Women Have A Right To Pain Relief During Childbirth; STOP Shaming Them!

My doctor made a snide remark about how my mother or grandmother bore the pain, then why was I being a 'delicate darling'. After all 'real mothers' bear the 'real' pain and that's what motherhood is all about.

As a woman, it is important to feel heard and respected when seeking medical advice, especially when it comes to one of the most vulnerable and life-changing experiences – giving birth to a baby. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals uphold these values.

I experienced this firsthand when I went to my gynaecologist to discuss my palliative options (pain relief options) during childbirth.

Palliative options during childbirth

I had been doing research and reading about various pain relief options like epidural, nitrous oxide etc, and I wanted to have an open conversation with my doctor about what might be available to me. However, as soon as I mentioned the word “palliative,” I was met with ridicule and condescension. My doctor made a snide remark about how my mother or grandmother bore the pain, then why was I being a ‘delicate darling’. After all ‘real mothers’ bear the ‘real’ pain and that’s what motherhood is all about.

This reaction left me feeling humiliated and ashamed as if I was being unreasonable or asking for too much. It also left me feeling unheard and invalidated, as if my concerns and fears didn’t matter. I left the appointment feeling defeated and anxious about the upcoming birth of my child.

It wasn’t until later when I talked to other women and did more research, that I realized how common my experience was. Many women have been dismissed or belittled when it comes to discussing their options for pain relief during childbirth. It’s almost as if there is a stigma attached to wanting a more comfortable and less traumatic birth experience.

There is no one right way to give birth!

However, it is important to remember that every woman’s birth experience is unique and personal, and there is no one “right” way to give birth. Whether you choose to have an epidural, a natural birth, or a C-section, your decision should be respected and supported by your healthcare provider.

What’s even more troubling is that the lack of support for palliative options during childbirth can have serious consequences for both the mother and the baby. Studies have shown that unmanaged pain during childbirth can lead to negative birth experiences, postpartum depression, and delayed bonding between mother and baby.

It is unacceptable for medical professionals to dismiss or ridicule women for wanting to discuss their options for pain relief during childbirth. It is their duty to provide compassionate and informed care to their patients, and to ensure that their patients feel empowered and heard.

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My experience with my gynaecologist was a painful reminder that the medical field still has a long way to go in terms of providing adequate support for women during childbirth. However, it is important for women to advocate for themselves and demand the respect and care they deserve. It is also important for medical professionals to educate themselves and adopt a more compassionate and open-minded approach to childbirth. After all, every woman deserves a positive and empowering birth experience.

Editor’s note: Women regularly face #MedicalMisogyny from health care professionals. For the WHO World Health Day 2023 theme of ‘Health for All’, identifying this misogyny and ensuring #Equity in healthcare is essential. All of April, we will be sharing stories with you on this these, either personal stories or fiction. Find them all here.

Image source: a still from the film ’83

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