- Apr 28, 2007
Rural, childbirth used to be considered a terrible martyrdom....a dreadful agony you had to put up with if you wanted the joy of children, the curse of Eve on women.... "in sorrow shall you bring forth children"
Women demanded pain relief. Doctors scrambled to help. Only the rich could access real pain relief. Queen Victoria demanded chloroform for the births of her large brood.
Epidurals in the beginning were only guaranteed to women who were private patients.
But in modern times a whole new brainwashing thing started: Pain relief was bad. A new set of euphemisms had to be pressed into service.
You didn't have agonising pains. No, they were just "contractions"
The more agonising they were, the better. It was a good sign that "your labour was progressing naturally"
The agonising pain was "empowering to you as a woman"
Doctors who spent years inventing relatively safe methods of easing the terrible pain---just as they spent years perfecting safe anaesthetics for surgery---were regarded as drug pushers and bad guys. "Nature" would take care of it.
That's the same "nature" that brought us cholera, plague, childhood cancers, diphtheria, childhood polio, .....
When you screamed in pain you were soothed by being told you "needed to change position" or get into the "birthing pool."--because tepid water is so good at easing mind-blowing pain.
The reason you were screaming in agony was because you lacked "emotional support" and a "sense of control over your labour"
Water--ha, ha--was considered to be a really good analgesic. Warm water.
I must try that when I'm having root canal.
Or better still I'll tell the dentist "I'm fine without painkillers. I've been practising my breathing. Drugs carry risks, and anyway it's only going to last a few hours so I'll just moan and scream through it. I'll forget all about the pain when I see my new crowned tooth."
One of my childbirth books advises "If you lose control and start crying for an epidural, your husband or partner will gently remind you that you have come this far, and you can manage the rest of it without drugs"
Then there is "Once you see your baby you'll forget the pain". Can we use that excuse for other traumatic experiences? "Ah, sure you'll forget about it soon"
And lastly "Your body was designed to do this". No it feckin' wasn't. If it was there wouldn't be all that tearing and screaming. Our large human heads and misaligned pelvis since we learned to walk upright makes human birthing a bit of a hit and miss affair.
God bless pharmacology, epidurals, C sections, anaesthesia, palliative care, morphine, painless surgery, painless dentistry......God bless the 21st century.
I believe there were epidurals about when I had my Sons, they were born in Castlebar and I didn't go private, but they only did epidurals on Wednesday afternoons at the time, our lads tried their best bless them, they were both born on Wednesday mornings.
If I had been offered painkillers I would have jumped at it, but I was pleased afterwards, not in a self satisfied way, because I could walk about immediately after the birth, so I sought and found a quiet room where I could smoke!