6 Stupid Things People Say About Natural Childbirth

How to Cope With Comments About Unmedicated Childbirth

Mother holding newborn baby in hospital bed
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So you have decided that you would like to avoid having medications at your upcoming labor and birth. Congratulations on making a decision. As with all decisions in pregnancy, it's one you've likely put a lot of thought into and decided it is what works for you and your family. It is not likely that you entered into this decision without a lot of thought.

As you move forward in your pregnancy, you may find yourself telling people about your decision. Even if you make it a declarative statement, people will still comment on it. Some of them will be supportive, while others may not be supportive, but rather say ignorant things to you in response. Here are some of the things you might hear:

  1. Why would you want to do that?
    Yes, people will come straight out and ask things like this one. You can choose to answer why you have chosen to have a natural childbirth or you can punt the question back with: Why would you ask me that? Why do you ask?
  2. Don't you know they have epidurals now?
    Unless you have been living under a rock or in places where epidurals are not common, you most likely have heard about this popular form of pain relief in labor. The reasons that people choose to forgo the epidural are many and extremely personal. You are welcome to share with them what you feel comfortable sharing, or you can simply skip it.
  3. Why would you risk it?
    This is the one that I never really understood. After thinking about it for a long time, the only two risks I can come up with for an unmedicated birth are:
    1. Pain
    2. In a true emergency, needing general anesthesia because you don't already have an epidural in.

    I think that if you have decided to have an unmedicated birth, they you are most likely preparing to cope with pain in a different manner. You have most likely taken a childbirth class that has given you specific skills to help you with pain. And truly, the risk of needing general anesthesia is very low.

  4. Do you like pain?
    This is an absurd assumption. I think this question comes from a place of ignorance in not understanding the options. Many women have only really heard about epidurals as a way to cope with the pain of labor. So they have this belief that if you don't have an epidural, your only other option is to writhe in pain. This is a chance to give a brief education, if you feel so inclined.
  5. Well, I certainly wouldn't do that…
    The snark in me always wants to respond: "I didn't ask you to…" Again, this one is something within the person making the statement and is not a reflection of you or your choices. Try to read it as such and not be offended. You can try to give information on your choices if they are open, but don't feel the need to explain yourself.
  6. Just you wait until labor starts!
    Then there is the horror story. The mom who changed her mind, but it was too late to get an epidural is the most common horror story told to you if you are opting out of medication in labor. Though some are just really far fetched. "If she'd only had the epidural, then…" Most of these don't seem to have anything that sounds remotely true in them, though I suppose some could have a grain of truth somewhere. Chalk this up to people scaring pregnant women.

While your individual responses to these statements or questions might vary, just thinking about it may help you deal with the comments that are likely to come up. One thing I find that is very effective is to tell people that you really aren't opening the floor to their opinions, but would love to accept any offers of true support they can manage towards you making your goal.

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