Language in labor- "rushes" or "contractions" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is on my mind as I prepare for my first giving birth. Having read Spiritual midwifery and other Ina May Gaskin type stuff I am familiar with the term "rushes" as one way to refer to what many call "contractions" in labor.
I am feeling inclined to use that instead of contractions. My own midwives say contractions.
I feel like when I say the words " I am having a contraction" I tend to feel tensed up. That things are hardening, where in birth I will want to be softening and opening. So then I logistically talk myself through the idea that what is contracting is the uterus which means it is opening. But on a gutteral level it doesn't feel like a word to associate with opening and softening.

Added edit- after re reading this I am not sure about the word rushes either- but I am essentially asking if anyone else prefers to use another word other than contractions and if anyone has found one they like for this.
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#2 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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It's weird - I want to want to call them rushes, but I get a skeeved out feeling doing so. I don't know what it is - I guess to me it just feels cheesy or something (kind of like the irrational rage at the "Brest" friend spelling!). I want to believe in the power of language and all (and I do in other instances!) but maybe it's just the word "rush" - having been through it once, I really wouldn't say it felt like a rush at all, so maybe it just feels dishonest to me or imprecise? Anyway.

Honestly, I don't even really remember it coming up very much during labor, but that could be because I was so internally focussed that I just wasn't paying attention. If you think it will be a real hang-up for you, you might consider saying something. Or maybe you'll find that during labor you'll change your mind and say something about it then. I think if it's important enough to you, you'll do something about it, it'll feel right, y'know?

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#3 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I think it depends on what the word Rush means to you. To me it also seems tense. But I'm more of a tone person. If someone was nervous or anxious around me it wouldn't matter what they were calling something - I would be tense. So if someone said lets get through this next contraction/rush/wave in a relaxing, non threatening way it would all mean the same thing to me I think.

I kind of like the word wave or something similar, but honestly I'm sure I will just call them contractions because that is already what I refer to them as in my head.

I think as long as everyone around you knows some language of relaxation and can help you visualize opening it should be fine.
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#4 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yeah- somehting about the word rush doesn't sit right with me either, like too hippiesh or something. Maybe wave. I think I am looking for suggestions of words for this that people have used and liked. I am just trying to address issues now so that whenI am in it I don't have to have those things affecting me in a way I don't want, y'know?
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#5 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Keeta View Post
I want to believe in the power of language and all (and I do in other instances!) but maybe it's just the word "rush" - having been through it once, I really wouldn't say it felt like a rush at all, so maybe it just feels dishonest to me or imprecise? Anyway.
Yes; I love Ina May, but contractions just have never felt like "rushes" to me. (They feel like [censored!]'s.) But "here it comes" or "here comes another one" is usually about the extent to which I find the need to discuss contractions while in labor.

Another point of Ina May's is that we should tap into our 'monkey brains' (instinct) to birth--which I'm thinking may not be compatible with focusing on language.

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#6 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I Can totally see what you guys mean. But doesn't the word contraction kind of make you feel tense? It does to me. I am not saying that I expect contractions not to hurt or feel tense, but I just wonder if there is a more useful way for me to refer to it, just for myself. Of course I really don't know if it will matter one iota for me when the time comes. It is just something I am considering right now, y'know?
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#7 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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I think you should use whichever word works best for you.
I'm sure your midwives would be happy to comply.
Me, I was so far off in laborland I don't think I was calling them anything at all.

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#8 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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Well, they feel more like contractions to me than rushes, so...

I don't remember discussing them much in labor though. I've only had about 30 minutes of early labor between two births, and when I'm in active labor, it's pretty obvious that I'm having a contraction, so it's not too necessary to announce it, kwim? The only time I remember it being discussed was with my first, when my mw was telling me what to do with the next pushing contraction.

I'm all about looking at birth from a different perspective (and I do), but I never thought about that particular terminology before now (I obviously still have yet to read any Ina May books! )...I guess I'd be just as okay with calling them labor pains, because for me, that's what they are!

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#9 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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in hypnobirthing they use the term "pressure waves" if that helps

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#10 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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I've heard them called waves as well before. Honestly, I never really thought so much about naming them and what name I'd prefer. Interesting thought. With my first my water broke at home, so no need to time the contractions or anything - we knew she was going to be born that day, one way or another. And since my other two were inductions, it really didn't matter either. I think when I did refer to them it was more like "ooo this is a big one" or "here comes another"...

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#11 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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Not in your DDC, but saw your post and wanted to offer another suggestion:

If neither seems to fit, what about calling them "waves" or "surges"? I like "surges" because I associate it with "surging forward", progress, etc.

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#12 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 07:33 PM
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I'm doing hypnobabies and they call them pressure waves, which is what I've been calling them in my mind. Out loud I still say contraction because that doesn't really have a negative image to me. My finger muscles are contracting and relaxing right now in order for me to type this. Most bodily movement, including your heartbeat, involves muscles contracting. So I don't really connect contraction with pain, but that's just me.
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#13 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 07:50 PM
 
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I totally know what you mean, Katie! I've been wishing for the "perfect" word for 5 pregnancies now. I personally feel dorky trying to change the status quo, even when part of me thinks it should be changed, you know? My first and second pregnancies I tried to use "rush" or "surge" and just discovered that not only did I feel foolish, but it made no difference whatsoever in the people around me! The OB and nurses with my first didn't even pretend to care about my preference, and with my second, my midwife said she'd use whatever word I preferred, but when it came to actual labor, she reverted to the language that was normal/comfortable for her.

And I certainly didn't fault her for that.

Honestly, what helped me was to reframe the word "contraction" so that it lost it's power to make me feel tense. That might not work for you, but it helped me to just take the sting out of the word, remove the emotion and just leave the bare description--muscles contract and release. The uterus is a muscle. Ergo, it contracts and releases, in turns, to do it's work. Just like my biceps when I lift something....contract and release...tighten and relax.....each is essential to the other for the process to be effective.

Taking the focus off the "contraction" and putting it more onto the whole muscle cycle of contract-and-release was very helpful to me. The contraction is just half of it. Kinda like a clock, there's a tick and a tock, they go hand in hand.

I think it also helps that the end of the cycle is the "release" so the natural tension that is built up (physically, emotionally, psychologically) has a natural outlet when you can frame it that way.

Hope this helps....I don't know if there is a perfect word out there, but maybe over the course of my next five pregnancies, I'll find it!

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#14 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 08:00 PM
 
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Honestly, what helped me was to reframe the word "contraction" so that it lost it's power to make me feel tense. That might not work for you, but it helped me to just take the sting out of the word, remove the emotion and just leave the bare description--muscles contract and release. The uterus is a muscle. Ergo, it contracts and releases, in turns, to do it's work. Just like my biceps when I lift something....contract and release...tighten and relax.....each is essential to the other for the process to be effective.

Taking the focus off the "contraction" and putting it more onto the whole muscle cycle of contract-and-release was very helpful to me. The contraction is just half of it. Kinda like a clock, there's a tick and a tock, they go hand in hand.

I think it also helps that the end of the cycle is the "release" so the natural tension that is built up (physically, emotionally, psychologically) has a natural outlet when you can frame it that way.
That's a good call, Shebear - I think what helped me through my labor was focusing on that muscular and rhythmic part to it - and like you said, the uterus is a muscle and when we work out our muscles they do contract and release (like lifting weights). The thing that helped me more than the language of it was the staying totally relaxed and out of the way of it. It's not like lifting weights in that you personally are not exerting any effort - your body is doing it for you. The more YOU try to DO anything (other than relax and let it happen) the harder and more painful it is, because you're basically only going to be creating counter or co-contractions (like in your face, shoulders, hands, back). So, for me, yes, contraction is a "tense" word - but it really was a "tense" sensation for me, too, and the only thing to do for me was the sit back, seriously relax, and allow it to occur without fighting it AT ALL.

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#15 of 23 Old 01-15-2010, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a good call, Shebear - I think what helped me through my labor was focusing on that muscular and rhythmic part to it - and like you said, the uterus is a muscle and when we work out our muscles they do contract and release (like lifting weights). The thing that helped me more than the language of it was the staying totally relaxed and out of the way of it. It's not like lifting weights in that you personally are not exerting any effort - your body is doing it for you. The more YOU try to DO anything (other than relax and let it happen) the harder and more painful it is, because you're basically only going to be creating counter or co-contractions (like in your face, shoulders, hands, back). So, for me, yes, contraction is a "tense" word - but it really was a "tense" sensation for me, too, and the only thing to do for me was the sit back, seriously relax, and allow it to occur without fighting it AT ALL.
That sounds like Really Good Advice! Thanks! I am glad you mentioned this part. Like, on some level I don't even get how the whole "contraction" thing works in labor- yet I almost don't want to get too technical with it. I think the best I could do is like what you say- let it happen the best I can and let it do its thing, rather than trying too hard to understand all the technicalities of it.
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#16 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 04:36 PM
 
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I agree with Keeta. Contractions are like sneezes, or like vomiting (sorry, I know, not a great comparison) in that you and your conscious mind have absolutely no control over them, so it's best to relax the rest of your body as much as you possibly can.

I think "rush" is not a great word (for my personal experience of giving birth, anyway). I associate "rush" with fast movement, and labor was long and slow. "Wave" is a little better, but still not very physical, and labor is very, very physical. I do think that once you're in the thick of it you stop using words very much at all. I know I was barely coherent and not thinking clearly when I was in active labor.

Contraction doesn't bother me, because that's a pretty accurate description of what your body is doing. Uteruses also contract during orgasm, and that's not a painful sensation. Maybe it would be helpful to you to recenter your feelings about the word contraction, if you are having a hard time finding another word to use....
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#17 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't really understand what is contracting or how, in labor. Maybe it Would help to get an image of that. How is the uterus contracting if it is in fact opening?
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#18 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 06:05 PM
 
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My understanding is that your uterus is contracting to open your cervix - so the muscles of the uterus contract and pull your cervix up and open at the same time, opening it up slowly.

Here's a video I found that kind of shows the process. Pretty cool!

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#19 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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Cool video! Except I suspect that most (all?) babies are much more active/involved in the process than that.

Katie, are you having any bh contrax yet? does your uterus every get really tight/hard--maybe not painful, but strong enough you have to focus on it, remind yourself to breathe for a few seconds?

The uterus is not *opening* during labor/contractions. By that time, it is already as open as it's gonna get! Rather, it is tightening, squeezing. At the same time, the cervix is opening.

Imagine holding a ping pong ball or a large marble in your closed fist, and trying to squeeze it out through the hole made by your thumb and first finger. Your hand will start squeezing at the pinky finger, and the pressure will travel towards the thumb/first finger. The space behind the marble will constrict, forcing the marble toward the opening. The opening of your thumb/finger will enlarge, allowing the marble to shoot out. Your hand muscles all work together very smoothly to make this happen, but it's a multi-step process, KWIM?

You know those long, skinny balloons they make animals and stuff out of? How they leave a section without air in it, so they can make all the twists, etc. Imagine playing with one of those....you can move the air in it from one end to the other by squeezing. So imagine what the balloon will look like in slow-motion if you sqeeze it from the tip end toward the knot (but imagine that it's not tied shut, just maybe taped closed or something. So you start squeezing the end...the balloon doesn't enlarge or open; the air is simply displaced to the other end. You move your hand a little further up and squeeze again--the air bubble gets closer to the opening. When the air reaches the opening, what happens? The small hole (remember, it's stuck together but not tied) starts to expand from the pressure, and eventually the air comes out.

Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, the vomiting analogy is spot-on. You ever watched a cat vomit up a hairball? That's pretty much what labor looks like, only coming out the other end!

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#20 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 07:45 PM
 
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Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, the vomiting analogy is spot-on. You ever watched a cat vomit up a hairball? That's pretty much what labor looks like, only coming out the other end!


And if you're like me, you'll do both anyway.

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#21 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am not sure if I will watch the video- but thanks for the link. I want to as I am curious- but what exactly is it a video of?

so the uterus is not opening but actually squeezing/pushing out the baby?
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#22 of 23 Old 01-16-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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I am not sure if I will watch the video- but thanks for the link. I want to as I am curious- but what exactly is it a video of?

so the uterus is not opening but actually squeezing/pushing out the baby?
The video is just a simulation of a uterus pushing out a baby, and you can kind of see how the contractions are pushing the baby down against the cervix to dilate it - it's kind of like scientific animation, if that makes sense.

Yep, the uterus is just squeezing/pushing the baby down against the cervix to dilate it, not opening up itself.

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#23 of 23 Old 01-17-2010, 01:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Keeta I watched it! Cool! thanks for that- that makes more sense now. My husband watched it with me too.
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