The epidural rate in American hospitals is very high. All birthing women need to figure out their own feelings about epidurals. Moms need to decide the parameters for whether they are willing to accept an epidural or not. My book, Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way, goes into great detail about how an epidural changes labor. It can help a mom decide the epidural question for herself. Moms have reviewed the book and called it fair and understanding about epidurals. There is no single answer to this question that is right for every mother and every labor.
Keep in mind that sometimes an epidural does not do exactly what the mom is hoping it will do. Sometimes she can be so numb that she can’t feel the urge to push strongly enough to birth her baby. In those cases, she will need an instrument (vacuum or forceps) delivery or cesarean birth. Sometimes, being numb is the last thing you want during your labor.