Originally Posted by pookel
I would like to see more support and validation in the natural birthing community for women whose labors are excruciatingly painful and difficult despite their preparation and best efforts.
There seem to be two basic camps in natural childbirth, the one that believes that pain is a necessary and even good part of childbirth (Birthing From Within) and the one that believes that pain is always the result of something the mother or those around her are doing wrong. While I don't believe that birth is inherently painful, and I do believe that the majority of pain in childbirth is created (by environment, mindset, lifestyle, etc.,) and unnecessary, I don't believe that all
women can experience painless labor without disassociating from their bodies via drugs or hypnosis (not talking here about relaxation techniques, but full hypnosis.)
I don't know why my births were so painful. I have some suspicions. But I can tell you without a doubt that it was not because I was fearful or negative or conditioned to believe it would be painful or perceiving the sensation as pain when it really wasn't, or because I was inhibited or self-conscious or my neocortex stimulated, or because the baby was posterior or asynclitic or because I was on my back or not moving around. For someone to say that if only I'd had a better attitude going into birth it wouldn't have been painful is insulting and ignorant. With my last, I protected my birth space like few women left on this earth are able to. I surrounded myself with positive female energy in the weeks before the birth. I surrendered to the hormonal changes and welcomed them. I regarded myself as a goddess and felt very sexual in the days leading up to the birth. I had plenty of opportunities to release oxytocin. I felt very sensual and inside of the birth experience. The labor and birth happened in darkness, quiet, warmth, coziness, love. I did not monitor or manage the labor in any way; it was allowed to be spontaneous and instinctive. I was not fearful; I looked forward to the birth. The baby was in a perfect position and I stayed out of reclining positions throughout the pregnancy and did a lot of squatting. I labored walking and on hands and knees, as felt best. I even had a "rest and be thankful stage" that was truly glorious and had me musing about the pleasurable birth surely to come. And then BAM! it was torturous again.
All of my births have been excruciatingly painful. The only one that was traumatic, however, was the one in which the midwife, the person I was supposed to trust, who was supposed to be on my side, believed that I could have control over my experience of the "sensations" if I wanted to and that I was making the birth unnecessarily hard on myself. I was told that this was because I was making the "wrong" sounds and faces, moving the "wrong" way, saying the "wrong" things. I was told I just needed to relax. For me to resist what my body was asking me to do (by trying to comply with the midwife's demands instead) prolonged the birth, but it was also emotionally hard to have to rely on someone who believed that the difficulty of my birth was due to character flaws.
So I worry that to tell women they can have a painless birth if they want or if they only do all the right things, is setting them up for failure. Certainly, those that would only
feel pain for environmental/psychological reasons are well served by this. But the women who experience pain for other reasons are going to be left feeling betrayed or guilty or flawed. This is a shame when birth can be a positive experience in spite of being painful. My next three births were all painful, yet all empowering and physiologically efficient. I felt incredible afterwards, and after my last birth, which was the first fully undisturbed one, no postpartum depression and no feeling of lack of bonding. We need to rethink the assumption that's gaining ground in the natural birth community that pain is nothing more than a mindset and that the only way a woman can have a truly good birth is to have a painless one.