Epidural Not the Only Option For Labor Pain

Tami Maloney, BBA, AAHCC

To the Editor:

I write to you not as an anesthesia professional, but as the wife of an anesthesia professional and one who has had 4 children. It has been of interest to me to follow the string of letters regarding Dr. Parker’s comments from the Summer 2005 Newsletter because I have often wondered, "What does the anesthesiologist think about labor epidurals?" I was actually glad to hear Dr. Parker’s comments. I was glad to hear that a medical professional can see the abuse of medication so rampant with epidural labors.

Perhaps I should better explain my position. I have had 4 children in the past 10 years (1996, 1999, 2001, 2004). My husband and I prepared to have low risk pregnancies and births with each. We utilized the 9 months of pregnancy as a time to prepare physically with exercise and excellent nutrition, emotionally with daily relaxation practices, and mentally with building confidence as we educated ourselves via books and classes. I understand that most pregnant couples do not utilize the 9 months of pregnancy in this manner, but rather spend that time decorating a nursery, buying a mini-van, and finding the perfect 5-in-1 stroller. We, however, placed our focus on labor preparation. Therefore, at the time of labor, we were prepared and managed "one of the most severe pains a woman will ever experience in her lifetime" (quoted from Drs. Camman, Hughes, and Birnbach from the Winter 2006 Newsletter) without any medications. The following lists our children’s birth weights and lengths respectively: 11 lbs. 4 oz., 23; 9 lbs. 14 oz., 21; 9 lbs. 8 oz., 21 oz.; and 9 lbs., 12 oz., 20 1/2. All 4 of our children were born vaginally without Stadol, Nubain, Demerol, fentanyl, or an epidural. In my experience, viral meningitis was much more painful than all four labors combined!

So, as a voice of the minority, I share our experience with you to show that, while drugs and procedures have their place, an epidural is not the only way to manage labor. However, anesthesiologists are at the beck and call of couples who do not prepare as we did, and for that, I am sorry.

Tami Maloney, BBA, AAHCC
Decatur, AL