Childbirth pain part of the deal

Caroline Frost
July 15, 2009 12:00am

SO Dr Denis Walsh dares express his views that women should endure childbirth without pain relief.

The UK professor explains that hard labour may help mothers bond with their offspring and prepare them for the responsibility of nurturing them.

Inevitably, he's been hung out to dry by a queue of wild-eyed banshee mothers wanting to give him a taste of his own medicine.

I am so bored with this latest example of women claiming the moral high ground by virtue of their ability to bear children.

One hospital in southwest England was recently forced to advise all their pregnant mums that pain may occur during childbirth, after one patient threatened to sue them because she didn't know. How pathetic is that?

Quite rightly, the first advice I was given when I arrived in Australia was "toughen up".

I haven't been to hospital for a tetanus shot, let alone to give birth, but the one thing even I've always known, like every single human since we lived in caves, is that childbirth hurts. Always has. But that it happens anyway.

Pain relief has been around only a fraction of the time women have spent producing the next generation, so we can't really say we know all about the pros and cons of it.

Yet somehow we have a thriving and ever-growing civilisation, due to changing procedures and our receptiveness to new information.

We can evolve further still if are prepared to consider fresh ideas like those of Dr Walsh.

We have the option of baths, positions, drugs . . . but we also have choices. If someone wants the delight of a child, why can't they accept the pain - physical, emotional, financial - that goes with it?

Did I miss the memo that guaranteed anyone an easy ride through life, from the first tottering steps of childhood, teenage and adult angst, to the frailties of old age?

I wouldn't know what to do with that certificate, anyway. I'd prefer to keep faith in the set of natural checks and balances that currently frame our goals and plans.

Health means luck, diets and gyms. Money means luck, work and discipline. Standing on a beautiful mountain requires climbing it.

In all walks of life, we see that things of value have pain and sacrifice attached to them. Why should that be any different for something as fundamental as giving birth?

Imagine you were within tantalising grasp of something you've always wanted, as long as you were willing to go through 48 hours of agony -- something presumably far less precious than a child but still valuable to you and long-lasting.

It could be a big house, or your dream yacht. Would you be prepared to put yourself through a finite amount of pain for that? I reckon I would.

At least I'd like the opportunity. And that's what's bugging me most about all these women and their indignation - with their apparent hard-done-by duty of motherhood that's been foisted on them.

They're ignoring the fact that it's their choice, and also their privilege.