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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I agree 110% with Desiree. I personally focus ON the pain to get through labor without any medication. You just have to be strong and know what you want. If you do not want you or your baby to be drugged during labor, you just have to stick to it and not give in. The "pain" will eventually go away and turn into bliss. That "pain" is the natural process to get you to your beautiful baby. I prepared for having a natural birth the moment I found out I was pregnant. It definately takes preparation. If you have nothing to go on, the second that anesthisiologist walks in, you're done for.
I have had a baby with an epidural, and one completely natural. Now with this pregnancy, I am DEFINATELY going home birth. My epidural birth was so inpersonal and I felt aweful my post partum stay. I had a terrible spinal headache and had to get 2 blood patches to get it to subside. I don't even remember half of it I was so drugged up.
It's not really "pain". It's something totally different that I WANT to feel. It's all part of the beauty of what we do so naturally....BIRTH!
If you don't think you can do it...then you won't. You have to KNOW you can do it. You have to have faith in your body and the natural process. They will catch you in a weak moment and giveyou an epidural. They WANT you to have one. It's easier on the nurses and docs.

Karen said:
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??
The pain was a big issue for me, but I had a homebirth with my first. It took me three months to get to the point were I was OK with a homebirth for that reason. I have a very low pain tolerance! The labor was very hard, but in the end, I wouldn't have done it any other way. I just had to be OK with the pain, and not try to escape it. The contractions aren't constant - you get a break between each and can find positions that help. Being in water helped so much! I haven't heard of a woman who's done a homebirth and regretted not having pain medication. I have heard of plenty who wish they had natural childbirth. I am now planning a second homebirth, and this time I am looking at hypnobirthing and other options, because I think some preparation will make it easier.

In the end, you don't know what you're capable of until you try!

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??
The water really does help. My bath was a comfort and slowed down my labor, giving me some much needed rest.

Amy Kraner said:
The pain was a big issue for me, but I had a homebirth with my first. It took me three months to get to the point were I was OK with a homebirth for that reason. I have a very low pain tolerance! The labor was very hard, but in the end, I wouldn't have done it any other way. I just had to be OK with the pain, and not try to escape it. The contractions aren't constant - you get a break between each and can find positions that help. Being in water helped so much! I haven't heard of a woman who's done a homebirth and regretted not having pain medication. I have heard of plenty who wish they had natural childbirth. I am now planning a second homebirth, and this time I am looking at hypnobirthing and other options, because I think some preparation will make it easier.

In the end, you don't know what you're capable of until you try!

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??
I had two natural births and it hurt! But the pain that I did experience was worth it, fleeting, and had a purpose. I would do it all again, and again. Birth is such an amazing experience, the way it was designed to occur. I really like Kayla bringing up what the baby experiences. Birth isn't easy for them either. When we interfere with birth we change the body's mechanisms that were put in place to help both mother and baby survive childbirth. When we block nerve impulses that transmit "pain" impulses we also block important hormones and brain chemicals from being produced that were meant to help mom then transfer to the baby to help them as well. By being disconnected from what is going on in your body you are also disconnected from your baby. Kayla is right, when you numb your birth most of the time you end up leaving your child on their own to navigate the challenge you chose not to experience. Babies have the organ structures to feel pain at 9 weeks gestation. That means eventhough you may not feel the pain of your uterus squeezing the baby through your birth canal, they do.
So back to the question; Why feel the pain of childbirth? Because as mothers we want to do what is best for our children. We comfort and encourage them. We teach and nurture them. And if you have ever seen your child in pain you know the feeling of wanting to switch places and suffer for them. Maybe birth was designed to be a lesson in compassion (to suffer with) that would benefit us all.
I experienced pain in my first birth. Lots of pain. My planned completely drug-free childbirth turned into a drugged-for-the-last-half birth. I labored all day and evening with no "assistance". But then I gave in to the doc's recommendation of an epidural, which he says has little to no complications or side effects. Then I was numb and happy, but my baby ended up distressed and they had to do a vacuum extraction with horrid episiotomy. I had a healthy, happy baby, but it just wasn't the birth I wanted.

For my next birth I was probably going to have pain relief... Until I watched BoBB. It opened my eyes to a whole world of options and beliefs and feelings and...EVERYTHING. Natural birthing became my friend! More like the most popular friend I'd ever had because I wanted to talk about it non-stop! I discovered that there are ways besides Lamaze to alleviate any discomfort involved with childbirth, such as hypnobirthing (which is what I used and I'm so glad I did!) and Bradley method and simply believing in yourself!

I went on to have the birth I craved for so long: a completely unmedicated and beautiful childbirth in the water. I had my second daughter at the Birth Center in Redlands. I chose this over a hospital and over my home for a few reasons: I don't think I need to explain the hospital list! But I was afraid that I would become too sentimentally attached to my home to ever part with it if I had my baby there and the birth center is closer to a hospital than my house is if for some reason a transfer was needed.

Everything went so amazingly during my second labor... I just wish I had more witnesses for the early stages (I pretty much locked myself in the bathroom for 6 hours) and for the later stages (I didn't think I was very far along so we didn't call my family to come witness the beautiful birth). So I guess next time (yes there WILL be a third, and possibly a fourth child) I'll call everyone I know who wants to be at the birth just as soon as I'm sure it's real labor. It only took 3 hours from the time I was sure it was real until delivery. But I was so relaxed that I thought I still had a while to go!

Pain... it's truly subjective. However, most of us are probably huge wimps. I demand my tylenol and motrin when I have a headache. Give me a shot of novacaine and nitrous for a cavity being filled. When I had braces I NEEDED baby food every time they got tightened. But pain had nothing to do with my decision to have a normal childbirth. It was all about the child and the process. Natural is generally healthier for the child and the mom. And I always wanted to be able to say I had been through the pain of childbirth. Now I can say I've been there, done that and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The pain lasts such a short time... especially when properly managed. For me, it was only during the drive to the birth center and then as my baby was coming through the birth canal.

Birth is beautiful and memorable. It's not about pain.
I didn't want to feel pain. So I used Hypnobabies (hypnosis for childbirth program) and stayed relaxed and comfortable without drugs during my last birth.
I think the majority of people don't choose to feel pain, they just don't know they have another option. Women in the US are so inundated with negative images & stories of birth that they don't trust their body & the birthing process to be something completely natural, normal & healthy. I had 2 natural births of my own using HypnoBirthing. My 1st was definitely uncomfortable at times, but never excrutiatingly painful. My 1st birth was 7 1/2 hours & he came out with a nuchal hand (hand to his temple). I didn't even tear! I tensed up at points during my labor, doubted my abilities & felt at times extreme discomfort but not pain per se. I really didn't practice any techniques for my 1st birth, so when I got pregnant w/ #2, I practiced the techniques & felt much more confident. My 2nd birth was less than 2 hours long & was completely pain-free! All I felt was tightness & pressure. I went from 2 cm-9 1/2 cm in about 1/2 an hour, hung out for another 25 minutes until I felt the urge to push, pushed 3 gentle breaths & she came out...again, no tearing.

I now teach HypnoBirthing because I believe in it so much & want to empower women to trust their bodies, the birthing process & to responsibility for their birthing experiences. In the classes, they learn the physiological process of birth & what happens when the fight or flight response is released in the body. They learn the historical basis for why pain in thought to be part of birth. AND they learn deep relaxation/self-hypnosis techniques as well as have the opportunity to release any fears or anxiety they have about their birth & becoming a parent. I think this process allows moms-to-be to go into their births more prepared & empowered. They have techniques to use to focus on, they trust the mind-body connection, & they know the questions to ask so that they remain in control of their birthing experience as long as mom & baby are doing well.

I think there is a huge shift happening starting with the BOBB movie that is helping women know there are options for their birthing experiences & that their birth can be an enjoyable one rather than one they want to forget.

Carol Yeh-Garner
www.AWellLivedLife.Net
I didn't have pain. I had four childbirths, and I'm fairly certain that I've stubbed a toe and had it hurt worse. Discomfort, yes, but never pain. I controlled my birth. It's absolutely possible, I'm not superwoman and I don't have a "higher pain tolerance".

Now, even if I'd have experienced pain, the reasons I would never let interventions happen is the safety of my child and myself. The thought of dangerous drugs entering our systems was NEVER an option, ever. I would never risk that. I find it odd that a woman will spend 9 months under the illusion they can't even so much as smell a cup of coffee or eat a can of tuna, they only sleep on one side, they do all the things some "expert" in some book said they're supposed to do to ensure the safety and health of their perfect miracle, then go to a hospital and take drugs that have a laundry list of side effects amazingly long. Why do they do it? Because docs tell them it's safe, natural birth is "weird and hippy", and birth boards all over the place advocated epidurals like M&Ms. Rarely will you run across the lists of risks from the needles in the spine or the pitocin or the other interventions, because women don't want to hear them.

That's my opinion, at least.
my opinion before i had my son, was why would a woman choose to feel the pain if she didn't have too! i was all about the epidural. i had a kidney stone about 4 weeks before my son was born. omygosh! that was painful! it took me forever to get the dr to give me something for the pain. it was literally unbearable. the pain was so bad i couldn't eat or drink anything without throwing it up. in comparison childbirth was really not so bad. i didn't have a choice about an epidural. my labor progressed REALLY fast and by the time i got to the hospital i was already at a ten. it is a much different kind of pain than what you probably think of. it has a purpose and it ends! i am really glad i got to experience a natural birth. and like other women have said it is important to prepare for what you want. learn techniques and practice them to help you through it. it is an empowering experience that i think too many women miss out on.
i myself have a low tolerance to pain i hated the fact that when i found out i was pregnant i woul dhave to get all kinds of blood tests and shots and stuff like that so i knew i wouldn't be able to handle a needle going into my back at all i decided to do a water birth with a CNM and had a water birth, I was only in labor for 5 hours yes there was pain from the contractions and of course my daughter crowning but being in the water actually relaxed me alot and the water helped me not to tear kind of like a natural lubrication i guess but i do know next time i have a child i will do the same birth center and water birth again because it was so great the first time and my husband agrees he has a 6 year old daughter from previous relationship an she was born in a hospital, he wants the next baby to be born at the birth center also hope this helps

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??
Jill,

I think what you are feeling right now is totally normal, and many mothers could recognize your thoughts about pain when looking back at their first pregnancies. Last night after watching the first Webchat with Abby and Ricki the doulas I was with were all talking, and this subject came up.

No one says you have to make this decision now. You can even go into your birth with pain medication as an option (isn't that what its all about? :) ). You don't know what it's like, you don't know how you'll handle it or how you'll feel... but why not give yourself that chance to see? See what you think while actually experiencing labor. Have a few 'back up plans'... as in get a doula, learn something like Hypnobirthing, talk about your fears. Maybe use water... either your home tub during labor (whether or not you are going to a hospital you can still use this form of pain management at home) or the shower in the hospital/birth center. Have your partner or your doula use massage... remember, the first thing we do when we stub a toe is rub it! ok, maybe we curse first, but still! Massage blocks the pain receptors... as they travel on a smaller nerve pathway that does the nerves that our skin has. That's why massaging a bumped toe makes the perception of pain lessen.

and remember, an epidural is always an option. No one will be angry with you for choosing it if you really, at the time, feel you can't cope without it. Know the risks and benefits behind this drug, and keep your options open. Good luck!

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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