9. The Necessity of Medication

I understand the need for medication. I experienced labor twice, without medication and still remember the challenging parts.

With each of my labors I got panicky at the end and asked for an epidural. I chose to have both of my children at home with a licensed midwife who does not administer epidurals. I knew that having an epidural during my labor was not possible unless I got into the car and drove to my local hospital. With my first birth, I momentarily thought about it, but as I was in the middle of an intense contraction with back pressure, I could not realistically imagine physically moving my body into the car, so the epidural was out, and I have no regrets. However, if I had given birth at my local hospital I think I would have opted for some form of medication.

My birth experience helped me understand the need for medication. Sometimes that is the only option available to help women cope. During the hardest part of my labor, when I thought about the epidural, I requested to be completely alone. My midwife honored my request and I stayed in my downstairs bathroom alone for about two hours.

While in the bathroom, I instinctually placed myself in a trance and began to meditate and was able to handle the toughest part of my labor. What also helped me during this time was complete silence. During my second labor, when I got panicky and asked for an epidural, what helped was my sister telling me that “I am strong”, during the moment I felt my weakest.

Since I gave birth at home, I had access to every coping option available. The midwife allowed me to labor in my own time. I had access to a tub and shower. I was able to move into any position I desired. I had constant care during labor by two midwives. I was free to discuss, accept, or waive all medical interventions recommended by my midwife.

Having a quiet private place for hard labor, the freedom to make decisions like not having a vaginal exam, and access to nonmedicated coping techniques like squatting helped me have an unmedicated birth experience. I know that if all women had access to the level of care I had during labor, had uninterrupted privacy, access to nonmedicated coping techniques, were able to waive some medical interventions, and were free to move during labor, then more women would be able to have unmedicated labors.

I had a vagina exam during the labor of my first child. In order to have the exam done you have to lay down on your back in a very awkward and uncomfortable position. In that moment I wanted to yell, “Drug me!” That was the last vagina exam I had during labor. At that moment I thought what if I had to stay in this position for any more time than I already had. I could not stand to be stuck in a lying down position, it was excruciating. Then it dawned on me that many women labor in a lying down position. In order to remain in that position I would need drugs. So I completely understand the need for medications, because not many other options are given to women to cope with the pain.

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