Leading article:Natural born painkillers

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The Independent Online
Plenty of first time mothers want to give birth naturally. At least until the contractions start. Like natural yoghurt, natural fibre and natural goodness, parents seem to feel they will be letting their new-borns down if they indulge in such an unnatural phenomenon as pain relief. Epidurals and gas take on the status of cattle-fed-cattle; just wait until the birthing equivalent of mad cow disease breaks out.

What nonsense. Faced with such excruciating pain, the perfectly natural thing to do is seek relief. Women have been doing it for centuries, perhaps with herbs, perhaps just teeth clenched round a handy stick. Thank goodness we are better at it now. Revering the "natural" in this way is ridiculous. Women who bore children naturally used to die from ... well, natural causes.

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