Questions about "expectation of pain leads to pain" (orgasmic birth, hypnobabies) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had an extremely painful birth the first time, and am finally thinking about having another child eventually here.

I have a few questions about this concept of "there is only pain in childbirth because you expect pain". I'd love for there to be no pain, or at least manageable pain this time. I am leery of this concept though. I did expect birth to be painful, in fact, I was afraid of the pain I would face. It was one of biggest fears, and of course, that fear was realized. It was a traumatic hospital birth, and there was likely added pain because of many factors, not just my expectation of pain, but the pain was unbelieveably unbearable.

I think though, looking back, that I had a very logical reason to expect birth to be painful. Well, there were two reasons, and one I've since resolved, but the other I can't get away from.

Reason number one is that I believed in Adam and Eve as literal figures, and I believed that Eve's punishment from god was pain in childbirth. I believed that a good and faithful servant of god would inevitably experience pain in childbirth, and there was no way around this, it was the cross that women must bear so to speak. I have since ceased being Christian or believing in the god of the bible or a literal Eve, and though snakes still often come up in dreams or EMDR work, I think I have mostly worked through this element and accepted that pain is not required in childbirth.

However, I am still left with my second reason that I expected labor to be very painful, and I can't quite shake this one. When I started getting my period at age 11, I really had no expectation of pain. I was told it can be uncomfortable, but for most it's just a mild discomfort. When I got my first period I was shocked by the level of pain I experienced. It was the most intense and extreme pain I had ever experienced up until that point, and aside from childbirth, since. My first few years of periods were horror filled events. 8 days of mostly heavy bleeding, along with one or two days of suffering with extreme pain. Eventually I learned to figure out the signs my body sent so I wasn't bowled over by the pain before I knew what was happening. Each month turned into a game of catching my period before the pain took hold, and as soon as I would catch it I would take two advils, and repeat every 4 hours for the rest of the day. With this method, I was still uncomfortable, but I could still live my life and didn't have to stay home from school paralyzed with pain.

My periods eventually leveled off to not be as intense as when they started, however, if I didn't catch them in time, or woke up in the middle of the night when the pain had already started, it would take a few hours of laying down and letting the advil take effect to get the cramps at a level that was tolerable again. After Ds was born, my period came back when he was only 2 months, but they were light and I had no cramps. After he was weaned, I started getting cramps again though. They aren't at all as bad as before, but they are enough to give me flashbacks of the pain of childbirth...

So, isn't it logical that if my body experiences horrible pain just shedding the blood and lining of my uterus, that it would experience even more horrible pain if my uterus is actually expelling a 7 pound infant? I didn't have any expectations of my periods being horridly painful, they just were! I didn't think childbirth would be as painful as it was, but it was 100 times greater then anything I ever imagined possible. So how can I convince myself that my body wont experience pain the next time, even though I have pretty good evidence that my body likes to experience vast amounts of pain for anything having to do with my uterus?
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#2 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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I'm sure there will be a lot of different and interesting views here. Some thoughts.

I watched the 20/20 Orgasmic Birth segment. I am also not wholly sold that every woman can achieve some pain-free birth ideal by somehow changing their perspective or expectations. It just can't be that simple. But I do think I agree with the underlying concept - that birth can be made "easier" by recognizing that there are both physical and mental aspects of the pain, and looking for ways to deal with both.

Physically, your uterus is contracting, your baby is turning, your cervix is dilating, your body is working, muscles are pushing. So that's real. But it seems to happen differently for every woman and every birth. The intensity, the length, the location, the impact that is felt varies with an incredible range. In some cases, the physical experience is easier and in some cases it is harder, regardless of your emotional/mental state.

BUT I firmly believe (with no evidence other than reading, hearing stories, my own experience, and common sense) that your emotional and mental state can help or hurt what is physically felt. Having tension in your muscles when they are also trying to do this work makes their job harder - so the more you can mentally encourage your body and mind to relax, the better off you may be. Fear can make the experience of pain worse. A mental block of anxiety or self-doubt may actually prolong labor by working against what your body is trying to do - in other words, your body is getting mixed messages from your mind. So trying to get yourself mentally in the best possible state to faciliate things seems to make sense.

But for every woman, what helps is going to be different - and what impact it has will be different. Hyponosis works for some and not others. Relaxation helps some and not others. Kissing and snuggling is great for some, while others don't want to be touched. Some women need support, others need to be alone. Some women are quiet and go completely internal, some vocalize. Its a little frustrating because how are you supposed to know what works for you? But I can see that women who are having a manageable labor and who find the right combination of comfort measures and mental tricks may be able to reduce their pain or even eliminate it.

BTW, to be personal vs. philisophical - I also experience painful menstrual cramps and they do feel like my labor pains. I found that a really disciplined approach to learning, practicing and implementing relaxation techniques has helped me. Of course I "expect" pain! But removing the tension from every single muscle of my body, going inside myself and breathing really deeply and slowly, and sort of embracing the pain (visualizing it as work my muscles are doing) manages that pain every month as well as in labor. Yoga and relaxation practice have been great for me - I wish I did them more regularly.
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#3 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 03:41 PM
 
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I, too, think it's a little misleading to tell women, "oh, just don't think of birth as painful and it won't hurt." HA. However, a change in perspective DOES help. I knew that my second birth would hurt, but I also knew, and kept telling myself, that I could handle it. And yes it hurt like the dickens, but I actually wouldn't describe it as pain...more like the most powerful intensity my body has ever felt. I had conditioned myself to believe that it would not be more than I could take. And it wasn't.

And there are a million other factors as well, not just what's going on inside your head. Your surroundings and the people around you play a huge role in how painful or not painful your birth can be. With my first I was alone, nervous and terrified, in a hospital with unsupportive people bossing me around, and my birth was supremely painful to the point of being unbearable. With my second I was at home with just my two amazing midwives, and I felt comfortable and safe. There is so much that comes into play, not just saying to yourself, "birth doesn't hurt!" It's not quite THAT simple.
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#4 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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I think that being extremely fearful can contribute to having a more painful labor, because there is truth to the idea that (1) tension increases pain, or the perception of pain; and (2) fear and tension decrease one's ability to cope well mentally and emotionally with pain.

However, the idea that a woman only experiences a painful labor because she's afraid of pain or fearful of some other aspect or expecting it to be painful - is complete hogwash, in my opinion. For example, first time I gave birth. I had some mild anxiety about whether it would be painful, or how painful, etc. leading up to the birth but nothing major. When labor started, the very first contraction was painful and THAT surprised me. I wasn't fearful at. all. during labor; in fact, I mostly enjoyed early and active labor - we were excited, I had lots of nice endophin rushes, and the contractions increased in intensity (i.e. pain) and duration slowly, so it was pretty easy to adjust to what was happening. There is no way, just no way that I magically wouldn't have felt pain if I hadn't thought ahead of time that perhaps labor was going to be painful. Quite frankly, I had some hope/inkling that labor might be really easy for me. It wasn't, in the long run, but I didn't go in with a lot of fear.

Birth is a physiological process that, for the vast majority of women, hurts. It doesn't hurt because mysoginistic ideas have convinced us that it must. It hurts because it hurts. It hurts because it's not a physiologically simple or painless process (in most cases) to properly position a baby, efface and dilate a cervix, and push a baby out. Really, is it any surprise that birth is often painful? Why would there be epidurals and masses of classes on how to deal with labor pain, or how to minimize it, if you could just make it not be painful by not having anxiety?

I also dislike this kind of approach because it really reaches into territory bordering on blaming the laboring mother, either for feeling pain, for wanting pain relief, or for losing control/becoming agitated due to the pain. It isn't a very far reach from "You can eliminate all pain in labor if you do X, Y, Z and believe A, B, C" to "Well, if you had just done X, Y, and Z and really believed A, B, and C you would have had an easy labor. You must have had unresolved personal issues that prevented you from being able to experience this the way you could have, had you dealt with that." And I find that sort of approach mostly ridiculous. There are certain situations where a woman really does need to deal with conflict, past trauma, anxiety, or other issues prior to giving birth. That's one thing. It's a compeltely different thing to look at a birth that didn't go perfectly, or was especially painful or in some way dysfunctional, and retroactively blame it on the mother for perceived emotional, mental or spiritual deficiencies.

For most women, labor is an intensely physical, painful and trying experience. It is also often a beautiful, wonderful, spiritual, engaging journey. There are births on all ends of the spectrum, from painless and orgasmic to absolutely horrifically painful. Birth is so unique and unpredictable that one woman may experience both ends of the spectrum in different births or - perhaps even during a single birth.

I can't tell you what your birth will be like, because nobody knows. I think it's very important to stress, however, that while you can certainly do things to improve your chances of an easier, less painful, more supportive/supported birth - that much of the birth is out of your hands. How much pain you feel is not directly attributable to you in any way. The birth of my second child was excruciating. He was slightly malpositioned during most of early/active labor, and then at the end, I had a wicked 2-3 hours where dilation from approx 1 cm to 8 cm happened in maybe 1.5-2 hours and then complete & baby was born within another hour or so. It was unbelievably painful. No amount of positive thinking was going to make that painless. It was an overwhelming physiological event that had me screaming my head off.

I'm not saying birth and emotion are disconnected; of course they are very closely connected. And I do think that an extremely fearful or anxious mother can make labor much, much more difficult and frightening. But the other side of that coin is that a calm mother does not, and cannot, guarantee or ensure a painless (or even manageable pain-level) labor.

To respond to something else you said, I had periods very similar to what you're describing. One thing my midwife suggested was that perhaps the repeated experience of that extreme pain affected the physiological/neurological pain response for those neurons, which made birth more painful for me than average. I think that's possible. My other thought is that, as I have suspected endometriosis, there are adhesions in there that interfere with birth to some degree and make the process more painful. I can't say for sure though since I haven't had (and don't plan to have) surgery to confirm the presence of endo or adhesions.

So, we plan on probably having another child, also. I really, really do not want to give birth again. I vacillate a lot in terms of type of birth, birth place, etc. But a big part of my mental preparation this time is, rather than hoping for something really good or being overly optimistic, I'm accepting and acknowledging that, for me, birth sucks. And I hate giving birth. So going into that is like becoming a warrior. I am going to face the battle and I'm going to get through it ok, but I have no expectation that it will be easy (if it is, great, hurrah!). There are lots of weapons at my disposal (hypnosis, relaxation, acupuncture, chiro, positioning, birth pool, even that epidural), which I can use if and when I need them. It is a survivable experience but I don't expect it to be a good experience. I want to make it manageable; I want to be surrounded by loving and supportive people; and I want my desires and experiences to be validated. After two really hard natural births, I've come to a point of acceptance that birth, for me, is now just something to get through as best I can with as much love and support as possible.

I know that probably isn't incredibly helpful and I know it doesn't answer your question the way you asked it. I also know that I was in a different place when I was approaching the birth of #2. One thing I say about myself is "I'll try anything twice." Because I feel that once isn't enough - you have to try it twice to be sure. So going into birth #2 there was a real element of hope and almost an expectation that it would be easier, since supposedly 2nd births are easier and all that. Well, it wasn't, and it was (is this even possible?) much more painful, so I just had to throw that out the window. That's where I'm coming from now and I know it might not be applicable to you. I feel now that there is such an element of luck (for lack of a better term) to how a birth goes that I can't have any expectation. I can only have preparation (for all contingencies, lol).

Sorry to write such a ridiculously long post. :
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#5 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jennica View Post
this concept of "there is only pain in childbirth because you expect pain".
I find this downright insulting. It insinuates that any pain we feel is our own fault! I take offense to that.

While it may be 100% true that fear & anxiety intensify & heighten pain, it does NOT necessarily mean that this statement can be inverted & remain true... i.e. it's not true that any woman who has pain in CB feels it only because she is, emotionally, feeling fear & anxiety. There is just much more to it than that.

I remember my Bradley teacher saying the pain is an alarm - it's warning you! Because you need to get to some place safe, away from predators, since you will be vulnerable & then you'll have an infant who is extremely vulnerable. It has an evolutionary advantage because it drives you to seek safety & seek help. & While I loathe the modern American approach to CB, I do recognize that having an experienced, caring attendant at birth does indeed make it safer for mama & babe.

I'm sorry you've had such a tough time. That must be awful to have been dealing with periods like that! I sure hope no one has ever made you feel like you are somehow to blame for your painful CB!!!

I remember when I was so stressed over going waaay past my due date (41W 4D). My doula was saying that too much emotional stress & anxiety could inhibit labor. I remember thinking, "WTF? Are you sayin' it's MY FAULT my uterus isn't doing jack SH$$! yet" It kinda irritated me.
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#6 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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Yeah, I find that statement rather insulting too. I've given birth to 4 children, soon to be 5 and it's excruciatingly painful for me. At each birth I say that I am NEVER doing this again. And mind you, I have a HUGE pain tolerance. I can take a whole lot.

I do not worry about it or fear it, I do not "expect" that level of pain. I go into every birth with the right mindset. I have been there and done that and know how to relax, get into the right frame of mind, etc...

I do believe that our state of mind plays a HUGE role. But by no means would it change the level of pain for me from that kind of intensity to just a "little" pain or just being "uncomfortable". I always hope for that, but it hasn't happened yet! Maybe this time around!
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#7 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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Hypnobabies doesn't say "there is ONLY pain in childbirth because women expect it." But some pain in childbirth can be caused by that expectation. That is part of the picture but not the entire thing. Using hypnosis involves the belief that childbirth doesn't HAVE to be painful and accepting the possibility that it can be very comfortable. This is the way hypnosis would be used for anything. It wouldn't be as effective if someone didn't believe that the hypnosis could help (smoking, weight loss). So that's part of using it - believing it can work for you to help you be comfortable. It also involves quite a bit of practice to reprogram your inner mind. So it's not that you just tell yourself that you don't expect pain and your won't have any. That's a consious thought. You have to take the time to retrain your SUBconsious mind.

Remember, people use hypnosis for surgery. Surgery without anethesia can be painful, and not just because of expectation, of course! But there are many people who have gone through surgery without pain using hypnosis as their only anesthesia.

Jamie, DW to Jeff, birth and postpartum doula and Hypnobabies instructor.
4 years and 5 IVF cycles in the making, Elliott was born at home in water on 2/2/11.
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#8 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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My first birth wasn't very painful so I expected my second birth to be similar--and it was much more painful. Of course, who knows what my subconcious was doing?
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#9 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:33 PM
 
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Panic/fear heightens your senses, so in one way, the statement is correct. No pain? I think that's false. At the most basic level, a lot of nerves are being stimulated. Ligaments are stretching. Bones are moving. Muscles are being used. Whether you have a good outlook or not, those are factual aspect of childbirth.

It would probably be more helpful and more accurate to tell someone, "Childbirth is going to require a lot of effort from your body, so if you have a confident, positive outlook, you will be able to manage or even lessen the feeling of pain."

I guess that's a mouthful though huh

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#10 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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It isn't as simple as "there is only pain in childbirth because you expect pain".

There is the fear/tension/pain cycle. If a mother has fear, she is going to be more tense and that will lead to more pain. That is part of the idea behind Hypnobabies, if you are able to let go of the fear, that will help you break that cycle.

Also if you stay relaxed you are able to allow your body to do what it wants and knows how to do, which is to dilate your cervix and birth a baby. If you are fighting the contractions it is harder for your body to do what it wants to do and then that causes tension and pain.

It isn't as easy as letting go of fear, it takes practice and reprogramming our mind to feel the sensations of pressure waves as pressure instead of pain. Hence the hypnosis aspect, which helps to reprogram our mind to expect pressure instead of pain.

I used Hypnobabies with my last birth and did just feel pressure. It was pretty awesome.
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#11 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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e or
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Also if you stay relaxed you are able to allow your body to do what it wants and knows how to do, which is to dilate your cervix and birth a baby. If you are fighting the contractions it is harder for your body to do what it wants to do and then that causes tension and pain.
Wish this were true for me, but it's not. I completely relax my body when the waves of contractions hit. I just close my eyes, go to my happy place, and relax every muscle. I remember learning about the fear/tension/pain cycle with #1. Just doesn't work for me. Still excruciating.
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#12 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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I had a very painful birth with DS1. For DD and the twins, I used Hypnobabies and had nearly pain-free births.

What I understand from Hypnobabies and Ina May's Guide is that there are several elements to the pain. The expectation of pain can manifest in actual physical pain, which is what you are refering to.

Another element, is that as your body begins to respond to labor, your muscles are contracting without your conscious control. This can be scary, even if you are expecting it, and we tend to fight against it. When you fight against it by tensing up or trying to "control" then we experience pain. Our muscles are trying to birth a baby and it HURTS to resist that kind of intense power!

A third element is when something is happening that is not ideal. This can be the position of the baby- nuchal hand, postier presentation, etc. It might be mom's body - spine is misaligned, previous injury, bad position (laying flat on your back is a big culprit). It could also be a warning sign - placental abruption, uterine rupture, etc.

I believe that pain is way too complicated to boil down to one catchy little phrase. But if you try to address all the possible sources, you can certainly minimize the pain that you might feel.

Joanna - wife to Mike, mamachicken to Cub(8/98), Kitten (4/07), Dew-man, and Woe-boy(twins, 10/08)
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#13 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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I agree with most of the PPs that it's really not that simple. As others have said, going into labour in a positive frame of mind certainly can't hurt, and may well help you to manage the pain better, or even, for some people, not to experience pain at all.

But, OTOH, that doesn't mean that if you feel pain it's your own fault because you expected it - how ridiculous is that?! That's almost like saying - well of course everyone dies in the end; because they expect it!

I, too, have had exruciating long and heavy periods from the first time I got mine. Well before I ever became pregnant I became quite adept at breathing techniques, focusing and relaxing to help me get through the pain I felt. From that and other things I consider myself to have a high pain threshold. I approached labour with the belief that it might hurt a bit, but it would certainly be nothing I couldn't handle. I didn't do an authorised hypnosis course, like Hypnobabies, but I did work on some self-hypnosis with mantras and visualisation.

When I finally went into labour at 43 weeks I was thrilled to finally be in labour and was really looking forward to the experience. The first 6 hours or so were fine - intense contractions but with a break, so I could fully relax and regroup between them. Then something changed - now it was like one never-ending contraction, and it was incredibly painful. I couldn't speak, didn't have the chance to stop, breathe, relax... I did keep doing my visualisations and repeating one of my mantras as much as I could, but it was really very painful. It turned out that DD was posterior and probably asynclitic too, which likely accounts for that. Externally, my DH says I appeared very calm and relaxed, but inside it just hurt like he!!

So, in my case at least, that's not true. And yes, it does feel a bit like 'blame the victim' - to say you only feel pain if you expect it is tantamount to saying 'if you do feel pain you only have yourself to blame'. It would be wonderful if we could all have pain-free, even orgasmic births, but that's just not how the world works. Just as it's not the 'fault' of women who have very painful periods, or the 'fault' of someone who has to live with a very painful condition like arthritis every day. Some people just have to cope with more pain than others - it's not their fault, it's just life.

Lisa - mama to Eleanor Rose 01/08 and Saoirse Lily 09/10
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#14 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 06:40 PM
 
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However, the idea that a woman only experiences a painful labor because she's afraid of pain or fearful of some other aspect or expecting it to be painful - is complete hogwash, in my opinion.
ITA.

It's interesting Jennica that you brought up the biblical reference to women experiencing pain during childbirth. I have heard women say "our society/culture instills the fear of birth in women causing them to expect pain". Well, clearly it's not just our modern society, if there is a reference to painful childbirth in a book written over 2,000 years ago. Their society had the same, coincidental belief? And I'm sure it's not the only reference.

Secondly...women who don't know they're pregnant. I've read/seen interviews with many of these women from the perspective of when they went into labor, and truly had no idea it was labor- but still experienced extreme pain, thought they were dying from something, were rushed to the ER only to discover a baby. Interesting that someone who has no idea they're even in labor, experiences labor as painful.

DD1 7/13/05 DD2 9/20/10
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#15 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by claddaghmom View Post
It would probably be more helpful and more accurate to tell someone, "Childbirth is going to require a lot of effort from your body, so if you have a confident, positive outlook, you will be able to manage or even lessen the feeling of pain."
I think that's a fair statement. FWIW, I had excruciating periods and a very painful first birth. I chose to learn, practice, and use hypnosis during my second pregnancy and birth. While I certainly felt sensations and found the need to focus at times, I would not describe those sensations as painful.

I've since had three more babies using hypnosis. One of those births was very painful due to complications, but the hypnosis allowed me to stay focused, calm, and safe. Some of my births required more effort than others (nuchal hand, posterior baby, stalling at 8cm for 5 hours), but I'm positive that my Hypnobabies techniques allowed me to stay much more comfortable than I would have been otherwise.

The focus with Hypnobabies is on easier, more comfortable birth and that pain isn't inevitable the way some classes teach and our culture reinforces. Sure pain is a possibility, but it's also possible to give birth with little to no pain at all (especially when you have wonderful, powerful hypno-anesthesia techniques).

The hypnotic suggestions in Hypnobabies scripts/CDs give you powerful tools to release your body's natural anesthesia (endorphins) on cue and open the possibility of comfortable birth to your subconscious mind. The two need to go hand-in-hand, in my experience, to increase the likelihood of comfortable unmedicated birth. Fear release is also a big help.

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Planning my fifth natural birth using Hypnobabies for baby boy coming in June 2012! nocirc.gif

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#16 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 07:08 PM
 
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I agree with most of the PPs that it's really not that simple. As others have said, going into labour in a positive frame of mind certainly can't hurt, and may well help you to manage the pain better, or even, for some people, not to experience pain at all.

But, OTOH, that doesn't mean that if you feel pain it's your own fault because you expected it - how ridiculous is that?! That's almost like saying - well of course everyone dies in the end; because they expect it!
It's certainly an insulting idea that women who feel pain bring it on themselves. I felt some discomfort and even some pain during the last few contractions of some of my births. I didn't think "oh, crap, I guess I didn't do this right because now I'm experiencing pain due to my own inadequacies". I kept on plugging ahead. 95% pain-free without drugs is still worth the effort I put in.

Have you ever had the experience of your expectations/attitude impacting your experience? If I wake up in the morning and say to myself "This is going to be a horrible day" I'm likely to create that reality by nit-picking over ever single annoying or inconvenient event that occurs. If I wake up and say "This is going to be a great day" I'm likely to create that reality by letting not-so-great things slide off without letting them get to me. It's my choice how I'm going to react or perceive any given thing that happens to me.

Now, if I was choosing to have a great day and then got in a car wreck or received a phone call saying a relative had died, that's going to turn my chosen good day into a pretty sucky one. Those sorts of bad things happen and I didn't create them (unless I was negligent in my driving, lol), but I still get to choose how to deal with them. IMO, birth is the same way.

My third birth was pretty horrible in terms of complications and physical pain. I had plenty of valid reasons to be upset or freak out. The positive that come from that experience (aside from my wonderful baby) is the knowledge that I did what I needed to do in order to give birth to my baby.

Physical parameters unique to each mother/baby pair impact the process. Some births will be easier than others. Positive thinking and expectations are only part of what makes comfortable birth possible. Fear release and hypno-anesthesia tools are needed (for most women, I would guess) as well.

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#17 of 58 Old 01-07-2009, 07:29 PM
 
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First of all I am not a dr., but it does sound like maybe you have endometriosis. I went to two different male drs. who told me my pain and bleeding was normal. It wasn't until I saw a female dr. that she suggested it might be endometriosis. Thankfully mine went away after the birth of my first son which I have heard is common. My natural birth was also painful, but I do think what helped me is a friend told me to remember that those contractions were good and not bad. Those contractions meant the baby was coming out and to try not to fight them. Easier said then done, but I tryed. I do think the natural thing to do is fight them and that makes the pain even worse. Not that just because you don't fight them you won't feel pain. I just think it could be a tad easier. Just a tad.
As for the biblical reference, I have come to believe that we interpret that incorrectly. I don't believe the consequenses for Eve eating the fruit was painful childbirth. I also used to believe that. I do however believe the main consequence of Adam and Eve eating the fruit was losing the relationship they had with God. I think in losing that relationship, yes childbirth became painful, but that was not something God put upon us. There is an amazing book out called "The Shack" that gives a whole new look at some things that we have believed for so long about God that are possibly not true. It is fiction and not really about God, hmmmm trying to give away the plot here. Anyway, it is an amazing book! It has changed the way I see God and again it's not really about that.
I wish I had the answer to what makes some of us have painful births and not others. I know the ones who don't have hard labors have to think the rest of us are wusses, but we all know that is not true. Hey, if anyone truely figures out the way to have an easy or orgasmic birh, please let me know. I have a friend who did hypnobabies and for her it didn't really help. So, who knows.
Hmmmmm, not sure if I was any help.
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#18 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 04:42 AM
 
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I think about this a great deal, since I had two miserable failed epidurals, and two lovely Hypnobabies births.

I think it's important to remember that pain is the body's signal that something is wrong. Not all women have painful periods, and too often women who have them find out after years of suffering that there was a physical cause, tipped or malpositioned uterus, fibroids, endometriosis, adhesions, or some other physical anomaly. Periods on their own don't necessarily hurt. The bloating congests the pelvis, and combined with other factors, can increase pain. For that matter, some women don't bloat, which may be an IBS/food allergy issue.

It's interesting to me that I had an actual orgasm shortly before my first Hypnobaby. I had no idea it was possible, but on top of the wonderful success of the hypnotic anesthesia, it was kind of a surprise, if a welcome one. It got me thinking: why does labor hurt? Orgasms are nothing but uterine contractions, why do they feel so darned good, and labor feels so darned bad? Why do some women have painless births without any intervention at all? Why do some cultures not have any expectation of pain in childbirth, and experience easier birthings?

I think some of that is expectation, some of that is physical causes such as birthing being more active, better positioned babies, who knows what. Since expectation is key in hypnosis, perhaps cultural expectation of comfortable birthing breeds a belief system that in itself serves as a hypnotic suggestion. It's hard to say. All I know is I've seen the most amazingly peaceful births with Hypnobabies, and my own were a treasure.

It's interesting to me that my daughter recently had her first baby. The baby came early, so she wasn't able to take Hypnobabies, but she didn't have any real pain. Discomfort, yes, but no pain. She didn't realize she was in labor at all. I suspect part of the reason is she's so internalized my Hypnobabies experiences. She also spent a good deal of time in hypnosis trying to prevent preterm labor, and would envision/dream about her wonderful, comfortable birthing. I really believe her experiences would have been vastly different without my stories, a strong desire to use Hypnobabies, and having hypnosis as a tool at her fingertips. Certainly I'm the only person in either side of her family tree to have a painless birth, and that wasn't the case my first two times.

I believe one reason Hypnobabies works so well, is it doesn't solely rest on the laurels of the powerful hypnotic anesthesia, but also teaches about active birth, fetal positioning, belly lift, diet and nutrition, etc.... The goal being to reduce every cause of physical discomfort in labor possible, thus reducing the need to depend solely on hypnotic anesthesia for comfort.
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#19 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 05:00 AM
 
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I think mostly pain-free unmedicated childbirth is the exception rather than the rule. I have no doubt that it happens, and I think there are different phsyiological constitions, but I think the pain is there for a reason, biofeedback and to put you in that altered state of mind. The amount of muscular contraction needed to do what your body does, that's huge. I do think, though, that there is a wide variety in the perception of the pain and ability to deal with it, and that is part of what the expectation of pain thing is about. It can be made worse depending on your mental state. And clearly, there are things that can alter our perception of pain in very real ways, or our memory of the pain.

The funny thing is I remember in both of my labors, being surprised every time a contraction happened, at least early on. I'd be lying there, trying to relax and one would come and I was like, "Oh yeah, now I remember what I'm doing."
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A lot of good points have already been made! I used Hypnobabies with my first birth and did have an easy and comfortable birthing. It also programmed me to view childbirth as something that didn't have to be painful and that contractions would feel like pressure. They did. I'm just speaking from experience. If I had felt pain, however, I don't think it would have been because I'd done something wrong. I know there are other factors that could influence how the birth goes. I am getting ready to have my 2nd birth and I'm trying to focus again on the relaxation and thinking that my birth will be quick and painless like the last one. We'll see how it turns out.

As for the Adam and Eve reference, I find that interesting as well. I do not believe that God cursed women to have an inevitably painful birth. In fact, if you go back to the original Hebrew words, the word that was translated to pain is actually a word that means hard work or toil. It is the same word used in reference to Adam having to work harder to grow food. My personal opinion is that these things cause us to have to rely on God and seek strength from Him. I think this site shares an interesting perspective:
http://www.birthingnaturally.net/chr...cles/pain.html

Mama to DD 9.06 / DD 1.09 and DS 6.10 born at home
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#22 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 10:42 AM
 
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I'm not aware of any birth preparation method that makes claims that all women using it WILL have a comfortable birth, or that discomfort means the woman did something wrong. Just because a method says that a comfortable birth is a realistic expectation doesn't extrapolate out to the assumption that anyone having an uncomfortable birth is doing something "wrong". All the methods I'm aware of acknowledge that some births will be uncomfortable or even painful due to a myriad of reasons, but that doesn't mean that learning certain techniques can't help a woman have the most control and comfort possible, given whatever unique circumstances arise during her birth.


I agree with MamaChicken's discussion of the 3 sources of potential pain in birth. She is absolutely right that one source of pain is something going wrong, and the body warning us about that. We don't want to lose that, and that's one of the big reasons I like to prepare by learning hypnosis for birth. I don't believe that normal relaxation techniques can address that aspect of discomfort during birth nearly as well. Hypnosis is a bit different in that it can be used to counteract expected pain, such as that created by surgery. But we don't want to ignore or not experience pain that is a warning or suggestion of something we should change (position, etc.) The beauty of hypnosis during birth is that a good, effective program will train the subconscious mind to interpret the normal sensations of birth as pressure, but hypnosis will NOT mask discomforts that tell us there is a problem. It may minimize the less dangerous sensations so it is felt as a nagging discomfort that leads to a helpful position change. Or it may be felt as a sharp pain that truly needs to be acknowledged, especially if there is danger involved. However, once the problem has come to the woman's attention, many women are able to address the problem and then use their hypnosis skills to return to a state of comfort. At the very least, if they continue using their skills they tend to be amazingly clear-headed and can really make good decisions and remain in control, despite the pain.

With my first birth I learned a very basic method of self-hypnosis, but took a class that taught me next to nothing about birth or how to have NCB. I didn't know anything about fetal position or exercises I could do to prepare my body, and as a result, I developed back labor and wound up with a nasty uterine spasm that translated into a single contraction that lasted around 7 hours. Yep. 7 hours. The OB was trying hard not to freak, but she'd never seen anything like it because usually the baby would have gone into distress within minutes, so I would have had a c-section long before it reached that point. But I was able to use even my very simplified hypnosis skills to easily create endorphins to keep me comfortable and maximize blood flow into my uterus and placenta, so the baby and I both handled it without incident. I'm sure relaxation techniques would have helped anyone handle the discomfort of something like that. But hypnosis skills can do inifinitely more than that, and really maximize the ability of a woman to experience a truly comfortable birth even when complications arise.

With my second and third birth, I learned Hypnobabies, which is far more advanced than the method I used the first time. It taught me much deeper, more effective hypnosis techniques as well as excellent NCB information so I was really prepared for those births. I still can't believe how completely it changed my perception of the sensations of birth. I worked a normal work day during the early first stage of my second birth, then went home, did my taxes and slept soundly for 4 hours during late first stage (and probably transition, although I guess I could have gone through that stage while driving to the birth center and just didn't notice - but I was fully dilated when I arrived, so I went through it at some point!) I had been suffering with pubic symphysis pain and my baby had been transverse up until the week before, and my uterine ligaments were still very sore from the malposition and misaligned pelvis that had caused it. Even so, all the deep post-hypnotic suggestions about experiencing my birthing waves as pressure kicked in and my body released tons of endorphins right on cue, so I wound up being more comfortable during the birth than I had been for months before that. I was fully dilated for around 3 hours and experiencing intense back labor before my water broke and he basically washed out of me. He had a nuchal hand, and I was still able to use my hypnosis skills to stay relaxed and controlled enough to birth him in 6 minutes without so much as a bruise. I did have a moment as he was emerging when my hypnosis wavered and I was aware that something wasn't quite right. But I had the skills I needed to re-focus, and release extra endorphins, sending hypno-anesthesia where I needed it so I could birth him as quickly as possible and then find out what was wrong. I can't say enough about how much my hypnosis skills allowed me to think clearly throughout the birth and totally avoid discomfort.

So yeah, I can see how the idea that women experience pain only because they expect it would be insulting. There are definitely things that can go on during a normal birth that could lead to pain, through no fault of the mom's. But I still stand behind the idea that many women who want to have the most comfortable birth they can would really benefit from learning techniques like those in Hypnobabies that address all sources of potential discomforts during birth, not just those brought on by tension or expectation. It's not a guarantee for a pain-free birth, but it does provide a large number of tools and options to help you remain as comfortable as possible, no matter what the birth brings.
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#23 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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Very interesting posts.

I know that much of the way I deal with pain is mental. Years ago I got a piece of glass in my foot. DH grabbed some tweezers and was going to in his words "dig it out". I proceed to hyperventilate and nearly throw up any time he so much as looked at my foot. I swear I could feel his gaze. Finally I said "I'll do it!!!!" and lo - the glass was a teeny little bit about the size of kosher salt. No joke. I imagined DH rooting in my foot and extracting a giant shard, so I created a lot of mental pain.

In childbirth, I was determined not to freak myself out. I thought of everything not in terms of "big baby ripping through me", but "really big poop". I've never been afraid to poop, even when it was uncomfortable, and labor has very similar sensations for most of it. There were parts of birth that hurt, but I mostly experienced intensity and discomfort and not PAIN.

I think my experience would have been very different if I did not birth on my own terms though. I did a homebirth. The one time I did feel Big Scary Make It Stop Pain was when I tried to labor laying down. Heck no. All the good mental state in the world would not have helped me if I had to be strapped on a hosptial bed. My baby wanted me to labor on hands and knees and squatting. Because I was able to to that, a lot of pain was avoided.

Mom to two intact boys, born at home. DS1 11/07, DS2 9/10
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#24 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 12:40 PM
 
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Well, since my second birth was essentially painless (hard work and overwhelming, but not painful in the traditional sense), I certainly wasn't expecting severe pain in my third birth.

Got horrible, horrible lower back labor anyway.

I believe birth is normal and healthy. I believe it is good. I believe in my body. I am a devout Christian but I don't believe the "curse" is specifically about birth but about all the various trials women are prone to, and that they effect us all differently. So I don't think every woman must suffer torturous labor because she's a sinner, IOW.

Physiologically though, there are reasons and situations where it might hurt and it is not my fault if it hurts. The way I deal with it mentally has a lot to do with things but not everything. For instance, when I *really* hurt myself (bad cut, hit my head really badly, fall down the stairs) I tend to laugh hysterically. That's how I cope. But it doesn't mean I'm not also hurting like crazy.
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#25 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 01:07 PM
 
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I have a similar history of very painful periods, and I've given birth without medication OR hypnosis twice. ()

What I've figured out is that for me, cervical dilation hurts. There are many other sensations in cramping from a period and giving birth that are mostly uncomfortable or annoying to me, but cervical dilation hurts. Being warm and relaxed helps alleviate the pain, working with my body by being upright and moving also, conversely, helps, but it does hurt for me. It used to take about 3 days for my cervix to dilate as much as it needed to during my period to let out the fluids and clots (I tend to have lots of largish clots), during which time I was in a lot of pain, with some breaks. My first birth it took about 21 hours to dilate enough for a baby to come out. My second birth it took about 6 hours to dilate enough for a (posterior) baby to come out. Once dilation was complete, I had no more pain. Having given birth twice, my periods became much less painful - it seems to take only about 3 hours to dilate enough for fluids & clots now.

There may be some physiological disease cause for this fact (endometriosis, adhesions, whatever) although I have never been told so. I think it's also possible that I just have more nerves in my cervix than some other women or that the nerves are more sensitive. I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that nothing will ever make cervical dilation comfortable for me.

On the other hand, I would say that I don't seem to think of pain in the same way as many people do. I don't really consider it a problem that needs to be solved. It's just something I must go through as part of a process. I can handle it one moment at a time. I'm sure part of that perspective comes from years of experience with pain (I also have migraines, so not just cervical pain - other bodily and even emotional pain, too.)

I'm auditing a Hypnobirthing course right now as part of my CBE certification (through Birthing From Within). So that's going to be very interesting for me!

Here as mama to W (2/04), R (5/06), D (7/09), and J (12/9/12!), co-parenting with my DH

I WOH part-time, am a doula & childbirth educator, home/unschool, and hope we are nearing the center of chaos


 
  

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#26 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 01:33 PM
 
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I'm not going to join the debate about whether pain is present only because we expect it, as that conversation has been well-covered by PPs. I will say that the power of the mind and expectations in unparalleled and should NOT be discounted or underestimated.

I had a "high-risk" pregnancy and have several minor and major health issues that sapped my confidence in my body. But through hypnobabies, I had an amazing, pain free birth. It was long, with back labor, tears, etc., but I loved it and enjoyed the process.

There was one moment that convinced me that the program worked and that I wasn't just "lucky" or "blessed with a high pain tolerance." After several hours of labor (and no sleep overnight), the midwives did a check and noted I'd only progressed from 6 to 7 cm in the last 4.5 hours. I was so upset that I lost my composure, and the next wave nearly knocked me over. Instantly the whole feeling in the room changed as my support team was caught off-guard by this drastic turn in my behavior. During that wave I quickly pushed aside my frustration, fear, disappointment, tension and brought my focus back to what was really going on, and I realized that physically, nothing had changed, and it was just as manageable as it had been two minutes ago, so I went on to have a very pleasant, fun birth!

I'd had a taste of what birth would have been like if I had let my negativity impact my perception of my birthing, and I refused to let that negativity into my head or into my environment, and it worked.

That's not to say that the "power of the mind" can fix everything, but that is to say that the mind IS powerful; and that with all the other challenges or difficulties you may face, self-doubt need not be one of them.

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#27 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the comments, this gives me a lot to think about.

A couple thoughts:

The thing about Adam and Eve is that I believed that when I gave birth. I don't believe it now, and whether or not that was the correct interpretation doesn't really matter after the fact, because that was the interpretation of the religion I was raised in and was a member of, so that is what I believed. That belief mad a hug impact on my subconscious. I'm glad not all Christians believe it that way, but I sure did, and it was a huge issue for me as far the pain of childbirth.

As far as physical things causing pain, I have wondered before if there was a partial abruption. I had a very fast (3 hours from being dilated to 3 to birth, 1 hour from dilated to 3 to dilated to 8.5) and there was a gush of blood after the birth (though my medical records say I lost a normal amount). There was also a funky heart rate issue for a lot of it. However, my medical records don't indicate that anyone thought this indicated an abruption, so I don't know.

Also, the labor was way faster then I expected, and I think when things are happening that fast, it just hurts really bad. I know other women can have fast labors and it's mild pain, but I hear more often then not that fast labor usually equates to more pain.

Also, I remember one of midwives saying that I had a tipped uterus and that is why we couldn't hear the heart beat right away. Someone commented that a tipped uterus can cause painful periods, is this true? Does this mean my births will just be more painful because the uterus is tipped? But why would it really be tipped once a baby fills it up, I mean, it can't really tip then can it? Anyone have any info about this?

I would love it if I could figure out some physical cause that made it so painful, but that doesn't mean that same cause wont be present for a future birth.

I can see that tensing up would create more pain, because when I have cramps the only thing that can get them to go away is laying down and relaxing. But, I don't see that as having anything to do with the expectation of pain = pain. I mean, like I said, I didn't expect pain when I got my period, but there it was, tons of pain. Sure, I can relax and breath and make it less painful, but there was still pain after an expectation of no pain. I think I would like to try some hypnosis or relaxation stuff for the next birth (whenever that may be) but I'm really leery of the part where I have to tell myself that it isn't painful, when I know that it is more pain then I could have ever imagined happening. I think in a way hypnobabies is like convincing yourself there wont be pain - from what I've heard. I think that could possibley help to lesson pain for me, but I can't convince myself that there wont be pain, when the pain of labor was worse then anything I thought possible.
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#28 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 03:30 PM
 
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A tipped uterus sometimes means a more painful period because the uterus pushes against your back while it flushes out the lining, so that makes you more likely to have back pain. I have a tipped uterus, too, but it's still tipped and I definitely don't have the same period pain I had before DD's birth.

And no, a tipped uterus "corrects" itself by the 14th week as the weight of the baby/fluid pulls the uterus out of the pelvis and into the normal position. After birth, it goes back to the way it was.

ETA: In hypnobabies, you don't tell yourself "THERE WILL BE NO PAIN." Rather, you tell yourself that it doesn't HAVE to hurt, that there's no guarantee that it will be painful, that if you step back and really evaluate it, maybe you feel more pressure than pain. It's not like you feel nothing at all, but changing your evaluation of what's going on and what's possible, because I guarantee that going in there expecting it to hurt is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Why not open the door for another possibility? A totally different baby, a totally different body and a totally different birth!

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#29 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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Jennica, if you want to try hypnosis for birth, why don't you try it for your periods? Get hypnobabies and just adapt it a bit to be a pain control method for your periods. See how it works for you. Try not medicating the first day or two of your period and using hypnobabies or similar hypnosis. If hypnosis works for the pain of surgery and other expected pain, then if you give it a real chance, it should also work for your periods.

If there's a reason why this wouldn't work, maybe a hypnosis expert could explain why that would be an unhelpful trial of the technique. I might try it myself if I ever get my period back (not in a hurry or anything!!).

I personally like the feeling of hypnosis and find it relaxing and enjoyable (probably plays into why I like yoga so much, too), but I'm very skeptical that it could do anything really substantially beneficial with pain so bad I felt like a giant hand was wringing and forcing the screams out of me. I can see how it might help me manage the pain marginally better (and I say marginally because I never lost my cool during that birth - just made a lot of noise), perhaps via helping me not make so much noise, but that would only really be beneficial for others, not for me.
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#30 of 58 Old 01-08-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I believe that one's attitude and expectations going into childbirth can have a profound effect on one's experience. I also think the sentiment that "you won't have if you don't expect it" or "it doesn't hurt if you have a good attitude" is a vile form of victim-blaming. I know there are those who like to believe that women like me wanted a c-section and/or simply didn't have a good attitude, and it's a crock. Every woman I personally know, except those I've met from MDC, who had a relatively uncomplicated (ie. hospital-based, and some interventions, but no actual problems) birth was loaded with the "this is going to be awful - I'm so terrified - I'm going to get my epi in the parking lot" mindset. I spent my entire first pregnancy looking forward to labour and thinking of it as an adventure. I wasn't really expecting my baby to decide that labour was a great time to practice gymnastics and turn breech (of course, I've also been told by "experts" who weren't there that it didn't happen). He was pushing on my spine, and I really don't think all the positive thinking in the world could have made it not hurt.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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