Your body knows how to birth a baby. That isn't what I teach you how to do in a Lamaze childbirth class. What I teach is all the options we have during birth and their benefits, risks, and alternatives.
The epidural is one of those things we spend some time on. I think if you're planning on having an epidural it is even more important to take a Lamaze class so you know what to expect and how to manage the epidural so it is an effective part of your birth plan.
Also, it is important to remember that you can't get an epidural till you're at the hospital and the hospital won't admit you until you're well into your labor. So you do need to also learn how to manage early labor pain.
According to the latest figures that I could find, the Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2008 around 61% of women having a singleton birth (one baby) had an epidural during their labor.
There are some very compelling reasons to have an epidural during birth. We go over these benefits during our class.
There are also potential risks and unintended consequences that can come from having an epidural; especially when certain actions aren't taken in tandem with the epidural. We go over these as well.
Oh and P.S. sometimes we don't think we are going to have an epidural but end up needing one for a variety of reasons. So it is important to have this information even if you aren't planning to have an epidural.
This is the type of information we discuss in our Lamaze class. The information is presented as facts and without judgment. Epidural pain relief can be the best option for some women, just as a non-medicated pain relief may work for another woman. And because epidurals are a medical intervention, sometimes they are needed to have a safe birth. So knowing what to expect and how to manage the epidural so it works for you is very important.
The most important thing is that you feel informed and know techniques that you can use to reduce the negative consequences of epidurals if you choose or need to have one and how to cope with the pain if you chose not to have one.
Find a Lamaze class near you.