What’s the Epidural Dilemma?
Pregnancy and childbirth are incredibly transformative experiences. Unfortunately, our culture has reduced the conversation about this utmost transformation to one topic: labor pain. Whether on social media, in moms’ groups, or on the playground, individuals undergoing their childbearing years’ discussions focus solely on fear and coping with labor pain. This narrow focus can make them preoccupied with deciding whether to take an epidural. It doesn’t help much that their guides, birth support professionals, also tend to distinguish between “Natural/Unmedicated Birth” and “Medicated Birth.” The first option is often idealized, whereas the latter is viewed less favorably. This can result in birth givers feeling negative emotions such as disappointment or failure if they choose to take an epidural. Since the decision to use pain relief during labor is a personal choice that has emotional and social implications, I suggest helping expectant individuals to navigate this “Epidural Dilemma” with transformational prenatal coaching,
Doulas have heard this a hundred times: “I want a natural childbirth but I’m open to the possibility of getting an epidural”. Labor and Delivery nurses read it on birth plans thousand of times.
I leave myself open to… the possibility…
This opening can go both ways – it can lead your clients to triumph in moments of doubt and crisis or it can lead them to surrender to the fear and ask for an epidural.
This opening is where the coaching conversation begins. Coaches in many different fields, such as executive coaching, career coaching, relationships coaching, or lifestyle coaching are searching for this opening. And yet we, birth support professionals, are handed the opening so explicitly. This is our cue to begin to coach.
How do you engage the client in a powerful, life-changing, and results-oriented conversation, and not miss this amazing opportunity, this opening? How are you going to lead a coaching conversation with this expectant person or birthing individual who ‘leaves themselves open?’ Aren’t you curious to learn about the source of their hesitation – what is interfering with their ability to fully commit to their desired birth experience? Wouldn’t this be valuable to your support process if you understood what is the nature of the circumstances that will make them turn their back to plan A – having a natural childbirth, and choose plan B- asking for pain medication?
Is birth plan the goal or the strategy?
When birth workers, such as doulas and childbirth educators, first envisioned the birth plan in the eighties, the main idea was to help expectant parents prepare for the physical and emotional aspects of the birth process, explore how they want various situations handled during their actual birth, and provide a tool for parents to communicate with each other, their care provider, and the hospital staff prior to the birth (Simkin, 2007; Simkin & Reinke, 1980). As sometimes happens, the mean comes to be associated with the goal, and as such, expectant couples and some birth workers, associate writing the birth plan with achieving it. This association may evoke some unexpected outcomes: