Often times in my conversations with mothers prenatally, we talk about the different ways to work through the stages of labor. There are many ways a woman might respond to the discomfort or pain of labor, and as labor progresses, a woman may shift into different coping styles. During prenatal visits, we talk about pain medication, and I usually ask questions to learn more about why a woman prefers to use or to not use pain medication.
One thing I like to include in our conversations is learning more about a woman's motivation to labor with or without the use of pain medication. We may have more conversations surrounding how she views other interventions, and when in labor she may be encouraged to consider interventions.
Sometimes, a woman may say something along the lines of I'm not sure I can labor without an epidural. At which point, it's important for her birth team to learn more about this worry or anticipation. How can we learn more about her feelings? Using active listening skills is important, so restating what she says and waiting for her to share more (or saying, tell me more about that) can be useful.
I try not to be quick to jump to conclusions, because I'm not sure I can labor without an epidural may be a way for a woman to give her birth team an opportunity to reassure her, it may be a way for a woman to see how her partner or birth doula responds to the possibility of her using an epidural during labor, or it may be a way for a woman to open the conversation about being afraid of giving birth. There may be countless more reasons a woman shares with her birth team her thoughts about laboring with or without pain medication, and the only way you'll learn about her feelings and thoughts is to give her the opportunity to share openly, honestly and without judgement.
Perhaps you're pregnant and curious how to share with your sister that you hope to give birth with/without pain medication, because your sister chose exactly the opposite! Maybe you're concerned that if you share your preferences for an unmedicated labor that you will somehow let people down if you choose to use pain meds. Or maybe your daughter is having her first baby and you think she's ridiculous for abstaining from using drugs in labor. Whatever the case, communicating openly and without judgement will only help build the bonds of trust and feelings of safety.
Olive Tree Birthing offers prenatal consultations to help facilitate, support and educate expectant families and their birth team. Call, email or visit the Contact Me page to submit a form and I'll be in touch with you soon.