There was a lot in the press over the weekend about coping with the pain of labour. The Sunday Tribune considers the advantages of natural births and home births while a similar piece in the Observer, encouraging women to endure the pain of childbirth without the epidural, has sparked a huge response.
I had two hospital births – home birth was never mentioned to me as an option. I planned to do things naturally, stay at home as long as possible, soak in the bath, listen to whale song etc etc. Of course, none of this happened as I was admitted to hospital 24 hours before my official due date and that was where I stayed for the duration. No whale song, no bath, lots of tubes in my arms, an epidural and 16 hours later a beautiful baby boy.
Second time around, everything happened much faster, and without any pain relief (other than my husband’s hand!). This was, by far, the better experience. But then, I think it will always be – in theory – easier to handle labour second time around as you know what to expect and that goes a long way towards helping you cope.
The articles ask interesting questions of the maternity hospitals and their ‘targets’ to manage labours within 12 hours. Who is really in control here? Surely, it should be the mother, being allowed to do what she feels happiest doing, and not having to fit in with a pre-determined schedule. Then again, when we are in the middle of this incredibly intense experience, exhausted and emotional, are we really the ones best placed to make decisions? I know I certainly wasn’t; I wanted the experts to take control.
One thing’s for sure, childbirth will never be easy, but will always be worth it. The debate about hospital or home, managed or natural, will continue for a long time yet.