Painless Labor: Not a Top Priority

IV Drip Woman in Background CroppedEpidural or not?  It’s one of the top questions pregnant women ask their OB, midwife, doula, friends and relatives.  The thinking here is that a pain-free birth equates to a happy birth.

But interestingly, according to Dr. Mark Sloan, MD, author of Birth Day*, pain relief ranks fourth in postpartum satisfaction surveys both here and around the world.  More important than a pain-free birth, according to Dr. Sloan, are:

  • the relationship a woman has with her doctor or midwife
  • the support she receives from those caregivers during her labor
  • how involved she is in making decisions about her birth

“In other words, a completely pain-free birth can still be an unsatisfying one…by focusing too much on pain relief we can miss this age-old point:  it’s the simple human aspects of childbirth that actually make all the difference.”

Happy Birth Way’s “Four Keys to a Happy Birth” follow the same line of thinking:

1 — Be informed:  know what to expect in the labor process, for both mom AND her partner; information leads to empowerment.

2 — Be Supported:  women who are fully supported in labor, by their partner, a doula and/or their caregivers, report positive birth experiences.

3 — Breathe Consciously: the breath ultimately controls the hormones, so breathing calmly and steadily helps stimulate oxytocin and endorphins.

4 — Stay Low-Risk: with healthy foods and regular exercise such as walking and yoga, moms can increase their chances of staying low-risk which means a greater chance of a birth with no unnecessary medical interventions.

So the bottom line is that birth is a full package that includes preparation and support.  It’s not only about the pain of childbirth, or whether to choose an epidural or not.  Being prepared for anything, having the knowledge to make informed decisions, and having strong labor support, are the best ways a mom can prepare for labor.

*Birth Day, A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth, Mark Sloan, MD, page 138