or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Unassisted Childbirth › Talking about the Pain
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Talking about the Pain - Page 2

post #21 of 68
Here's a short essay I wrote about my experience of pain during labor
post #22 of 68
Sorry for the double post--I am not able to edit right now for whatever reason......
Anyway I also wanted to add that trying to describe your pain or intensity during childbirth is liken to trying to describe sex or orgasm to someone who has experienced neither, am I right? At least, it makes sense to me. :
post #23 of 68
Originally Posted by NightWalker View Post
To clarify-I am not saying that one should not be honest about their experience (painful or not), just that *your* experience is unique to *you* and that is just as important to point out, I believe.
I think that is an excellent point, and I would agree with that. What I object to is not an honest account of personal experience to a willing listener, but the idea that some people have that it is a disservice to allow a first time mom to think what she wants about labor pain. I wasn't just surrounded my first time out by people who thought labor was painful - I was surrounded by people who felt it was their duty to *save me from myself* and couldn't allow me to experience life and labor on my own in my own way. My midwife, bless her heart, was open to the idea of painless childbirth, but still subtly seemed to imply that I was avoiding progress in labor by staying in positions that kept me comfortable. Looking back, I really believe I *impeded* my labors by trying to be a good little birther and getting in active birth positions during labor when what my body was telling me was lie down and relax - and sleep even! If a mom reads Dick-Read, Shanley, Pat Carter, Marie Mongan - and wants to take their account of things - let her!
post #24 of 68
Thread Starter 
What I have come to in my 20 years of birthing is this: I can't know what my labor will be like. I can't know what pain I'll feel. It might be painless...it might be intense.....it might be such that I will long for death...who knows? I only know that it *can* be any of those things, and that the more I birth and experience labor, the less I know.

After my first birth, I thought I knew what extreme pain was. It was an attended birth, and I handled it pretty well. It was hard though. My UC's were all different: My second was painful, but better somehow. My third was.....

: Back Labor :

: and so so difficult. A pain that made me not care about my baby or myself. After this labor, I had some mental healing to do and some work to do on suffering. I suffered..oh, I suffered. My fourth was moderate pain, my fifth harder than my fourth. My sixth...well, I call it my 10 contraction labor and not a one hurt. : What will it be like if I have a final, 7th child? I don't know.

All of it was good. All of it was normal. I think first time UC mamas need to know that pain can be present and it can be more than you could ever imagine. Or it might not be. Be open....
post #25 of 68
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I only know that it *can* be any of those things, and that the more I birth and experience labor, the less I know.
I love this quote, Mama in the forest. I think it's so true and I've really experienced it with my two labors and births. I haven't UC'd, but I have had natural labors that were all mostly at home, until the very end.

With my first pregnancy I was worried about the birth off and on -- if I could "handle" it. I knew I wanted to birth naturally. I was very relaxed at the end and had a nearly painless labor... I arrived at the birth center 9cm dialated thinking I was maybe 3cm. My baby was a footling breech, though, so I wonder if position had to do with it.

My second labor I was convinced that I must be one who labors painlessly (or virtually painlessly... it did hurt some). So I was so completely convinced that I would have an easy birth and easy vbac. I was SO wrong. I had excruciating back labor that made me scream, cry, and beg for a cesarean. I was so confused during the whole thing... I was like, WHAT? I suddenly understood what women are talking about when they speak of pain in labor. I begged for meds (and I was at a hospital at that point). But I never got any.

The thing that I think is interesting is that it seems impossible to explain the experience of childbirth. It is, like a PP said, like trying to explain sex or an orgasm to someone who has never had one. The best thing that my mom told me about childbirth and the pain was that even though it is painful it is usually managable pain, because you have breaks in contractions. And my great midwife told me that it is "healthy" pain. We normally associate pain with something wrong, but she said it's good to remember that the pain is normal and natural. A doula friend of mine said that she was at a woman's birth that was especially powerful and the woman started nearing transition... when contractions would come she'd moan and say, "No! No! No!" And my doula friend whispered to her, "Yes!" and the woman got this light in her eyes and started saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" (While pounding her fist on the bathtub). Sort of a shift in the way of thinking about the pain I guess.

One thing that fascinates me about UC and draws me to it, partly, is the concept of having to rely on yourself, and the possible shift in mentality when you *know* that you have to rely on yourself and only yourself to get through birth. I wonder how that influences pain in childbirth. I wonder, though, if pain in childbirth is also very much linked to baby position (probably #1) and possibly fear or lack of coping mechanisms. I made it through my second very painful labor with some serious breathing and rhythmic action.
post #26 of 68
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
I think first time UC mamas need to know that pain can be present and it can be more than you could ever imagine. Or it might not be. Be open....
I think anyone who doesn't know that other people have had extremely painful labors is living in a vacuum. I just don't buy that there is such a great need for this information. I think insisting that women *need* this information to the extent of promoting it as education is not helpful. A MAJOR reason I believe in UC is because I believe women do not need any information or assistance other than what they personally find useful. I think we need to be really careful in asserting what any UC mama "needs to know" - YWIM? If we are going to be open minded, we have to allow the first time mom to find her own way and trust in what her own heart tells her is true.
post #27 of 68
Thread Starter 
I think we need to be really careful in asserting what any UC mama "needs to know"
I probably didn't say that very well. I certainly don't know all there is to know about it after 6 births, and I tried to make that clear.

If we are going to be open minded, we have to allow the first time mom to find her own way and trust in what her own heart tells her is true.
I feel this way too and you know that.

Birth is a heavily talked about subject among women of childbearing years. Mothers talk about their births to daughters, and friends talk about it to friends. I just think that pain is a subject that we shouldn't be afraid to talk about too. And in a way that is accepting of it as normal and not necessarily avoided. (Not that anyone in particular does that)

My main reason for bringing up the issue of pain, is that I think that in the natural birthing community there is an emphasis on pain management and an underlying unspoken belief that if you just do _______ you will not experience as much pain. In the past months I've personally know several women IRL who have transferred a UC because of pain - and not understanding that it would be as significantly painful as it was for them.
post #28 of 68
I feel like it's a fine line between warning and preparing first time mothers for the "pain" of childbirth. Since most women have been told at some point in their lives how painful it is and how they can't possibly do it without some sort of pain relief, I actually find myself almost trying to downplay the pain that I felt so that it doesn't scare them out of wanting to labor drug-free which I feel is somewhat unhonest. What I usually tell a first time birther is that it's painful but a pain with a purpose, one that's going to get you somewhere and will be over once you've given birth (well, for the most part).

When I was laboring I noticed that the pain was much more manageable when I was by myself. I was on the phone with my dp during some parts and those parts were by far the points where I felt the most pain.
post #29 of 68
Originally Posted by augustacherri View Post
Someone in her class asked if labor hurt and the woman teaching the class said, "Well, we don't like to call it pain. Really, it's just intense sensation. Your mind only interprets it as pain, but it's not really painful."
But that is what pain is. The brain interpreting a sensation in a certain way. Good god. I think if I heard someone say that in real life I might strangle them, and I'm not a violent person.

"Not really painful." : Hm, here is what I like to imagine someone saying to her: Okay, Ms Childbirth Educator, I'll saw your arm in half and you can tell me that your mind only interprets it as pain, but it's not really painful. Sorry, this stuff just really gets to me.

Originally Posted by augustacherri
That said, I also had an orgasmic childbirth with my hospital birth (but not with my UC). So even though I experienced pain, I also experienced ecstacy. They are not mutually exclusive.
My births were all excruciatingly painful. Not the baby being born part, the baby hitting my sacrum part. Eeeeeeeek. But there were parts of all my relatively unhindered births (especially my last fully undisturbed birth) that were absolutely glorious and pleasurable.
I did notice that the more I focused on the pain and became afraid of the pain I was feeling, the more intense it got. So I am definitely a firm believer in the fear-tension-pain cycle.
Also, for me inhibition was a factor in that as well.
post #30 of 68
Originally Posted by mama in the forest View Post
My main reason for bringing up the issue of pain, is that I think that in the natural birthing community there is an emphasis on pain management and an underlying unspoken belief that if you just do _______ you will not experience as much pain.
I think there are so few people who have experienced a truly "free" birth that we are being miseducated - the blind leading the blind. We get asked all the time "what do I need to know to UC?" The question is better put - "what *don't* I need to know?" I've read all kinds of books, and I have found so very little of use in all of it. Pat Carter talks about a requiste for painless childbirth is keeping the intellect out of it. From my limited experience, that is definately the key - if not the magic bullet. I can identify times in both my labors where I disobeyed the leading of my instincts (which talks to me the same way my conscience does) because of the acting of my intellect - using all that "helpful" info out there - and things went south very quickly when I start "thinking".

What I didn't know going into my first labor that I think would have been useful is I didn't know just how much society's fears and ideologies were ingrained into me and into the entire process of having a baby. I thought I could compromise here and there and retain my autonomy - as long as *I* chose to compromise - I was still autonomous. No, the only way to have an autonomous birth is to completely and utterly reject anything that goes against the almighty instinct.

OK, so I had a malpositioned baby with #1 and pitocin with #2 - so physically everything was not "normal" with either labor. But one was extremely painful and the other was not - what changed? My thinking and lack thereof. I knew people had really painful births before #1, so I wasn't lacking that knowledge - but I wanted to transport. All knowing about what other women had gone through made me think was "I am supremely stupid for having got pregnant." Cause really, if women keep doing it, and it is THAT BAD, then they are just idiots!!! : What I didn't understand was how sensitive the birth process is, how easily it can go south, and how important it is to be true to myself. I still didn't totally get that going into #2 - I learned it as I went.

I don't know everything - I may know nothing - but I do believe what I believe. When I read Pat Carter's book, it was like a lightbulb came on. I had read Shanely, and I had read Dick Read, but Carter was the missing puzzle piece that helped me understand what I have been through. I don't know why but some people seem to have a particular drive to unlock the keys to painless childbirth - and I am one of them. It's just frankly not good enough to me to say "childbirth is sometimes painful" - because I think pain severely compromises the safety of childbirth.

OK, off my
post #31 of 68
Originally Posted by Jenlaana View Post
Yes, it can hurt. But, for me, it did not hurt nearly as much as the humiliation of having someone shove my legs open, stick a catheter in me, stick oversized needles in my arm (repeatedly because they couldnt get the vein), and having my insides and my personal parts splayed all over an operating table where anyone and their brother could see (love that peek in window at the OR!) My first birth was painful in a long drawn out, please overdose me with vicodin sort of way. I would not ever go through that again by choice, ever. IF I knew that having another baby meant another cesarean, because of the pain and humiliation and helplessness of it, I would truly have not had another baby.

Birth, under MY terms, was so easy for me to handle in comparison. Thats not to say that there was no pain, because there was. But it was MY pain, and MY body, and was not "being done to me". Pain with fear and helplessness is so much harder to accept than inner pain, IMO.
I understand this so well....and I agree with you. I could loosely compare c/s to being sexually abused and expected to keep it a secret. My vbac was much shorter...only 5 1/2 hours of labour in total and it only got really painful for the last hour and a half or so...but then it was WOW, PAINFUL. It might have something to do with me having arthritis in my pelvis, lower back and hips, but I also don't think it was beyond what many women experience. When I got through it though and realised that *I can do this!* I was so happy. I still somewhat fear going through the pain again (in 3 mos), and this is a good thread for me to read as I work through that fear. I've thought about it a lot...."why was it SO painful?" and I did realise that the pain only started after someone else (my friend) entered my home. My husband would prefer to have someone else there for support...and I do value the usefulness of another pair of hands...but I am thinking we will get a support person to be available to be called if needed, rather than someone else in our house...that may help me to have less pain this time. But it's true, when it all comes down to it, I know now that I made it through my 1st vaginal birth and I can surely do it again. That is a very good truth for me to focus on.
post #32 of 68


Originally Posted by rixafreeze View Post
Here's a short essay I wrote about my experience of pain during labor

Rixa, I'm a big fan!! I love your blog...I would like to link to it on our Canadian UC website...although you have clearly put a lot more into your blog than our little site. Excellent work...it's something I have only dreamed of doing
post #33 of 68
i used mental visualization to distract me from the pain.
post #34 of 68
Knowing that pain accompanies birth for many women, but not all women helped me. I was open to all possibilities with respect to pain.

Mine was physically and emotionally painful for several different reasons. The physical pain I could totally handle... for about 23 hours, 14-15 of which were really really hard. I got as far as I did because it was productive pain. Except then it got to a point where nothing was happening. Baby wasn't descending at all. Believing that the pain I was experiencing was no longer doing anything useful (as far as I could tell) wore me down. I ended up exhausted and transferring to the hospital, eventually getting doped up with an epidural.

If there was any other way through that labour of mine, I wish someone would have told me at the time. I felt like I had tried every option I had available to me and I just couldn't continue further with no signs of progress to keep me going.

I probably shouldn't even be posting on this, since the emotional (er, and physical) wounds of birth are still so fresh... I still have a load and a half to process and deal with.

But getting back to the original point: pain with a purpose, productive pain, whatever you want to call it, is far easier for most people to deal with from a psychological perspective than useless, pointless pain.

That said, it still doesn't mean it's easy.
post #35 of 68
You know, my intent when I was preparing for my birth wasn't to learn how to "cope with the pain" or have a "painless" birth. It was to fully embrace every sensation. It wasn't about pain, or its absence, but about living and birthing in fullness.

Feel free to link to it, Jodie, BTW.
post #36 of 68
Originally Posted by rixafreeze View Post
It was to fully embrace every sensation. It wasn't about pain, or its absence, but about living and birthing in fullness.
I had pretty much planned the same thing: to feel everything; to experience everything that labour and birth brought to me. I think it's why I'm having such a difficult time dealing with the fact that I ended up asking for an epidural. I didn't want to have it -- I didn't want to be numb to the sensations I was experiencing. I just wanted a break from them so that I could get back on the horse, so to speak. But technology isn't advanced enough to be able to turn sensations on or off at a moment's notice and neither is my brain. If someone had told me that it would mean missing the feeling of my son coming out of me, I might have been able to dig deeper to find a way around/through the pain and the exhaustion.
post #37 of 68
MITF - you know I totaly agree with you on this.
I was definitely one of those women who felt completely betrayed by the natural birth community for what I believe to be the absolute downplay of pain during a "natural" birth.
I was very much one of those women who thought "If you just do A, B, C then you will be able to manage the pain and it will not be bad" This was, as anyone who has ever seen my wirings on my birth would know, absolutely NOT the experience, I had, lol.

I think a lot of it is the black/white us/them dichotomy of hospital birth/homebirth. unbelievable, unmanageable, inconceivable pain is supposedly only what happens when you make the "wrong" choices - when you birth in the hospital, for example, or when you labor on your back, or don't eat/drink during labor, or if you get vag exams, pitocin, etc.
but that if you just make the "right" decisions, everything will be wonderful and great, and it will be this awesome, spiritual, empowering experience.
My brain "interpreted" my labor as 16 hellish hours of torture beyond any conception I could ever have had about the limits of pain. Despite my making all the "right" choices. No, being at home did NOT make the pain magically manageable - nor did being upright, walking around, being in a birthing tub, being massaged, having accupressure performed, using aromatherapy, having dimmed lights, pleasant music, drinking during labor, using a birth ball, getting into every conceivable position possible, moaning very low, screaming, roaring, using bellydancing type pelvic wiggles, or any other da%n thing.

again, you know I agree with you, and I think we are doing mommas a great disservice by not telling them. I know some who say they "don't want to frighten" new moms. but are you really helping them when they transfer at 4 cms because the pain is so bad they want to die? And because they have been led to believe that that level of pain is "not normal"???
birth can be almost any experience, from painless, to easy, to difficult to excruciating. And I think the message that is out there, the message moms are hearing, is that natural birth, homebirth, etc, will NOT be excruciating. And while this is certainly true for some, for the ones that get the "excruciating" birth, we are hurting them. We are betraying them, we are adding to their burden of pain and feelings of inadequacy and failure.

to thoise of you who don't "believe" in labor pain - best of luck to ya!
I honestly did not believe in labor pain either...until I went into labor.
Perhaps I just have a weak mind, but you know what? It hurt like hell. I don't see people saying to burn victims, or people with broken limbs, crushed ribs "hey, you're not really in pain, if you just don't BELIEVE in the pain, you won't be in pain." To say the pain doesn't exist for some women is ridiculous. Like MITF said, you stand there, I'll chop your arm off, and you just hypnotize yourself into believeing you're in no pain.

but, on a realistic level..the uterus is a muscle. Muscles, depending on how well nourished and exercised they are, etc, can cause you to feel pain. If a person who has never run more than 1 mile before suddenyl runs a marathon, and due to some spell can not stop running - at some point, their muscles are going to cramp up, they are going to be in PAIN.
Has noone here ever had a fricken charley horse for Pete's sake? When a muscle cramps, it HURTS! To deny that pain exists is just crazy.
Perhaps you *can* rise above it, perhaps you can talk yourself out of pain, etc. but you know what, most of us are not living on that plane of existence. We're down here, and we DO feel pain. And for the vast majority of us, we are going to feel some level of pain when we give birth.
and not telling a mother that it is a *possibility* is stupid.
post #38 of 68
I'll try to be brief because I read through the posts really fast and don't know if what I'm adding is relevant, but: I'd definitely agree that 1st time mamas who are interested in the discussion should know that labor is such a weird and fascinating creature in that it can be really short or extremely long, that not resting as much as possible at the get-go can make the pain worse and that back labor is a whole 'nother thing entirely. I had back labor with both ds and dd and while I wouldn't trade this UC for anything because it was just so much better all-around, I freely admit that the last few hours were terrible as far as pain goes. And if it weren't for Dave applying some serious counter pressure and really cheering me on, I just might have transferred. Because after 3 days of almost no sleep and about 10 hours of increasingly intense back labor, I was ready to just crawl out of my skin. But once I felt the head really drop down it shifted my focus off the pain enough to distract me and I just roared through the last few contrax. So definitely if a 1st time mama wants to discuss it, I'd say to be open to the possibility of a low/no pain/orgasmic experience but also be open to the possibility that it can be very very very intense. As in "yikes!" intense.
post #39 of 68
I think most women who have mild or easy labors are just trying to counter act all of the labor horror stories that FTM are told.

I have what I would call fairly easy labors (4 of them so far). I'm not sure if it's my 'technique' or my build or what. When I was in labor w/my first (17 years ago) I remember thinking 'is this it?' w/only the last 1 1/2 hours, including only 20 minutes of pushing, being the only really hard work. Most of the FTM or VBAC moms that I know are desperately looking for reassurance that you don't have to have meds and interventions and I try to give them that hope.

So, to disagree w/most of the posters on this thread I think there are plenty of 'horribly painful, I think I'm gonna die' birth stories and not enough 'hey, this isn't so bad' birth stories.

And, even as an 18 yo kid, when I first read Childbirth Without Fear, I knew enough to know that it was doubtful that I would have a pain-free, orgasmic birth. I can't imagine truly expecting one.
post #40 of 68
Here's the thing, though...I DON'T have mild or easy labors, but it just doesn't equate to pain to me. Maybe because, if I really felt like I was in excruciating pain for an unknown number of hours ahead, I *wouldn't* be able to do it. Knowing an end is in sight, knowing that the sensations are purposeful, what my body is meant to do (and not part of a problem with my body), knowing that I get the most amazing treat at the end, the birth of my child...well, it is part of what helps me transform my understanding of the situation from pain to intensity.

I don't disagree with others who have painful labors...or those who have painfree labors! Mine isn't exactly painfree, for sure, it's just that it isn't the same as hammering my thumb or a horrible headache...

I think this thread is getting a bit contentious...it's important for us to accept all different experiences as normal and okay and that the dialog is here for those who want to have it, and others can feel free to just pass it by. :
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Unassisted Childbirth
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › Birth and Beyond › Unassisted Childbirth › Talking about the Pain