Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On having a backup plan

Most women in America plan to have an epidural, and that is the extent of their labor preparation. They decide early, if they even consider other options, and put it out of their minds. However, most women don't know that epidurals don't always work - occasionally they just completely fail, sometimes they fail on one side of the body, or just only barely numb the pain. Epidurals also sometimes leave you with crippling "epidural migraines" (temporary) or back aches (longer term - sometimes years) .

I planned to labor naturally, using Hypnobabies. My backup plan was having a doula. The backup to that was having an epidural. But most women have no serious "backup plan" for their epidural. They believe that the epidurals always work, and work completely. (Don't drugs and technology always work?) Usually no one will inform them otherwise. Even if they attend some LAME Lamaze class, they will only learn some completely ineffective breathing technique that leaves them hyperventilating.

Luckily, my friend Ellen's mother is a Labor & Delivery nurse who told her that she MUST prepare to do it naturally - even if she planned on an epidural, she should be able to go naturally if needed. It's a nasty surprise to think you are going to have a nice, pain-free birth and then be hit with a 17-hour natural labor. Ellen was kind enough to pass along her mother's advice to me, thank goodness.

Since I first became pregnant, I have personally heard several stories of women who:
1. Got to the hospital too late to have the epidural.
2. Had TWO failed epidurals. (This was just last week!)
3. Had an epidural migraine so bad she couldn't even sit up for a day or so.
And I don't even know that many people!

So the lesson is: have a backup plan. And how do we apply that from our technologically dependent labor and delivery example to our technologically dependent lives?

What's your backup plan for transportation? Carpool, bus, bike, walk?
Lighting? Is it daylighting (ie Solatubes), solar lanterns, kerosene lanterns, LED headlamps?
Cooking? Grill, clay oven, cookstove, SunOven?
Getting food? Storage, growing your own, hunting, foraging, barter?

Whatever your backup plan, start preparing for it now. There's no point in trying to go naturally when technology fails - you'll be competing with a million other people, and it will be too late.

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