I learned something new at a birth yesterday. If you have low blood platelets, you cannot get an epidural. I don’t think low blood platelets is common, but what I learned was that sometimes a woman may not know she won’t have pain medication as an option until she goes into labor.
I believe it is important for all birthing women to be educated in the normal process of birth, basic comfort measures, and have trained birth support (and don’t count on the L&D nurse being able to provide this, they are busy and many of them do not have a lot of training or experience in natural birth). You never know when you won’t be able to have an epidural, they don’t always work, and sometimes you have to wait a significant amount of time before you can get one.
Epidurals can be a positive tool used during birth, just make sure you have other tools as well.
A doula has many tools, if you hire one it can make your birthing experience more positive, no matter what happens.