However, in discussing my client's birth stats, I would never want them to enter my mind as being important or telling. Here's why.
Number one reason: What is MOST important to me AND them is whether or not they had a positive birthing experiece. Ya know? This is not about if drugs in labor are good or bad, generally speaking, this is about each specific woman being happy vs. traumatized on the day of her child's birth. I want them to feel as good as possible about their labor and birth. I want them to feel supported, empowered, and loved... and that they were able to make informed decisions.
Reason #2: My clients give birth in every different setting possible. I've said it before a hundred times and I'll say it again. Where you CHOOSE to birth your baby matters. It DOES affect your labor and birth. Period.
Reason #3: My clients are all different people. My clients have been first time mothers to fifth time mothers, VBACers, low risk, some with medical conditions, some with supportive care providers, some not, some with supportive partners and some completely alone, some that for whatever the reason could not freely move based on restrictions in the hospital, some who didn't have access to drugs, some with malpositioned babies, some with long exhausting labors, some with labors that struggled to progress, some with fast labors, I could go on and on - but you get the point.
My clients all have stories. I know those stories, I know their labors, I know their circumstances, and I know that whether or not they got medication during labor only tells one piece of the story. Whether or not it was necessary is not something I EVER know. And whether or not it was a reason for their labor experience being either positive OR negative, I will NEVER truly know. It is just one piece. One decision. Yes, maybe it is a huge one, but behind each of my clients' decisions is a story. I do not view any as 'better' than another based on this decision on pain medication, or as any of my client's as failing to labor naturally because they chose medication. It is SO individual. Labor is unpredictable. Do I believe MOST women are ABLE to do it without medication if they really want to? Yes. Does it sometimes take the combination of a comfortable laboring and birthing environment matched with the right support and the labor not being complicated by factors or interventions that may cause dystocia or more intervention? Absolutely. And do sometimes women set themselves up with the perfect recipe for a great unmedicated normal birth and it still go another way? Absolutely. Do some women doubt their abilities to manage without medication and leave all options open without a 'birth plan', etc and then birth their babies easily without much assistance from anyone or anything? Absolutely. I know one thing, though - Having a doula matters. We DO make a difference. Yes, overall we lessen the need for epidural pain relief. Not a guarantee, though, as nothing is. Ya know what difference we almost always make? Whether or not the mom feels good about her birth-day. And that IS important.
That being said, is it still all that interesting to know what percentage of my client's labored without the famous epidural? Hmmm....
I serve such a diverse population with varying situations and perspectives on medicine, interventions, and birth beliefs as well as varying hospital practices influencing my client's labor experiences. I think it would be interesting just to see what my small numbers say and if my guesstimate was close or not.
Check back later after I do some calculations. :) :) :)
Originally I posted the calculations and some more stats in the comment section and then changed my mind about posting them publicly. I fear that people will focus on it as being important. And it's really not. Every client and every situation is individual. I'd prefer to not calculate again, actually, and probably never will. I learned that I'm a good enough guesser if any potential client ever really wants an answer from me again. :)
I'd love to hear feedback from other doulas on this topic, too.