If you’re preggers and thinking of having an epidural, think again, says male midwife Dr. Denis Walsh. He claims the pain induced by labor is purposeful, necessary, and will prepare a mother “for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby.” Huh, dude?
Walsh says “[e]merging evidence [shows] that normal labor and birth primes the bonding areas of a mother’s brain better than caesarean or pain-free birth.” Hmm…I would love to know how screaming at the top of your lungs and forcing an eight-pounder out of your crotch will help you bond with your newborn.
Walsh proposes women abandon routine pain relief and use other tactics such as yoga and birthing pools to, “work with the pain,” instead of fighting against it. Perform downward dog while I’m contracting? I think not. As for birthing pools, it has been scientifically proven that giving birth in water can lead to severe medical problems for the baby. I think I’ll take the epidural, thank you very much.
Many doctors think Walsh’s comments are “absolute rubbish.” Sally Russel, co-founder of NetMums.com, said that “[w]hat he is promoting suggests to me that women who can’t go through normal birth for whatever reason find they are stigmatized and made to feel they have let themselves down because there’s such pressure to have a normal birth, and that’s very damaging.” Justin Clark, a senior obstetrician and gynecologist at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, agreed and said Walsh is “exaggerating the risks of epidurals.”
I’m not a doc, so I’m not sure what harms epidurals bring, but while presenting evidence to show that epidurals may be dangerous is one thing, claiming that child-birth pain will help you raise your kids is another. Until Walsh experiences the pain of child birth himself, I’m not sure he should be so opposed to epidurals.
As Dr. Maggie Blott, consultant obstetrician at University College London, said, “Do not under-estimate the pain of having a baby — it is a very, very intense and painful experience.” Can’t wait.