The Hill I'd Gladly Die On - Livin' the Good Life
Apr. 6th, 2009
10:44 am - The Hill I'd Gladly Die On
I believe that people use drugs to ease physical pain and psychological pain. And, easing pain sometimes translates to “pleasure”. Caffeine eases the uncomfortableness of feeling dull, sluggish and not alert in the morning, producing, for some, a pleasurable “lift” and enthusiasm for their day. Alcohol eases the pain of feeling uncomfortable within oneself and not able to relax on one’s own. Drinking alcohol often produces pleasure and improves mood. Marijuana can ease physical pain and can get those pleasurable “all’s right with the world” endorphins going. Smoking tobacco eases tension and nervousness and the psychological pain of boredom. Even the seemingly innocuous sodas and “energy drinks” that many people enjoy consuming daily are created from a variety of stimulating caffeine/corn syrup concoctions that are addictive.
These second-hand assessments are coming from a person (me) who has always been virtually drug-free. I don’t drink coffee or alcohol or soda. I don’t smoke tobacco or marijuana. I never even reach for Aspirin or Tylenol or other over-the-counter drugs to relieve pain or discomfort. (I do enjoy chocolate occasionally, which contains the stimulant caffeine, and is the reason I’m able to be alertly typing this at 2 AM!)) But, even though I believe people should be allowed to use these drugs, I don’t think their use should be promoted or encouraged. I think there are better ways to deal with our discomforts. We just need to teach people those ways. I have the job of teaching mamas, for example, how to deal with the discomfort of labor and birth without resorting to painkillers.
I definitely do not want to put any energy into defending people’s right to use drugs.
That’s not the “hill I want to die on”. But, I have another drug-related “hill” that is far, far more important to me, and that involves, again, educating pregnant couples: I believe that pregnant women should have the right NOT to use drugs! Not only that, but I believe women should have the right to labor and give birth without interventions of ANY kind. No glucose IVs. No being tethered to internal or external monitors. No restrictions on her position or movement. No restrictions on food, or beverage intake. No restrictions on who may be present at the birth. No time-limits on how long labor can go on before she gives birth. No checking of dilation if she doesn’t wish it. No inducing or augmenting of labor. No ultrasound of any kind if she wants to avoid it. No testing on either her or her baby unless she requests it. No poking and prodding the baby after birth. In short, LEAVE THE MAMA AND BABY ALONE! Let mama give birth in peace and in her body’s own time and on its own steam.
This is the hill I would gladly die on. I will steadfastly put myself on the line for women who want to remain conscious and alert for their births. I will forever support women who see the pain of childbirth as “good” and “necessary” and not something to avoid with numbing agents. Instead, we can allow them to view childbirth pain as something to experience and “flow with” and “open to” and “work with” in order to safely produce their longed-for baby. I want to help women see their pain as purposeful and to welcome it, knowing that every pain is bringing them closer to holding their baby in their arms. Knowing that taking pain medication has the potential to harm their babies, and that “saying no” to drugs is “saying yes” to doing what’s best for their babies.
If I were to get on my soapbox, I would lobby for people to use their pain, all pain, as a sign or a signal that loving attention is needed somewhere. Though sometimes numbing pain is necessary, sometimes it's just ignoring an important signal. In childbirth, the signal is saying, “Relax and breathe into these sensations so your body can open up and let your baby out.” And, “The more it hurts, the more you relax, the sooner your baby will come out”. In a society where pain is not respected, but instead is feared and avoided at all costs, no wonder people turn to painkillers and recreational drugs when they are the slightest bit uncomfortable. I don’t think that we should judge people who use “illegal” drugs when we ourselves reach for the Advil or the Tylenol at the first sign of pain. Or the coffee to revive us in the morning. Or the wine to relax in the evening. Or the cigarette when we are feeling nervous or bored… or the epidural in childbirth… It’s our “intolerance and fear of uncomfortableness” that makes us reach for these things. It’s time we view pain, and how we deal with it, in a new light. And it’s time we begin teaching our children to do the same, so that they will not see the need, nor feel an attraction to, the vast array of painkillers that are readily available in most homes, restaurants, convenience-stores, and on any street corner.