Does the CC teach anything about having epidurals done before labor? I heard somewhere that they are wrong to have because God created painful labor after the Fall, and that women “need to take their punishment” and have a natural childbirth. The person who said this was not Catholic I think, but it made me wonder if the Church has any position on them.

The CCC does not say anything about an epidural, however there are many who believe that a woman should go through child birth without medication. I used to be one of those women until my turn to give birth came and I’m so glad I begged for the epidural (it turned out to be benificial b/c my dd tore my insides enough where I had to be stiched up for over an hour after and without that epidural I think the pain of the stiching would have been more unbearable than the pain of delivery). However, if you’re pregnant and choose to go with a medicationless plan that’s fine. Just don’t forget, complications can happen and sometimes an epidural can help.

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty if an epidural is what you choose or have to choose when it is time. Just because they did it without medication doesn’t make it the way it must be for you. My sister-in-law’s platelats were too low to have an epidural. When natural labor was too long she had to be put to sleep when she had her c-section. Guess what, things happen we can’t forsee. You need to make decisions based on what’s best for the health of the mother and the baby.

I’m all for doing it without medication (if ever I have another child I plan on going without medication if possible) but a mother shouldn’t be made to feel like less of a woman if she chose an epidural or had a c-section or any other reasons why women put down other women for the non-life threatening choices they make as parents.

Welcome to the forums, Dove! :wave:

Nope, not that I’m aware of, anyway. :wink: And besides, childbearing and birth are “work,” with an epidural or without. I honestly think that was the result of the fall, that labor would be really hard “work,” not necessarily “painful.”

That said, I’m aiming for a completely unmedicated vaginal birth, myself. Just personal preference; I’m not doing it because I feel it would be sinful otherwise. I had spinal anesthesia during my c-section (breech/transverse baby), so I escaped the work of labor, but certainly made up for it during recovery! :smiley:

No, it doesn’t. You can choose what you think would be best for your family. Suffering in general is a result of the fall:

"418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called “concupiscence”). "

If an epidural was wrong, so would anything else that relieved pain and suffering. We couldn’t take Tylenol for a headache, or have any treatments or operations to relieve pain.

400"…Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,285 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.286"

413 “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. . . It was through the devil’s envy that death entered the world” (Wis 1:13; 2:24).

We couldn’t undergo any treatments or operations to avoid death, since it was a consequence of original sin too.

In the end, death and suffering will happen regardless of the measures we take.

I’ve heard this sort of thing, before. But, my husband doesn’t toil in the fields or whatever the Bible says about men right after the bit about women giving birth in pain.

I do not think there is anything wrong with epidurals, and I have never heard any condemnation from the Church for using them. However, from a supernatural perspective, you may want to consider any of that suffering as being purified by fire and thereby lessening your stay in purgatory (should you find yourself there). Personally, I have not mastered all of the theological nuances of suffering/purification of our souls, but my cursory understanding is that whatever sufferings and mortifications we offer up here lessen what we must do when our time comes.
What I have said though, is *only applicable *to epidurals for comfort measures, as opposed to those necessary for complicated deliveries, so pppuuuullllleeeeeze do not jump on me!

Oh yes, definitely we cannot put aside the redemptive power of suffering. From the catechism: “Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458”

Nevertheless, I know, for example, one woman that says she has a quicker recovery when she has an epidural with labor. This woman has ten children, so she has a lot of experience :slight_smile: Her oldest, who is a special needs child, was eleven when the tenth child was born, so obviously this woman needs to recoup as soon as she can after birth. We asked her what her secret was when we saw her at daily Mass with her van full of kiddos a couple of days after delivering her tenth, and thats when she told us about how she feels the epidural helps her.

I heard somewhere that they are wrong to have because God created painful labor after the Fall, and that women “need to take their punishment” and have a natural childbirth.

This kind of ultra-fundamentalist thinking infuriates me since most of the time it is used to make women suffer (and no I am decidedly NOT a feminist at all).

Here’s a story that always makes me laugh. Queen Victoria had 9 children and she hated childbirth since several of her’s were difficult. When she was pregnant with her 8th child she opted to use chloroform and was very happy with the results. Victoria also used chloroform for her 9th childbirth and recommended the practice to her daughters and granddaughters.

When it became known that Queen Victoria had used chloroform, some of the church leaders objected quoting the in sorrow and pain shalt thou bring forth children passage from the Bible, but her doctor said that when God had brought forth Eve from Adam’s side He caused 'A deep sleep" to descend on Adam first. If God used anathesia, then what was wrong with it?

no the Church doesnt have a stance on it. But i had three natural vaginal labors and I know that I reflected on why we went through it and that gave me strength. The “hard work” of labor brought me closer to Jesus on the cross for sure. Next baby i will be sure to lift up that suffering for some poor soul in purgatory or someone who needs some help. When you prepare mentally as well as phisically its not that bad.

I made my mind up not to have a epidural because of the risks not the bible. but whether you are open to an epidural or not just make sure you still read the natural childbirth books and prepare your self for it. i dont know how many times i have heard women say that they dont need to read that stuff because they are just getting the epidural but then because of complications they cant have one or they come in and they are past 7 cm dialated and they arnt allowed to have one, then they have no “training” and havent prepared mentally for the job ahead. its good info no matter what you choose.

Unfortunately the Protestants left Sirach out of their Bible; so much of his wisdom is neglected. See Sirach 38:1-15

Honor the physician with the honor due him, * according to your need of him, for the Lord created him; 2 for healing comes from the Most High, and he will receive a gift from the king. 3 The skill of the physician lifts up his head, and in the presence of great men he is admired. 4 The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them. 5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that his* power might be known? 6 And he gave skill to men that he* might be glorified in his marvelous works. 7 By them he heals and takes away pain; 8 the pharmacist makes of them a compound. His works will never be finished; and from him health* is upon the face of the earth. 9 My son, when you are sick do not be negligent, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 10 Give up your faults and direct your hands aright, and cleanse your heart from all sin. 11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of fine flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford. * 12 And give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; let him not leave you, for there is need of him. 13 There is a time when success lies in the hands of physicians, * 14 for they too will pray to the Lord that he should grant them success in diagnosis* and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.

Yep, just agreeing with the others, not to my knowledge. One thing I do want to say though. I don’t know how your hospital is set up but in ours, if you want the epidural you have to sign up and pay before hand. If that is the case with yours than I would sign up before hand and see how it goes. If you don’t use it they will give you your money back after delivery.

Hey Dove,

I’m an RN, mother of 4, and a Catholic. The Catholic Church absolutely has no problem with having an epidural. I really like the post below where it references God putting Adam into a deep sleep!

God created babies, labor, and the Doctors, nurses, and scientist who developed the epidural and administer it.

Babies are gifts from God himself. If the pain is slightly omitted then we can enjoy the moment.

We suffer through 9 months of pregnancy, and for several days after delivery… that is enough.

I was pentacostal before I became Catholic, and my best friend was Baptist. They all totally believed in having an epidural.

God Bless


I never had one because I didn’t want the drugs going through to the babies. I also had short labors, so who knows what would have happened if I’d had LONG labors. —KCT

Please understand that I am NOT saying that epidurals are wrong, but what I’ve never understood is that epidurals seem to violate the “natural law” governing childbirth - a law explicit in Scripture, no less - and yet this is never seen as problemmatic as that OTHER “natural law” violation, ABC. Just wondering.

(as a guy who’s witnessed the birth of his kids, having his hand crushed into pulp, and seeing his wife in more pain than is bearable…)

Remember who wrote these passages (men), when they were written (when women were a sub-species), and why (because men of the day couldn’t/wouldn’t accept that women had brains, and they needed to be punished for causing lustful desires in men)…

I forget which movie it’s in, but there’s a great line said after some doofus man asks “Does it hurt?” She replies:

Ask any of these ancient/biblical times men to pass a watermelon through their rectum, and I’ll bet they’d sing a different tune too!

(My wife tried natural/no-drugs with both of ours. The pain of delivery was sapping her strength to the point of where she had nothing left to push with… it was epidural or C-section at this stage - and you have to make this choice quickly).

Outside of the "Catholic question"and having had one epidural birth and since then two natural births: I find the natural births less painful. Seriously.

And oh, don’t get me started when I saw this post:

I’m an RN, mother of 4, and a Catholic. The Catholic Church absolutely has no problem with having an epidural. I really like the post below where it references God putting Adam into a deep sleep!

God created babies, labor, and the Doctors, nurses, and scientist who developed the epidural and administer it.

Babies are gifts from God himself. If the pain is slightly omitted then we can enjoy the moment.

We suffer through 9 months of pregnancy, and for several days after delivery… that is enough.

BALOGNA. That’s me putting it nicely.

Sure for some women the relief of the epidural does feel like a God-Send – however, there are inherent risks you can’t even begin to imagine. Not just from the drug, oh no, this goes way beyond the drug. C-section vulnerability is just ONE of the side effects. I am really fighting myself not to get on a huge soap box and spout off all I can and do know, from experience and from knowledge due to research.

So here’s the thing, since you were not clear on whether or not this situation actually pertains to you (as in: are you pregnant?)

IF you are pregnant, or your spouse is…your best course from here on out is KNOWLEDGE before you go into labor.

My suggested reading list:

The Thinking Woman’s Guid to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

Pushed by Jennifer Block

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

As far as “Catholic Thought or Teaching” there is really nothing there to dictate how you go about your birth. There SHOULD be in the US so that women won’t blindly go into birth fully trusting doctors and not realizing how beautiful and amazingly pain-free birth can be – compared to what episiotomy/c-section pain is, and the healing time required. God did give us ALL minds, and so I highly suggest you research all you can before you do it. Be bright, be strong, in more ways than one, and make an educated choice. Faith will get you through when you really need it - as far as birth is concerned.

First off it’s if you want an epidural its fine by the Church. Second at the end of the day the only thing that matters is that your baby is alive and healthy, whether through “natural” childbirth or a C-section, with painkillers or without.

Like others have said, there is nothing inherently wrong with an epidural.

That being said, I am a big proponant for natural birth. For me, the risks of the epidural did not outweigh the benefit of the pain relief. If you want pain relief with no side effects…get in the tub:thumbsup: My birth was an incredible amazing experience that I cannot wait to do again.

From a Catholic perspective…how could I pass up this chance to suffer?? :slight_smile: I offered all the pain of labor and birth up for an end to abortion, for infirtile couples, for those who need healing from abortion, and from my baby’s spiritual formation. Are we required to do this? Of course not. But what a gift!

I agree that healthy mom, healthy babe is the goal, but I don’t like it when people make a woman feel selfish for wanting her birth to go a certain way. IMO, “healthy mom” includes mental health just as much as physical health.

Just saying, I think that this is where this idea comes from…What people who quote it seem to not think of, is that Queen Victoria, being Anglican, these church leaders were, of course Anglican also…Nothing to do with the Catholic Church at all.

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Gee… My sister, planning a totally natural unmedicated birth ended up with an emergency c section. I didn’t have an epidural (though I was induced, so maybe that wouldn’t be unmedicated, though the medication was not for pain) and I had an episiotomy and a tear the first time and a tear the second time. I chose to not have an epidural the second time (the first it wasn’t an option) but my labor was not pain free. I have a friend that pushed for 10 hrs (that was after many hours of labor) before going into a csection because she wanted a natural vaginal birth but the baby could not come out.
Like I mentioned in another post in this thread, I know a mother of 10 that says that in her deliveries with an epidural she has always had a faster recovery. She is not the only one who has told me that the epidural helped her have more control and avoid tears. I know there is research going either way (I read a lot on epis before my first) but I am just sharing the experiences I have come in contact with.
As for the Church getting into this, I am glad it hasn’t and I don’t think it will any time soon as long as there aren’t any moral issues surrounding it. We need to make informed decisions in everything we do, this does not mean the Church has to be in everything. Part of our being Catholic includes trying to do what is best in each situation, and that includes childbirth.
There is research out there to support almost every option, so it doesn’t much sense to accuse a mother who choses a medicated birth to not have researched enough. After much research with my first I had decided in favor of an epidural (I didn’t get it because my platelets were low). Another thing, if you believe you have an intelligent, moral, educated doctor there is nothing wrong with fully trusting him. I trusted both of my doctors during delivery. I did research, they let me make my decisions (epidural or not, etc) but in the end I trusted them with my delivery. Sometimes I think it is wiser to trust a person that has delivered thousands of babies over biased information on the internet. I am not saying that it is worthless to research online(heck, this is my main source of info), I am just saying that there is so much out there and depending on what you search for you will find research to support almost any argument. I think it is a good idea to research all you can and then bounce it off your doctor and see what they have to say. All their years of experience and medical school are not worthless :slight_smile:
Now, if you don’t trust your dr to begin with, then by all means if at all possible you should go out and find another one. I don’t think its a good idea to deliver with a Dr you don’t trust if you can avoid it.

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