I'm a sucker for a good birth story, so I enjoyed reading BlogWorld super-couple Eric and Dawn Olsen's dueling accounts of Dawn's childbirth experience with her daughter Lily.

I've given birth three times myself and have been present for the entirety of both of my little sister Betsy's births -- including her beautiful but grueling thirty hour long waterbirth last month. Also, Betsy is a childbirth instructor by profession. She originally trained with the Bradley Method, but now she teaches her own materials to pregnant women. She found Bradley to be a bit dogmatic in their approach.

Even so, Dawn and Eric's experience in which their Bradley instructor never helped to prepare them for the possibility of medical complications or the need for pharmaceutical pain relief in some births seems really strange to me. Bradley childbirth courses done right should definitely prepare attendees for anything and everything. If you read the Bradley literature, there are whole chapters devoted to preparing for any medical emergency that may require interventions like an epidural or a c-section. It sounds like Dawn and Eric just had a very crummy childbirth instructor.

As for pain relief, I've had an epidural for all 3 of my births and after watching Betsy do both of hers with no drugs (she's a goddess!), I have to say that I would go with the epidural again if I ever have another baby. As it happens, most of my friends have chosen to do without drugs and a great number of them have given birth at home. I also had the opportunity to interview the mother-of-all-midwives Ina Mae Gaskin so I know from talking with all of these women just how wonderful med-free birth experiences can be ... but I am a wimp when it comes to pain.