Myth 2: Epidurals are safe, so why bother?
Scientific studies show that epidurals are not safe as many of us are led to believe. Known risks include lowering blood pressure (which can result in fetal distress and an increased risk of Cesarean), slowing labor (and increasing the need for Pitocin), shivering, tingling in the legs, urinary retention (sometimes requiring a catheter), back pain, increased risk of forceps/vacuum extraction, elevated temperature, slowed emptying of the stomach, and the possible "patchy" block on pain.
Myth 3: If anything happens, my doctor (or midwife) will just take care of it.
Your birth attendant is skilled in handling complications—that's why she is there! It is your job, however, to make sure you (and your coach) are trained to work with normal labor contractions. This can prevent unnecessary complications and allows your doctor or midwife to use expertise in monitoring and taking care of true complications. You also are responsible for ensuring that you and your baby are as healthy as possible so that you will recover more quickly from any interventions that might be necessary. It is like driving a car—do you believe that if you get in an accident your insurance and the doctors will just take care of it? Or do you make sure you are a good driver and your car is well-maintained to minimize the chance of an accident?