Shame on You: Shaming Moms for Getting Epidurals

     Recently on Mother’s Day, there was a viral survey on Facebook where mothers would post their birth stories. I found this adorable and almost even participated, but was disheartened as the fifth question asked ‘Pain Control.’ How on earth is whether or not a mother received pain relief during labor in the top ten most relevant pieces of one’s birth story? Does this make one less of a mother or woman? Absolutely not. I am quite frankly getting sick of this mentality that mothers should be shamed for making their labor experience more bearable. I see it frequently at work and in my moms’ forums that I participate in. Do you shame someone for taking pain medication for a migraine or broken bone? How has it become acceptable to make mothers feel guilty for this choice?

     Don’t get me wrong, it is quite an accomplishment when a mom can get through labor without any pain control. It is a personal choice and women choose that path for many reasons. It can be a very beautiful experience. We can all do it, if needed. I have worked at a tiny rural hospital and our anesthesiologist was tied up in surgery for several hours and my patient unwittingly delivered “naturally”, though she would not have desired that route if given the option again. I have had several patients arrive on the Labor & Delivery unit and deliver within minutes, unable to receive any kind of relief. If you didn't have access to pain medication and epidurals, you could absolutely do it. But should you be shamed for choosing not to? No. It is ridiculous that in this day and age women should be made to feel guilty for experiencing the most painful experience they will most likely ever go through. Plus when my patients have visitors volunteer that they delivered all their babies naturally while my patient is either experiencing horrible pain or is quite comfortable with their epidural, it makes me want to punch them in the face. 

    So let’s try to change this mentality and support each other regardless of pain management preferences. Better yet, let’s remove it from our “top ten” most relevant piece of our birth stories. It does not make your kid smarter or your love any deeper if you go all natural, but it is quite annoying if it becomes a bragging chip, aiming to shame moms who choose a different route. Then again, maybe we could start making moms who have to have C-Sections feel guilty for receiving anesthesia for their surgery. After all, Kepner did it on Grey’s, and she turned out alright.