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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Epidural stats

Ok, here's some stats I found about epidural use. It looks like in Utah we are quite a bit different. I would take these stats with a grain of salt, though. I'm not sure how well researched they are.

25% of women in the UK use epidurals

66% of women in the USA

The epidural rates at the major hospitals in SLC are over 90%.

I would say that would be closer to 95-98% from my experience.

If these stats hold true, then in UT we use epidurals quite a bit more. I wonder if this has to do with the culture here or if this would hold out among LDS women everywhere. I would guess it is a little bit of both. Do we see it as a blessing to have this, or do we reject pain more? Why? This seems like sort of a "duh" question to me, because who wouldn't want to not have pain. But for some reason, in Utah (where the majority of people are LDS), we care a little bit more about having our epidurals.

Is this really an issue of pain control? Or is it more an issue of fear? None of this has been studied really.

There are a couple of things I would like to blog about in upcoming posts: the lds view of pain, and how often do we use prayer, blessings, and such in our decisions regarding labor/birth and the trials associated with it.

7 comments:

Christina Bartholomew said...

Interesting -- I couldn't see the original post in the OB-GYN forum, but I wonder how scientific the survey was. According to this site, we have twice the home births in Utah than the rest of the nation: http://www.matheson.utah.edu/Annual_Review/UHReview/archives/10Birth-Trends-in-Utah.pdf

Rachel said...

The quote from the UT stats was just a guess from some doctors, so it wasn't scientific at all. Neither is my guess, but I appreciate the article you posted. I don't think the rates of epidurals has really been studied very well. So, we can't say that our epidural rate is for sure that large. I just know from my experience that about 95% use epidurals at the three hospitals I've worked at.

I do think that we have a larger home birth population and that is definitely cultural also. I think those who have been dissatisfied with the hospital have tended to do the home birth thing.

Maybe we have a polarized culture:) Actually that polarization and the "fights" between the two camps is interesting also. Do we as women of the church feel the need to put down other people's choices for some reason? Motherhood is such a highly respected, yet difficult calling...do we use the whole childbirth debate to make ourselves somehow feel better about ourselves as mothers? Just some other questions to look at.

Anonymous said...

I am LDS and see nothing wrong with epidurals. I kind of have this view on it. The Lord gave us [women] the responsibility of giving birth and with that comes pain, which is I believe in direct correlation with Eve partaking of the fruit. It is her/our "punishment" (I use this word loosely). And men were told that by the "sweat of their brow" they would provide for their families.

The Lord has blessed us with many great things. Most men no longer need to go work out in the fields and till the ground, or work by "the sweat of their brow" because technology allows them to sit inside in nice room with A/C and a computer. So why can't women use the technology the Lord has blessed us with, and feel less pain during childbirth. (you still feel pain until the epidural and then after thus my use of the word 'less').

I personally left my options open. I wanted a "natural birth, if it was possible, and am not afraid of pain, however I gave myself an option to have an epidural if I needed/wanted and I know for a fact if I hadn't had the epidural, I would have had a C-section. For my second I will try again to go without but if I have any of the same problems I had before then I will get an epidural. I feel there is no shame in having one or in not having one.

When it comes to LDS women, they may want a large family and figure they can do that with out TOO much pain. Or there are those who don't like pain. I know LDS women who had to have a C-section for their first and are terrified to have a natural birth because of 'the pain'.

The thing that I find so frustrating is that these women who opt for an epidural are sometimes made to feel by others that they are not "women' enough to be a good mother because they didn't go through "the real" experience (despite the reasons they get one) and I think that is a load of crap. I also know of mother's that slightly resent their children because of what they went through in labor and were afraid to have any kind of medication because of others judgments. If you think you are someone who might do that, by all means, get an epidural!

Does having an epidural make you less of a women? less of a mother? less of a strong LDS women? NO. So what is the issue? Why can't we use the knowledge and medical advances the Lord has blessed us with?

Sheridan said...

I think it isn't an LDS thing. In Southern California, most of the hospitals in my area have a 95% epidural rate.

The moms in my ward who have been pregnant, about 75% just want the epidural, but about 25% are open to natural birth and have taken my Hypnobabies classes, or just done it natural on their own.

Rachel said...

Anonymous-ok, so I'm going to see what I can pull from your post and relate it to our culture....

First off, medicine is a blessing from God (including epidurals). I have heard this line of thought before. Not only in regards to medicine, but throughout childbirth, women will mention certain factors as being a blessing for them. Epidurals, c-sections, the ability and strength to give birth natural etc. We acknowledge these as coming from God. In fact I would say we acknowledge all good things come from God.

Second, there is some judgement involved in how we give birth. Which, is actually contrary to our belief. So, my question for this is, why doesn't our culture play more of a role in this respect? I think if would be interesting to look at issues of judgment also. I don't think we tend to be more judgmental than the rest of society, but shouldn't we be less given the fact that we are taught that we shouldn't be.

Third, you brought up the issue of fear. Women fear pain, being out of control, tearing(my personal fear:)), getting a c-section, the list could go on and on. In a culture/religion that teaches that fear is not from God, how does our culture manifest itself when we are faced with fear in childbirth?

Cherylyn said...

Wow, these are some great discussions!

One thought I have is about the rift between moms who choose medication and those who choose not to use medication. I feel that childbirth is extremely personal and sacred to each woman. When a woman has birthed her baby in a particular way, it impacts her for the rest of her life,for good or bad, and she holds that experience close to her heart. She does not want someone else to tell her that she could have done it differently or maybe should have made different choices. I think we get very defensive about our choices, and I don't think this is a religious issue. A mother who experienced a c-section certainly doesn't want to be told how she could have avoided that, because it may be too painful, and she can't go back and change any of it. She still has to face the consequences and imprint left by her birth experience. I think everyone should take care in discussing birth with each other and keep this in mind.

I have a friend who thinks I'm crazy for choosing to birth without medication and is adamant that epidurals are a blessing and should be taken advantage of. I can't argue with her because that is how she feels deeply, but I can tell her that I respect her choice and I choose a different path. We agree to disagree on this.

I also have had many discussions with women who "respect" my choice to give birth at home but feel that they have personal circumstances which preclude them from even being able to birth at home. I feel that we make justifications to help us feel good about our decisions, and that, to me, is an indication of where a woman is at and what she is willing to accept at that time. I don't feel they're wrong in their feelings, because they truly feel that way. I feel there are different correct choices for different people, and we should be supportive of that. The majority of women I talk with where about birth where I live are LDS, and I've found their birth choices to be all over the map. The majority of them consider themselves to be open to natural methods, even if they don't choose those methods for themselves.

I personally don't feel this is a religious issue, but I could be wrong. I agree with Rachel about the judgment aspect. I often wonder why we LDS ladies can be more judgmental when we are taught not to judge others. I wonder if we get singular in our thinking and believe that what we believe or support is the only correct way. I guess it would be a tunnel vision of sorts, and that may be connected to religion and the belief that we are part of the "only" true church, forgetting that people of other religions have truth as well.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Very interesting!

Also, I'd love to read your thoughts on the LDS view of pain, especially as it relates to birth. I wrote about my experience with that sort of thing with my third birth here if you have any interest.

Anyway, I love the mission of your blog! I look forward to reading more.

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?


  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.