Some women don't want to get epidurals, and the good Dr. Darshak Sanghavi just can not wrap his pediatric head around that fact:
But is the shunning of obstetrical anesthesia about something more than natural versus modern? The vocal minority who purposely skip epidurals have created entirely new secular justifications for pain - especially during labor and childbirth - which are no less dogmatic than the earlier holy justifications. Why, even now, are people so unwilling to let go of pain?Never having given birth myself, I can only say it's totally NOT my call, and all I can imagine doing is supporting the informed, personal decisionmaking process of someone who IS pushing a melon-sized object out of her body.
That said, for all the historical context and seemingly careful analysis in his article, there's a condescension in Dr. Sanghavi that really pisses me off--and I don't even have a uterus. In equally "developed" countries like Japan, almost no woman gets an epidural. And to tar the anti-epidural folks simply as "dogmatic" seems phony to me.
But for people who struggle with making the epidural call, I think there's a wariness of the woman losing control of the delivery process. In our childbirth class, the epidural definitely seemed like the gateway drug to a fully medicalized delivery. There's no more yoga ball or stretching once you've got a needle in your spine. And I think that freaks some people out, partly because we know that billions of people have been born without such medicalization.
But also because doctors themselves have a credibility problem, at least historically. It was within most of our lifetimes that women underwent Caesareans, not for any medical reason, but because their OB's didn't want to work nights or weekends.
You can ask the doctor about that Tuesday at noon; he's doing an online chat at Boston.com.
The Mother Lode of Pain [boston.com via dt reader sara]