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Insanely afraid of childbirth

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Please tell me I'm not alone!

I feel like I'm doing all the right things: Lamaze classes, pre-natal yoga, swimming regularly to keep my fitness up, lots of reading (both online and off - just ordered Ina May's book for further positive reading), talking with other women about their birth experiences... but I just can't shake the FEAR!

I KNOW that billions of women before me have gone through childbirth and emerged unscathed, I KNOW that I am incredibly lucky to have the support network that I do (amazing dh, a wonderful doula, great in-laws), I KNOW that I'm fit and healthy and have had a remarkably easy pregnancy to date but... I just can't shake the FEAR. It's the pain that scares me the most. I don't know how I'm going to deal with it. When I watch childbirthing videos (even the nice, peaceful, positive ones), I feel like throwing up. When our Lamaze instructor held up the poster showing the progression of dilation of the cervix, I almost passed out. 10 effing CENTIMETERS? Are you kidding me?? I seriously have nightmares about that number as a result. I waver between wanting a totally natural childbirth, and wanting all the drugs in the hospital pumped into my veins with an IV so I don't feel anything. AT. ALL.

Dh is starting to anticipate post-birth and becoming a father - he's excited and nervous about this, but I can't even think beyond the birth at this point. I just want to get through the first part! I wish I could just lay an egg or something. I'd be great at looking after an egg, I really would. I'd keep it warm and take it to work and nurture it until it was ready to hatch, and I wouldn't have to go through the ordeal of pushing a giant head through my vagina (sorry to be graphic, but there you go).

So, uh - anyone else?
post #2 of 27
May I recommend finding some birth affirmations to say/think/listen to?

I have found the Hypnobabies home study course to be IMMENSELY helpful in allowing me to not have any fear of the birthing process. It includes a script of affirmations to listen to every day, and I think hearing the positive words over and over again has REALLY helped me prepare for birth.

post #3 of 27
Originally Posted by Lyndzies View Post
May I recommend finding some birth affirmations to say/think/listen to?

I have found the Hypnobabies home study course to be IMMENSELY helpful in allowing me to not have any fear of the birthing process. It includes a script of affirmations to listen to every day, and I think hearing the positive words over and over again has REALLY helped me prepare for birth.

I was going to say the same thing. You don't even need to do the whole hypbobabies program if you don't want to. Just try to get your hands on the affirmations CD and listen to it daily!
post #4 of 27

What exactly are you fearful of? That you can't tolerate the pain of having a child? I think it's really important to try to understand the root of the fears and deal with them -- birthing is a mental as well as physical process, and it's a lot easier to get through birth with a positive mental soundtrack than a negative one.

I second the suggestion for Hynobabies.

I also wonder if it would be helpful to reframe your way of thinking a little? Instead of, It's going to hurt so much I'm going to go insane -- maybe you can think along the lines of, "every labor wave is preparing my baby to born." Something along those lines?

Something that helped me tremendously during late labor/transition when labor pains are coming hard and fast was to reaffirm that my body knew what to do, and to understand that the cx's don't last forever -- less than two minutes for sure -- and I COULD make it through the next two minutes without falling apart.

Birthing naturally can be exhilerating -- it's not like anything else you will ever do. The power of you body to do this, and the power of your mind to remain focused, are amazing. Sometimes you just have to feel the weight of the anxiety you have, then move past it.
post #5 of 27
I have a natural hospital birth with a MW planned, and I'm not at all scared of the pain. Instead, I'm TERRIFIED that something will happen, and I'll have to have a c-section. My friend's horror story about having her arms strapped down and her panic from being paralyzed from the waist down is pretty much my personal nightmare. I truly believe that focusing on the positive and--to agree with LittleBattleAxe--supremely transformative experience of a natural vaginal birth is a helpful technique--a will to power, of sorts. Either way, in order to claim your baby prize, she/he has to come out some way, right? You can do it, mama!
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your responses so far, ladies!

Lyndzies & Naomismom - Several people have recommended Hypnobabies. I was actually waiting on a friend to mail me her CD, but I think it may have slipped her mind. I'll plan on looking into it this week.

LittleBattleAxe - Yes, exactly that - I'm afraid that I won't be able to handle the pain. I don't tolerate pain too well in general (these things are hard to quantify, I know - but sometimes even a bad menstrual cramp can make me want to throw up), and i just don't know what to expect. I think it's partially a control issue, too. I don't like not being in control, and it scares me that the pain might cause me to lose control entirely. I also need to work on focusing on the moment, as you've suggested - look at each contraction and focus entirely on that, just aim to get through that, one at at time - instead of trying to process the big picture (6, 8, 10, 12, 20, 40, 60 hours of labor, or whatever it may be) all at one go. My yoga instructor suggested something similar, and it makes sense on many levels - I just hope that I can follow through with that approach on the day, and don't become too distracted by the fear of pain/loss of control.

SouthernBette - Yeah, the idea of a c-section is not comforting at ALL. It's funny, because much as I'm nervous of a potential 'natural' childbirth, the whole concept, application and resulting numbness of an epidural isn't too comforting, either. Emotionally and spiritually, I do love the idea of a wholly natural childbirth - I just struggle with positive thinking in general, in my life, and I doubt my ability to do it, you know? On the plus side, most things that I fret endlessly about turn out to be not as bad as I had imagined, so perhaps this will fall into the same category! That's one advantage of having a grotesquely overactive imagination, I guess
post #7 of 27
I came on here to post almost the EXACT same thing this morning! Then I deleted it...hoping that the feeling would go away even though it's been plaguing me to the point of tears for the past two weeks. The difference for me is that this will be my second birth. And no my first was not traumatic - it was the exact opposite of traumatic! So why I am I so scared when I know so well just how easy childbirth can be?

To reassure you about what is possible, here's a little bit about how DS's birth went down: it was long but mostly painLESS. I honestly could not feel most of my contractions, my midwives had to tell me when I was having them or I'd just feel my belly and it would be rock hard when intuitively I thought it might be. It was the weirdest thing and I remember thinking, "oh my goodness I'm one of THOSE women - the lucky ones." I was in latent labour for 23 hours, then active labour for 17 hours and pushed for 3 hours. Long by most standards but it felt like the blink of an eye, a walk in the park. Truly, I felt almost nothing until the urge to push after transition. Even that didn't hurt, it was just very intense. I was so totally in labourland that I didn't even feel tired. When he crowned and I tore, it hurt beyond belief but only for a split second then it was over and there he was! It was absolutely amazing.

Leading up to his birth, I felt no fear at all only excitement and curiosity. I listened to the Hypnobabies homestudy cds in preparation (though not during labour and birth, I needed quiet and they just annoyed me) and read the birth stories at the beginning of Ina May's "Guide to Childbirth." Reading those stories was the best preparation ever.

This time around...it's another story. Part of me feels like I could only be so lucky once. And I am feeling a horrible sense of forboding that something is going to go wrong and I'm going to come home empty handed. I'm really having a hard time shaking it and have left a message with my midwife to move my next appointment up so we can talk it through. I haven't started Hypnobabies yet this time and I think I better get going on that, hopefully it will help.

Another book that many people recommend is "Birthing From Within." I really didn't like it the first time around because it focuses a LOT on fear which not everyone has, and I certainly had no patience for all of the fear-busting exercises on every page last time I was pregnant. However it might help you and me too this time!
post #8 of 27
One last thing - do you by any chance read French? There is a fantastic book, can't remember title or author, with a chapter called "Ne touchez pas ma douleur" (don't take away my pain) that talks all about the purpose of pain during childbirth. I found it really inspiring and made me feel very "bring it on!"

Next time I'm at our birthing centre, I'll check the library for the book's title and author to see if it has been translated and published in English yet.
post #9 of 27
I am too, honestly. My last was a vba2c and it was great and all, but the end (transition an pushing, no epidural) was REALLY intense and I the whole time all I could think was "I am NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN." The feeling didn't go away after birth, either. I'm still not sure if I want to go epidural free again, honestly.

Not that I want to make your fear worse or anything! I'm just being honest about my experience. Now to be fair, the pain was gone immediately after she was born, even though I had an episiotomy and I also tore, that didn't hurt much to me and I healed quickly and easily. And the feeling afterwards was really exhilirating, I definitely had that huge rush of endorphins!
post #10 of 27
miso when i first gave birth i was in the exact same place as you. i was terrified. and paid the price for it. i had the EXACT birth i DID NOT want.

i had that only one child. and my fear did not allow me to birth. i had a csection and i felt i never really gave birth.

i did not know anything about birthing. but then later i learnt so much. and since then i feel robbed. i am too old to have more kids and so i will always carry the sadness that i never ever truly gave birth. i see birthing as a powerful spiritual experience today. it is 'MY' thing. i had a v. intuitive pregnancy and i did everything i thought was good for me - which meant going against the ob's directions. i had the easiest pregnancy ever.

so i always say do what you have to do but please read up or meditate or talk to a friend to get out of the pain mode. see why you are so afraid. and make sure you will have a 'helping' partner - a truly helping and understanding partner to get you thru the worst. even though i had soon to be ex with me, he was of no support whatsoever. i realised birthing freaked him out. we had no spiritual connection while i gave birth. i think the kind nurses would have been far more helpful.
post #11 of 27
My #1 suggestion.....

READ "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" or "Spiritual Midwifery" and read it all the way through! It is amazing at calming those fears and is a great resource for empowering birth stories. Her knowledge and experience is invaluable and so so practical!

I was afraid with DS as well, and I read this book and I think it helped even more than my "birthing from within" classes

You can do it......we all KNOW you can!!
post #12 of 27
I don't really have anything to add that hasn't already been said, but I wanted to at least give a .
post #13 of 27
I think it's normal to be afraid of the unknown. Childbirth is a big deal. It does come with risks. More importantly, it seems like everyone you meet has some story about their near-death experience during childbirth, or says totally unhelpful things like "it was the worst pain of my life! I felt like I had rabid cougars ripping me apart!" Gee, thanks. And if you don't have much experience with babies, as I didn't, you have the whole post-childbirth thing to worry about... you know, taking care of a floppy 7 pound life who is completely dependent on you for every little thing and can't even hold its head up. So I think it's weird when people aren't even a teeny tiny bit scared.

That said, it will be fine. First of all, most of the people telling you those scary stories are totally making it up. It's like a war story for some women: they just love building up the drama in their head. Obviously, I'm not saying that nothing ever goes wrong, but really... it's a but much that every.single.woman behind you in the checkout line at the supermarket had a one in a million freak experience. So the first thing I'd do is ignore anyone who is telling you scary stories. At best, it's just not helpful.

Secondly, in the wise words of my mother "if childbirth was that bad, no one would ever have a second child." You gotta admit there's something to that.

And finally, worrying isn't going to help anything. It will just stress you out. You say you have a great support network, and I'm sure you're educating yourself appropriately. When the time comes, all you can do is go with the flow, trust your instincts, and trust the people that you have chosen to trust to guide you through this. As with anything in life, if a problem (large or small) comes up, you'll deal with it. You just will. And it will work itself out.

With my first pregnancy, I was terrified of a c section. I don't think I even knew about the strapping your arms down thing. I just knew all the stats and read a bit too much about everything that can go wrong. I lay in bed at night crying, actually sobbing, telling my husband that I was not, under any circumstances, to allow a C section to happen. That I'd rather DIE. I did this for weeks, I swear, every night.

Guess what I ended up with?

And yes, it was medically necessary and it wasn't because of any unnecessary interventions or anything like that. And when they told me, I was already in such a state that I completely lost it and started screaming and sobbing and trying to leave. I don't actually remember any of this, by the way. They had to dose me up good with some sort of happy-medicine because I was so far gone into hysteria, and they needed to cut me open right away. (And if you want a semi-funny story about the arms strapped down thing, I was so artificially happy by the time they did that I apparently turned to DH and said "I'm Jesus!" Okay, I think it's funny.)

And the point of that anecdote isn't to give my little war story, but just to say that I made things soooo much worse with my fears. My birth experience was what it was, and it went how it went, and everything worked out in the end. Being hysterical did nothing but lead me to make offensive jokes about crucifixion. And, yes, I ended up with a C, and my other children have to be Cs, but I also have 2 awesome perfect wonderful amazing children (nicknamed, right now, Mr. Bitey and Ms. Screamy. Wait, why did I have a third? Oh yeah, because when they're not biting or screaming or whining or hitting or yelling "that's my toy!" or asking "why?" for the ten millionth time in a row, kids are awesome.). And there are some perks to a C. You get these awesome leg things the first night that massage your legs (so you don't get blood clots). They're sooo comfortable and relaxing. I seriously wanted to steal them from the hospital. You also have a great excuse to call the nurse to change the dirty diapers (y'know, because it hurts too much to get out of bed. Nevermind that you just walked down to the maternity ward kitchen to stock up on ice cream). Those first meconium poops are nasty, sorry to say.

Sorry this post was too long. I just wanted to say that I've been there with the utter terror, and I don't recommend it. I do understand where you're coming from, though, and I want to give you
post #14 of 27
I had a pretty scary birth experience with my first - but it was not the actual birth part that was scary. I had other stuff going on.

As far as the pain and what to expect, our childbirth instructor the first time around likened birth to digestion. And, to be a little graphic (sorry), it for me really was kind of like...constipation and then, um, the outcome of a good laxative? But over the course of almost an entire day for me

The closer you get to "relief" the worse the cramps are. The pushing part actually felt good in a way - like when you finally poop. My body bore down without my even thinking about it. I know some moms whose babies weren't in as good a position who said pushing didn't really feel good, but for me it was a relief to do something other than lay there (I was bed bound) through unbelievably intense contractions (I was on Pitocin). It was exhausting (I pushed for 3 hours), but it wasn't painful.

Another piece of advice we got from our refresher course instructor was to approach every day pains (stubbing your toe and the like) as if they were labor pains - try to handle them in a way that could go on for hours. Rather than curse and scream and shut down, take deep breaths. That has helped me feel like I will be able to handle labor better this time - labor is a lot more predictable (at least it was for me, before I had to be on Pitocin) than sudden and unexpected pains!
post #15 of 27
Ok, first of all, here's a virtual hug for you. I felt almost EXACTLY the way you describe when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was scared to the point of tears, frequently. I started grinding my teeth at night. To me, it was both fear of the unknown (how in god's name will THAT fit through THERE??!?) and loss of control. I didn't feel particularly wimpy about pain in general, but I didn't find it reassuring that like 99% of women choose to be anaesthetized for birth. On the other hand, the thought of having a big needle stuck in my spine for an epidural also sort of terrified me, as did the thought of being partially paralyzed (trapped, helpless, immobilized) from the waist down during birth. So I chose to go the unmedicated route.

What REALLY helped me were three books: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth; HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing (3rd Edition); and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. They each provided something different. Ina May's book had lots of excellent birth stories and pictures that helped me understand what the birth experience is like, step by step, in detail, and made me feel like it wouldn't be so scary when it started happening to me, because I'd know what to expect. The HypnoBirthing book had a lot of really empowering material about how to conceptualize the pain/sensations of birthing, and made me feel like I COULD do it! I didn't use Hypnobirthing methods otherwise, but I still found the book to be really helpful. The Henci Goer book is great if you have specific questions about birthing options, and how to ask educated questions to be sure you're getting the care you want from your OB. If you're only reading one, I'd say the Ina May book is the best, but I liked them all (I read several other birthing books I didn't like as much--these 3 were all great, though).

Finally, I'll say that I did have a looong and intense labor. It was all unmedicated, and there were moments when I felt like I couldn't go on with it much longer. But having my doula there was a huge help, and she talked me through the tough spots and helped me stay in control and reassured me that I was doing a great job and everything was going fine. And you know what? I'm excited to do it again!!!! I'm looking forward to it!! Of course, there's always a small fear that things won't go well for some reason (breech baby, medical issues, or whatever) and I'll end up not being able to have the natural birth experience I want--so it's not pure, unadulterated excitement. And honestly, I'm hoping labor is a bit shorter this time!! But if I have the exact same birth as I had last time, I'll be thrilled with it. And to repeat, it was NOT an easy or fast birth. But it was like I climbed a huge mountain--it was hard, but there were beautiful moments along the way, and at the end there were two major rewards waiting for me--my beautiful babe and a sense of strength and accomplishment.

Anyway, you can do this! You are fit, and strong! You are not somehow inferior to all the millions of women who have done this for thousands of years, and the women all over the world who are doing it at this VERY minute. Our bodies were literally MADE to do this, and you will do great!!
post #16 of 27
Lach: The Jesus comment really did make me laugh. Should my first fears about a c-section come to fruition, I'll try to keep that image in mind--no kidding. Haha...
post #17 of 27
Maybe it would help to be pro-active in three areas.

1st (and probably most important): Mental/Emotional. You are already doing things, and have been given great suggestions on trying to get through this fear. Just by acknowledging it and giving it voice here is helpful. You are already on the right track. I think many women have these fears but don't voice/acknowledge them and that can end up stalling labor and making things more difficult. You're planning on reading Ina May's book, and she really goes into the fear/pain cycle in detail. She also includes many very easy, practical things that can be done during birth to help you relax and release the pain, and those are shown over and over again in the birth stories used by many different women. For instance, blowing raspberries, to relax your jaw (and thus your perineum) is a really simple tool. Hypnobabies and going through Birthing from Within will also be helpful.

I think it would also be a good idea to reframe the concept of pain. You said that having a bad menstrual cramp makes you want to throw up... well, basically labor can just feel like bad menstrual cramps BUT they are usually not constant. They come in waves. So, imagine dealing with a cramp for a few seconds to two minutes at a time... and then experiencing complete relief for a couple minutes to ten, fifteen minutes. I've known many women who have really hard menstrual cycles say that labor was nothing in comparison.

Also, have you ever accomplished anything that was really difficult or challenging for you? Have you ever struggled to get to the top of a steep hill? Or maybe just kept going for a few extra minutes on a treadmill? Mastered a yoga pose that was difficult? Labor is much more a fitness activity than a painful experience. Your lungs or thighs might burn, but it is NOT the same kind of pain as breaking a leg or even stubbing a toe. If you're not the physical type, think of something mentally or intellectually challenging that you have accomplished that you never thought you could. Then remind yourself of that whenever the fear starts. You mentioned how things are never as bad as you imagined them to be... revisit some of those experiences in your daily meditation/affirmations/yoga/prayer, or whatever.

2nd, Physical: Prepare yourself physically for birth. It sounds like you're doing this too, with the yoga and walking and eating well, etc. But also, there are aches and pains during pregnancy that you can practice relaxation and meditation techniques on that will help during childbirth. Do your kegels. Consider perineal massage. Do some squats every day.

Look into natural pain relief techniques and prepare a variety of tools to help you during labor. Maybe just having a large selection of ideas will help calm you... you will know you have a lot of things to try. Make a rice sock that can be heated up during labor. Have your dh practice massaging your back. Practice blowing raspberries. Make sure you have access to hot water and a tub (stay home as long as possible). I would also really recommend learning about some homeopathic remedies that could help... there are some that can help with fear itself, as well as others for other pain or other difficulties. Of course, having a doula will be the best help, and she will know the various pain relief techniques so you don't have to remember them during labor, but I think preparing a list ahead of time will help you mentally to remember "if it gets bad I can try this and this and this and this..."

3rd: Environment: Prepare your birth environment carefully. You've already mentioned that control is an issue for you. You are going to want to deal with this concept in your mental/physical preparation. The truth is you will not be able to control what is happening to your body... well, actually you can. By fighting the birth process and trying to control the pain, you will actually slow it down and basically end up manifesting your fears physically. BUT, if you really understand the physical and emotional stages of birth and what is happening, you may be better able to "give in" to the experience of labor.

At the same time, you do want to make sure you have a feeling of control over your environment. Many women find that just walking into a hospital makes them feel a loss of that control. Other people are in charge, and the woman can't relax. Of course, you can also walk into a hospital knowing your rights and that hospital policies are just that... policies you can choose to opt out of... even if it means ignoring the fear mongering about how you will be killing your baby and signing an AMA form. I would really explore what the best environment is for you. You want to have caregivers that are truly there to help you and are not full of fear themselves. You have started to do this by preparing your dh and hiring a doula. How do you feel about your doc/midwife? Do you trust that person? Will you know who will be there, or will you get whomever is on call? If you can't be sure of your caregiver, than prepare for other support and strategies. Maybe decide to choose to stay home as long as possible... your doula would be able to help you decide when to go in so you don't get to the hospital too soon. Make sure she and dh know about your fears and you've discussed strategies for dealing with them during labor. You can even plan to hide out in the bathroom of the hospital for awhile to make some space away from potential negative influences. Or maybe even consider a homebirth. Or, you might end up with wonderful, helpful nurses and docs who are on your side. That does happen, too!

Make sure you do know your options, and have a plan for discussing any interventions that may be suggested. Someone else recommended Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. I highly recommend this. If you know what types of things are likely to be recommended, WHY they are recommended by docs, what the research actually says about their use, and also the other OPTIONS you have instead, you will have more control over your environment and your birth. You will be in control over the decisions. Make sure your dh and doula know your preferences in each case. This doesn't mean you can't change your mind during the birth if need be. Chances are things will not go 100% according to your plans. And that's okay. With my firstborn, I was able to refuse induction when I went over 41 weeks, and feel confident in that decision. I was able to make decisions during my birth, even though things were happening very fast and felt a bit chaotic. I agreed to a few things I hadn't originally wanted, and I held steadfast on other things, but in every case I made the decisions, and I didn't make them out of fear. and that made a world of difference in the experience. I ended up with a good, unmedicated hospital birth. (And my doula and dh were invaluable.)

Good luck, and I hope that was helpful instead of just rambling confusion!
post #18 of 27
Originally Posted by SouthernBette View Post
Lach: The Jesus comment really did make me laugh. Should my first fears about a c-section come to fruition, I'll try to keep that image in mind--no kidding. Haha...
I'm glad to help (and I'm really sorry if I did offend anyone with that... seriously I was really far gone! I don't know exactly what they gave me, but it obviously calmed me down). And FWIW the paralyzed part isn't that bad either. I mean, I wouldn't do it for fun. And I do wish that I could experience a vaginal birth, at least once. And I absolutely hope that everyone here gets the birth experience they want. But it's really not a horror movie experience, I swear. It's more totally surreal than anything. You can still kind of feel things, just not pain. And maybe that sounds horror-movie, but the whole thing is just so bizarre and quick while it's happening that it's just not. I can't actually compare it to a vaginal birth, but the moment when the baby first cries is just so magical and wonderful no matter how the baby is born. I remember (for my second, which is the birth I do have memories of!) the doctor saying "there he is!" and I said "why isn't he crying?" and my DH said "Well they have to take him out first!" and just then I heard a teeny tiny little AUUGH!!! Which wasn't actually all that teeny tiny... this kid has LUNGS. It really is a truly, truly miraculous moment. The operation doesn't last terribly long, either. You can't get out of bed the first night to help yourself heal, but I remember that the feeling in my legs came back fairly quickly.

The REAL horror movie aspects of a C are what your DH/partner/support person sees. They do the cutting behind a curtain, but they still call him around while they sew you back up to do a token cord-cutting.

So while obviously I hope that you have the exact vaginal birth experience that you want, I just wanted to say that Cs aren't really so bad. Of course, I had a year and a half between my first and second child to reconcile myself to having another one. But this third (and last) baby? I'm really looking forward to the four nights of room service, diaper help, LC visits, and someone else dealing with the fighting and whining at home!
post #19 of 27
I agree 100% with all of the great advice (and book recommendations) you've already been given. I'd also like to add that...

Childbirth is not inherently painful. Every birth is different and so many things can influence the degree of pain (or pleasure!) a woman experiences during an individual labor. You can control some of these things but not others.

The above statement is true about so, so many things in life though. You ride in cars/buses/trains/etc. all the time despite the possibility that at any point that experience (for reasons both in and out of your control) could become excruciatingly painful or even fatal. You don't think about all the awful possibilities though every single time you get in a car.

The biggest gift you can give yourself is to let go of the expectation that contractions and pushing are going to hurt. There is a difference between the pain of something being physically wrong and the discomfort which can sometimes occur in a physiologically normal labor. I've broken bones, gotten some pretty intense body piercings AND I've given birth and the difference between INJURIES and childbirth really is like apples and oranges.

I'm not trying to ignore or belittle the experiences of women who have had intensely painful or traumatic birth experiences. Not every baby is going to be in an ideal position for birth. Sometimes something does go wrong with our bodies or our normal biological processes. Sometimes there can just be a bunch of chance crap circumstances outside of our control. And then the birth experience can be painful like an injury, but this isn't the norm with a healthy mother and a healthy baby in a well-supported, loving environment.

The idea that every birth, by definition, has to include pain is one of the biggest, most hurtful lies perpetuated against women by our society. It really is extremely misogynistic at its core. The female body is not inherently broken, weak, or incompetent yet that is the message we are given every day in a thousand subtle ways. Its great to have doctors and midwives and doulas and birth partners to support us, to be there to give assistance if something unusual occurs, but WE are the ones who are gestating these babies for months and months, who will give them life, and who have the ability to continue to nourish them with our milk and nothing else for months after we've brought them into the world.

I apologize for turning your thread into my soapbox, but the sheer fear and terror that others try to incite in first time mothers drives me crazy. The birth of my daughter was the single most empowering experience of my life. Birth has the possibility to be such a profound right of passage and our culture at every point attempts to rob women of this, to frighten them, to turn them into passive patients, to infantilize them and take away their dignity. Yes, bad things can and do happen but it's completely unreasonable for every pregnant woman to expect that they're going to happen to her; it really is on the same level as expecting a head-on collision every time you ride in a car.
post #20 of 27
Also I'm really, really sorry if my last post came across as overly judgmental or preachy or absolutist... that wasn't my intent at all, but it's really easy for me to get carried away.

I should probably add that I'm a total control freak and the *only* part of my labor where I felt like I wasn't in control was during transition (which was a pretty short period of time). At that point it wasn't that the contractions hurt more or even that they'd gone on "too long" or anything like that. It was more like I had this sudden realization that I couldn't change my mind and it totally freaked me out. I decided that I wanted *anything* that could somehow remove me from the situation (epidural, narcotics, elective c-section) which my husband pointed out was total wishful thinking because none of those things would "take me away from birth"... they'd just have changed how I was experiencing it. I then had the first cervical check I'd had since being admitted to the hospital and it turned out that I was fully dilated, which probably explains why I was so ready for it to be OVER.

I think if I had rationally understood that that was what was happening sooner I wouldn't have felt so afraid and out of control during transition. During the earlier parts of labor and while pushing I didn't have that feeling at all, but I also had a better than average understanding of the physiology of what was happening (thanks to reading the Hypnobirthing book). Contractions are way less scary if you can visualize the uterus squeezing the baby as it pulls up over his/her head as s/he descends. It really helped to think "this is happening to the baby too" and to know that each contraction brought her closer to being born. I read a great affirmation on a thread on MDC once that said something along the lines of: "Your contractions cannot be stronger than you because they are you."

AND... any pain I experienced during my first labor was seriously the most useful, productive unpleasant sensation that I've ever encountered. Basically contractions only hurt if I moved in a way that was counterproductive to the baby coming out, as soon as I found the right position the discomfort went away. (They also became unpleasant the few times outside distractions made me feel physically cold or emotionally unsafe.) During the first trimester of this pregnancy I had awful, debilitating gas pains as a side effect from Zofran and nothing I did or thought made those go away, plus they were continuous for hours. My labor contractions were so, so different from that or other experiences of something being "wrong," which is why I said in my last post that the birth of my daughter really was the most empowering experience. Even if your labor does end up hurting it isn't likely to be the kind of senseless, continuous pain that you can't escape from, transform, or control... it's more of this organic process where your body is attempting to send your brain signals about the best way to get your baby born and it can be totally exhilarating
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