WOMEN should embrace the full pain of childbirth to bond with their babies ...
The pain prepares women for the responsibilities of motherhood ...
... Dr Walsh said the "epidural epidemic" sweeping maternity units should be abandoned in favour of a "working with pain" approach.
... "Pain in labour is a purposeful, useful thing which has a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby."
... He called on health authorities to encourage women to use yoga, hypnosis, massage, hydrotherapy and support from their partners as natural ways of alleviating pain.
Dr Walsh warned that epidurals increased medical risks such as prolonged first and second stages of labour and the chance of the baby's head being in the wrong place. They also led to lower rates of breast-feeding.
He added: "Emerging evidence shows that normal labour and birth prime the bonding areas of the mother's brain more than caesarean or pain-free birth."
Dr Lavender disputed the theory that epidurals reduced the bonding experience. "Regardless of the amount of pain, every mother will bond with her baby."
Marino mother-of-two Namaaraalee Braun had two very different childbirth experiences with Kaija and Harper ...
Kaija, 3, was born in hospital following an epidural and caesarean section.
Harper, 3 months, was born at home with the help of a midwife.
... "It was horrible really, it was just out of control," Ms Braun said.
"I didn't feel respected or like my wishes were high on anyone's agenda and intervention was commenced pretty much as soon as I walked through the door and continued on down the path of the caesarean.
"I was really drugged and out of control with the first birth and I was separated from her (baby Kaija)."
Ms Braun said the second birth, undertaken without drugs, was less painful.
"It was pretty indescribable, it was just bliss, everything that I hoped a birth would be for myself," she said.
" ... I had a water birth ... " ... "I did a lot of mental preparation, being in control and not being fearful alleviated most of my pain."
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Ted Weaver said ... "If a woman does get one-on-one maternity care from a midwife she is less likely to need an epidural," he said. "Maybe our maternity system does need to change a bit to allow that to happen.