My name is Mallory, I’m a birth and postpartum doula, and I absolutely love epidurals.
Those who know me, though, know that I had my last two children at home, unmedicated with a midwife.
So, what gives?
When I first became a doula I set out to avenge my own birth. I felt I was robbed of the experience I had set out to have by my obstetrician. Many, many doulas come into this work for the exact same reason. My first birth left me feeling powerless, out of control, pushed around and like a child. I was determined no one else would feel that.
As a doula I intended to preach the “good news” that “all doctors are out to get you” and pass out unmedicated births like candy. (For the record, I don’t believe that about doctors anymore. I’ve worked with fabulous doctors since then.)
And then… the first birth I attended was almost identical to my own first birth. Including the epidural.
And guess what? An epidural was the exact right choice.
Here’s the thing I think we forget: we are not statistics. Just because the evidence says one thing doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily how things will end for you. You’re a unique individual.
Each birth is different, each baby is different, every single aspect of each birth is different. I had two home births and they were wildly different. As I have continued in my career supporting parents and families through birth and postpartum I have been greatly humbled and made to understand some very real, very important truths that I have applied not just to my practice but to my life.
Truth #1: There is no “right”. There is only your way and my way.
My children are breastfed. That’s what has worked for me and my family. I used to say, “Breast is best.” What I didn’t understand was the struggle of a mother who was facing returning to work two weeks postpartum. I didn’t understand the feeling of inadequacy of a mother with IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) or the feelings of lost control of a mother who had been previously sexually assaulted. Now I know that there isn’t a right way to feed your baby, there isn’t a right way to birth your baby… there’s just your way and my way.
Truth #2: We ALL love our children.
Sometimes my kids eat organic, locally grown produce. Sometimes they eat chicken nuggets and ketchup. I don’t love them any less when I feed them chicken nuggets. As mothers, we all love our children in different ways. The most important thing is love. Birthing at home in a pool doesn’t mean I love my two younger children more than my older one who was induced. I love them all the exact same. We’re all just mothers making the best decisions we can and loving our children all the while.
Truth #3: Women are wise.
I think many times when we go crusading for a certain type of birth we forget one very important thing. Women aren’t stupid. Birthing women make the choices that feel right to them. Sometimes that is using essential oils to treat a migraine, other times it is popping a couple Tylenol. All choices we make come with some measure of risk. So if it’s choosing to refuse medication, or it’s choosing to use another measure of pain-coping, I believe you have chosen the best thing for you. I believe in your wisdom, your strength and your intelligence.
I’m a doula and if you love epidurals, regardless of what I would choose for myself, I love them, too.