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Belief in a no pain labor/birth? - Page 2

post #21 of 139
I don't believe it. I do think that our expectations can shape our perception of pain, and I think that a lack of fear can even reduce the pain (due to less tension). However, I think that saying, "if you don't think it will hurt, it won't" is a gross over-simplification. I've almost never experienced menstrual cramps (only a few times during puberty, and my first couple post-partum periods with ds1). That doesn't mean I get to claim that the women I've known who are in excruciating pain every cycle only feel that way because they expected to. Cramps may not be the same thing as labour, but they're definitely related.

FWIW, my second miscarriage was the single most physically painful experience of my life - worse than my sections (although it didn't last as long), worse than a torn ligament in my knee, worse than the labour I've had. I wasn't expecting it - my first one had hurt, but not that much. My third one didn't hurt that much. The second - I wanted to die...not just because I was losing another baby, but because I was in soooo much physical pain. My labour with ds1 hurt...and I didn't even realize it was labour for the first 5-6 hours. I really don't think my expectation had anything to do with it.

ETA: I do believe some women have painless labour. I just don't think it's something we can make happen through mental preparation.
post #22 of 139
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
I had a VBAC last week...
OMG!! How did I miss this??? Congratulations!!
post #23 of 139
Originally Posted by crsta33 View Post
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.
This is SO true. I have had 7 children with labors ranging from really overwhelmingly painful to just uncomfortable, much like the above. My first was manageable with painful moments, my second merely uncomfortable and my 3rd knocked me over. I don't think I suddenly developed fear after my second. If anything, I "thought I had childbirth figured out"!

As for "some cultures experiencing painless childbirth", I think that argument has been debunked many times over. I am unaware of any culture that experiences no pain whatsoever in childbirth across the spectrum. Don't veiw it as the horror show that most American women do, perhaps. But not a painless walk in the park either.
post #24 of 139
Originally Posted by SuperMoM2GTO View Post
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.
Birth is not inherently painful. Pain often has a pyschological basis. That does not mean, however, that birth pain necessarily has a psychological basis.

Originally Posted by CMcC
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.)
Ironically, Pam England believes that pain is normal and important to the process...

As for the idea women who make a lot of noise and complain etc. in labor are making things worse, it sounds so very reasonable, doesn't it? Negativity breeds negativity and all that? But what if emoting is rather a letting go?

With my first I had a midwife who was insistent that I labor like the women in Spiritual Midwifery -- quiet, soft, calm, "giving some" to the attendants. What my body wanted me to do was be loud, swear, jump around, grimace, but I tried to suppress that as best I could. It was stressful. I felt betrayed by my midwife because she believed that I was making my labor long and difficult because it was so painful and I couldn't "just relax" ("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 I felt betrayed by my body because it was telling me to do something that was "wrong". It took a tremendous amount of energy to try to do it "right". It was a traumatic birth not because of the pain itself, but because of the conflict. The result was physical injury and severe postpartum depression.

With my second I had done some reading and educating myself and decided that I was going to trust my body this time. My new midwife supported me in doing so, however that happened to look. I also had done a lot of reading about ecstatic and pleasurable birth and felt very confident about having a good birth this time. And indeed the first part of the labor was great. But then the baby dropped and the head pressed against my sacrum and it felt like my back was splitting apart. It was excruciatingly painful, torturous. I wailed. I swore. I screwed my face up. I bit the edge of the tub. I roared. I said things like, "HELP!" and "OH GOD!" and "I DON'T LIKE THIS." Interestingly, the labor was relatively short, and second stage was spontaneous and instinctive and quick and lovely. I loved the feeling of my baby coming out and tried as long as I could to hold onto the visceral memory of it. I felt like superwoman, powerful. 'Empowered' is an understatement.

My third was unassisted. My labor was longer (which I suspect the baby required) but followed the same pattern, with it becoming very painful at the end. Second stage was again fantastic, with a classic fetal ejection reflex.

My fourth, again, became excruciatingly painful toward the end despite a completely undisturbed labor, positive attitude, and enjoyable early labor. Three hours before the baby was born the torture began. But here's where it gets really interesting, and is the part I see as especially relevant to this discussion:

Two hours before the baby was born, the pain stopped. Completely. I sat back in my nest of cushions and felt up inside myself and was pleased to feel myself lubricated and engorged. I was flooded with endorphins that had been created in response to the pain, and now that I didn't have the pain demanding my attention, I was aware of them. It was rapturous. I thought to myself, ahhh, maybe I am going to get my pleasurable birth after all! Smiling, I nodded off to sleep, which also felt so incredibly good. I felt safe and secure and content. I estimate I slept for about an hour.

And then WHAM! I was hit with a fast-building contraction and was literally propelled onto my hands and knees and wailing through the agony. And again, because I did not hold back, and let myself yell and swear and thrash around etc. as my body compelled me to, I had a quick, lovely, normal second stage, and again felt great afterwards, emotionally and physically. No PPD.

The pain was psychological? Bullshit.

Here's what I think happened: there is something in my physiology that makes birth painful for me. I think I know what it is, but that's not relevant. What is relevant is that in my case it is not psychological, and it is insulting for people to imply that it is. Quite simply, they don't know what they're talking about. For me, to wail and shriek and scrunch my face up and say, "this hurts so bad," is the way I deal with the stress of the pain. That is what releases the tension, not trying to be calm when everything in my body is screaming out to do the opposite.

My first midwife thought she was right in her judgment of me and my situation, and that she was right to admonish me to not move around and make noises like a wild animal and to express that it was painful. But she was wrong, and it was that that made my first labor so awful, not the pain itself.
post #25 of 139
Originally Posted by crsta33 View Post
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.

Before birthing, I felt this exact same way too. I saw the video of the Russian woman (who I think was also a midwife herself?) who delivered her own baby in the glass tub and I thought it looked so peaceful and pain-free and not "messy" that I began focusing on having a graceful birth like that. Then, I went through Birthing From Within (based on Pam England's book) classes which helped me get rid of this crazy ideal. I'm not saying that wanting a graceful birth is crazy, but through the classes, I found out that for me personally, one of my hang ups was that I was a little scared of becoming a mess, wigging out or making a lot of noise during labor. I am SOOOOOO thankful I took those classes because funny enough, the pain-coping technique that I ended up utilizing was moaning through each contraction, which originally was the opposite of how I pictured myself in a serene, candle-lit room, not making a peep while pushing my baby out!

My midwife said to me once, "Whenever I go to a birth where there are candles lit and soft music playing, I think 'Oh sh*t...' because it makes me feel like the woman doesn't know that there's work to be done." Of course, some women do know that labor is well, laborious, and they still want candles and soft music playing, but I think her point is that you have to be realistic and know that there might be pain involved and to be prepared mentally, if there is. I love the way that Birthing From Within looked at it - it phrased it like, "What does the birth fairy have in store for you on the day you go into labor?" I think it's great because as much as you put positive vibes out there and focus on a pain-free birth, you might be that special someone who gets dealt back labor (like me!) or something more complicated.

Personally, preparing for birth reminded me of a bumper sticker I once saw - something like, "You can't prepare for war and prepare for peace at the same time." There's a fine line between focusing on a wonderful, pain-free birth, but also letting your mind explore what you might do or feel like if you did have a painful or complicated birth. I think letting yourself mentally explore the painful or complicated birth and then putting it behind you and focusing on a positive, pain-free labor is a good way to go. That way, you are intending for a wonderful labor, but if the "birth fairy" doesn't grant you one, you are at least somewhat prepared mentally for the alternative.
post #26 of 139
I was convinced that labour would hurt maybe half as much as it actually did.

I think that people who gloss over how much it really hurts are doing first timers a disservice. The main reason I collapsed and asked for drugs was how totally unexpected the pain, and the *wrong* feeling of that pain was. I fell hook line and sinker for the "it's just hard work" line, and of course ignored anyone who patronisingly said I'd scream for drugs.

If just one person had said "yes, it hurts like nothing you'll ever feel again, and you will be convinced it's going terribly wrong, and will want to die from the pain, but you can do, just aim to be alive at the end". Then I would have had better preparation.
post #27 of 139
My last birth was excruciating until I let go and relaxed. My husband told me not to be afraid and I looked right into his eyes during the contractions. Then it was so incredibly intense but was not painful. It was definitely different than anything I have ever experienced.
post #28 of 139
Originally Posted by attachedmamaof3 View Post
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!
I think you are reading too much into my post. I have no idea about your mom or her experience.

All I am saying is that given the fact that your body is doing its darndest to expel something from your uterus, it seems normal that there would be some discomfort (or pain.) Yes, your body is doing what it is designed to do, not some outlandish activity, but it is something that doesn't happen to your body every day.

I'm glad your mom had an orgasmic birth. Un-natural - not necessarily, extremely uncommon - yes.
post #29 of 139
I was so convinced that birth would be a mostly painless natural process that when I went into labor with my first I didn't even tell anyone... I seriously thought I could just easily handle it at home myself. Even when it started getting more and more painful than I expected I wasn't at all worried since I was used to having painful menstrual cramps (and until I experienced that I had never even heard of painful menstrual cramps -most people I knew didn't even know when they were menstruating and I had horrible pains half a day or so before I saw blood so it was several cylces before it was even realized it was menstrual cramps I was experiencing). Fortunately (to my mind) my dh was working long hours and slept through anything so all my agonizing went unnoticed by him, but the pain just kept getting worse and worse for me, I eventually literally lost my mind because the pain got so intense (and due to lack of sleep from the pain) -when I did have a small moment of clarity I realized I needed help and it was at that point I finally went into the hospital. I thought something had to be terribly wrong and therefor I needed to be in the hospital because how on earth else could birth be this horrifically painful? Everything was fine though besides me being completely out of my mind in pain (knowing everything was okay was reassuring but that didn't take away the pain). One good thing I suppose is that because the pain of labor was so bad when I tore that was like nothing. I never in my wildest imagination believed labor could possibly come anywhere close to the pain I experienced -it was quite a shocker!

Even with my second I wasn't expecting it to be that bad because I thought the second would be easier. I was planning on getting meds for that one though because there is no way I would ever consider having more children if I had to go through what I went through with my first again. I ended up in back labor (and no meds because the hospital was positive I wasn't really in labor...??? and even when they were finally convinced they couldn't get an IV in me correctly), but the back labor was actually welcome for me because by focusing on that pain, as horrific as it was (and I think it took me almost a year for my tailbone to fully recover) it helped take my mind off the other labor pains which were just too intolerable (that seems so crazy I know, I guess it's like squeezing someone's hand, or pinching your wrist or biting on leather to endure some other pain -I just needed something with a lot more punch to take the focus off my contractions).

With my third I fully expected it to be beyond painful -I ended up with an epidural but only because of some traumatic hospital experience not really the pain itself, so I can't say how bad it would've gotten, but I was definitely able to handle the early pain better with my third not having the expectation that it's not going to be that bad. I still got surprised with the afterbirth pains... I'd never experienced that before and never even heard of afterbirth pains and those were excrutiating for me, just like being in labor... so for me it doesn't seem like it's my beliefs that caused me to experience pain considering I had no idea the pain should even be there, but rather the experience of pain caused me to believe in it.
post #30 of 139
The first one was difficult as I'd never gone thru it before and was not sure what to expect. Also it was long (started Saturday 8pm & labored lightly until Sunday at 5PM and then did not deliver until Monday at 3AM)...finally someone asked me what I was afraid of and it was mostly that I might tear. Once that was said things moved along faster and I did tear a little.

My DS's birth was only 7 hours and when it came time to push I could not believe that it seemed like only about 10 really hard pushes. I think I cracked a tooth during his delivery and some of the photos showed a dark line under my chin so I guess I really was bearing down. But as someone said in another thread, once you have that beautiful baby on your chest it all gets forgotten. Both my kids were drug free deliveries which makes me incredibly proud since they were totally drug free while inside me for 9 months too.

I cannot say enough for my doula (a great friend who was a delivery nurse for 20+ years). She reminded me to relax and breath. With the first birth we also did stretching exercises with DH during the transition phase and also several long soaks in the tub.

Just Ibuprofen after the delivery and not for very long. I think waiting until I was really ready to be at the hospital was the best suggestion I was given. Don't go there too early or they might try to interfere with the process.
post #31 of 139
My births were not painful. They were pretty easy. I would describe my contractions in transition as powerful or a strong tightening, but not painful. They were like menstrual cramps with my first.

I was very surprised at how easy it was with my first. I just hope I was going to have the same luxury again. I couldn't ask for better labors. My nurses and midwives could barely tell I was in transition with my second. The nurses only suspected I changed because I went from talking a lot to only a little. I was concentrating on keeping my body relaxed.

My first was just over 3 hours and second was 47 minutes. Yeah, pretty easy.

I think it greatly depends on the woman.
post #32 of 139
My first labor, I was loopy with drugs : so I don't remember anything except that I was terrified.

My second labor I can honestly say I didn't experience the contractions as pain. It was very, very weird feelings, and during transition they bordered on overwhelming, but they didn't *hurt*.

My third labor was short and easy too but those contractions hurt. They hurt a lot, even when I was in the best position I could find for coping with them.

If anything, I had more confidence in my body and my ability to birth with the third labor, and the situation with my second and third births were very similar (big baby, overdue, lots of terrible things said by doctors), so I don't think it was a mental issue with me.
post #33 of 139
I haven't read all the responses but wanted to respond to the OP.

Personally, I believe that painless birth is possible and does happen. I believe it would happen more if birth wasn't so frequently interfered with and women weren't led to believe their whole lives that birth is painful.

However, I also don't think you can just tell yourself birth will be painless and thus it will be. I had pain from my first contraction, which I wasn't expecting at all. It wasn't bad, of course, but it hurt. I ended up having an extremely painful last 8 hours of labor, and I don't believe that any amount of good thinking or positive thoughts would have made the birth painless. I was actually in a very good situation and totally uninterfered with and in my own home territory. I wasn't afraid of birth or anything like that - especially during the birth, I felt calm and unafraid.

I would not plan on birth being painless and assume that's what I would get. For myself, I've thought about trying hypnobabies since I've heard good things about it, but I'm extremely difficult to hypnotize and I'm not sure it would work for me.

I had a similar first birth as Ygle's. I was also hopeful that I would have an orgasmic birth, which didn't happen. I'd use the same words she did - excruciating, horrific, etc.

so for me it doesn't seem like it's my beliefs that caused me to experience pain considering I had no idea the pain should even be there, but rather the experience of pain caused me to believe in it.
(emphasis mine) That is similar to how I feel.
post #34 of 139
I think that birth is a very powerful process, and our minds have no framework for processing that power... so we experience it as pain. I'm not saying my labors are painless. It's one thing to realize, this is my body responding to something it doesn't understand, and another thing to not do it anymore!

Being open to what labor brings you is the best any of us can do, and if that is painless then wonderful. If it is painful, we are well equipped to handle that.
post #35 of 139
DD's 51 hour back labor was excruciating. She was not quite positioned correctly and it took her most of the 51 hours to stop trying to come out through my hip (she was just slightly off-but enough to make it hard work for both of us).

Once I gave into the pain I lost time and hours flew by. I think that must have been the endorphins winning over the fear/adrenaline.

When it was time to push it was very pleasurable. When she actually was born it was something like orgasmic.

I think that the pain and resulting endorphins are what made the latter part so pleasurable.

Maybe women that experience pain free/organismic birth are just better at getting the endorphins flowing? Just a thought.

I think there are also very real physical reasons why one birth might hurt more than another. Sometimes babies are just not quite lined up right or have a hand by there face. Sometimes we start labor less then well rested and well fed.

Birth is such a complex dance of mother and baby and all these hormones and muscles working together. When everything is in perfect sink (sp?) it makes sense to me that birth would not be painful. The problem is that there are so many things that can distract and cause the dance to be out of sink, even a little. And many of these things can not be controlled.

I am am one momma that HAS to believe in pain free birth. I don't expect to get it but here's to hoping!
post #36 of 139
I believe women who say they've had painless births. I also believe that there are physiological reasons for pain, that it is not all in our heads, so to speak, and that just believing it won't hurt doesn't make it so. I had a UC with my 2nd, and labored EXACTLY how I wanted to, and it still hurt like hell. To me, pain isn't evil. I do believe you can use the hypnotherapy programs to mask pain, but they don't work for everybody. I used Hypnobabies w/ my UC baby, and liked it. It helped, but I didn't have a painless birth (fwiw, painless birth wasn't a priority for me).

Oh, and what I felt was not even close to 'discomfort.' I remember sitting in the birth pool, feeling really good and happy, but thinking, "Don't EVER forget how much this hurts. This hurts A LOT."
post #37 of 139
I don't go for the no pain theory either. Some women experience severe pain while others it is minimal...but to have no pain it just odd to me. I have attended many births & there normally is pain involved. I have had 2 births personally & pain was there too. I am a strong believer in birth without fear though.
post #38 of 139
Originally Posted by SuperMoM2GTO View Post
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?
Maybe. I've had "pain free" births when I expected great pain, and excruciating births when I was fear free and alone. I'm hesitant to tell someone to plan a pain free birth, because if you do everything "right" (according to the theory) and still have a little, or alot of pain you may feel guilty, defeated or like you failed. I don't hold up any methods of childbirth that claim "pain free" because just as pleasure is individual to each woman, so is pain and we'll each give birth in our own way. I think learning a method is counterproductive to intuition.

I also think Ina May is more then a little controlling and nuts and over the line as a midwife, according to what I find in her own stories written in her own hand in her own book. : Lots of good information in her book, lots of stuff that made me skip her recent conference in my town.
post #39 of 139
Originally Posted by happy2bamama View Post
My midwife said to me once, "Whenever I go to a birth where there are candles lit and soft music playing, I think 'Oh sh*t...' because it makes me feel like the woman doesn't know that there's work to be done." Of course, some women do know that labor is well, laborious, and they still want candles and soft music playing, but I think her point is that you have to be realistic and know that there might be pain involved and to be prepared mentally, if there is.
Sure. There are also the problems of the self-fulfilling prophecy and the fact that it's debatable whether one can be prepared for pain simply by knowing that it might be present. But I'm not going to get into that right now. What I really want to know is why she assumes that the atmosphere that a mother chooses for her birth is indicative of her ability to be realistic about the possibility of pain? And why she feels qualified to psychoanalyze the mother's behavior? I find it really disturbing that there are midwives that allow themselves to make these kind of judgments. I certainly wouldn't want a midwife coming into my birth space questioning the validity of my choices and my vision. It sets up a hierarchical dynamic from the very beginning: the mother is delusional and needs to be set right, and the midwife is the wise one come to save her. Um, no thanks.

From Birthing From Within, p.120:

When I arrive at a laboring couple's home and find candles burning, soft music playing and the mother wearing a flowing, white lace nightgown, I know we're in trouble. I think to myself, "Uh-oh, this is going to take a long time." I know I can either get out my knitting and settle in, or snuff the candles, turn off the music, and throw her an old T-shirt. In other words, tell her to get down to work.
Such arrogance! Completely disregards the value of the mother making the experience her own, and that the mother's intuitive wisdom in preparing for the labor may very well include easing into it in such a way. It's not always about "just getting it over with."
post #40 of 139
My sister expected pain, and didn't feel any. She had her babies in the hospital. In both cases she arrived very late as they kept telling her she couldn't really be in labor because she was too comfortable, and not to come in. She felt pressure, and a strong urge to walk. One of her babies was born just moments after getting to the hospital, and the next she had just enough time to go from triage to a birthing suite. Big babies, and small mommy too.

She went to the hospital thinking she'd hold off on an epidural as long as she could, and see how it went. She thought she'd like to birth without drugs, but would do it if it got too bad.

Anything is possible, but I don't think you can control it by expecting this or that. That can also lead to a false blame cycle, where you think it's your fault that your labor hurt. I think if you are afraid of the pain, you may make it worse, if the baby is positioned in certain ways, it may hurt more.

I also don't believe that pain is necessarily bad. Sometimes that's just how birth is. It can hurt a lot.

I agree about the MW storming in and telling the parents how to do it. Might as well go to the hospital at that point. That way when things get messed up from mom being pushed around, at least they can do more to fix the problems they are creating. If I light a candle in my own home, I expect to be asked before it's snuffed!

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