Talking about the Pain - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And I mean, the Pain.

Labor hurts. It hurts badly sometimes. We talk about it, but do we say enough to first time mamas? Couldn't UC mamas who are birthing for the first time benefit greatly from knowing that the pain might make them feel like they want to die and come back as another life form? Is it possible to say too much about the pain to a first timer?

Honestly, I don't think so. I think all the talk about relaxation and pain coping techniques can hinder some mamas...it makes them think that if they just do A, B, or C, they will experience pain relief and everything will be ok. Yes, we need to talk about how to get through the pain, but can we also talk about how painful it truly can be?

Each birth of mine has been different. Only 1 was pain free - my last birth. What a gift. But the rest were extremely painful. My oldest daughter has witnessed these births and KNOWS, truly knows how painful birth can be. I think this is so valuable to her, but not every girl is going to experience another woman's birth.

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#2 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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I think another thing that UCers tend not to do is take childbrith classes...and for me, taking Bradley classes was essential to my learning about birth, becoming informed, and also learning relaxation. It got me (and my now ex-h) prepared for transition, so that when I got to the point where I begged for drugs, he was ready to help. I would highly recommend them to any first time mamas, UCers or otherwise.

On the issue of pain specifically...for me, other than pushing dd2 out with her nuchal hand, it was much more about intensity than pain. I really had to work on relaxing, and be prepared to relax, in order to let my body do its thing. And I have had long active labors (28 and 12 hours), so stamina definitely comes into play...keeping myself more unfocused actually helped me out a lot.

For this birth, I'm really hoping that being UC will help me tune into myself and relax more...and perhaps have an even quicker, less intense experience. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have more to say about it!!
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#3 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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Childbirth classes were very helpful for me, though there were drawbacks too. My 1st was not a UC, and I took Bradley. I felt like if I wasn't doing X, Y, and Z that I wasn't doing things right. I also don't like how it teaches dads to "remind her how to push" and stuff like that. I used to teach Bradley but now I teach my own class, which is much more about tuning into yourself.

Both my hospital birth and my UC were intensly painful. I tell my students that most women will not get through labor without intense sensation, that even women who experience painless birth typically aren't feeling *nothing*, their brains are interpretating the sensations as pressure instead of pain, but with rare exception, there is still intense sensation. I try to be upfront about what an intense physical experience birth is. I try to get my students to labor at home as long as possible, and part of that is understanding that when they think, "Boy, I'm working hard; maybe I should go to the hospital," odds are they're not working nearly as hard as they will be. I tell them that the time to go (since most won't consider homebirth for whatever reason) is when they're so focused on contractions and labor and birth that they have no other thoughts, and their partner has to practically carry them to the car. And most still go in too early!

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#4 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 10:53 AM
 
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I tell friends that it can be really really painful but to be open to the possibility that it may not be. I personally know two women who planned to get epidurals who had NO pain at all, as in, didn't even think they were in labor and had no meds, no pain. Then there are women who have orgasmic births. However, I agree that it is good knowledge to have that birth can be VERY painful and all can still be ok with mother and baby.

I found the 1.5 hours of private childbirth education I had to be a waste and that it stressed me out (we meant to take Bradley but didn't have time--I was working a lot and we were in the process of moving and renovations). I read 12 plus books and Laura Shanley's website and many many birth stories. That helped much more. For my second birth, I used my mw as a resource and got great answers to questions. I do advise looking into Bradley to friends saying that it's a good way to get dp on-board with a natural birth. However, one friend found that it was really annoying with all the partner stuff, along the lines of "make sure dp drinks a lot and pees a lot while pregnant" and things to the effect that the pregnant woman could not give birth without her partner. So...it's a mixed bag.

Jster--I know I was not adequately prepared for transition from peoples' descriptions. But then again, I didn't expect to have all the doubts for my UC either after knowing what happens first-hand. So...not sure about this.

Oh, and I found birth INTENSELY painful the first time as soon as my doula arrived. For my second (UC) birth, I really had no pain, just intensity (except for the few times I got into a non-optimal position, and my body told me to move into another position), until transition and pushing (20 min or so total).
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#5 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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This is a topic that really frustrates me. On one side I hear, "if you expect pain, you'll have pain" and on the other side I hear "I wasn't remotely prepared for how painful this would be and I wish I were!"

I want to be realistic, but I don't want to set myself up for failure!
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#6 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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I have wondered about this, too. It is nice to envision a world where women don't experience pain in childbirth. There are, no doubt, many women who have had painless births.

I wasn't one of them.

My mom took a Lamaze class when she was pregnant with my brother (her first child). She said she was not scared of birth at all and very "naive" (her word). 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." My mother said when she was in labor she thought, "That lady lied to me! This really *bleeping* hurts!!!" (She had a UC, by the way)

My labors hurt...ALOT. My UC hurt more than my hospital birth. 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. 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. I think knowing that ahead of time can make a woman better able to cope with whatever pain or sensation she does experience.

I did feel somewhat let down when I experienced so much pain with my UC. I sort of felt like maybe I hadn't done it "right." Now I just accept that labor is dynamic. For some, it doesn't hurt. For others, it does. I don't know what to expect next time, but if it hurts like hell, I won't feel like a failure. I think all women should give themselves that space to find birth for themselves.
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#7 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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I believe painless birth is possible but I never expected it so I never felt let down. I figured, if it happened, great. If not, great. I knew I could handle it either way.

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#8 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 12:12 PM
 
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For me I think its best to describe the sensations as "intense". With my first I had a hospital birth and it hurt more than words can say. With my second I was home (somewhat planned UC) and only my DH and a friend were there. It was intense in a different way, but not extremely painful until the very end. Mostly I think for me that it was extremely painful at the very end because I freaked out because I was scared at how fast my body was moving. I think that if I had stayed more focused at the very end (it was like the last 10 min) that it would not have been as painful.

I want to agree with another poster who said "So even though I experienced pain, I also experienced ecstacy. They are not mutually exclusive." I found that to be true, which is why I call my last birth intense vs painful.

I had 2 friends recently have their first homebirths (one was a HBAC). I talked to both of them about how for me keeping the environment I needed (for me that was no MWs, no stressful people, in a "safe" spot) and focusing on relaxing through the sensations, really helped me. I also did hypnobirthing classes with that pregnancy, so maybe that helped.

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#9 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 12:47 PM
 
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My "labor" with DS consisted of being pumped full of mag. sulfate, pitocin, and pain meds. I was told I had a few contraction according to the machine, but never felt anything.
So no, I don't think there is too much you experiened Mamas can say about pain. I would have no idea of what I could expect otherwise.
Also worst case senario, if I never get the chance to experience it for myself,
at least I can labor/birth vicariously.
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#10 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 12:50 PM
 
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I hate these conversations for some reason... I heard so much throughout my life about how painful birth was, that I was terrified. I even agreed to my cesarean for my first birth SOLELY because I was afraid of the pain. In fact, I never even felt a single contraction w/ my son's birth, and went into my UC with no expectations, either of pain or painlessness.

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.

Throughout my labor, which lasted 3 days, I had very little trouble handling the contractions. Staying calm, breathing deep, NOT PANICING!, was the best thing I could do for myself. If I had to liken contractions to anything, it is like the cramps you get if you have a stomach virus, or if you have eaten something bad. They come and go, giving you time to adjust to the increased intensity, and everything about labor makes it easier to handle than the kinds of pain we are used to thinking of, when we think of pain. It is not like breaking an arm, where you dont expect it and it shoots hot blinding light through your mind.

The ONLY part of birth that I had trouble with, was transition, because I did not expect it, and I freaked out. Once I started to panic it was all down hill. The feeling was like having your bones shift (like when you go to the chiropractor) except it was coming from the inside of me. I don't remember a ring of fire, but I thought, as irrational as it sounds now, that I was going to come apart from the inside. It wasnt that it was necessarily more painful than the contractions... but loosing my calm made it feel out of control, if that makes sense.

I dont think people should expect painless labor. I sure don't. I do think people should expect to be suprised though. Expect that you will have to just let go and accept the pain if it comes. Expect that your body will feel completely different than it ever has in your life. But expect that you are capable of this, and capable of taking this pain into you and making it a part of you, and coming out the other side, with an enormous sense of accomplishment and self worth. People dont like to talk about how it makes them feel to have a UC because, imo, we are always being told that we do it for selfish reasons, for our own pride. But, although that was not why I chose to UC... IT did give me that sense of pride, and amazement at myself and what I was capable of. I felt empowered by my birth in a way that I could never have imagined feeling... a way that I dont think I could possibly have duplicated by any other means.
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#11 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:01 PM
 
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Well, I'm a heretic on this one. I do not believe in labor pain - I mean I don't believe that it is natural. I didn't find people that tried to talk to me about pain helpful the first time around. I found them unsupportive, and their words came back to me when I was in pain and made me despise them for planting those things in my head. *I felt like they interferred in my birth even though they weren't there, because they sent me into birth with their own baggage!* : Just being honest here.

My "natural" homebirth I begged to die - like Pat Carter describes in her book, my fear was not of death, but "that I would not die"! : After that I decided it wasn't enough just not to believe in pain and to try to have a natural birth, so I studied hypnosis. I did *pitocin* and didn't cry out in pain once! Yes, I think I'm pretty fabulous for doing that. There were 20 minutes when things got intense to the point of becoming painful, and I did take a little something to take the edge off - but that was because I was in the hospital and it was avaliable - that pain was nothing, NOTHING like what I experienced with #1, which will still send me into a fit of anxiety just thinking about it...

Pat Carter swears with her UCs she had nothing but 30 seconds of pain with each - her "transition". She believed that to be natural - I totally believe this labor will be the same. I have enough evidence from both my previous labors to suggest that if I just left my body alone and didn't push it - it will give birth very gently. She believed it was important for a woman's *safety* that she avoid pain. "You owe it to your child to suffer as little as possible so it in turn will suffer little at its birth." I believe that too.

I believe painless is possible - a worthy goal - and I don't see any value in telling women that labor can be painful. So ok, I'll tell you if I still think all this in a few months
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#12 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:06 PM
 
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Well, I'm a heretic on this one. I do not believe in labor pain - I mean I don't believe that it is natural. I didn't find people that tried to talk to me about pain helpful the first time around. I found them unsupportive, and their words came back to me when I was in pain and made me despise them for planting those things in my head. *I felt like they interferred in my birth even though they weren't there, because they sent me into birth with their own baggage!* : Just being honest here.

My "natural" homebirth I begged to die - like Pat Carter describes in her book, my fear was not of death, but "that I would not die"! : After that I decided it wasn't enough just not to believe in pain and to try to have a natural birth, so I studied hypnosis. I did *pitocin* and didn't cry out in pain once! Yes, I think I'm pretty fabulous for doing that. There were 20 minutes when things got intense to the point of becoming painful, and I did take a little something to take the edge off - but that was because I was in the hospital and it was avaliable - that pain was nothing, NOTHING like what I experienced with #1, which will still send me into a fit of anxiety just thinking about it...

Pat Carter swears with her UCs she had nothing but 30 seconds of pain with each - her "transition". She believed that to be natural - I totally believe this labor will be the same. I have enough evidence from both my previous labors to suggest that if I just left my body alone and didn't push it - it will give birth very gently. She believed it was important for a woman's *safety* that she avoid pain. "You owe it to your child to suffer as little as possible so it in turn will suffer little at its birth." I believe that too.

I believe painless is possible - a worthy goal - and I don't see any value in telling women that labor can be painful. So ok, I'll tell you if I still think all this in a few months
LOVED your post, thank you! I refuse to even hear alot of this, which is why I am going to not read THIS thread anymore. Mind over matter, I can handle it and it won't be too painful. I really believe that & I won't let negative thoughts ruin it for me.

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#13 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:16 PM
 
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Mind over matter, I can handle it and it won't be too painful. I really believe that & I won't let negative thoughts ruin it for me.
In my long drawn out winded post, this is exactly what I meant to say. Your mind is the most powerful part of you, and IMO its the best drug out there, if you know how to harness it.

For me, learning yoga or meditation was the best thing possible. IT made the feeling of birth euphoric, and not to be too freaky, but it made me understand why people get off on pain, when they see it as something other than bad.
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#14 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:19 PM
 
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In my long drawn out winded post, this is exactly what I meant to say.
I'm a master of brievity! (Yeah, still reading...)

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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#15 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:30 PM
 
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(Yeah, still reading...)
I saw you posted and thought - I thought she said she wasn't reading anymore....

My mind is so far removed from what other people think about pain and labor now, that it doesn't even bother me to read it anymore. I'm weird - I honestly don't think I'll experience any pain at all - now that I've made peace with the fact that my body labors in such a way that it is very difficult to know I'm in labor and I'll probably not get much warning that birth is coming. I'm going to drink wine, read [trashy novels] and paint my toe nails like Pat Carter. Had the funny thought last night - what if I have to catch the baby and my nails are wet with red polish?
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#16 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 01:31 PM
 
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I saw you posted and thought - I thought she said she wasn't reading anymore....

My mind is so far removed from what other people think about pain and labor now, that it doesn't even bother me to read it anymore. I'm weird - I honestly don't think I'll experience any pain at all - now that I've made peace with the fact that my body labors in such a way that it is very difficult to know I'm in labor and I'll probably not get much warning that birth is coming. I'm going to drink wine, read [trashy novels] and paint my toe nails like Pat Carter. Had the funny thought last night - what if I have to catch the baby and my nails are wet with red polish?
Wow, sounds like a huge problem! I hope I have equally looming issues!

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#17 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 02:10 PM
 
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And I mean, the Pain.

Labor hurts. It hurts badly sometimes. We talk about it, but do we say enough to first time mamas? Couldn't UC mamas who are birthing for the first time benefit greatly from knowing that the pain might make them feel like they want to die and come back as another life form? Is it possible to say too much about the pain to a first timer?

Honestly, I don't think so. I think all the talk about relaxation and pain coping techniques can hinder some mamas...it makes them think that if they just do A, B, or C, they will experience pain relief and everything will be ok. Yes, we need to talk about how to get through the pain, but can we also talk about how painful it truly can be?

Each birth of mine has been different. Only 1 was pain free - my last birth. What a gift. But the rest were extremely painful. My oldest daughter has witnessed these births and KNOWS, truly knows how painful birth can be. I think this is so valuable to her, but not every girl is going to experience another woman's birth.
I generally do not quote entire posts, but I had to this time, because I completely agree with everything you said. This was something I missed as a FTM having a UC. It would have helped to know that extreme pain during labor does not necessarily equal dysfunction, disease, or disaster.

I thought I would not experience much pain during labor because I was unafraid and prepared. I thought I had an awfully good chance at orgasmic birth because of my great relationships with all those parts and how good I felt about birthing.

It's not that I went into birth thinking it would be painful. I thought it was possible, and tried to be prepared for it, but also thought it just wouldn't be a big deal and I wasn't convinced I'd experience any pain.

What made me "believe" in labor pain was being in excruciating pain for 8 hours. Everything up to that was mild in comparison, though I guess if I hadn't had those last 8 hours I'd have described pain in chidbirth as "intensity, not really pain" or "pain, but not bad, no worse than bad cramps." Maybe mention that it got pretty intense and crazy around transition. But that wasn't my experience. It's not that I walked into labor expecting pain, and so I had it. I walked into labor expecting a range of things, and got totally whacked with excruciating pain on a level I did not anticipate. Experiencing the pain has made me believe that it is real.

The tough thing is that different approaches will benefit different mamas in different ways. 2bluefish has no interest in any conversation about pain, unless it's about how there isn't any. As she said, to her, anything else is unsupportive. (And I mean that in a nice way, even though it sounds kind of snotty. Really. ) For me, talking more about pain would have been immeasurably valuable. That sometimes, it is so bad there is really nothing you can do to cope with it.

I knew both the baby and I were okay, and yet I was in astounding pain. It would have helped to know that that can happen. I felt like I was a laboring oxymoron: extreme pain = something wrong, yet I knew nothing was wrong.

Okay I am tooootally rambling and have to get back to work. End of lunch break.
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#18 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 02:28 PM
 
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I just wanted to expand a bit on what I mean by pain v. intensity. And in my first labor, it wasn't just 28 hours, but 12 hours of that was with pitocin and no movement, no pain meds, etc....so truly what most people would consider an extreme of childbirth.

But it just wasn't quite the same thing as pain is, to me. And I really felt I was ready for it...not just the experience of birth, the stages of labor, but also the mental shift from "pain" to intensity. Because I probably could have, in another situation, called it extreme pain. But the thing is, and maybe this is like other posters have said, mind over matter I refused to characterize it that way, refused to deal with it that way. Instead, I accepted it and tried to embrace it.

The intensity did get to me, and being in the hospital, being strapped down to a dumb monitor, no one reminding me to pee (that would have helped!!) and when transition first it during my first labor, I was overwhelmed. I felt out of control, I felt like I couldn't handle it, I said to my ex-h that I wanted drugs and I wanted them then. And there were other things, too, like the nurse saying I was only 7cm and couldn't be in transition, and the fact that for me, transition lasts for about 2 hours, so it wasn't a quick thing to get through. But having someone there who could recognize and sympathize with what I was going through (my exh), who could refocus me and remind me of our goal: natural childbirth, got me through that confusion and I called the nurse back to cancel the drugs. Even the doctor was surprised and after the birth, he came to ask me what changed, how did I make it through? And I said it was about refocusing, turning inward, and having someone who could help me through.

I don't think I could UC without similar support, I know that so many people here can do solo UCs, and I'm amazed! I know that for me, I need someone with me, to help me through that confusion, and if my partner were not capable of doing it I would have to have other help. If it were all on me to decide when there was an emergency, I probably would head to "help" during transition. But I do like what the Bradley method teaches, that at that point, when the mom asks for "help" or "something for the pain" what she really needs is additional support from people around her, more than any drug. (And yeah, I know there are some not so great Bradley classes out there, I just happen to have had a great one and feel like I teach good classes as well).

(BTW, this is probably the best story I have about my exh...many many other ways he failed me, but at least in the birth of our first child, he was right on supportive).
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#19 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 02:29 PM
 
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I think this is one thing that definitely needs to be addressed, especially with first timers. We (DH and I) can honestly say that DD's birth went south because we had decided to transfer in for the pain killers. We both can honestly and openly admit that had we stayed home it would have been fine. Why didn't we? Neither of us was prepared for the intensity of it. Not necessarily the "pain", because while it was "painful" I've had period cramps that hurt more, but the actual intensity of the contractions riding one another and not getting a break and then BAM! transition hitting and REALLY not getting a break. It's a lot to take in. I don't care how many books or websites you read or how many classes you take that is a whole new type of feeling. As it should be.

I think the relaxation and coping techniques talk is overdone. I was so hung up on using water because everyone uses it and its oh so wonderful and it works. BS. It does not work on a baby who is face up (which a lot of first time babies are). So I spent a good portion of my labour pissed because this wonderful and effective technique wasn't wonderful or effective for me. I had spent 9 months reading about it and never really focused on other things because it's supposed to be such a cure all yk? I think it's a good idea to know about your options in terms of coping and what not but I think for first time moms the focus needs to be on finding one that works for you. If you have to spend 2 hours of labour finding YOUR coping technique than do so. It was such a dissapointment for me that the water never helped.

I think the main thing (I'm doing a lot of thinking in this post ) is our language. Labour CAN BE painful and water/swaying your hips/sex/dark rooms CAN BE helpful. As people I think we get too hung up on absolutes. All labour hurts. Water will always remove some of the intensity. All pregnant women get morning sickness etc. There needs to be a shift in the wording we use, not neccessarily a shift in what gets talked about yk?

Ok, I think that makes sense.

ETA: I didn't read all the replies before doing so myself. I do think there is a difference between intensityand actual pain. THAT is the one thing that needs to change. Smacking your finger with a hammer hurts. Labour is intense and is more about pressure (for me). Pressure can hurt...a pressue headache hurts....applying pressure during a massage doesn't always yk?

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#20 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 02:56 PM
 
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I took hypnobirthing as my 'class' and I am so glad that I did. I never felt the baby vaginally at all--which I attribute to deep relaxation--I did feel an intense amount of pressure when he was in my pelvis (which subsequently cracked, THAT hurt), I never felt myself tear (3rd nearly 4th degree), I never even felt him crowning-which was so weird when they had to tell me he was on his way out. I don't think labor has to be horrendously painful, and I truly do think the level of relaxation has so much to do with it, but OTOH like a pp said I think it also has to do with how you interpret the intensity of the experience. Transition scared me--because I had no idea I was so far along in labor, it was so quick and suddenly he was coming and I felt unpreppared since --EVERYONE--had told me I had at least 24 hours as a first time laboring mom--so when after a couple of hours things moved along so quickly I was in shock--which I think effected how I handled transition immensely. Now that I know every person/labor/baby is completely different (I could write a novel about how different my current pregnancy is from my last) I won't place the expectations of someone else's labor on my own. Could it hurt? Certainly, or it could also be like last time, but chances are the experience will be completely unique unto itself and I don't want to cloud this birth with another's perception (or even my own from my previous labor). From someone who had no pain until transition (and my poor pelvis), I don't know that it is a good idea to teach people that it will be unbearably painful--I am not sure what would have happened had I gone into birth with that expectation. I sincerely believe in the fear-tension-pain theory and I think telling first time moms how horrible or painful it *could be* could actually create more fear/harm than do good. It seems that fear/intervention is what so negatively effects us during labor in the hospital, for example. 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.
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#21 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 03:04 PM
 
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Here's a short essay I wrote about my experience of pain during labor
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#22 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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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. :
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#23 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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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!
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#24 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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....

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#25 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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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.
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#27 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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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.

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#28 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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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.
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#29 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 05:55 PM
 
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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.

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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.
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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.
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#30 of 68 Old 08-03-2007, 07:00 PM
 
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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
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