Pain in hospital vs. Pain at home - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 02-19-2002, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, here's a silly question for you moms you have birthed both at home and in a hospital setting-
How would you describe the difference in your pain, or your ability to deal with the pain, between the two situations?
I am asking because I really would like to plan a homebirth for my next child, but the pain factor scares me. With my son, I didn't want an epidural but I got to the point where I just couldn't deal with the contractions anymore around 7 cm. I was shaking violently and crying.........
HOWEVER- and this is a big however- I had very little support during labor (my husband felt compelled to entertain the horde of people that showed up in the waiting room), my entire family was there, FIGHTING with each other, and people were constanly in and out of my room. The OB also broke my water at 2cm which made things much worse painwise, I had an IV for a 101 degree fever I developed (wasn't GBS positive as far as I know- most likely from everyone's hands on my cervix!) and in internal monitor. So basically, I had no support, an environment that would stress me out even if I wasn't in labor, and no mobility.
So, moms who have done both, how much difference did it make in your pain tolerance, being able to birth at home???
Thanks for sharing!
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#2 of 14 Old 02-19-2002, 08:03 PM
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Well I have not birth in a hospital,but knowing their routine I can tell you that HAD I birth there I would have been in a lot more pain.I had a UC with my first and was obviously free to do what I felt during labor. The MOST PAINFUL postion was lying in bed(side,back,you name it). I could not imagine even one minute of bed time for a vaginal or EFHM check,let alone delivering in that position.
Also I noticed that whenever dh came home during early labor I would tense up,and that would lead to more pain.I could not imagine strangers coming in at anytime to put their hands up in my vagina.Your emotional status IMO will affect the physical status.
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#3 of 14 Old 02-22-2002, 12:25 AM
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i haven't had hospital birth either, but i had 2 home births and can't really compare the pain between them! 1st was 9 hours, with about 3-4 hours of unbelievable pain - my endorphins kicked in for the last 2 hours, so even though it was awful, i kind of didn't care - but i was pretty out of it for the birth. my second was 79 minutes - i went straight into really bad pain (when my contractions were 3 min apart they were still like mild cramps), and i never had time to build up endorphins so i felt it all, but it didn't freak me out. i just thought "oh shit, it's THAT pain again", but i didn't fight it this time, and all of a sudden i could tell the baby was going to pop out, and 4 minutes later she did. in a way, the pain 'hurt' more the second time, but i was really able to focus in on the birth and think about it and experience it more because i didn't have the endorphins clouding my brain. i was also in a jaccuzi the 2nd time (though I birthed on my bed), which was wonderful.
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#4 of 14 Old 03-05-2002, 07:43 PM
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I had a hosp birth the first time around and it was intensly painful. I had a doula and she was the only thing that got me through it.

I had a HB the second time around and although my labor was half as long and the baby was moving through the birthing process faster, it was a great deal less painful. Here's how I describe the difference, in the hosp. I was aggravated, uncomfortable, it smelled, my nurse was rude, I did not like feeling protective of myself and baby. However at home none of that garbage existed so I was less stressed... equalling less pain. At least, that is how it was for me but not everyone has the same experience. Being at home releases a lot of other outside influences from the experience. A relaxed mother can handle pain much better, and I also think she can process the pain mentally and look back on it with a more positive attitude once the birth is over. For some, the hosp IS a relaxing place, not for me.
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#5 of 14 Old 03-05-2002, 10:34 PM
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Becky, from what I've heard from other doulas and mothers, I'd venture to say that homebirth would be easier.

You said some of the reasons exactly why hospital birth may be more painful. Fear, being uneasy, feeling unsafe and unsupported greatly increase our perception of pain. Bright light, lots of people, conflict, noise, change - all these things distract, upset moms and make labor more difficult.

There is also the knowledge that at a hospital, you are a patient at their mercy (no matter how much you love your doc). At home, your birth attendants are YOUR guests. It's a psychological difference.

At home you can turn down the lights, put on music, light candles, sit in seclusion if you like, communicate more readily with undistracted caregivers. All things that lessen the perception of pain.

Plus, you KNOW you are not going to get pain medication. Therefore, you just DEAL with it, instead of harboring questions in the back of your mind, wondering and worrying if it's "time" to ask for an epidural yet - making you focus on your pain instead of focussing on pushing your baby out.

Also, in the hospital, you are frequently (but not always) restricted in your movement. An IV will cause you to be restricted to bed, or at least have to walk with an IV stand. Internal monitors or stip monitors restrict you to bed - probobly the worst thing you could do in labor. At home you won't have these things that increase discomfort for the laboring woman. Plus you can eat, drink, use the toilet etc - all things that contribute to comfort.

One more thing and then I'll stop. If your labor is induced, the contractions are NOT natural. In a natural labor you are starting off with slow mild ones and working up to the hard, fast painful contractions over the course of labor. When you're chemically induced, the contractions that start are the really *hard* ones, right away - which is why most women who are induced get epidurals - the pain is huge, immediately. They feel these huge contractions and think "damn, this is EARLY labor, what will labor feel like later!!" and opt for the epidural out of feeling overwealmed and scared. I don't blame them at that point, though I'm all for natural labor! So, inducing can greatly increase the total amount of pain, causing more fear, causing more pain etc - a vicious cycle. And then drugs can cause their own problems - drugs cross the placenta and effect the baby, and make recovery more difficult for mom. That's a very personal decision each mom makes, but it just adds to the general uncomfortable-ness of hospital birth imho.

It may not seem like epidurals, bedrest etc would CAUSE enough pain to make a difference, but it's the CUMULATIVE effect - a little bit here, a bit there - and suddenly, your pain is much more than at home!

That's my take on it.
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#6 of 14 Old 03-07-2002, 08:05 AM
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Just wanted to add that not only is there less pain at home, and you have to just deal with it, that in my opinion a second birth is WAY, WAY easier than a first birth. I've just had my second boy at home and even though it was really hard work and pretty darn painful, if wasn't anything that I couldn't deal with.

I don't know how anybody could have a drug-free labour if they aren't able to put hot towels on their back during contractions. That and using acupressure points got me through and the midwife said it obviously wasn't painful enough bc 5 minutes later we were talking about doing it again (we thought HE was a SHE). It's not really possible to use hot towels in hospital here so I know I'd end up with drugs if I were birthing there.
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#7 of 14 Old 03-07-2002, 08:52 PM
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I've had one hospital birth and one home birth.

I had as much pain at home, but it was MUCH more manageable. I'm sure this is because I had silence at home. My midwife and dh were silent. I could stay inside myself and do my work. At the hosptal, there was all kinds of noise, people talking, machines, phones. No way I could concentrate in that!


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#8 of 14 Old 03-16-2002, 11:13 PM
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Madison outlined the hows and whys so well! I'll share my personal story as an illustration, but I can't add further commentary.

My first birth was an induction in the hospital and the pain was more than I could deal with without drugs. Like Madison said, it was cumulative. I could have dealt with the frequent exams, the continuous monitor, the rude nurse, the pitocin, the iv line in my hand, the hospital itself...any of those things individually I think I could have managed. All together, I could not. Not counting my sweet baby, my epidural was the best part of that labor.

My second birth was at home. I was scared going in, because my only experience with labor was so horrid, but it turned out to be a piece of cake. My contractions were intense and it took all of my concentration to...experience...them, but it didn't hurt. I did refuse a cervical check (my midwife wanted to know if it was time to call the attending CNM--when I said no, she called her right away) because I was afraid that if I lost my concentration my contractions would become painful.

At one point I started thinking that I needed a new coping technique, so I started to stand up to head for the shower. Instead of standing, I crouched and pushed. My body just did it, I seriously thought I was going to the shower. I was so surprised that the hard part was over and it was time to push! It hurt like the dickens when her head crowned, but it was over in a flash and then I had a sweet new baby to cuddle with in my own bed. Up until the crowning, I honestly felt no fear or pain.

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#9 of 14 Old 03-17-2002, 05:56 PM
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I had a homebirth 3 weeks ago with my second child - and I have to say it was a wonderful experience. The pain was 90% less than my previous experience in hospital when I was begging for an epidural...

I managed with no pain relief and just hot compresses on my back. I found that I was so relaxed and at peace at home - it such a beautiful experience and I felt so in control. The freedom to move around was wonderful - I found lying down to be extremely uncomfortable and I stood for most of my contractions, leaning over the back of a kitchen chair.

I think another thing that helped was that my waters didn't break this time round until I was ready to push - and previously they had broken at 3cms. I don't know if it would be true for everyone, but this seemed to make the whole experience a lot less painful. I kept thinking that at any moment it would become unbearable as it had been first time around - but it never did.

Good luck to you in your decision making.

~ Mum to ds1 , dd : and ds2
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#10 of 14 Old 03-17-2002, 06:35 PM
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I'm so inspired by all of your stories I just want to thank you for sharing them.

We are planning a VBAC at home in october and I must admit I have fear of the pain.

I was induced with my first pregnancy which in my opinion led to an epidural and then to a c-section.

The dissapointment I felt from that experience is still with me and I so look forward to a peaceful and empowering birth without all the chaos of a hospital this time around.

Keep telling your stories because they are giving women like me the courage to birth at home
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#11 of 14 Old 03-17-2002, 07:49 PM
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What you describe at 7 cm sounds like transition, and NO ONE thinks they can handle anymore at that stage of labor, no matter how easy/hard it's been up until that point. Fortunately, it doesn't last long!

I really want to encourage you to go with your desire to have a homebirth. The fact that there is no pain relief available, actually HELPED me in my labor. Since it wasn't an option I didn't miss it or think about it. I had two homebirths. The first was way harder than the second.

Second labors are generally 1/2 the length of the first, you start out more ready and your body is practiced and stretched. I cannot tell you the difference, it was incredibly easy. I was laughing and talking except at the very end and during the pushing.

Also, I want to say that your feelings about not being sure you can do it are normal and healthy. Belive in yourself and your body and I know you can do it and would be so jazzed to do it. The endorphins are worth the work!
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#12 of 14 Old 03-17-2002, 10:14 PM
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I would like to agree with Kimi that it sounds like you were in tranisition when you experienced that intense pain and overwhelm. I really think you can handle homebirth!

My ds was a fairly long labor (16 hours) and was born breech at home (no problems). The midwives did stress me out quite a bit (personality clash) and when I hit transition the pain was agonizing, I'll admit it. However, up until then the thing with homebirth is, it is SO manageable as far as the pain goes. I got to 9 centimeters without feeling overwhelmed at all by the pain. I went for walks, I sat in the dark, I rocked on all fours, whatever I felt like doing. There was pain, but it was like the difference between having your period at home curled up in bed or having it while you drag groceries from the store to the car in the middle of a cold winter rain with the kids screaming in the cart. You feel like you'll die, never make it home, right? But, once your home curled up in bed, things don't seem so bad anymore. That is *exactly* how I describe the difference with labor at home.

Once transition hit I did feel that if the pain got any worse I wasn't sure I could handle it. I yelled alot to see if that would help with contractions (it sort of did). Then when the pushing started, it was very painful. However, the thing is, you KNOW you are at home, you know you darn sure don't want to get up and go to a hospital, even if you DID want drugs, and this really gives you the confidence you need to handle the pain. You HAVE to handle it, and somehow that really does enable you *TO* handle it.

Our midwives made some poor choices that did prolong my labor (they panicked over his breech presentation, insisted I lay down, and push like that which took forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) But even with mistakes like that going on, and the pain really pretty terrible at the end, once it was over I felt GREAT. I recovered from several hours of heavy pain in less than ten minutes and was up and about, nursing, taking a shower, and eating. So, I know the pain might have been bad but it was not harmful at all to me, it had no lasting effect.

That is what is so hard to grasp about labor pain. It isn't like pain from a broken limb or surgery. Where the pain indicates harm and damage and long recovery. Labor pain is there and then *poof* it is usually gone with little afterpain at all. Just realizing that now I know would be encouraging to me if I ever have another baby.

Hope sharing my experience helps some!


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#13 of 14 Old 03-17-2002, 11:21 PM
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First, get rid of all the people. We had ds upstairs in a hottub, just dh, myself, and 1 midwife. The other mw's stayed downstairs until they were needed at the very end. It is your birth-you call the shots.

It is totally and completely different when it's your house; ie. you have a diff. comfort level and familiarity. We kept the lights off. I kept my eyes closed. Dh was in tune w/me (my slave : ) 110%. Yeah, at one point, I thought I would gladly take any big ole needle in my back if someone would only offer it, but that passed. And, I even had back labor and 2 1/2 hours of pushing!

And, I wouldn't do any of it differently!!!

You can do it!! And...95% of 2nd labors are easier.

Edited to add: Heartmama-your comparison cracks me up; ie. cramps in the parking lot w/screaming kids.:LOL
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#14 of 14 Old 03-21-2002, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, mamas! I've already started interviewing midwives, and I'm not even pregant ! All of your great stories are really encouraging and make me really look forward to a birth experience where I'm in control. I esp. liked the cramps in the parking lot analogy, too............totally makes sense!
Viva Homebirth!
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