think about it much. They are just really worried about the pain. Pain is a funny thing in this culture; it is really feared and thought of as needing to be controlled. Many moms think that they will not be able to handle the pain and that the epidural is not doing that much to their child but that it will offer them a lot of relief. It is presented that way, that it is not too bad for the baby but it will offer the mom relief. So, the mom thinks of it that way. She wants pain relief and there are not many other options presented. It is not the mom's fault but the docs and the medicalization of birth. Doctors are all ruled by the insurance industry and they fear, rightfully so, lawsuits. So, they go overboard in their treatment of birth as an event needing to be controlled. My own OB had to stop delivering babies a year after mine was born because she could no longer afford the insurance premiums. It is a screwed up world.

So, don't fault and belittle the mom. She has enough on her shoulders right now and needs your support not ridicule. Just politely inform her of other options and give her some reading material and maybe some midwife recommendations.

And, I think referring to this as a parenting choice is a strange choice of words. I can see where one might think that making the choice to have an epidural might also mean the mom is going to be putting herself first even after the baby is born. But, don't forget that most baby books tell her that. So, again, it is not her fault but the result of a lack of information. So, it is not really a parenting choice but a result of lack of information and/or incomplete information. I, for one, had an epidural and am still very crunchy in my parenting.

But it is really odd that she thinks her baby loved the epidural. How in the heck could she even begin to ascertain that? Did she commune with the baby telepathically or something? Maybe she is on pain meds and nursing and passing it to the babe. They both might be so high that nothing is a problem. Hope that baby is all right.
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#5 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 02:06 AM
 
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I agree with you.

I think the choices we make as pregnant women are the very first parenting choices we make. Taking prenatal tests, do ultrasounds, how we eat, how we birth (including epidurals) all impact the child, and thus are forms of parenting. I understand why women who birth in hospitals get epidurals...giving birth on one's back hooked up to a monitor, pitocin, and staff pressure pretty much guarantees the epidural.

But what I don't understand is why women don't get educated about the risks of hospital birth and have their baby at home (or a birth center) if it is possible in their health situation. I have a JD - in other words - lots of education - and i am the only one of my friends to have a homebirth. Why don't people read?????? (uh oh, here I go on my soap box again....)

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#6 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 10:27 AM
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beyond the risk factors, pain management is an interesting issue in general.

one of the factors is not only how an individual feels pain (what their thresholds of pain are), but how they react to and emotionally 'feel about' pain. often, it is this second aspect that drives decision making processes in regards to pain management.

in pain management circles, we know that there are a lot of techniques to help reduce the pain--which is largely focused on reducing the fear of pain, or the other aspects of emotional responses to pain. similarly, aspects of it look to discussing the definitions of pain itself--how we culturally and individually define pain.

as a yoga teacher, this is one of the areas that i work in. a lot of my clients will come to me as beginners with no concept of their bodies. for them, even the slightest effort and sense of stretch is 'painful' and many of them will have very strong negative reactions to this at the emotional level.

i believe this is because our culture teaches us that pain is bad, that we shouldn't have to feel pain, and that any level of even moderate discomfort is pain. as an example, a person can lightly stub their toe--causing what would be considered generally as 'quick, but moderate' pain in the physical sense--and yet have emotional responses beyond the 'ouch!" into the concept of 'why did i do that?" and "i'm so bad!" and so on until the pain of the act is so emotionally unbearable that we seek to avoid even the slightest discomforts.

with this, i often tell my clients that discomfort--which can come in varying degrees--is often healing and healthy. the postures should not be comfortable, but they should also not be painful. pain is the sharp, intense signals that the body sends out that says "i am injured, or if you continue, i will be injured." discomfort is when the body can manage the movement--the effort required--but the mind begins to balk against it "i don't want to do this, this is uncomfortable, i'd rather eat ice cream, what should i buy for dinner tonite, how many chores do i have, why am i doing this, this sucks, and i can't wait until the teacher says we can come out of the pose.' essentially, it's the mind that starts whining about the discomfort--though the body is able.

so, when it comes to the decisions about birth, educated and uneducated women can make the decision to have an epidural well in advance--regardless of risks--because of the fears of discomfort. and, many women, in the heat of labor, will choose epidurals because of their imminent reactions to the discomforts that they feel.

in my mind, we need to build more mindfulness about our perspectives of labor, discomfort, and pain.

largely, normal labor is discomfort. the body is doing what it is supposed to be doing--it is built for labor. our ability to understand, not judge, and work with and through discomfort needs to be developed--particularly when we're considering constructs of 'severe' discomfort. this mindfulness of what labor is and how welcome those discomforts are to us emotionally, is an important step in this direction. developing the skills to understand and manage our discomfort is the best preparation for labor.

of course, pain does happen in birth--it indicates when there is a problem and that some form of intervention is necessary. It may or may not require pain management drugs--depending upon the circumstance--but it may indicate that a certain procedure or intervention is necessary to remove the source of the pain and reduce the risk of injury. those interventions may or may not require pain management medications as well.
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#7 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 10:28 AM
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and yes, these are also parenting decisions. how to get pregnant, how to live pregnant, and how to birth are all parenting decisions.
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#8 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 10:46 AM
 
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Well, I take offense with your comment. It pits woman against woman. And it assumes a superiority. And it assumes all epidurals are bad, without taking the individual woman, baby and birth into account. And each birth, baby and mother are different. Certain complications in labor can be EXCRUCIATINGLY painful, and to make a mother feel like a failure, or less than you, for accepting an epidural, is a real shame.

In general, perhaps epidurals are given out all too freely, too often, and the ramifications (failure to progeress, leading to pit, leading to cesarean...) are not taken into account by the hospital community. But there are some occassions when an epidural can actually relax a panic, frightened, overwhelmed woman, allow her to rest and gather strength to push out her baby. It's the same with cesarean, so often given for the wrong reason. But in some cases it saves baby and/or mothers life.

Instead of being so black and white, I wish women would have more respect for one another. You have not walked in this womans shoes, as she has not walked in yours.
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#9 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To the people who take issue with this...........did you have an epidural?


I dunno.......I'm so darned tired of apologizing for the truth. I mean, yeah, the parenting choice thing, I guess that's subjective. But I'm just kind of tired of hearing the ol "You don't know what my labor was like so don't judge me" line. : Maybe it's just me, though.

All of this is making me quite scared to get pregnant again, that's for sure.
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#10 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 12:39 PM
 
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Since no real changes will come about in the way this country runs its births until the vast majority of birthing consumers demands it, I wonder how it can possibly not be about "us vs them" to some extent. I don't like to generalize about a set of population based upon specific incidents, but the fact is that women who blindly go along with whatever the OB or hospital tells them to, no matter how strange, backwards, or dangerous it is, they are hurting all of us, including themselves. I understand your frustration, anothermama. The baby loved the epidural? I bet it didn't love those endorphins being cut off during the most intense part of getting it's head squeezed through her pelvis and vag. The fact of the matter is, that everyone wants to be PC, nobody wants to get into nasty conflicts with others, and that is commendable as social beings. Unfortunately, for those who have suffered birth trauma at the hands of incompetent health care practices it is hard to keep a live and let live perspective. It would take hours for me to post all of the strange, questionable, or outright terrible things that I have seen or heard of happening to laboring mothers in this country. Just check in these boards regularly, and you will see woman after woman requesting help, support, and information regarding some ridiculous thing that her doctor has said or done to her. Real change will only come about when there is a larger population of women who demand better, and that won't happen unless we get in some faces. It would be a shame if the only way to change a person's perceptions about birth and healthcare was for them to go through a traumatic experience. Is it so wrong to want to save them and ourselves from learning the hard way?

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#11 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 12:58 PM
 
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Pain is a funny thing in this culture; it is really feared and thought of as needing to be controlled.
This is SO true. And it becomes so glaringly obvious when you experience a tragedy. People start to view you as a symbol of the pain they want to avoid at all costs. If you look sad, they start talking about how you should be "over it" by now, and maybe you better get medicated to deal with NORMAL HEALTHY symptoms of the process of grieving.

So when we are grieving we start apologizing for OUR PAIN, we start questioning ourselves. Why am I so down? Why do I feel like I can barely function? Why do people act like I'm strange for being sad... there must be something *wrong* with me?

But really, life is hard. Sometimes we go through things that are physically hard or painful, but not necessarily BAD. Sometimes we go through things that are emotionally hard, or painful, but that need to be worked through, not buried, avoided, or medicated away (I'm not denying there is a place for medication sometimes, but it often seems to be the first thing to be shoved at people going through a difficult emotional experience, just like epidurals are preached as the "God-send" cure-all for labor, and pregnant women are conditioned that they will "need one" by the time they feel the first contraction).

And, just as with the physical pain of labor, medicating away the emotional pain of grief carries certain risks, and may lead to more pain down the road as the issues that get buried under medication remain festering under the surface.

Just some musings as I meander my way through the bizarre minefield that is American culture, and the journeys of grief and parenthood.
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#12 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 04:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anothermama
she said to me that her BABY "loved" her epidural.
WHAT?!?!?!


I do think that the way a woman approaches birth is part of her journey into parenthood. I won't say that an epidural is bad parenting per se, but the decision-making process that goes into it (or lack thereof) might say a lot about what kind of a parent/person somebody is.

Unfortunately, many women put more thought into what crib bedding to buy than into educating themselves about pregnancy, birth, parenting, etc. That's sad. My hope for them is that at some time down the road, their well-being and their babies' well-being starts to weigh more heavily in their decision-making process.

*I* find it offensive when people say things like "I made the choice that was right for me and my family" - when they didn't actually gather information and make an informed choice. Their only choice was perceived convenience over education. How any parent can justify that is beyond me. :

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know  - e.e. cummings
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#13 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 05:47 PM
 
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Kathan - I love your perspective. I am too afraid to piss people off. But I doubt change has ever occurred in this country without the change-makers seriously pissing off those who didn't see the need or want to change. Thank you.

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#14 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 06:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anothermama
To the people who take issue with this...........did you have an epidural?
... But I'm just kind of tired of hearing the ol "You don't know what my labor was like so don't judge me" line. : Maybe it's just me, though.
Yes, I did have an epidural. And???

No, you are right, you don't know what my labor was like, just as I do not know what yours was like. You are welcome to read mine at www.abrosenlund.com - 4CM: A Memoir (username 4cmopen, password 3567) Then feel free to comment.
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#15 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by AllisonR
Yes, I did have an epidural. And???

No, you are right, you don't know what my labor was like, just as I do not know what yours was like. You are welcome to read mine at www.abrosenlund.com - 4CM: A Memoir (username 4cmopen, password 3567) Then feel free to comment.
I really have no comment on your birth.......I'm just saying it seems like most of the people who take issue with the facts are just being defensive. I'm not saying thats wrong, but I don't know what it makes it my isue.
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#16 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 08:28 PM
 
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I don't think it is so much that people take issue with the facts. I knew an epidural had risks and some of them were risks to me, some to my baby.

I'm sorry that you get tired of "you don't know what my labor was like" but I get tired of "Just have a homebirth because all hospitals and doctors are evil". I get tired of "normal, healthy pregnancies/births don't need XYZ"

It does dicount those of us who didn't have normal healthy pregnancies or births. People don't chose to have premature babies. People don't chose to be induced for preeclampsia. People don't chose to have crash sections for prolapsed cords. And yes, while these things are unusual, they are not unheard of.

I truly regret having an epidural with my first birth, and feel that it was an issue of not being properly prepared (partly because my mother, who was supposed to be one of my support people, was out of the country, since my dd was 4 weeks early). If I had known then what I know now, I would have had a doula. But she still would have been a hospital birth, since most midwives won't do a homebirth at 36 weeks.

I don't regret my epidural with my second, and I do take offense at having it called a parenting choice. My labor was a serious of extremely traumatic interventions that were absolutely neccesary, as I went into the hospital 32 weeks pregnant and they were trying to keep the baby in me.

Honestly, it really is a matter of needing to walk in another woman's shoes if you've never had magnesium sulfate, pulmonary edema, preeclampsia or pitocin. If you're not in a normal birth situation, the pain and interventions can be excruciating, as a pp mentioned.

I'm glad that so many women have the opportunity, education, health and the support to be able to have a natural childbirth. Not everyone is that fortunate. It hurts my heart to have another version of the mommy wars in which people have to constantly judge others.
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#17 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Lousli

It does dicount those of us who didn't have normal healthy pregnancies or births. People don't chose to have premature babies. People don't chose to be induced for preeclampsia. People don't chose to have crash sections for prolapsed cords. And yes, while these things are unusual, they are not unheard of.


Honestly, it really is a matter of needing to walk in another woman's shoes if you've never had magnesium sulfate, pulmonary edema, preeclampsia or pitocin. If you're not in a normal birth situation, the pain and interventions can be excruciating, as a pp mentioned.

I'm glad that so many women have the opportunity, education, health and the support to be able to have a natural childbirth. Not everyone is that fortunate. It hurts my heart to have another version of the mommy wars in which people have to constantly judge others.

I think you bring up some good stuff and I'm definitely realizing that the parenting choice issue is MY thing, and others don't share that.

I am sick of hearing about the "rare" instances. Because, it seems like you can't talk about normal birth without twenty people chiming in about how THEIR experience was a true emergency and how THEY are the rare exception. It's rammed into our heads all the time. You cannot have a converstaion about birth without hearing an overwhelming ammount of bad stories.

And, anyone with any ammount of education can hear them and know that most of the problems were CAUSED my lack of education and medical intervention, not prevented by them..........but you can't verbalize that cause then you get the "how dare you judge me, you don't even know me" lecture. It's like a big vicious circle.

(And, I don't mean you specifically........I just meant in general)
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#18 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 09:10 PM
 
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I posted a huge reply, it got eaten.

I can't really summarize. I think these instances may be unusual, but not rare. Statistically it may not seem that many women have unusual birth experiences, but when you are one of the ones that does, it is difficult. I know you get judged for not wanting meds. I hang out here a lot, and I have to justify my births a lot. It also gets tiresome.

I don't feel that women should have to justify what is most likely one of the most important days in their lives. I don't think it is fair to essentially tell someone they are a bad parent for making one choice that could maybe have some negatives consequences to their child. We all make choices every single day that could have negative or positive consequences for our children. We're not talking about people who clearly make deliberate choices to hurt or damage their children. Those are, imo, bad parents. People who make one choice that is different than mine, as long as that choice is not abusive, are not bad parents.

ETA: I'm sorry you're sick of hearing about other people's birth experiences. Sometimes the other women might be telling you a story that you know could have had a different outcome, and that is sad. Sometimes you are hearing about a true emergency, I would guess. Either way, I think it is really important to realize that no matter what, you are hearing about the birth of this woman's precious child. No wonder people get defensive. Natural childbirthers get defensive when people say, "You won't get a medal..." or something dumb like that.
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#19 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 11:17 PM
 
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Anyways.....the point of contention came up in that I said that believe that in women who have the options and education availible to them, that the choice to have an epidural is a parenting choice and that if you chose to have an epidural and don't need one and know the dangers, that it's a poor parenting choice.

Empasis added: and that's your answer to why people will take issue with your statement.

Who decides whether a woman "needs one" or not?

Even within the earthybirthy crunchy NFL AP community I doubt you'll get a clear consensus on this.

Therefore, declaring that it's a "poor parenting choice" is dependent on the fact that it "wasn't needed" which is so subjective to begin with.

Everyone has different emotional and physical baggage that they bring with them to birth. When a woman breaks down (so to speak) and gets that epidural, no one but her will know if it was really "needed" or not. (and I wonder if she herself will know, or maybe she will come to a different understanding with time and some processing of her birth)

FWIW I haven't given birth myself and have no complications so far so don't count this as a defensive response Just my thoughts!
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#20 of 51 Old 09-14-2006, 11:41 PM
 
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Why does acknowledging birth choices as an extention of parenting philosophy have to be a Mommy Wars issue? This isn't about pitting woman against woman, it's about recognizing that the way we live our lives, the way we make choices, the philosophy behind it all, IS IMPORTANT. That does not mean that all people will have the same philosophy or make the same decisions. It's possible to make decisions that we later regret, or to change our philosophy after accumulating more experience, or to simply not put as much effort into one decision as we do into another. But still, who we are, the way we approach life, is very much a part of how we choose our birth experiences - or how we react to birth experiences that are thrust upon us. What's wrong with acknowledging that?

To go back to the OP, she stated that "if you chose to have an epidural and don't need one and know the dangers, that it's a poor parenting choice."

Epidurals have risks and benefits. Those affect children. Is it crazy to say that a parent has a responsibility to consider their child when making the decision to get an epidural? I am NOT saying that getting an epidural is a bad choice, just that it *is* a parenting choice, because one parent is having a medical procedure done, and that procedure will affect the mother and the baby. The factors that the mother and father weigh in deciding whether or not to have an epidural must be shaped by whatever their guiding parenting/life philosophy is, even if they're not consciously aware of even having a philosophy, and that same philosophy will guide them in making future parenting decisions.

I think discussing not just choices and reasons for making choices, but philosophies, can really help parents. Dismissing it as a "Mommy War" topic doesn't help anybody.

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know  - e.e. cummings
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#21 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 12:49 AM
 
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Funshine,
I don't agree that saying this is a mommy war issue is dismissive. Similar to the SAHM's who argue that daycare is "letting someone else raise your child" and the WOHM's who tell others that they are "wasting their education/talents by SAH" I think this is a very real issue that directly affects how women relate to one another.

First of all, I completely disagree that the decision of whether or not to have an epidural is part of someone's parenting philospohy and will affect their future parenting choices. It has a great deal to do with pain, exhaustion, differeing expectations about birth, and a whole host of other things. While you may make up your mind very definitely that you are a proponent of natural childbirth and that your intention and preference is to not have an epidural, it doesn't always work out that way. Many women who planned for and hoped for a natural birth are shattered when they do not achieve it. While part of the choice is philosophy, a whole lot more plays into when the time actually comes to make the choice.

About the future parenting choices...I don't know how to address that except to say that since coming to MDC I have learned to cloth diaper, co-sleep, gentle discipline, and extended breastfeed my children. I had an epidural before MDC and another one after. My future parenting choices were not affected by my epidurals but by my careful thought, research and interactions with other parents and my own children.

I also think it is a little bit unneccesary to include the father's opinion about the epidural because ultimately it is the woman who must sign the consent form and make the decsion.

I do agree that discussing philosophies can be incredibly important for people, especially parents, to help them make more informed choices. But again, just because you don't agree with a choice doesn't make it a poorly informed one. I had read a great deal about epidurals, hospital birth, etc. here on MDC, but when the time came to have my baby, my experience was such that I knew I would have no coping skills if I didn't have pain medication. I knew I would be in a panic and in uncontrolable fear and pain.

And also, if people here were always respectfully encouraging research about epidurals and their risks, or trying to help others make choices, I might be inclined to agree it isn't a mommy war issue. But when I start to just see a differing perspective totally dismissed as a "bad parenting choice" and I just see people posting eye-rolling smilies and "That's why I would never birth in a hospital" or "All SOB's are surgeons, and you don't go see a surgeon unless you want to be cut open" that's when I feel it has become disrespectful. It is incredibly unkind to those who have had traumatic births, or even those who made a choice that they later regret, as it simply opens up old wounds. In understand that this is a natural parenting board, and that is the perspecitive that is supported here. But I don't think to be in favor of natural childbirth you have to be disrespectful of people that didn't have one. I'm in favor of natural childbirth, and I do think that if a woman feels she is capable of it, she should do it. But if she doesn't feel capable, or if something goes wrong, it isn't my place to say that she didn't really need pain mangement.

I started a traumatic birth thread here, support only, and I had a lot of people come to read and post that they were glad to be able to tell their story without the judgement and invasive questioning they often get. You know, many of us get awfully tired of hearing, "well if only you had done this, you would have had the birth experience you wanted." : Wow. Thanks. That was really a really helpful and supportive discussion about parenting philosophies.
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#22 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 01:03 AM
 
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*I* find it offensive when people say things like "I made the choice that was right for me and my family" - when they didn't actually gather information and make an informed choice. Their only choice was perceived convenience over education. How any parent can justify that is beyond me. :
And again, here is an example of the type of comment that really bothers me. This is making a huge assumption about why people make the choices that they do. It assumes that people who are well educated will never choose an epidural. Maybe they did gather information and it was different from yours. Maybe it was the same exact information and they made a different decision. Before responding to a woman here who has made a "bad parenting choice" by having an epidural, are you checking to see what information she gathered, if any? How do you know the choice was not a good one for her and for her family? I know of one woman, for example, that had suffered sexual abuse and when in pain, she lost a lot of control and dignity. Sure the epidural has risks, but severe emotional trauma has risks as well.

But again, although I disagree with some of the wording, I do agree with some aspects of this posts. I too find it sad when people are given misinformation, biased information, or none at all. I think it is sad that many women don't have the faintest idea how their body works or what pregnancy and birth will be like. But i also try to remember that this isn't information that most of us are taught by our parents or in school. Many people haven't had a lot of contact with the medical community and feel no need to trust the research or information presented to them by their doctors. Can we put all of this on the women in question? Don't we need to discuss why doctors are telling people lies and why our education system doesn't even teach young people how their bodies work?
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#23 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 03:04 AM
 
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I can see (and on many levels agree with) the argument that the decision to get an epidural *can* be seen as a "parenting choice." But, I don't think it's that black and white.

Yes, it's true, in a perfect world, women would do more research about how birth happens (just as they'd do more research about breastfeeding, child development, etc.) -- but in reality, much like nutrition and other pretty significant issues that affect women and their children, most women aren't educated in the area and we are told socially that it's not necessary anyway. There are lots of pseudo-experts who will tell the mother how to do things, whether in books or at the IL's house, and women follow along. Frankly, it's not that different from most other areas where people make decisions in our culture -whether it's how to vote, or what car to drive, or whatever. So, yes, a lot of moms make the decision without doing a lot of research on it because they just assume that what they've "seen"/heard about birth is true.

I think that there is a HUGE social vision of what childbirth (natural) is like, and it scares the you-know-what out of women. In movies, TV, from their friends, they all hear about how scary and awful it is. It's hard to be relaxed or even consider NCB when everyone/everywhere you're hearing that it will be roughly akin to Medieval torture KWIM? And, even if you intend NCB and have researched it, that socialization still may come back to haunt the birth experience for the mother .... I was fortunate, my grandma, mom, aunt, sisters, etc. have all done NCB so I grew up expecting it to be natural, normal, not scary like on TV .... At the same time, I also didn't do any research on NCB other than talking with my female relatives and an (in retrospect) quite good birthing class through the local hospital ( ) -- so went into it quite ill-informed. I had a wonderful natural child birth in the hospital with a great OB and we're looking forward to another sometime in the next few weeks.

But, I've got two good friends who both went into their birth experiences with midwives and one ended up with a csection for failure to progress -- and the other ended up transferred to a hospital and given an epidural after laboring for over 30 hours -- neither wanted interventions but they happened anyway and they are both good mothers. In the moment, given their circumstances and the support they had, they made the best decision they could. Now, another friend who had one NCB (of 5) got railroaded into induction/epi etc. with her most recent baby again due to HCP lack of support -- I don't know that it's a sign of her parenting skills, but rather of the way that we are socialized to put our trust into authorities and assume that they have our best interests in mind, when in reality, that's not always the case. Sometimes they're just interested in their own conveniences and biases. Afterwards she could quite clearly identify where things started cascading, but in the moment, she did what she was told to do.

Not all who wander are lost.
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#24 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 07:28 AM
 
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... it's about recognizing that the way we live our lives, the way we make choices, the philosophy behind it all, IS IMPORTANT. That does not mean that all people will have the same philosophy or make the same decisions. It's possible to make decisions that we later regret, or to change our philosophy after accumulating more experience, or to simply not put as much effort into one decision as we do into another. But still, who we are, the way we approach life, is very much a part of how we choose our birth experiences - or how we react to birth experiences that are thrust upon us. What's wrong with acknowledging that?

To go back to the OP, she stated that "if you chose to have an epidural and don't need one and know the dangers, that it's a poor parenting choice."

Epidurals have risks and benefits. Those affect children. Is it crazy to say that a parent has a responsibility to consider their child when making the decision to get an epidural? I am NOT saying that getting an epidural is a bad choice, just that it *is* a parenting choice, because one parent is having a medical procedure done, and that procedure will affect the mother and the baby. ...
Funshine - Your description is so clear and well put. Thanks.

I have one comment though - about how and WHEN the decison is made to chose/not chose epidural. Right now we are taling calmly and rationally about making a decison. But the original decision is not necessarily made when you are on an intellectual, thinking level. Are you actually considering the ramifications to yourself and to your baby? I can only speak for myself, but at the time: What baby? I did not know I was having a baby. I mean that. What baby? I was in SEVERE shock. I was floating above, watching my dead body, repeatedly begging to die. I was in a place so deep I was not signing any papers. I was not aware of other humans. I could not see. I had no idea a man was putting a needle in my spine, even though afterwards I found out I was told several times.

We all make the best decisions we can, at the time, with the info and knowledge (and in labor the instincts) we have. At the time it can be at such a primitive level that it doesn't even qualify as a decision. To those who say "chosing" an epidural is a parenting choice I think is offensive.

But I wouldn't wish my "birth" on my worst enemy. I don't want people to experience my "birth" to understand the offense. I would rather they say it is a parenting choice or it was uninformed or I didn't consider my baby. I am grateful they had a better, more positive experience and will just have to agree to disagree.
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#25 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 08:03 AM
 
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Chiming in with my 2 cents' worth here, although I don't really feel that I have a lot to add.

I can see both sides of this fence. With my first baby, I was an uninformed, young mother and was set on that epidural. Eighteen starving, thirsty hours of the worst Pitocin induction imaginable, I had a nearly 8# baby girl to show for it, but no epidural. I was angry for a couple of days about that, but over time I've come to realize that I am quite thankful that the anesthesiologist took a 4 hour coffee break. Knowing that I survived that birth has given me the courage to go ahead with this baby, at home and unmedicated.

Is pain medication in labor a parenting choice? Of course it is. Everything that you do from the moment of conception is a parenting choice. From what you eat, to what you drink, smoking, what you do to educate yourself--these are all parenting choices, just as feeding and diapering issues are parenting choices after baby is born. Is the mother who chooses an unmedicated birth a "better" mother than the one who chooses an epidural? Hard to say. Is the mother who breastfeeds a "better" mother than the mother who opts for artificial milk? Who can say?

We all have our own biases as to what we think are "perfect" parenting choices. My bias is very simple--anything you do that puts your wants ahead of your baby's needs is not your best choice. Does that mean that I haven't done exactly that at points in my daughter's life? Of course not. I can admit that I have selfishly put myself first at times, although I hope I can look back and honestly say that it wasn't often.

I believe that the lack of education is the biggest stumbling block for making truly informed decisions. But then why do we have this lack of education? There are books by the dozens about the risks/benefits of interventions in childbirth and countless websites and forums devoted to the same information. For those who are economically challenged, the public library offers the information for free--all you need is a library card. So why are women so uninformed? The information is out there, there is really no excuse for "not knowing."

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#26 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 08:35 AM
 
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Agree that the real issue with your comment is the "need" issue. I doubt many women have had epidurals who didn't believe they needed them. I wouldn't presume to tell someone what level of pain they have to endure before seeking relief to avoid "making a poor parenting choice". I've not had an epidural...my birth circumstances have been different to where it never came up, but I'm certainly a believer in natural birth and plan one for the coming baby God willing. Might well have been easier on my baby at least the last time if I had had one...we wouldn't have had to undergo the general anesthetic.

Anyway, if you are hearing the comment that you don't know what a woman's labor was like, you weren't there, and you don't have an accurate way to judge what was and wasn't needed - and you are hearing this so often that you are tired of it - it might be time to think about why that is. I don't believe anyone has ever said that to me, for instance.
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#27 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 08:40 AM
 
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Anyways.....the point of contention came up in that I said that believe that in women who have the options and education availible to them, that the choice to have an epidural is a parenting choice and that if you chose to have an epidural and don't need one and know the dangers, that it's a poor parenting choice.
I am hesitant to say that having an epidural is a "parenting choice", mostly because I feel that our culture does enough already to blame mothers for everything related to our our children. Mother-blame runs rampant in North America, and so I try not to align myself with ideas that serve (intentionally or not) to perpetuate this. That said, I think women do themselves a disservice when they "choose" an epidural based on the anticipated pain of childbirth. For both of my children I was offered an epi without being asked about my pain level. I didn't accept the epi, but only because I felt like I could manage the pain, and I didn't want anything slowing down my labour. However, I wouldn't have felt like I was making a poor parenting choice for having an epidural.
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#28 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 10:02 AM
 
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First of all, I completely disagree that the decision of whether or not to have an epidural is part of someone's parenting philospohy and will affect their future parenting choices. It has a great deal to do with pain, exhaustion, differeing expectations about birth, and a whole host of other things.
I don't think you understood my point at all.

I did NOT say that having an epidural is a bad parenting choice. What I said is that the *way* a person makes a choice reflects their decision-making pattern in general. Nor did I say that choosing an epidural (for whatever reason) *affects* future decisions. What I *did* say is that it is important for parents to consider their own health and their child's health when making a decision. Sometimes benefits outweigh risks. The parent must decide what is truly best for their child and the various ways of achieving what is best for their child. In some cases, that might mean having an epidural.

Please note that I also mentioned that many parents change their philosophy as their children grow up. I also mentioned that parents may have different philosophies from each other and may arrive at different decisions.

If you re-read my post, you might come to realize that I was supporting you, not attacking you.

I'm sorry you object to my including the father. Every couple must decide how to make family-related decisions. While the mother is the one who will receive the epidural, I thought I would include the father because some couples find it useful to discuss these things together. Some do not. I'm not placing a value on either way of making a decision.

Regarding my comment that I feel offended by statements like "I made the choice that was right for me and my family" - I am NOT talking about making an assumption about somebody's decision-making process. I'm talking about people who tell me all about their decision-making process and admit to doing things that they know to be harmful for their children, in the absense of benefits that outweigh the risks. I actually know people who purposefully do not look for information. Seriously. I know people who will actually say that they know something is unhealthy for their child but that they just don't want to do anything else. I do not think that anybody should support that type of parenting. I just don't. I'm not talking about epidurals here, I'm talking about parents who openly claim to make decisions that are dangerous for their children but then say that it was "right" for their family.

The "don't judge" attitude is out of hand. Humans are social creatures. One purpose of society is to help each other to make decisions that benefit ourselves and our children. In order to do that, some amount of observing and assessing others has to be done, for the purpose of *gently* suggesting and supporting other ways that might be more beneficial to the parents and child.

I do agree with you that not all parents have access to the resources that might help to shape their decision-making process. If you don't even know that information exists, how are you to use that information? This is why I try to share information with people, and why I hang out at MDC, where I'm constantly learning about things that never even occurred to me.

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Don't we need to discuss why doctors are telling people lies and why our education system doesn't even teach young people how their bodies work?
Absolutely. Of course, the doctors themselves often don't know that they're giving misinformation. They think they're helping women. Our society has a very negative attitude about birth right now, and that shapes how women approach birth, how doctors handle the women's fears, etc.



Back to parenting choices. I guess I don't have a problem with mother blame, as far as it applies to me. Sometimes I don't have information that would have affected my choices. I'm still responsible for that choice and if/when I gain more information, I have to decide what to do with it. Whether I pursue information or not, whether I make decisions that benefit or harm myself or my children...the ultimate responsibility for my children is mine. So I'm willing to accept the blame and the praise.


Ugh, I'm getting too rambly. Not enough sleep last night.

At any rate, my short version:

IMO, anything that affects a family is a parenting decision.

BUT that doesn't mean that a particular decision was "bad" or that the parent is a bad parent.

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know  - e.e. cummings
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#29 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 10:55 AM
 
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At any rate, my short version:

IMO, anything that affects a family is a parenting decision.

BUT that doesn't mean that a particular decision was "bad" or that the parent is a bad parent.
While I think you are being very diplomatic here, the op'er was making a clear connection between women who choose to have an epidural when they don't "need" it, and poor parenting choices. I think this is what has some women feeling defensive and/or annoyed.

If the *way* a person makes a choice reflects their decision pattern in general (as you say), than you have to understand *how* a person came to make that choice, and during the labour process, some women may be too tired, scared, and in a great deal of pain to consider risks/benefits.(especially considering the "normalcy" of epidurals at birth, and the rate at which they are given) It is unfair to imply that a choice made under these unique circumstances reflects a woman's lack of consideration in her decision making in general.
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#30 of 51 Old 09-15-2006, 11:55 AM
 
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I guess I'm getting a different vibe from the op...

(I personally had a epi after 36 hours of not progressing, having my water broken, pit, etc. I was beyond exhausted and felt I couldn't handle the (increasing) pain any longer. I was totally bummed not to get my ncb, but we did the best we could at the time.)

I don't feel judged by the op at all. We were educated, we did try to avoid the epi (although I now know there is even more we could have done, but live and learn) we did the best we could with the knowledge and experience we had at the time. That, imo, is much different that the (many) friends I've had who brush off my talk of natural and say, "well just to let ya know, I'm getting the epidural ASAP". And refuse to research or discuss it further. The second attitude is the one I'm guessing the op is really commenting on. Am I correct?

And while I do understand that there are a lot of factors (fear of pain, worship of drs, etc) in how and why women choose to do certain things I do believe that the bottome line rests with the parents.

I circed my son. I Babywised him for a short time. Yes, societal influenced effected me A LOT. But am I going to brush off any responsibility? No. Am I going to get offended and upset when people (correctly) talk about the dangers of Babywise, circing, epidurals? HECK NO!! I accept the responsibility for making those descisions. And I don't lose sleep over them either. What's done is done - time to move forward and hopefully help educate others so they don't make the same mistakes.

In fact, parental responsibility is something I stress when I talk or blog about any topic. I try to drill in the fact that we as parents are completely and totally responsible for our children. Not our friends, our family, or even our doctors! WE ARE. I think that shift in thinking is important if we ever want to change things (the way we birth, routine vaxes, etc).

The last thing I wanted to comment on: while I think these discussions are good, and I overall agree with the op's assesment that everything we do that effects our children is a parenting choice, I guess I don't see the value of that line of thinking when it comes to educating people. It turns people off right quick! I have always found it more beneficial to give people hard stats and to remind them of their responsibility as parents and then leave it at that. More flies with honey type of thing.

Anyway, I could say a lot more, but I think I would just start to ramble.

Great discussion!
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