Helena Bonham Carter loved her epidural. LOVED it. In fact, she says she’d give birth every day because the pain-killers used in labor are so good.
“I would love to have a baby every day…I love childbirth, I did. It’s so underrated! The epidural, I worship at the altar of the person who invented the drug, because you go from a life-transforming pain to just this blissed-out state. And it does have opium in it, did you know that? So that’s probably why I was so happy.”
I really wanted to post this because we do see a lot of headlines about the wonderful “natural” or home birth of various celebrities. And while I think those births sound truly awesome, I don’t think that women who opt for epidurals should feel less worthy of headlines.
Labor is hard. Birth is incredible. There are lots of ways to cope in labor, and the epidural is one of them.
I’m personally with Ms. Bonham Carter– I thought the epidural was pretty dandy. I’ve also given birth without pain relief and that was amazing, too. They are pretty unique experiences and both have lots to offer. It’s funny, some people say the epidural made them more present. Others say they felt removed. I think the epidural made me much more social and in the end, it helped me get some needed sleep. But laboring without the epidural forced me to place of focus I thought not possible. I felt present at both my births, in very different ways.
The most important thing for women looking towards labor, I think, is to know and have access to the many choices for coping with pain, and to understand the risks and benefits of medications. Epidurals early on in labor, for example, bring more risks than those used late in labor. A very late epidural after a long, long labor can reduce risks in birth.
They also, as Bonham Cater points out, have narcotics in them. Some common side effects– itching, shaking and vomiting– may be more pronounced in some women than others. I also know people who just flat-out don’t like the stoned feeling of narcotics; it makes them feel a little out of control. This is a minority opinion, but it’s a valid one.
An epidural is neither “good” nor “bad.” So much depends on what is going on in the particular labor.
I think it’s wonderful that Bonham Carter looks back on childbirth with such strong, positive feelings. That’s just a really good thing.
If you’ve had an epidural, did you love it?