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've had two natural childbirths--first one in a hospital and the second in a free standing birth center. I used hypnobirthing with both births and can honestly say I felt no pain. Of course there was discomfort and pressure and it was a lot of hard work and intense at times but I wouldn't call it "pain" by any means. As long as you go into labor as prepared as you possibly can and are determined that this is something you can and will do, you will do it. It's all about the mindset. Once fear gets introduced, pain is quick to follow. With my second son I went from 5cm to him in my arms in 50 minutes. The speed of that delivery was intense but it was also the most empowering feeling.
Honestly, the thought of the epidural needle in my back was much less appealing than the thought of labor pains.
Preparation is everything. Like others have said, it's not about choosing pain. For me it was choosing to let my body conduct itself the way it was designed to. I guess I watched enough videos that it didn't look scary anymore...just kidding, but I have watched a lot of birth videos. Like I said, preparation is everything. Learn what is going on during early labor, active labor, transition...I just learned as much as I could before hand, had a great partner (also VERY important - whomever it is) and rolled with it.
It is a decision I will never regret.
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 have had two medicated births and one completely non medicated. I am seven months pregnant and have chosen to have another non medicated birth.

The thing is, you are going to feel pain. Birth is painful, even with an epidural. The only issue is when that pain will occur.

With my first two births, I felt pain as the baby was "crowning"-- the famous ring of fire as the baby is about to come out. That didn't last long, but it WAS painful. Then, I felt pain for weeks and weeks afterward, as I recovered from the births.

With my third birth, which was completely unmedicated, I felt pain all through labor and birth, but once it was over, it was OVER. I felt great after the birth and was able to get up, move around, and care for myself. My post partum recovery took hours, not weeks.

I know that many women feel every empowered after an all natural birth. That was not my experience-- I was just glad it was over. Nonetheless, I preferred my natural birth experience. Think of it like you would the removal of a bandaid, only on a MUCH larger scale: would you rather have the bandaid ripped off and have it over with, or would you rather have it removed sssllllllooooooooooowllllly a little bit at a time, over a long period of time. The total pain is roughly the same either way-- but I, personally, would rather have it over and then feel GOOD afterward as opposed to wondering when the slow torture will end.
I am in the same boat as far as Jill, meaning I have been thinking about this subject lately. BUT I am not even pregnant yet. I am passionate about this subject because I want to be prepared for my birth, so why not start the research now. The Business of Being Born was beautiful and completely opened my eyes to another world of birth. I also feel like my tolerance for pain is on the lower end comparatively but given the "high" of labor, perhaps I will find a new found strengh. I agree that it is probably best to find a real reason for choosing to go natural, rather than just to do it. That is something I am really going to explore with myself. Also, having a place to go mentally when the waves come in sounds like the best way to go. Can I ask for mom's to help me with some examples of "places to go mentally" that have worked for them. Some ideas to explore initially would be helpful to me finding MY place. Thank you for your help and support.

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??
It is my observation that by giving the word "pain" another name the experience is received differently. Substitute words, such as, sensation, energy, journey, activity, excitement can all be used to describe what mom is feeling. Just saying any of those words other than pain, facilitates a different response in the mind, body, emotions.

Nicole
Holistic Healthcare Practitioner & Educator
www.WholeCreations.com
My husband and I worked on a visualization/meditation that would take me to my favorite beach in Kauai. I take myself back to the beach. He reminds me of the feeling of the warm breeze on my damp skin and the dappled light coming through the trees above. I can here the waves and feel the warmth of the sun. I am calm and safe and at peace.

Alana said:
I am in the same boat as far as Jill, meaning I have been thinking about this subject lately. BUT I am not even pregnant yet. I am passionate about this subject because I want to be prepared for my birth, so why not start the research now. The Business of Being Born was beautiful and completely opened my eyes to another world of birth. I also feel like my tolerance for pain is on the lower end comparatively but given the "high" of labor, perhaps I will find a new found strengh. I agree that it is probably best to find a real reason for choosing to go natural, rather than just to do it. That is something I am really going to explore with myself. Also, having a place to go mentally when the waves come in sounds like the best way to go. Can I ask for mom's to help me with some examples of "places to go mentally" that have worked for them. Some ideas to explore initially would be helpful to me finding MY place. Thank you for your help and support.

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??
in this birth which will be my second i am choosing to go as natural as possible. i do not want an epidural because with my first child the lady who did mine pierced my dura and i had debilitating spinal headaches from lack of fluid surrounding my brain. i was kept in bed for a week and to fix it they basically gave me another epidural with my own blood to seal the wound. i say this not to scare you its just the reason i would like to avoid the epidural. i also would just love to have the experience of feeling the birth of my child. to be able to experience the post birthing bond with this child that i missed with my first. it means the whole world to me. i never quite got over the fact that i let it all go by letting them induce me when i was only dialated to two and had been in labor for only 2 hours. i missed my water breaking, i missed the support i could have had with the man i was with.. because really i couldn't move from the bed. i didn't get to participate in my own labor. all the decisions were made for me. not being able to stand was hard for me because laying on your back makes no sense for labor... the best way is to work WITH gravity my standing or sqatting. so much more work when you are already exhausted. your lover can't hold and comfort you. rub and relieve you. in a way you miss bonding with your spouse as well. there are just so many more benefits to giving a natural birth or even with a little Demerol to take the edge off your contractions if no meds is to harsh. one intervention lead straight into another and another. "here have saline drip starting for so you don't get dehydrated." well since you already have an IV) "i want to give you some pitocin to get your contractions going." which makes the WAY stronger.. then the next thing you know it hurts so bad because of the pitocin that's when i opted for the epidural. i have some regrets and i refuse to not be all there and live with more regret if i can help it. again i am sorry i feel like a labor nazi... and i is not always like that
its just how i felt and my fears. just be active in your labor and make sure you are taken care of the way you need to be not how others want you to be. congrats and take care.
I like what Nicole said about substituting the word pain, "Substitute words, such as, sensation, energy, journey, activity, excitement". During my three natural births, I viewed it as pain with a purpose. Instead of going someplace else, I actually visualized what my body was doing through each contraction. With each contraction, I visualized the cervix opening wider for the baby. I was trying to tell my body what to do. I was very determined and focus. This is what worked for me and really helped make labor a great experience. I also would promote many relaxation exercises/techniques. But like what most women have remarked, you need to find what is right for you and have as much support as possible (husband, doula, midwife, close friends, etc.). I wish you the best!!
I think choosing a natural labor is a lot about knowing the reality of what pain medicine does to your body, and knowing that in most situations it a)lengthens labor and could put baby at risk, b)makes it harder to push baby out and could put baby at risk and c)makes chances of a c-section or vacuum extraction much higher and could put baby at risk. I wanted my body to work with my baby so he could come out healthy and strong, not drugged. I trusted my body to do what it was meant to do, pain or no pain. It's funny how time fades how painful birth can be, but many women that got epidurals have migraines for the rest of their lives. The trade-offs that come with pain meds are not usually talked about, which limits us and our choices. I guess I treasure the reality of birth, the messy, painful, gritty, and beautiful reality of it. I don't want that to go away just to not experience some pain that will end in a few hours.
For me it's not a choice of feeling pain. It's a choice of whether I want to introduce drugs into my body (and my baby's body) that might impede the progress of labor, not to mention the fact that it's an unnatural substance with other side effects. I don't do street drugs, I try to avoid pain meds, I try to avoid eating food with pesticides. I use natural cleaning products in my house and on my body. I prefer to not introduce stuff to myself that is unnatural. Why should labor be any different? I don't want to feel pain. It's not fun. However I think that introducing drugs during labor can be bad for my body and my baby's and like I said above, it can actually impede the progress of labor. I'd rather feel some pain than have an epidural followed by pitocin, while continuing the epidural, followed by more pitocin, etc. until either I reach the point of pushing and can't figure out what I'm doing since I can't feel anything or we never get that far and I end up with a c-section.

Anyhow, my first birth (a birthing center birth) was excruciating. It was long and it was a back labor. If I'd been in a hospital I feel I would have made the choice to have an epidural. I also feel completely positive that had I been in a hospital that I would have ended up with a c-section. Instead I was in the hands of amazing midwives that worked with my body and knew what to do to keep me progressing and I had my son completely naturally with zero interventions. My membranes weren't stripped, my water wasn't broken, I received no drugs, wasn't on an IV. When he came out it was the most amazing experience I have ever had. There is nothing I could even begin to compare it to. I was home 4 hours after my son was born. He was perfect, came out with an apgar score of 9 at 1 min and 10 at 5 mins. Absolutely perfect.

Despite the pain I went through with my first I was thrilled with my experience. I was so glad I did it the way I did and couldn't have been happier with the outcome. I am having a home birth with my 2nd son due in three weeks and I can't wait. I'm not scared, I'm excited.

Hopefully this makes sense!!
I wanted to repost this to get any new ideas...I am working on a blog post for this right now, so I would appreciate any insight.

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