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post #101 of 139
How can labor not hurt?

How can birth be ecstatic?

Pain doesn't feel good!

These are questions and values Mainstream USA has with regard to birthing women, and this thread is a fantastic assalt against un-thought-through assumptions, opening minds and encouraging ideas.

The other day, as I contemplated the painfree birth I recently witnessed as a doula, I realized, hey--how many mothers actually have personal experience with this? I think a LOT of mothers do....to some extent.

I'd say my contractions started feeling painful around 2 a.m....but that was 8 hours into my second labor.

So, I personally, have had 8 hours of 'pain free' labor myself. How many other women?

It's not just the crunchy homebirthin' set, either....how many pain-fearing women, who choose epidural anesthesia, can also say that sure, for the first bit of their labors, perhaps did experience segments of pain-free labor.

Therefore: we can all understand there's a continum, there's environment, there's mindset, there's body shape, and all sorts of factors that will cause a woman to say, THIS HURTS or this doesnt.

Anyway, I was better able to grasp and understand the painfree birth I doula'd at, when I realized this.

NEXT thought provoking idea:
intimate relations

For most women (and men) intimate relations are quite pleasureable. There might be times it's more fun, less fun.......but there are women who DO NOT enjoy it, in fact, for them it is painful and horrible. There could be physcial reaons, mental reasons, emotional reasons....each of those is a real and valid reason.

A woman's own assesment of her own sensations are her reality. She's not "wrong" if it hurts, or if it feels good.
post #102 of 139
Well, but we all know that early labour is not nearly as intense. I don't think that indicates anything about labour in general... active labour... transition. I don't think I get the point. :
post #103 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Well, but we all know that early labour is not nearly as intense. I don't think that indicates anything about labour in general... active labour... transition. I don't think I get the point. :
Yes, we all know that early labor is not nearly as intense. (I sure hope DONA knows I know that!) I'm not trying to be an idiot.

I'm just trying to suggest that one woman is demanding an epidural for relief at 3 cm, and another is not. Why?

And for the epidural-wanting mother, why does she not desire her epidural until her cervix has dialated to 3? Why does someone else not want an epidural until transition?

Early labor hurts less, because it is less intense? For most women, sure....but not for everyone. And not for the women who have pain-free labors and births.

So that brings me to my confusing point, which is: I thought this idea of a spectrum of labor pain, a spectrum that many women have personally experienced, might be an easier idea to grasp than the crazy notion that someone could actually push a human body out of her vagina and say it didn't hurt.

That's my point.

It is an exercise to require questioning: why does labor hurt more at this point than at that point? who decides what hurts? who decides when relief is needed? how can those e-z early labor contractions be just as easy during transition for some women?
post #104 of 139
Oh. Well uh... I totally agree with you.

I started screaming for an epidural at 3 cm. Then with lots of counterpressure I kept going without it. I ended up having a drug free birth, but man did it hurt!

I agree that different women experience different levels of pain. I had a friend who had trouble nursing and she said she would rather go thru labour again than have the nursing drama. I was like: For real?! I'd rather have my nipples chewed off.
post #105 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Okay, sure less fear helps some. If you are all tensed up, unsure what is going on and terrified, of course it is going to hurt more. Sorta like a trip takes longer when you are not sure where you're going, anyone notice that?

But dude. I don't know about anyone else, but I had some PAIN. Hardcore full on pain. Begging, screaming, contemplating suicide PAIN. And all the knowledge and relaxation techniques in the world were not going to undo that reality.

I think the minimizing of the PAIN situation can be really offensive and a set up for women. Some women don't have pain, some women find the pain manageable. But that is not the case for everyone, and I don't think it's as simple and changeable as reducing fear and tension. Not by a long shot.
I hear you saying that minimizing pain in labor can be a disservice for women, a set up for women. So here's a question for you...

How was it helpful for you to know that labor and birth were going to be very, very painful, like in a way you couldn't control and would just take over? How does *that* help women? I mean, with a real-life example, like, HOW did it help you to prepare for childbirth?

I don't think it's "as simple as reducing fear and tension", either.

Can we agree that all labor does not have to be painful or pain-free. Perhaps there is a middle area, to add into the mix?

Is there a middle ground between unrealistic expectations (it's going to be a picnic in the park) and apathy (there's nothing I can do about it, so why try)?
post #106 of 139
How about honesty? Just be honest? Leave any agenda at the door and just tell the truth. Can't hurt.
post #107 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by wannabe View Post
But in England they were still terrified of birth, and of dying in childbirth. Just because they had ways to try and help doesn't mean they were all confident and excited about the prospect of birth.
Sure, just b/c they used comfort measures or various positions doesn't mean that women in other times and places, in general, all were confident and excited about birth. BUT who is to say they were terrified, either?

Also, it depends on the century, the area of England or whatever one refers to. It helps to look at a specific example(s). Wish I had a book or two handy to pull examples from.

There is a lot we can learn from other people/cultures, etc. I don't believe in the noble savage theories, but I do think it's worthwhile to pay attention to how our worldwide/history-wide sisters approach(ed) childbirth.

We women have been doing this a long time and if birth were so terrible, wouldn't we smart women have found a way to deal with it long ago? Otherwise, we'd have been smart enough to avoid birth altogether!

Pain can be a signal that something needs to change, namely a position. If a mother is in stirrups in the hospital and in a great amount of pain, who is to know if she were allowed to even *think* about moving onto her hands and knees that just that simple maneuver would relieve some pain?

If anyone here has read a book including positions to labor in, we know that women were smart enough to figure out positions to lessen pain and to encourage the birthing process (ie: facilitate the baby coming out more efficiently). It makes sense that a man, who has never had the experience of giving birth, came up with the delightful idea for women to give birth lying down, just so he could have a better view. Which is proven to be a very inefficient (and painful) way to birth a baby, compared to side-lying, squatting, hands and knees, and probably a few more I am not listing.

In many cultures today and in the past, hospitals didn't exist or were not available. There are others societies with birth cultures where, though they may not expected to be pain-free, women know birth is normal. They are not always afraid of dying b/c they have witnessed themselves women whom they know personally giving birth and being okay afterward. In America, most women have never ever seen a stretched perineum or open vagina with crowning baby, and their family members may very well have all had C sections. Ina May Gaskin's recent book has stories of the difference it made to women she attended in birth to be able to relax and open themselves wide enough, after seeing an image, a statue or hearing a mantra that encourages them to know they can be "big" enough to birth a baby. Just having that knowledge passed down so simply from woman to woman could do so much, and is, as women grow in confidence and spread the word themselves. Ina May has done this, among many other wise women.

Sure, there are cultures that are the antithesis of these birth friendly cultures. But what can we take from them, learn, and turn around for our benefit as women? Can we say, maybe those interventions, that mindset, those imposing viewpoints and unsupportive attitudes make the whole childbearing experience worse than it needs to be? And then go on to ask the questions that need asking, namely: What facilitates the birth process and can make it endurable?

Just the perception that birth is normal, that a woman's body opens to birth a baby, and that she is and will be supported by wise, caring women who have done this before can make a world of difference. NOT that it is a guarantee of perfection of the experience. But can it make a difference? I propose each woman must think very hard about how that can apply to *her*. Sure, birth could be less painful. But think: can it be that way for *ME*? I believe that was what the OP is referring to when she started this thread. Many women ask this kind of question every day. What will labor be like for me? How will I handle it? What can I expect? How do I prepare?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wannabe View Post
For me the realisation that no matter how much it hurts I probably won't die, and it will eventually end are things I wish I'd come to before I laboured!
I wonder if we lived in a birth-friendly culture which believes in the normalcy of birth, you, and many other women, would not have to learn the hard waythat we won't die and things will end eventually (baby will be born) the . It would have been a given that women are strong and our bodies are designed to bear children. It's crazy what we women have to work in this day and age, in our country, to have a normal perception of childbearing.

I honestly am glad you found something to help you through your experience. We women are all in this together, trying to make sense of a power we all have, to bear children.
post #108 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayInSeptember View Post
How about honesty? Just be honest? Leave any agenda at the door and just tell the truth. Can't hurt.
I am curious. What do you mean about agendas? What do you mean about truth? Is there one truth that works for everyone when it comes to how women perceive and deal with the experience of labor and birth? What would you tell every pregnant woman about birth, if you could only say one thing? Do all women who talk about a positive experience in labor and birth (whatever amount or kind of pain is involved) have something to prove?

I used to think, before I had children, that women who said they enjoyed birth were lying, or trying to prove something to someone. I honestly thought they were lying, or disillusioned. I had seen how most women go to the hospital and many needed medication. I thought I knew that that was the nature of birth. It would just hurt, and most likely so bad, that I would always need medication. Why would I go natural? That was like getting a root canal and refusing medication. I didn't have anything to prove to anyone, or to myself.

Then, I took an independent childbirth education class when I was pregnant with baby #1, which opened my eyes up to a whole new possibility that labor and birth could be manageable. I chose to have a HB in my 8th month of pregnancy, and switched my care from an OB to a HB MW. I experienced traumatic feelings after that birth and came head on with my own questions. I went through my own personal process of healing and growth during my second pregnancy and with my second son's birth, I experienced such a feeling of accomplishment and joy. I think there was pain, but I don't recall it vividly, like I can with my first son's birth. It was like hard work, and I did it. My DH and MW were there, but in the background, supporting and encouraging. But I did it. And it felt good to me, in its entirety. Maybe not pain-free or orgasmic, but it was such an empowering, powerful, miracle to me. The way my son was born facilitated a very positive bonding and breastfeeding experience, which I grieved the loss of with my first son.

This example from my life may make some women here very angry when they read it. Some may feel like they failed in their own experience or that they are not being validated in their pain as someone else had less pain than they did or that someone is pointing a finger at them or any number of very valid feelings. I can understand that, as strange as that may sound to some, and even accept that people will have those feelings when reading what I wrote.

But I feel like I have a duty to share how my experiences were for me b/c what if no one had shared theirs when I needed it? I would have never known what was possible. If positive birth is possible for one woman, then there is the chance it is possible for another.
post #109 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
This is all interesting stuff (I'm familiar with quite a bit of it), but I don't see how that has anything to do with other cultures having "pain free" births. It means they actually work with the pain, manage the pain, and expect the pain to be bearable - that's not the same thing as not expecting, or not having, pain.
To re-visit this idea, I think there must be something going on to facilitate a birth that is pain-free. Why couldn't changes of positions, support and encouragement, and a mindset that approaches labor and birth as normal be a part of creating the pain-free experience?

This above statement begs the question, also, in order for labor to be pain-free does one have to go into it not expecting pain? Or can one believe pain exists, but also try to find ways to deal with it when it presents itself?

To clarify my intentions: when I am pulling quotes out, in general, I am choosing which parts I want to discuss. I am wanting to talk openly about these ideas, and hear what you and others have to say. I desire dialogue.
post #110 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyshoes View Post
How can labor not hurt?

How can birth be ecstatic?

Pain doesn't feel good!
I love these questions you pose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyshoes View Post
These are questions and values Mainstream USA has with regard to birthing women, and this thread is a fantastic assalt against un-thought-through assumptions, opening minds and encouraging ideas.
post #111 of 139
Just tell the truth as you experienced it. Don't leave anything out or add anything intentionally. Just say what happened, as you perceived it, as you experienced it. Most intelligent people know that perceptions will vary, so, just tell the truth as you experienced it. It's not a tough concept. It's only tough when complicated by an agenda. Just tell the truth.
post #112 of 139
I am one of those women who consider the birth process to have been extremely hardwork, but not acutely painful (except for the dislocated rib I had ). I have done a lot of extreme physical challenges in my life and my brain makes a distinction between productive pain (or pain which you know is accomplishing something and will have an end) and nonproductive pain (pain which is chronic falls into that category). I don't really feel the two types in the same way at all. I don't claim to understand it.
post #113 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenthumb3 View Post
How was it helpful for you to know that labor and birth were going to be very, very painful, like in a way you couldn't control and would just take over? How does *that* help women? I mean, with a real-life example, like, HOW did it help you to prepare for childbirth?
I didn't know that!! That's what I was so bitter about. I read Birthing From Within, Spiritual Midwifery, even good ole What to Expect When You're Expecting.

I remember rereading What to Expect after the birth and howling with sarcastic glee, telling my daughter's father: "Listen to this!! They say, 'in transition you may feel like you are nearing the end of your rope.' May feel!!!!! I was so far past the end of my tattered, ruined little shred of rope, there was bloody nothing left of it!"

If I had known that it could be very, very painful and it was not all my attitude, I would have been much better prepared. I would have had a more prepared birth team. Probably more people, prepared to do some hard physical labour, as counterpressure is what saved my behind. Hardcore counterpressure, three people were exhausted by it.

And I would not have felt like I sucked when I was overwhelmed by the pain at 3cm. I would not have felt like there was something wrong with me, like I was wussing out, like my attitude must be messing me up.

Thankfully I had a good birth team, so I was able to express those feelings and was reassured that it's different for every woman, this *is* normal, etc.

But I wish I had heard it straight up going in, so I was not so woefully naive and unprepared.
post #114 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenthumb3 View Post
If positive birth is possible for one woman, then there is the chance it is possible for another.
Just to be clear, I had a positive birth. A positive birth that hurt like hell. Both can co-exist. Yk?

I hear that you don't remember pain, and good for you. That is really wonderful. I don't personally feel badly hearing that, because I don't hear you trying to make any generalizations or judgments about those who do experience significant pain.

However the danger can come when women who don't experience pain, or much pain, start thinking it was becoz of something *they* did right, some trick they had that others didn't, some better attitude a la Ina May Gaskin's theories . Kwim? That's where it turns into a set up, and into a minimization of the real pain that can and does exist for many women.
post #115 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayInSeptember View Post
How about honesty? Just be honest? Leave any agenda at the door and just tell the truth. Can't hurt.
Hmmm. But I'm going to jump into the middle of this VERY interesting conversation with both feet. WHOSE TRUTH ARE WE TELLING? Really. I have a sister in law who gets hysterical with the FIRST contraction and continues to be hysterical from pain until she gets the epidural.

I, on the other hand, had one labor pain free except for the part of labor where my daughter was posterior, and with water and counter pressure that went away. And then I had the second labor, which really WAS pain free. Now, I'm not saying that it wasn't WORK to stay relaxed during the contractions. But work is not pain. It was concentration and relaxation, but not pain. It WAS tumultuous because of the hormones going on inside of my body. But it was not pain.

SO, whose truth are we telling? My sister in laws? Mine? I think we really need to tell women that it will be WORK. That there may be discomfort and the level of that discomfort differs with every woman.

In my doula practice, I don't tell a woman, "When your contractions are X mns apart call me and I'll come" I tell them to call me as soon as they realize they're in labor, so that I can prepare my life (get a caregiver for the kids, get bag in car if it's not there already, etc.). THEN we keep in phone contact...and I tell them to make sure to call me when they can NO LONGER GO ABOUT NORMAL LIFE. When this is differs from laboring woman to laboring woman. Many call me and they are truely in the early stages of early labor. Others call me after I have already moved to a shopping mall up the street from them and they're nearing or in transition. Every woman's truth about what labor IS is different. And I think that that s awesome.

I think that that is one of the major flaws in the hospital system that we have set up. They decide that active labor starts at 4 cm and that at that point it's more painful. Really? I had a client last march who was at 2 cm when she reached the hospital in transition. She HAD the baby an hour and a half later. If we hadn't known how to read her physical and emotional signs of labor, and if she hadn't had a practitioner who trusted that she knew what was going on in her body...it could have been a WHOLE different experience. They would have said, "well you're ONLY at 2 cm and in a great deal of pain ALREADY, so you had better get that epidural now!" OR they could very easily have sent her home because she was ONLY 2 cm. But, because her practitioner realized that everybody has their own labor, not a mechanical one that is the same for every woman, she kept her, supported her, and caught her baby very soon after.

Does that make sense?...
post #116 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by courtenay_e View Post
I think that that is one of the major flaws in the hospital system that we have set up. They decide that active labor starts at 4 cm and that at that point it's more painful. Really? I had a client last march who was at 2 cm when she reached the hospital in transition.
So true! With my second, I told the midwife that the baby was coming, but when she felt it she said I was not dilated enough and that would be some time. Well, I gave birth within 20 minutes in only one push!
post #117 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenthumb3 View Post
How was it helpful for you to know that labor and birth were going to be very, very painful, like in a way you couldn't control and would just take over? How does *that* help women? I mean, with a real-life example, like, HOW did it help you to prepare for childbirth?
In my case, I think the difference it would have made is that if I'd known how I was going to feel, I'd have been a lot more serious about looking into alternative pain relief methods - including non-epidural medication. I also might have gotten a doula or at least a backup support person other than my husband, who was not very helpful (and I knew that would be the case; hospitals freak him out and he's never good in a crisis).

I think hearing too much of this "just relax and it won't hurt" B.S. makes women overconfident about how much they can handle on their own and without any kind of pain relief, and then when it hurts more than they can handle, if they're in a hospital, the only option they have is an epidural.
post #118 of 139
i had a pain free birth with my son using hypno babies.

mom's version
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=623754
dad's version
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=623757
post #119 of 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Probably more people, prepared to do some hard physical labour, as counterpressure is what saved my behind. Hardcore counterpressure, three people were exhausted by it.
That could have made the difference for me too. Counterpressure helped for the two hours or so my husband could do it, before he was too physically exhausted, and at that point it was 4 a.m., I was still in early labor, and there was no one else there to do it. I went through another six hours of that before I got the epidural - still nowhere NEAR transition - and I can't imagine how anyone could handle the whole process without serious help, or drugs.
post #120 of 139
If each woman just tells her own truth, and is only responsible for telling the truth as she perceived it, as she experienced it, we will have the experiences of each woman to utilize as a guide if we so choose to do so. Accordingly, your sister's truth, your sister-in-law's truth, etc., is not your responsibility and nor could you be accountable for a truth you didn't experience firsthand.

It's not rocket science. Just do what the others are doing here--tell the truth, as you perceive it, as you experienced it, to the best of your honest ability without any intentional spin and let the next woman do the same. Everyone knows that perceptions vary in folks and memories are not perfect. Just do your best with it, that's all.
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