Is it wrong to use painkillers during labor?

I was going to bring this up in the “is it wrong to learn a foreign language” topic but figured a new topic was more appropriate.

It seems the poster asking that question is pondering that since “God created different languages to keep people apart, as punishment for the Tower of Babel”, then therefore it is going against God’s will to learn foreign languages.

Well, if that’s the case, then if God himself either created labor pains or at least increased them as a punishment for Eve, then wouldn’t it be going against the will of God to use any pain medication during labor? Or perhaps even during a C-section? :eek:

Yet, while many seem to hint at this when they extol “natural childbirth”, it seems few would dare come out and state it. I have read however that when anesthetics were first invented, not only Catholics, but other Christians thought it was indeed sinful to use them during labor, because God had decreed women suffer birth pains. And that it was only when famous women such as Queen Victoria announced they had used pain medications, did it become more acceptable.

Is it wrong to use painkillers during labor?


Only if there is a risk of harm to the baby, which is almost never the case aacording to the vast majority of obstetricians.

Even if a woman uses painkillers during labor, there is still some pain. And it will certainly hurt afterward.

God has given scientists the skill and wisdom to develop analgesia. People have different pain thresholds and every labour and birth is different (I’m a retired midwife). It’s not sinful to avail yourself of the good help that is available to you.

If you take the argument to its (illogical) conclusion, if a woman was really seeking a completely natural pregnancy, labour and birth, she’d stay at home on her own and not have any antenatal care! As we know from the past (and from the stats in developing countries), that often didn’t have a happy conclusion for mum or baby.

Some women plan or hope for a natural birth, but often they have to change their plans during labour.

Wise words.


The part about woman’s labor pain was very well answered! :slight_smile:

The first part, about the tower of Babel, requires a different interpretation than the one your friend gave.

We certainly can study different languages!

Well, actually, not quite. One could claim that “God Himself states women are supposed to have labor pains as a consequence of Original Sin”. Much as many use what God said in Genesis to Eve about her husband ruling over her, to back up “complementarian” approaches to marriage in which the husband is seen as an authority figure over the wife.

But, AFAIK the Bible doesn’t contain any pronouncements from God that a pregnant woman get no medical care at all, indeed the Bible states there is a role for the physician. And for those who are all into the “Pregnancy is not a disease and doctors should stay out of it unless there is some major complication”, there are explicit mentions of midwives, such as the Hebrew midwives who tried to protect Jewish babies in Egypt.

I don’t think God said women were supposed to have labor pains. He said they would have labor pains as a cause of Original Sin.


My preference is to avoid interventions during childbirth if possible, but for my first labor I was blessed to have interventions available, and elected to use milder ones (Pitocin and epidural) to avoid the larger intervention of surgery (C-section.)

My preference is natural birth if there is no medically indicated reason for interventions, but it’s not because I think I deserve to be in a lot of pain. I simply think it’s better for me and for baby. And even if I don’t go the medical pain relief route, I do use other methods of pain relief during labor (some of which may speed the labor process along, like changing positions).

Only if you don’t share them with your Husband.


A lot of women really need the painkillers to help with labor.

If you are in an excruciating amount of pain…you risk other problems like a drop in oxygen levels and increasing blood pressure.
This could negatively impact the baby.

This isn’t a contest on who can tolerate the most amount of pain…it’s being able to deliver a baby that is good for both the mother and the child.

I had a natural birth for my first baby…basically, against my will. The epidural refused to work so I had to tolerate all of the labor pains.
I almost needed a c-section because I couldn’t progress, I was totally exhausted and still needed to push and it took a long time to push my daughter out…and I still needed sutures.

I was induced and had an epidural that worked for my second baby.
It made all the difference in the world. I could relax a little and save energy to push. I progressed quicker and was able to push my daughter out in less then 5 mins.

I also was having unbearable pain that I couldn’t tolerate in my hips and back. My midwife highly recommended I get an epidural…she said I’d be opening myself up to too many complications if I didn’t.

Medical intervention is not morally wrong. This is exactly what painkillers are…medical interventions that have the best interest of mom and baby.

Gosh, with the hell im going through trying to wrap my brain around the contraception ban, I’m surprised the church doesn’t ban the epidural because “natural law” and all. ::rolls eyes::

Sorry, I’m really cranky about this.

Medical interventions for labor (or other things) are designed to assist the body in what it is designed to do, to restore proper functioning and preserve health. Pain management is a big part of that, as Kelfa28 points out. In my first labor, I was contracting very hard but without progress. Pitocin works to increase power of contractions, which I needed, but would have put me past the threshold of what I could take, especially since I had been in hard labor for 2 days already. So the epidural offered an opportunity for rest, so I could then be prepared for the work of pushing. Its use was therapeutic.

Contraception’s purpose is to thwart the normal functioning of the body. It’s not therapeutic.

Hmmm… Your body is designed to have labor pains. You thwarted that with meds so you could enjoy having a baby with out the pain. (Don’t worry, so did I LOL)

Your body is designed to conceive. You can thwart that with meds so you can enjoy having sex without the added responsibility of another baby.

When there are mental and physical health issues, conception is a pain. And I can’t see why having a baby and preventing pain is morally ok when having sex and preventing conception isn’t.

But honestly, I don’t want to derail this thread…

No, the body is designed to give birth and pain frequently accompanies that. Not every woman experiences pain and not always to the same degree. For my second labor, I did not require medical interventions and I infinitely prefer that experience and felt labor was less painful (felt more like really hard work with a few really uncomfortable moments that pass quickly.)

I actually really enjoyed my second labor and delivery, and recovered very quickly (walked out 4 hours postpartum feeling like a boss.) Unless medically necessary, I am never getting an epidural again - that was probably the scariest part for labor #1.

I’m just going to clarify that I have no objection to purely elective decisions for medical pain relief. It is not a decision I would make, especially now having two labor experiences to compare (one with and one without), but I don’t think it’s immoral to do so.

I do, however, think that in the US, at least, childbirth is discussed as the absolute worst thing that ever happens to a woman, and that’s a shame, as well as some traditional obstetric practices (though some of these are disappearing) that make childbirth harder for women (but easier for doctors). So I do bring up from time to time that while every woman experiences pain differently, it’s not out of some masochistic impulse that I choose to avoid medications, and it’s not that I feel like I am “winning” at birth or competing with other moms. I just think it’s better for me and for my babies, all else being equal.

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