Right now I am working on my thoughts on why we would choose to feel the pain of labor, or even why not. I'm exploring pain and how we make choices regarding this in childbirth...feel free to comment and express your fears, choices, and reasons for making those choices.

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Honestly, I didn't see it as choosing to feel pain. I viewed it as choosing to be an active participant in my birthing experience. I decided to use some of the self hypnosis techniques that I learned from Birthing From Within to take my mind elsewhere during the waves, but knowing before hand that my body would have a rush of endorphins if I allowed it to. During my birth I slipped a time or two and went to that part of my brain that felt pain and I understood why women who are not prepared to take their minds elsewhere choose epidurals. In retrospect, this slipping empowered me to feel - I am woman hear me roar! :)
I am 52 yrs old now and had both of my children completely natural in a hospital. The only thing I got was a local for the episiotomy with my first child at age 22(which back then I was given no choice about) and didn't even have an espisiotomy with my second, 6 yrs later. It's the best decision I ever made. Fortunately, I have a high threshhold of pain and my labors were not protracted (7 hrs with the first and 2 hrs with the second). I am small boned so my biggest fear was if I could deliver naturally and since I am asthmatic, if I had to have a C section, how would anesthesia affect my breathing. My worst labor pain didn't hurt as badly as some paper cuts I've had. I did a lot of exercising beforehand and afterward I was able to bond with my children immediately. I was in the hospital for 2 days after, but that was the traditional time back then. Honestly, I could have gone home a few hrs after and been just fine. Given the choice again, I would definitely go natural, even if I had to go through long labors.
I am 14 weeks pregnant with my first child and feeling very confused. I have always planned on getting an epidural as I have an extremely low tolerance for pain....I hate getting blood tests!! However, I just watched the Business of Being Born on Friday and I am now second guessing my decision. My whole family is trying to convince me that I can handle the pain of natural childbirth, but I am really afraid that I won't be able to. I know everyone has different experiences with labour and birth and that we all feel pain differently. I just wish I knew if it was something that I could handle without an epidural. I'm not trying to do it naturally to play the hero or brag about it to others....I just want to do what is best for my baby. Any thoughts??
Two things: First, fear of the pain is worse than the pain itself. Labor pain is not torture, it's just work. You get a surge, then a rest, surge, then rest. And the stronger the surge, the sooner you'll see that beautiful baby. The best advice I got for labor was that as weird as it sounds, you have to just enjoy the pain and surrender to it. ... You might start watching some home birth videos to see what a totally natural birth is like - it's a lot less painful-looking than you'd think. You can't rely on "A Baby Story" for that kind of info because most of those births are full of interventions and fear.

Second, nobody can decide for you what kind of birth is right for you. I'm sure that you are fully capable of educating yourself about the risks of different choices and making your decision wisely. It may be possible to get an epidural that allows you to feel enough so that you can push well without the pain you fear. Maybe there are pain relief options that have a lower relative risk of complications than epidural, or some other ways to reduce the risk of complications. Educate yourself and you will make the right choice for you - only you know what you need.

I do believe in natural birth, I think it's great. But it's such a personal decision and I don't like the idea that a woman would be pressured into any one way of giving birth. You're the expert on your body!
As a labor and delivery nurse, I find it much easier to take care of patients that do it naturally because they have the ability to position themselves in a way that is best for both them and baby. I find it much better for mom and baby to do what is best for them. That being said, some women have had a hard time with the pain of labor and actually do better with an epidural. I did my five natural and loved it. I really don't think it has much to do with pain tolerance, but with your mental preparation to deal with it. I have found that if you want to do it natural you have to find a real reason that means something to you. For me it began with not wanting to be stuck without being able to move or be what I consider to be a part of my birth. After my first, though, I found that I found great meaning in experiencing the pain and joys of childbirth.

My advice if you want to do it natural do it natural...no pitocin, no waters broken unless they do it on their own or it is medically necessary, don't use or do anything that will tie you down...and move around, use warm water, and use a doula. Also, it is hard work, but that's what it is hard work that can be worth it, and you can do it! Find a reason for it other than just you want to try it....whether it be medical, emotional, spiritual...you need to find meaning in it.
I think its natural to fear the pain, especially in our society. Birth has been a medical emergency for a VERY long time, now. And we've been working very hard for a long time at completely eliminating the pain with the same, perfect outcome of a healthy baby.

Unfortunately, its not worked out so well.

I think that some women find it faux pa to discuss the pleasant childbirth experience, because they are afraid of being seen as bizarre. A few women even find that they orgasm during childbirth! GASP! So, the hormonal high, the endorphins, the instant, physiological connection that comes with having the natural oxytocin flooding the brain (rather than just the fake pitocin running through the bloodstream) have not been a benefit of natural childbirth for a long time. All we see is the fear and the pain.

I'm starting to view childbirth as a dance between mom and baby. Baby is being pushed through an obstacle course. With mom's body doing the pushing, the only thing signaling the mom to say, "Hey, I'm stuck in here!" is the pain. So, mom experiences pain in her hips, the baby's at an obstacle, so she rocks and squats. If the pain is relieved, then the baby's no longer against that obstacle. The same thing happens after the birth, too. If baby is up all night screaming, mom's miserable from sleep deprivation. But its sure to get her attention that something is up, right?

Contrarily, if you're on your back with an epidural or even your side through every contraction, no hip flexing or movement at all, baby's on his or her own 100%. He/she hits an obstacle, then he'll just have to be rammed into it until it gives, until more pit is given for failure to progress, or until he goes into distress (which the monitors will eventually pick up). Mom rolls over to the other side (with help, course), it might be relieved, it might not. Now, it might be so dire that we gotta have a section.

I'm not a mom that really likes the baby's-on-his-own cry it out method for getting them to sleep through the night, so I'm always fighting the balance between his misery and mine. It only makes sense to me that I wouldn't choose (for my own benefit) to leave him on his own in labor, either.

I do understand though, that in some cases, the epidural is truly needed. If the options are epidural or section (bc mom's blood pressure is sky high), I'm going with the epidural, no debate (unless there are other ways to relieve the blood pressure safely, of course, than the epidural).
I really second Desiree.

I didn't opt for a natural labor because I wanted to feel pain, simply that pain was fairly irrelevant and not a deciding factor to me. If it was there, it was there. If it hadn't been there, I would have made the same choice. For me it was about the birth I wanted, that couldn't be had with the pain relief options available in 'my' hospital.
Its not about "choosing" pain. For me its about choosing the birth experience that feels the most right and the safest for your individual family situation. Yes, pain is something that happens in ANY birth, you are not guaranteed a pain-free birth at a hospital with an epidural. That certainly was not my experience. Also, big difference between pain that is part of a healthy process, and ENDS, and pain that is a warning sign that something is wrong. Its about education, and having a birth experience that makes you feel the safest.
Ok, now that is interesting...I guess I just didn't think about the fact that what we are choosing in a birth experience. Which is funny because I choose to not get epidural's for the very same reason. Ditto on the pain helping maneuver baby down and on the ability to be free from other interventions. So, I'm just curious then why we choose that when so many other people find the pain to be much worse....I'll have to think about that one. I live in a state where I would say 50% of first time moms try to go natural, but the epidural rate is 98%...a big disconnect there.
susanfeldmiller said:
Its not about "choosing" pain. For me its about choosing the birth experience that feels the most right and the safest for your individual family situation. Yes, pain is something that happens in ANY birth, you are not guaranteed a pain-free birth at a hospital with an epidural. That certainly was not my experience. Also, big difference between pain that is part of a healthy process, and ENDS, and pain that is a warning sign that something is wrong. Its about education, and having a birth experience that makes you feel the safest.

I totally agree with labor pain as being a healthy pain where the end results in a baby. I'm 29wks with my first and that is my mindset. The key, I guess, is to plan how to work with the pain and not against it.
I choose an un-medicated birth and I'll say that what I did feel was anything but pain. Yes, there was some pain involved, but when I look back on my birth pain really does not come to mind. What I DO remember is the amazing feeling I had, the power I felt, my body’s ability to accomplish with this amazing feat- because I let it. I did not numb a natural process. I felt fully involved and connected. It's amazing that our bodies will and can take care of themselves if we let them.

It's sad that in this country (USA) it's the norm to block this amazing experience. Sad that women are not supported and allowed even the option to take this amazing journey.



Why feel pain? I say Why inject a toxin into your spine during the most natural part of life?
Wow. This is so honest and the most important thing you can do now is ask questions and increase your own awareness about birth choices. Witnessing the birth of my nephew was the beginning of a shift in my thinking about birth. He was a home birth and he weighed 11 pounds. It was beautiful, but it was also such a momentous thing to witness. Not because of his size, but because of the intensity that is the transition of birth.

After seeing his birth I knew I was capable of a natural birth I just had to find my own way to prepare. I found a wonderful midwife and an amazing birth teacher. Finding the right preparation team is so important. Our teacher was grounded in Bradley method and we did numerous exercises dealing with our notions of pain. One was to articulate what pain makes us do. I answered run, scream, hide, pull the affected area to the body and cry. Then we worked on techniques to help me find a place of calm. The main thing that I relied on was going in my mind to a place of safety and bliss. My husband would set the scene and help take me there. We practiced it for a number of weeks leading up to the birth so by the time I was in labor it was an easy shift.

I also like the notion of each contraction being a wave and rather than resisting it riding it out. By finding my way to the crest of the wave I could let go. That for me was the hardest part of the process...just getting out of the way of my body and trusting. So much of our lives is about control and labor is really something you can't make your body do. To embrace this and find ways through it and with it is powerful. Then the pushing was just fantastic. I was able to really come fully back into my body and physically help the baby out. It felt wonderful and was the easiest part of the birth.

I hope this isn't too rambly. Birth is so wonderful and the experience is nothing like a broken bone or a bad cut, it's heavy and powerful and deep and wonderful wonderful wonderful.

Jill Simpson said:
I am 14 weeks pregnant with my first child and feeling very confused. I have always planned on getting an epidural as I have an extremely low tolerance for pain....I hate getting blood tests!! However, I just watched the Business of Being Born on Friday and I am now second guessing my decision. My whole family is trying to convince me that I can handle the pain of natural childbirth, but I am really afraid that I won't be able to. I know everyone has different experiences with labour and birth and that we all feel pain differently. I just wish I knew if it was something that I could handle without an epidural. I'm not trying to do it naturally to play the hero or brag about it to others....I just want to do what is best for my baby. Any thoughts??

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