Inevitably, as a woman in my twenties, Lyerly’s piece about childbirth and our ensuing class discussion incited me to think about how I might want to approach the births of my own children. Frankly, I often find myself disinterested when my girlfriends speak of finding a life partner and having children; although I’ve always imagined a future entailing children of my own, this phase of my life still seems so distant and irrelevant in light of all the other goals I’d like to achieve before building a family. However, I must concede that I have often been intrigued by the phenomenon of childbirth and excited—albeit, nervous—to experience this act if I do decide to bear children and am able to.
Although I usually merely entertain the thought of experiencing childbirth, this week’s content provoked me to consider my potential pregnancy and delivery more concretely. Specifically, as Lyerly’s article contemplates the issue of medicine and medical intervention in childbirth, I reconsidered my own assumptions about the situation of medicine and technology in childbirth, namely my rejection of the use of epidural or other pain-alleviating methods. For one, I perhaps naively and haughtily have assumed that I will be able to endure childbirth and its anticipated pains and difficulties better than most women, as my curvaceous, stereotypically “maternal” body frame and general good-health will grant me an uncomplicated and more tranquil childbirth. Similarly, my mother did not receive an epidural during any of her three births, and is often vocal about how “easy” it was birthing me my brother and sister, implying that epidurals are largely unnecessary; this rhetoric also reflects the ideal that “real” women don’t need anesthetics during childbirth.
However, Lyerly’s article and class discussion compelled me to reexamine the use of epidurals and their meaning to the pregnant women. Expressly, I feel that because medical intervention during childbirth has historically privileged the health of the baby, sometimes resulting in the death of the mother, I think women should embrace technology in medicine that promotes their well-being and also their comfort. Although I am sometimes weary of claims that birthing a child is a wholly pleasant experience, I do think that childbirth is an amazing bodily and emotional achievement unique to women, and one that should be regarded as more of a challenging though fulfilling venture, rather than a burden or an assessment of a woman’s maternal or feminine adeptness.