January 18, 2012, 12:17 pm By KJ DELL’ANTONIA

Does the question of whether or not a woman should have an epidural during the birth of her child really need to be a polarizing one? On Slate, Melinda Wenner Moyer considers the claims of both sides of the issue — all of which were impressed upon her during her pregnancy last year.

On the one side are the natural birth opponents, armed with research supporting the idea that epidurals lengthen labor, make pushing difficult, increase the risk of a Caesarean section, and leave the newborn unable to properly latch on to the breast after birth.

On the other are physicians and anesthesiologists with reassuring, possibly self-interested words: epidurals, most say, are perfectly safe. Ms. Moyer dug into the research.

What I discovered is that there aren’t many clear answers — epidural research has been fraught with methodological problems — but in sum, the concerns voiced by natural birthers are exaggerated.

 If you would like to read more click HERE for the New York Times.