I am not so sure many women do feel guilty about epidurals, and I am not saying that they should.
But I do know that most women want the best for their babies and they know that drugs during labour will affect their babies, somehow, and that epidurals cause a level of paralysis which will impact the ability of their body to 'deliver' the child and possibly lead to even more medical intervention.
The most destructive impact by modern medicine has been the turning of pregnancy and labour into diseases and in the doing, disempowering women.
What did women do before epidurals? They gave birth, as women had always done and still do in many parts of the world. While the propaganda in society and from science/medicine is that childbirth is agony, the reality is that all women are different and for some there is extreme pain, depending on the nature of the birth, and for others, no pain and everyone else falls into a spectrum across the middle.
One of the reasons why childbirth is painful for many women is fear and as a wise doctor pointed out decades ago, Dr Grantly Dick-Read, when you introduce fear to the process of labour, you pit two of the most powerful biological forces against each other where fear seeks to shut down all unnecessary function for fight or flight, and that includes the uterus, and labour seeks to deliver a child into life. The result is unnecessary pain.
Dick-Read reached this conclusion after comparing peasant women giving birth, seemingly without agony, in French fields and then returning to work, and women giving birth in middle class England.
However, because modern Allopathic medicine is a profit-driven industry there is no incentive to alleviate fear in girls and women and to encourage natural and unmedicated and unassisted labour and birth, which is and would be the outcome for most women.
The fear brings in billions of dollars from intervention, medications and surgery and a generation of women, comfortable with their bodies and trusting in the process of labour and childbirth, would bring profits, power and prestige crashing to the ground.
Any woman who gives birth has a sense of the power of her body. So perhaps for many, using epidurals which basically paralyse the body from the waist down, and I had one friend who was hysterically traumatised by this reality and refused to have another epidural, even though she went on to have quite a few more children, means they have played a voluntary part in their own disempowerment and denial of their wonder as birthing women.
If birthing women received the same admiration and honour that Olympic athletes get, we would have more human beings given the gift of life in natural birthing and more women empowered in ways no man could ever imagine.
Perhaps the patriarchy of Allopathic medicine, has unconscious agendas which women perceive and this triggers guilt. Not that a woman should feel guilty for using epidurals... but sadness perhaps at a system which denies the wonder, power, magic and beauty of womanhood.