Originally Posted by SuperMoM2GTO
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.