This is an interesting perspective on epidurals for women in labor. The author raises an important issue for discussion regarding the use of the term “natural” to describe labor without an epidural, as well as the unnecessary stigma some women feel if they ask for an epidural in labor.
At MFM Associates, our philosophy regarding epidurals is simple: it’s your choice. We do not push them, nor do we discourage them. We reassure our patients that epidurals are safe, very effective, and do not slow down labor nor increase the risk of cesarean delivery. All of those claims are supported by robust scientific evidence (older studies suggested an increased risk of cesarean delivery, but newer, more-properly designed, studies show no difference in cesarean rates for women with an epidural in labor).
For women who choose to have an epidural in labor, there are obstetric anesthesiologists available 24/7 to provide a safe and working epidural. For women who choose to labor without an epidural, we encourage other forms of pain relief including ambulation and position changes (as feasible), support doulas, as well as breathing and meditation techniques. There should be no stigma attached to asking for an epidural nor for laboring without one.
To read the full story, please check out The New York Times.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!