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natural childbirth, pain, and shame - Page 3

post #41 of 53
I know this is an old thread...but I can totally relate. I feel lied to as well, sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if maybe it DIDN'T hurt so bad for other people. I hear people say that they loved their births and I wonder if it could have possibly hurt that much for them, if they just forgot immediately, or if it hurt just as bad and they really did enjoy it.

I've known for about ten years that I wanted natural, intervention free childbirths. I've wanted to be a midwife for almost the same amount of time. I've read all the books- Ina May, Sheila Kitzinger, Dr. Sears, Birthing From Within. When I found out I was pregnant I did everything I could to ensure I got the birth I wanted- childbirth classes that were very natural childbirth oriented, hired (2!) doulas, made sure the midwives were not going to try to stop me from doing anything I wanted to do or force me into doing anything I didn't want to do. I drank the red raspberry leaf tea, I visualized my birth, I walked several times a week.

I did ok through a lot of my labor. It was really once transition hit that I just HATED it. It was not a beautiful, empowering experience. It was terrible! I wanted to claw away at myself until I could escape my body and the hell I was going through. Pushing was not a relief, as I had been told it would be. It didn't feel good, it wasn't "the easiest part"...I think that's where I really feel that I was lied to. Pushing hurt like nothing else I have ever been through in my life. People kept telling me to reach down and touch my baby...I did, but mostly I was checking to see how much head I could feel and how much further I still had to go. I thought I was going to die. In the end she actually came out because I decided and accepted that it may kill me and I was just going to go for it. I screamed and just did it. Tore in two spots (relatively minor tears in good spots, though, I am relieved about that still), and when baby came out, and they told me to take a look at her, I didn't want to for several seconds. I was still screaming with my head buried. My body was in shock.

The next several hours were terrible and I think that's partly what made it all so bad- my body felt like it was in shock for a long time. I was so scared to push the placenta out. About an hour after she was born I went to the bathroom and fainted and came to in a pool of blood. When they finally got me back in bed I was freezing and shaking and they had to bring heated blankets. I needed sleep and I needed food, badly. The nurse kept checking my uterus and it hurt SO bad. A few hours after the birth I had to get my stitches (it took a while because they got bombarded with births in the couple of hours after she was born), and I just wanted to cry the whole time. It was like rubbing salt in my wounds.

There wasn't anything that physically traumatizing about my birth. Nothing terrible, no lasting injuries or anything devastating. The midwives and nurses all said I was amazingly "zen" and that I did great. My doula said it was the most amazing birth she's ever been to, that it's exactly what birth is supposed to be like, with the mother knowing exactly what she needs to do. In some ways I feel proud of myself- I did something a lot of people can't do. The only interventions I had during my birth were some fetal monitoring at the beginning and two cervical checks. In a lot of ways just looking at the technical details, my labor and birth seem very easy and good. But when I think about it, a lot of the time I feel scared and still kind of in shock and maybe a little traumatized. I had no idea it was going to be like that. I'm a little afraid to have more children. I hope it will be easier in the future knowing what to expect.
post #42 of 53

I wrote about this very subject. I've been into birth for nearly my whole life. I've always known that I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. I went to a midwife practice at a birth center for my first pregnancy and planned to have my son there. At the very last minute - literally, as I was walking out the door to go to the birth center and give birth - I got a call that one of the midwives would not be available to attend births (she had a horse show the next day and didn't want to lose sleep) and that I would have to go to the hospital. Every plan I had, gone. Now, I still had a midwife (now my best friend, actually) at my birth and I did everything naturally, but it hurt like hell. I screamed A LOT. I had always thought that I felt so much pain and that I screamed because I felt so out of control due to being in a hospital. I felt that a lot of my screaming was emotional, rather than in response to pain. I figured the next birth would be different.

 

My second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks. I waited 4 weeks for my body to naturally miscarry and that feels every single bit like labor. It was insanely painful and I eventually ended up going to the hospital because I just couldn't deal with it and wanted to be drugged up. Again, I thought my pain and screams were due to an emotional response.

 

My third baby was a planned homebirth. I went into that birth just knowing that I would have a short labor, relatively pain free and that I would simply whisper my baby out with one sweet push. Yeah, screw that. As soon as transition hit, I turned into a wild primal woman. I could deal with the pain up until then, but transition convinced me I was dying. I became upset that I wasn't able to psych myself out of the pain. As I was getting onto the bed to start pushing, I whined to my midwives that I wasn't supposed to feel so much pain. I cried because I had started crying and yelling. I told them I wanted to be like to hypnobirth people you see on YouTube who just simply breathe their babies out without a single whimper. Both midwives looked at me and said, at the same time, "Jenn, that is bullshit. It's all bullshit. It hurts and you're going to get through it." Pushing lasted 15 minutes, but it was 15 minutes where I was certain I was going to die. I was elated once she came and spent the next few days in my post homebirth glory bubble. Then I started to get these shameful feelings creeping in. I started to analyze my birth and I felt like I let myself and my baby down because I screamed so much. I felt like I sucked because I let myself feel pain. I had the homebirth I wanted, I believed I could do it painlessly, I was birthing a live and healthy baby - so why did it hurt so much. Why did I scream? I actually started searching online for stories about how it's okay to scream in labor. That's sad.

 

A few months after I gave birth, I came upon a convo on one of the natural birth pages on Facebook. A pregnant mama was discussing her worries about pain during labor and many women left comments of advice and encouragement. There were comments stating that, "if you feel pain, you're doing something wrong." Yeah. There were actual women telling other women that they were doing something wrong if they felt pain in labor. I was so angry at that moment, so I took to my blog to write out my experiences and tell women that it is okay to feel pain. It is okay to scream. If you can birth without pain and you do it while singing some hymn, fine, but it does not make you any better or anymore "right" then the mama who feels tons of pain and screams at the top of her lungs. We all experience it differently and we all need to respect these individual experiences.

 

On Blogger, you can see when people find your specific blog posts by searching in Google. Nearly everyday, someone finds that particular blog post because they were searching for some confirmation that pain and screaming during labor are okay. Here is a sampling of the search terms that lead to that blog post in just the last five days:

"Feeling bad for screaming in labor."

"Pain in labor is normal."

"Shameful feelings during labor."

"Screaming in labor is okay."

"Screamed in labor felt bad."

"Wanted quiet birth but screamed."

"Is it normal to scream in labor."

"How can I not scream in labor?"

 

That's just this past week. It's upsetting to me to see that there is an obvious feeling of shame among women who are very vocal in labor. That's not okay at all. And it really pisses me off to see people in the natural birth community pushing this agenda that if you scream or feel pain then you didn't do it right. After all the crap we get from the mainstream, we shouldn't be berating mothers who didn't have the perfect hypnobirth or orgasmic birth experience. It's just ridiculous.

 

If you're interest, my blog post on this subject can be found here: http://funkylittleearthchild.blogspot.com/2011/10/it-hurt-i-screamed-im-still-legit.html
 

post #43 of 53

*big hugs* I didn't have the thoughts you had, but I will say it's all normal, you didn't REALLY want her to die, it's just the natural reaction to being in so much pain.

I was in a lot of pain from the point I hit 9-10cm-pushing.. I felt like I was going to die, why did I want to do THIS when 2 years earlier I experienced the same miracle without feeling a thing?, why does all my knowledge and caring about my child not being exposed to the germy hospital or meds make it so painful, etc. I absolutely hated that about 30 minutes of extreme pain and wanted myself to die right then and there, but it ended when I began pushing. 

Your baby has no idea what you thought, and it's not something she ever needs to know <3 You're a strong, caring, wonderful mother and I think being open and honest is a real good indication of that :)

post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsMike View Post
There were comments stating that, "if you feel pain, you're doing something wrong." Yeah. There were actual women telling other women that they were doing something wrong if they felt pain in labor

 

 

I read that while I was pregnant, and believed it. I totally thought I would go into labor and if I felt pain, I'd just get on my hands and knees, or on my side, or get in the water, and it would all be better. I think that is a big part of why I thought something was going wrong- I honestly wasn't prepared to actually feel pain that I couldn't escape from.

post #45 of 53

From the peanut gallery, allow me to say that from my selfish perspective as a dad, any birth where you end up with a healthy baby and a healthy wife/partner is a smashing success.  Obviously, my intent here is not to invalidate your feelings, but just to give an outsider's view.  But, you feel how you feel, and you feel that way, in part, because of the propaganda.  Where did that propaganda come from?

If you look into some of the rhetoric, what you will find is that a lot of what I think of as "Lamaze-talk" originated with a French doctor whose perspective -- and I am deliberately summarizing him in a provocative and perhaps unfair way -- is that women are gullible and you can just talk them out of feeling pain, thus saving the cost (and, to be slightly more fair, mid-1950s medical risk) of anesthesia.  The technical term for this is "psychoprophylactic."  The nontechnical term for this is "poppycock."

 

Anyway - you feel how you feel, and you have my sympathy.  I hope you can work past it.  All I can tell you is that, if men gave birth, every single one of us would demand anesthesia and feel no guilt over it.  I think it is absolutely shameful that the Lamaze-dominated rhetoric deprived you of a chance to adequately prepare for the typical levels of pain most women I know have felt during birth.  I think you're doing a brave thing by talking about it, and you will no doubt help other women by doing so.

 

Regarding thinking things you are now ashamed of, all I can say is that I believe that it is a common human experience (for both men and women) to have thoughts that they wouldn't actually act on, especially when in extremes of stress, fear, or pain, and birth certainly qualifies as that sort of situation.  Everyone has had thoughts like that.  Every.  Single.  Person.  In.  The.  World.  The important thing isn't what you think when you're in pain, but what you do.  And it sounds like you did great.  I am sure, beyond a doubt, that your daughter thinks so.  So hang in there.

 

-SympatheticDad.

 

PS: If anyone out there tells you that feeling pain means you were doing it wrong, feel free to tell them "SympatheticDad says 'Bite me'."

post #46 of 53
I know this is kind of an old post but I actually just made an account to comment.

Reading these comments has made me feel so much more at peace with my own birth.

I had my son about four months ago. I wasn't afraid of labor at all. Now I'm afraid of labor though.

I was in labor for 39 hours. I was sleep deprived and it hurt like hell. At one point I remember crying and begging my husband and doula to let me give up.

Finally after two and a half hours of pushing (with me think over and over "If I die at least this will be over) he was born. I had been telling myself "if I can just get him out this will be over". Turns out that was bullshit. They started repairing my tear (which hurt), had to massage my uterus (which hurt), ended up having to use a straight catheter (which hurt).

I just remember telling my baby "I'm sorry I keep forgetting to pay attention to you". I just didn't really care about him right then. II didn't have any birth high, just a feeling of injustice that I had finally gotten that thing out and people were still hurting me.

I had told myself the whole time that it would hurt but then when he was born it would just be pure joy and bliss. Wasn't the case.

Also, I was VERY vocal through the whole thing. My husband was so traumatized that he doesn't want more children. He said he had to go out in the hall and cry several times because it was so horrible to watch.

To the OP. You got the baby out and you didn't die. You win. There is nothing to feel guilty about.
post #47 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by allisonrae View Post

I know this is kind of an old post but I actually just made an account to comment.

Reading these comments has made me feel so much more at peace with my own birth.

I had my son about four months ago. I wasn't afraid of labor at all. Now I'm afraid of labor though.

I was in labor for 39 hours. I was sleep deprived and it hurt like hell. At one point I remember crying and begging my husband and doula to let me give up.

Finally after two and a half hours of pushing (with me think over and over "If I die at least this will be over) he was born. I had been telling myself "if I can just get him out this will be over". Turns out that was bullshit. They started repairing my tear (which hurt), had to massage my uterus (which hurt), ended up having to use a straight catheter (which hurt).

I just remember telling my baby "I'm sorry I keep forgetting to pay attention to you". I just didn't really care about him right then. II didn't have any birth high, just a feeling of injustice that I had finally gotten that thing out and people were still hurting me.

I had told myself the whole time that it would hurt but then when he was born it would just be pure joy and bliss. Wasn't the case.

Also, I was VERY vocal through the whole thing. My husband was so traumatized that he doesn't want more children. He said he had to go out in the hall and cry several times because it was so horrible to watch.

To the OP. You got the baby out and you didn't die. You win. There is nothing to feel guilty about.

I really love this thread and that there is the support that even though you didn't have the birth you wanted, or planned, or hoped for you still had a birth. I think about this when I look at my son: he is happy, he is healthy, and when he says love you mama it melts my heart and I know he isn't thinking to himself why couldn't you give birth to me naturally? Labor is hard, pregnancy can be hard, and birth should never be looked at something less than Herculean (Thanks, Lemony Snicket, for recognizing this). +1 to "OP, you win." You are strong, you created life, and damn anyone who wants to marginalize this because you felt pain, you had irrational thoughts in the throes of labor, or because you didn't want to swing from the chandeliers afterwards. You're still just as much a mama as anyone else.

post #48 of 53
Quote:
just a feeling of injustice that I had finally gotten that thing out and people were still hurting me.

Isn't that kind of weird, that nobody prepares you for that? With each birth, it took longer and longer for my placenta to come out, and they had to do more and more things to get it out, like pulling on the cord, massaging the belly, drugs and stuff like that. They were even threatening me! Like in: If you won't get the placenta out in ten minutes, we will take you to surgery! (And I was like: What am I supposed to do now? Pull it out myself?) 

 

I was totally not cooperative especially with the massaging, that hurt like hell! I was trying to get away from the midwife, who yelled at me for that. 

 

I was feeling ashamed when getting the stitches that I was not totally calm and cooperative and everything but constantly shaking and crying and pulling away, unintentionally...even though dr said it was okay and he could handle it... 

 

I was so in no place to feel bliss and have a natural high or something with baby. 

post #49 of 53
"I was feeling ashamed when getting the stitches that I was not totally calm and 'cooperative and everything but constantly shaking and crying and pulling away, unintentionall"

Me too! I felt like a whiny baby. I kept apologizing but the midwifes laughed and said I had earned the right to complain.

It just wasn't the moment of bliss I had anticipated. I truly thought I would be so caught up with the baby I wouldn't care about anything else. Instead I was having to remind myself to try to show interest in the baby.
post #50 of 53
I think we all experience it differently and no one talks about the more difficult aspects in an effort not to scare nervous first time moms. I did get an epidural with my first and honestly believe it was right for me. I was induced with the gel and once my contractions started, they were a minute long, coming every 90 to 120 seconds. They were exactly the same at 2 cm and at 9 cm. I was scared to death, unable to cope and after 7 hours of these I just had nothing left. I feel that with my second I'm much better equipped to deal with the pain and hope to go the natural route. I'm not advocating epidurals, but I firmly believe it was the right choice for me at the time. It helped the whole experience remain positive and anyone who implies I "birthed wrong" has never been inside MY body and has never had MY contractions. It's great that some women suffer minimal pain and I truly envy them but to say that a woman "did it wrong" because she suffered during childbirth is like saying the average person is an idiot for not being able to multiply 86446899 * 42688537 in their head.
post #51 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by skycheattraffic View Post

I think we all experience it differently and no one talks about the more difficult aspects in an effort not to scare nervous first time moms. I did get an epidural with my first and honestly believe it was right for me. I was induced with the gel and once my contractions started, they were a minute long, coming every 90 to 120 seconds. They were exactly the same at 2 cm and at 9 cm. I was scared to death, unable to cope and after 7 hours of these I just had nothing left. I feel that with my second I'm much better equipped to deal with the pain and hope to go the natural route. I'm not advocating epidurals, but I firmly believe it was the right choice for me at the time. It helped the whole experience remain positive and anyone who implies I "birthed wrong" has never been inside MY body and has never had MY contractions. It's great that some women suffer minimal pain and I truly envy them but to say that a woman "did it wrong" because she suffered during childbirth is like saying the average person is an idiot for not being able to multiply 86446899 * 42688537 in their head.

Totally true and this argument extends to a lot of the judgments that come with pregnancy and childbirth. I still fail to grasp how so many people feel that pregnancy/childbirth/post-partum time period is completely open for discussion for those who barely (if at all) know you, let alone know the struggles that are unique to each pregnancy. Perhaps there should be a public service announcement addressing that a) it is as inappropriate to comment on a woman's size/weight regardless of her being pregnant, b) if a due date is any of your business it will be proffered, c) the reason why people still discuss birth stories is because they are all unique; if all births were one-size-fits-all, one-way-to-birth I doubt they'd be discussed as in depth as they are.

post #52 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by allisonrae View Post

"I was feeling ashamed when getting the stitches that I was not totally calm and 'cooperative and everything but constantly shaking and crying and pulling away, unintentionall"

Me too! I felt like a whiny baby. I kept apologizing but the midwifes laughed and said I had earned the right to complain.

It just wasn't the moment of bliss I had anticipated. I truly thought I would be so caught up with the baby I wouldn't care about anything else. Instead I was having to remind myself to try to show interest in the baby.

Aww, I totally get this. And people aren't prepared well for it, IME

 

In what possible world would something that we all imagine would be bliss also coincide with stitching up our lady parts? The midwifes should not have laughed, they should have given you a shot (if possible) because stitches hurt.

post #53 of 53

Your post broke my heart, radiogal.  I think that many, many women experience what you are describing, and they chalk it up to something being wrong with themselves. You're wise to be angry, though I know it doesn't feel like it.

I work with women preparing for labor (both as a childbirth teacher, and in leading workshops around traumatic births), and I have noticed that, despite all of the rhetoric right now about choices in childbirth, interventions, etc., what ends up being most important to women is that they feel supported and empowered during birth, and that they be able to look their fears in the face while they are pregnant and preparing. Unfortunately, we're in a place where we all feel like we need to defend our choices as being perfect - it's possible that the women who told you that labor wasn't so bad either were blessed with unusually easy labors, but it's also possible they felt compelled to write the story of their birth, and their choices, as being perfect. This is an insipid comparison, but I have felt betrayed as a parent on a whole suite of issues like co-cleeping and breastfeeding because everyone told me that parenting would be a breeze if I did these things. I felt betrayed, like  a sucker, when parenting was still hard when I did these things (and at times I have wondered if it is harder for me because of some of the choices I make). I've been surprised at the dearth of mothers who can share their ambivalence, such as saying that breastfeeding is hard, rather than paint it as being so easy and that's how you know it's the right thing to do.

 

I also wanted to share, in case it's helpful, that the emotions you described about death during labor: We humans are obviously a bit more than just animals, but that "bit more" doesn't completely supplant our animal natures. And what you described, that feeling of staring death in the face and wanting to be the one who survived: this is plays out in the animal kingdom on a daily basis, but it doesn't fit the story we tell ourselves about mother's intuition and mother's love. It's a confusing emotion that you felt, because it doesn't fit with the idea we have about a mother's sacrifice, but there is no shortage of evidence that what you felt is really, really common. And it does NOT mean that you don't love your daughter - labor brings out the animal in us (thank goodness, because it helps get the baby out), but you don't stay in that primitive mindset for your whole parenting career. 

 

The other women on this thread have said such beautiful, true things. You're in my thoughts as you embark on trying to heal, and trying to learn to trust again.

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