What did your labor feel like? (Did you feel pain? Some women don't!)
With #1, the first 2 days of labor were easy. After that, it started to hurt!
With #2, early labor was also fine, not painful. I had about a dozen contractions at the very end where I thought, "ohhh, this hurts," but that was it. Oh, and pushing was very painful for me.
I would not describe the contractions themselves as "pain" -- they hurt, sure, I guess, but if you know why it hurts, you can stop thinking of it as pain and feel it more as "working energy." I know that sounds cliché, but for me it was true.
Perhaps the best way to describe it is the difference between "pain" and "suffering." I read this somewhere in a book on birth, and it's true. Labor always involves some level of "pain." It does NOT necessarily involve any "suffering." I don't feel like I *suffered* at all in early labor with either of my 2 births.
However, with #1 I had terrible back labor that came on around the time I hit transition, and THAT hurt. I will say without qualification that back labor counts as *suffering.* And anyone who gets through it without medication should seriously get a medal of honor. I'm not kidding. It felt to me like my tailbone was breaking every time a contraction hit. DD must have been malpositioned at that point in my labor (she came out fine, so IDK what happened except that maybe she just figured it out in there), because I got to that point and then labor stalled. For several hours. THAT was pain AND suffering, those several hours of unmedicated back labor paired with transition contractions that would not let up.
What did transition feel like? Pushing? Birth?
#1: Transition was bloody difficult for me. As I said above, my labor stalled for a long time at this point, so I just kept getting hit with intense contractions, one after another, with no progress at all. I was also vomiting every few minutes, shivering uncontrollably, and every contraction felt like an axe chopping away at the base of my spine. It was pure misery. After several hours of this, I finally transferred to the hospital for an epidural, which at that moment was the best possible thing that could have happened to me.
Pushing with an epidural was hard because I couldn't feel anything at all. They just came in and said, "ok, you can start to push now," and I was like, "ummm, ok, I guess I could try that." It took a long time to figure out what I was doing. I had to be coached through it. It was nearly 4 solid hours of pushing, and I just couldn't feel anything at all. It was frustrating, hard work. The birth was just a sudden release of pressure and the biggest high I ever felt!
#2: Transition lasted about 15 minutes. I only realized it was transition because I started shivering and felt slightly nauseous. I remember thinking to myself, "oh, okay, now I'm really in labor," about 5 minutes before my MW came in, listened to me for a minute, and said, "yup, time to push the baby out."
I have to say I agree with sharita about what (unmedicated) pushing feels like:
Originally Posted by sharita
Pushing is super scary. It's the most intense part of labor whether its painful or not. It's just scary to have your body stretch that way. There is a moment where you hesitate to push from fear but you know nothing else will end the pain from the contractions. It's like standing on a cliff (or airplaine) and there is no other way down, you have to jump. You know you will be fine but its so scary you argue with yourself for what seems like eternity though its only a few seconds if that in reality.
That's exactly what it felt like for me!
For me, pushing was also painful because my MW was doing something to my cervix -- holding back a lip, maybe? -- and then perineal massage. Ouch. Her hands hurt much more than the pushing/stretching/contractions did. However, I only pushed for about 20 minutes, so it really wasn't bad at all. And I'd take that pain (and that scary jump-off-a-cliff feeling) over the weirdness and immobility of the epidural experience anyday.
How did you release, transform, transcend the "pain? What did you do internally to achieve the right mental state for birth?
I did a lot of walking and dancing in early labor. I've been a belly dancer for years and found that training extremely helpful in labor -- especially the "shimmy" position, where you bend your knees and let your pelvis just dangle loosely from the base of your spine. (I highly recommend that pregnant women take a few belly dance classes! That's what it's designed for, after all!) Dancing helped me remember how exciting and fun and cool the whole experience was. The walking helped me focus on something outside of myself, at least in early labor when I needed to shift the focus outside.
I found vocalization very helpful during contractions -- low moaning, chanting "ooooopen," even singing in a low register. During pushing with #2, I found ferocious roaring to be very helpful; it helped me focus on the fierce, primal nature of what was happening.
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom
Maybe I didn't have the "right" mental state? My mental state was "I am going to birth these kids and you doctors can't scare me out of it." I wasn't calm and feeling all sweet and happy. I was mad, determined and stubborn.
I don't think there's such thing as a "right" mental state. It's just the mental state that works to make it happen! I reached a point during pushing, with both babies, that I found myself having to "get mad" to get the determination/resolve to push the baby out. I focused on something that made me angry (with #1, that would be the obnoxious L&D nurse hovering over my right shoulder who kept calling me 'babydolls'). For some reason, that anger gave me the strength for the last few pushes.