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Belief in a no pain labor/birth?

post #1 of 139
Thread Starter 
I am reading a book now (Ina May's guide to childbirth) and it basically says (not exact words) that birth is only as painful as you think it will be. Well with DS, I totally believed he was just going to "fall out" and birth was not going to be painful. Long story short, it was painful.

Now this was a long time before I started reading this book (and hearing the idea that if you believe its not painful, it wont be) I still dont think it should be painful and think the reason I experienced pain last time was because I was induced. I believe that allowed to labor naturally, it wouldn't be painful. Am I right in thinking this? Or do I need to reevaluate my birth plan?
post #2 of 139
You should look into hypnobirthing or hypnobabies. Their belief is that childbirth without fear is childbirth without pain (basically, I think, but it of course goes deeper than that). I wouldn't discount it without looking into it. There are a lot of woman that have had pain free natural births.
post #3 of 139
I consider my births to have been pain-free. Not that I was sitting eating a lollipop and drinking mimosas; the contractions were HARD WORK...but not painful for me. It was "uncomfortable" but not painful.

FYI, I was raised by a mother who experienced an estatic birth with my sister. So, not only was I raised believing that natural birth was hard work (but doable), birth could actually be intensely pleasurable. I believe this shaped the way I approached birth and in turn, the way I experienced it.
post #4 of 139
I don't believe it. I'm a labor Doula and a firm supporter of natural childbirth and I've had two natural childbirths but there was pain. The second one was more painful than the first. It was very intense and lots of back pain, I think it was because of DS's position (hand on back of head). I wish I were one of those women who had an ecstatic birth!
post #5 of 139
I absolutely belileve it. I read a lot of wonderful books such as this while pg and. Maybe it was Laura Shanley (???) who said that some cultures don't have the belief that that labor is painful, and so it isn't. We have no other ideas, and so mostly it is. My first was so scary and painful, my 2nd so much less so. Still pain, yes, but maybe that was because I couldn't completely let go of the idea. Then again, Laura had all pain-free births. Perhaps some women just experience no pain and others will. I have heard women say there was no pain in their births.
post #6 of 139
I think some women give birth with little to no pain and other don't. We are all so different and there's probably a million reasons why is hurts so much or doesn't hurt much at all.

I really liked Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent...she talks about how she thought if you "did it right" there wouldn't be pain...her first birth was incredibly painful, her 2nd no pain until the very end. She thought she figured out painless childbirth, until she had her 3rd.

I wanted to be quiet and dignified in labor b/c I saw a video where the laboring woman was so calm and it was such a beautiful birth and I knew it was possible and I wanted to do it that way, but that's not how I handle labor. I make alot of undignified noise when I labor and push, but really that's okay b/c it's much better to honor who I am than to try to reach some "ideal" birth by being someone I'm not.

post #7 of 139
i don't believe it and i think it is a bad expectation to have. some women do have painless births. some women orgasm during birth. that doesn't mean everyone will. i think you can relax and accept the pain that you do have and not let it overwhelm you, but to say that every woman can potentially have a painless birth is false IMO.
post #8 of 139
I've had two pain-med free births (both in a hospital with a m/w attending). The first was definitely painful. I was *begging* for the epidural, and, without my doula, I surely would have succumb. For my second birth, I used hypnobirthing -- there are no courses where I live, so I was self-taught with a CD and the book. I would say that my labor was pain-free until the last 1/2 centimeter and pushing (about 20 minutes total). I think it was a combination of factors: (1) I wasn't afraid of the experience (whereas I was deathly afraid with my first), (2) I had an "easy" and short labor, (3) I practiced the hypnobirthing imagary and breathing techniques.

I NEVER in a million years would have thought a pain-free birth was possible. But it was for me!
post #9 of 139
What's an "ecstatic birth"? (Sorry if that is a stupid question.)
post #10 of 139
Not a stupid question!!! It's when you actually experience orgasm during birth.

I wish I was one who could have one too!!! (I know it's possible, but seems SO far away from what I experienced, I really can't imagine other than my mom explaining what she felt....).
post #11 of 139
I dunno. Your cervix is dilating, your uterus is trying to expel its contents, and a baby's head is being squeezed through your birth canal. I can't imagine that it would be pain-free. There's gotta be some discomfort there. I think that is natural, and for it to be pain-free (though there are degrees of pain) would be unnatural.
post #12 of 139
I love this article: http://www.compleatmother.com/articl...ain_free.shtml

(If you only read positive birth stories, don't read the following cesarean birth experience.)

There is a real connection between what we believe and pain (or lack of). I've experinced it first hand. I had a 60 hour drug-free natural labor. I never percieved it as pain, my biggest complaint that I was absolutely and completly exhausted. It was more than uncomfortable at times, but I wouldn't call it pain. Not sure there is a good word to describe it. Most of that labor was also back labor which was made things more difficult. But like I said, I wouldn't call it pain. Unfortuely, my DD was unable to drop (because of the cord) and after 60 hours of labor and making it to 9+ cm... I agreed to a cesarean birth. When I agreed (to the cesarean birth) and lost all hope in getting my natural VBAC.... I have never felt pain that intense in my entire life. I was in complete agony!!! It wasn't because I was in a different stage of labor, the only thing that had changed was my hope and belief that I was going to be able to have my baby naturally. So in my experience, one minute I was dealing with labor well, then after all hope of getting my VBAC was gone, I was in complete agony. The mind plays a big role in how we deal with labor/ birth.

The mind is the difference between pain and suffering. What happens when you stub your toe? Obviously, your toe is hurt (but most likely not seriously hurt). Most people will grab their toe or "shake off the pain". Some will hop up and down and may say a few words. Well, when you hurt your toe and you grab it (shake it, etc), you are using physical measures to counter the pain. It's your body's automatic response to dealing with pain. You can usually get the pain under control by using these measures, and it soon becomes an uncomfortable sensation rather than pain. But have you ever been around a person who carries on and just swears it's the worst pain of their life and they are convinced they're going to die from the pain? This person is suffering...it's not just pain anymore. They're making the pain much worse....and much harder to deal with. This same principle applies to childbirth. You need to deal/ work with your body during childbirth to make it tolerable. When you fight it and believe you can't do it...you're working against your body making it more painful than it really is. Tensing your body will always make things more painful (remember the shaking the pain off when you stub your toe makes your muscles more limp and less tense). So prepare and have many different pain relieving techniques available to use during labor/birth. (Birthing From Within, my DH and doula made mt labor tolerable.) Staying positive and confident is a must...not only for the mother, but her birthing team as well. The birthing team should be supportive, encouraging, and knowledgeable.
post #13 of 139
I had a VBAC last week...I can honestly say it was "pain" free. But it was not "discomfort" free or effortless. DD2 did not just fall out, my body didn't push her out on it's own, and it's not the way I would have choosen to spend a random afternoon!

However I know it was pain free since the birth ended in shoulder dystocia and a 4th degree tear...and the local pain med they used during the repair didn't "take" completely. So I felt a lot of the suturing. And THAT was painful. VERY painful. Nothing at all like the discomfort of labor and birth.

So yes, I think different women have different birth experiences and the same woman can have different experiences in different births. It's a complex physical and emotional dance! And it's important to know that there isn't a "right" way or a "wrong" way...it's all about being flexible and working with the birth you are having instead of focusing on the birth experience you didn't.
post #14 of 139
I believe it is possible for some women. After all, mamas in this very thread have had the experience. I do not believe it is possible for me. I am hypersensitive to any stimulus, and that is what makes me up. Heat bothers me a lot more than others, tiredness bothers me a lot more than others, and pain affects me a lot more than others too. Given biological differences we all have (and who can deny those?), consider the pain perception process. Yes, it is mental, but there is also a physiological factor and our myelin sheaths are more or less effective, our nervous systems are all different, and our brain chemical levels all vary.
We do not all experience any sensation the same way; pain is no different and I have learned that I am sensitive and experience pain with more intensity than others in similar situations. Plus, our bodies all labour and birth differently. Some births are actually easier than others--shorter, more efficient. Our bodies are all different and I really do not believe that if only we thought it our labours and births wouldn't hurt.
post #15 of 139
I do think that we are socialized to expect that labor is painful and frightening - and therefore, many women go into the experience expecting (and fearing) that.

When we are scared, sensations are more vivid IMO. So, we are scared - and that magnifies the pain we're experiencing.

NOT that that happens for everyone. Mom had 7 of us. She told me, "Labor is like menstrual cramps." And, honestly - that's pretty much what it was like for me. I'd wondered whether she and my sister were sugarcoating it, but really it was like that for me. Despite back labor with Ina, it still wasn't *that* painful. Maybe it helps that my family tends to have quick labors, too ...? I've certainly experienced more pain (like, afterwards, my tailbone KILLS for several weeks/months).

And, I wouldn't say I'm 'tough' or have a high pain threshold. I have a very tender mouth, I hate going to the dentist for instance.

I think the keys are to really understand/know what happens during labor, to mom and baby - what to expect from your support team - and to think through what you'll need (and recognize that you may not "know" til you're there, so do lots of research). I'd read that lots of women become prickly and don't want to be touched etc. towards the end of their labor - not for me. DH hoped (and fortunately was correct) that humor would help me relax .... we talked about what I'd read *might* happen in terms of not wanting to be touched or etc., but just relaxed and went with it and were fine.

I tell moms - relax. Do your research, take some classes if they're available, write a birth plan, and remember - women have been doing this since the beginning of time. So we can do this!! Relax, relax, relax.

I do know it hurts more when I don't consciously relax - when I was being distracted by staff at dd2's birth (I have a heart condition and require an IV) - the contractions were much more painful than when I stopped, refocused, and embraced the contraction/relaxed.

Mom said one of the OBs she had over the years tried to get her to do hypnobirth (he did it with many patients) but she didn't do it ever - NCB'd all 7 of us.
post #16 of 139
Originally Posted by charmander View Post
I dunno. Your cervix is dilating, your uterus is trying to expel its contents, and a baby's head is being squeezed through your birth canal. I can't imagine that it would be pain-free. There's gotta be some discomfort there. I think that is natural, and for it to be pain-free (though there are degrees of pain) would be unnatural.
To me, discomfort doesn't equal pain. I can be uncomfortable without it being painful. Pain-free (IMO) doesn't mean it's a walk in the park. It can command focus, it can demand my attention, it can be hard; but not painful. Your body's doing what it's supposed to...not some crazy, outlandish activity.

Also, so are you suggesting that because my mom experienced orgasm during birth that my sister's birth was somehow un-natural? I don't get it!
post #17 of 139
I also believe in painfree birth, and agree that birth is not meant to be a comfortable relaxing experience.

Somehow, when people hear "pain-free birth", they think it is without discomfort or effort. There is a huge difference between pain and discomfort.

Fear, and being unprepared mentally/emotionally, can really bring out the pain. Also, most women in America give birth while flat on their back, which is one of the most painful, unnatural methods of "natural birthing" I know of. Looking at birth from that perspective, one would definitely wonder, "How is a pain-free birth possible?"

The mind is a powerful thing, and removing our negative thoughts and fears can do wonders for our birthing experience.
post #18 of 139

I think a lot of it depends on the birthing environment as well. You should cross post this in the unassisted forum. There seems to be a higher incidence of pain free/orgasmic births among that circle. Perhaps a lot of it has to do with how uninhibited you can feel in your birth space. In the book Unassisted Childbirth a nurse (maybe a dr.? cant remember) is asked what the difference is between an orgasmic contraction and a labour one. Same body parts contracting after all. The person could only reply with one hurts and the other doesn't. All sorts of things that can go into aside from belief though that does impact it a lot.

ETA: Also, I think we, as people, are very out of tune with what is considered "pain" and what isn't. I think a lot of people (especially first timers) assume the pressure in labour/childbirth is pain. While it can be it isn't always. We are so trained to think birth is painful that we assume everything we feel during that time is in fact pain.
post #19 of 139
I would describe my own labor as fairly easy as labors go, but certainly not pain-free, though I was quite confident and prepared, with little fear. But I think too many people have experienced pain-free birth for me to think it isn't possible. It certainly wouldn't hurt to look at what people who experience pain-free births did, and try it for yourself. Even if you do have pain, I bet it would be less than you would have had otherwise.

That said, I don't think pain has to be a bad thing. Pain is a part of the world, just the same as pleasure is, and you can't get through your life without experiencing both. So I think it's a good idea, if you do have pain, to accept it if you can't change it, and learn from it. I'm glad I had the pain I did in labor - it's helped me to be stronger. If I have to do something (like go to the dentist) that will hurt and be scary, I can tell myself, "This is nothing. I've already gone through a natural labor. I can do anything."

post #20 of 139
Originally Posted by hapersmion View Post
If I have to do something (like go to the dentist) that will hurt and be scary, I can tell myself, "This is nothing. I've already gone through a natural labor. I can do anything."


Oooooh, the dentist. Now THAT is pain...I'm scared of the dentist...
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