Distinguishing Pain from Suffering in childbirth seems to be such an important point. The resounding attitude about birth when I was growing up was that any woman who would choose NOT to have an epidural was simply out-of-her-mind. After all, why on earth even consider a choice between experiencing painful or painless birth? Of course, as Penny explains, women can suffer in childbirth whether or not they receive epidurals or other pain-relieving medications. Women do suffer when they do not have appropriate support and comfort measures, which is often the case in settings such as hospitals, where mothers receive epidurals to alleviate pain. The good news is that a woman can make choices (provided they have access) that vastly reduce suffering, even if she experiences pain during her labor.
Oh, Penny. If you don’t know, Penny Simpkin is the author of many incredible resources, such as The Birth Partner, When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on the Childbearing Woman, and Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn:The Complete Guide (an excellent alternative to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, in my opinion!). Her website is here.