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I didn't really have much fear with my first. Even when my water broke at 29 weeks, I didn't freak out (surprisingly!). Labor and birth was very quick with him. I was able to go unmedicated because when I started to feel like I couldn't do it anymore, I remembered the birth stories I'd read that said they felt like that just before it was all over, so I just thought to myself that I'm almost done and I can get through this last little bit.

This pregnancy, I have new fears. I've been through natural childbirth 3 times now, so the birth itself doesn't scare me so much, but the fact that I'm having hypertension that I've never had in previous pregnancies means I'm at higher risk of developing pre-e, so that sends my mind to early baby, emergency c/s, etc. My bp is great on meds right now, but I'm only 18.5 weeks. What if pre-e develops at 21 or 22 weeks? I've been praying to at least get to 28+ weeks, when I know baby would not only survive but also have lower risk of complications from preterm birth (my 29 weeker is a healthy 10 year old now).

I'm trying to just let go of these fears. There is nothing I can do to prevent anything, and it does my body no good to worry. I think I just worry more this pregnancy because this is absolutely my last pregnancy. We weren't even supposed to have this pregnancy, and now that it's here, I don't want to lose this 4th child that I always wanted (we'd negotiated to 3 children when I wanted 4 and DH wanted 2). Getting back into baby mode is a little scary too, but I'm excited about this little bundle of joy, and so are my kids. That's probably another thing that scares me... something happening to baby and having to tell my younger kids who kiss the baby multiple times per day. They love this baby already. So I'm praying that I don't develop pre-e at all (it appears to be a 50/50 chance for me), but if I do develop it, I pray that baby will be far enough along to be ok long term.

The pre-e risk also brings up fear of c/s. I watched my friend recover from am emergency c/s for complete placenta previa, and it sucked. Recovery was much harder than with vaginal birth, and she still has that spot on her belly with no feeling, which is annoying to her... 5 years later. The thought of surgery while I'm awake terrifies me, and the thought of a needle in my back terrifies me. So again, I just try not to think about it, and continue to pray that no pre-e develops and I can birth naturally around 37 weeks like I usually do (I flash cook my kids).
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I loved the entire process from pregnancy to birthing to the first blissful weeks after the birth (and beyond, though some days these past years I've had to convince myself of this!), to the point, like murrelet, that I wanted to be a surrogate. As a single mother, on food stamps and housing assistance this wasn't entirely possible (I wouldn't have been doing it for the money, but also wouldn't have denied a financial exchange for the process!!)

(as a side note, an ad just played while I was typing this? Scared me just a bit!! I didn't realize mothering had video ads... )

With my first born, at 18 years old, I was surrounded by many people (mostly all!) with a very negative and scary attitude about labor and delivery. The stories and warnings of "get the epidural!" were very scary to me, and my/his birth was less than ideal. Fortunately there were no complications from all that medical intervention, but there was a lack of self empowerment for my ability to birth a child. I woke up with my 2nd, and the high I experienced from having an unmedicated birth was like no other. Not sure if there is a connection, but I'm much closer to this child. He's my best buddy, and I actively seek him out to spend time with when I've had a really rough day.

I'm so glad for all you first timers to not only have your own inclinations to the beauty of birth, but also to have a resource to come to where people are optimistic and empowering about the birthing experience. It truly is magically wonderfully difficult. For me, the difficulty was only minutes long, at the very end when he was about to emerge. Once he was here, I was so content with the bliss and euphoria that I held no memory of the pain.

Jodie, thank you for your words. Embracing every possible outcome. And trusting the process wholeheartedly. I shared my fear with my husband, and felt quite shut down by him. "Why would you worry about that? It's not a big deal, you just (motioning unwrapping the cord) and move on. Get over it." Yes. Get over it. For me, in the end, I get over EVERYTHING. But not so instantaneously sometimes. Sometimes I need to hold that fear, to "and then what?" it, to analyze it, embrace it, and release it. I'm there on this issue.

Who on here has the signature, (something along the lines of) "Will one minute of worrying change the outcome, or be positive for you" or something along those lines? I love it. As my favorite line in a Tom Petty song goes, "Most things I worry about never happen anyway." Perhaps our worrying about them is our way of experiencing them on a different level, so that when we get there, we can respond. But perhaps that's just a lot of wasted energy. Moving forward. Always moving forward. :stillheart
 

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With a paper over the front cover :) I did start reading Childbirth Without Fear yesterday during my flights. While the concept is interesting and I understand what he is saying, I'm not sure I buy it 100% yet. My basic understanding so far is that birth is not supposed to be painful (discomfort, yes), and if you don't fear the process and create tension, then the body will work as its supposed to, without pain. Going into the book, I had in my head that yes there will be pain, but it's manageable and if you know that's it's coming and know what to expect, you can get through it. So for those of you who have been through an unmedicated birth, what's the real story? A couple people already mentioned the pain. Has anyone truly gone through an unmedicated birth without pain?

As a side story, I have a friend who had her first baby via c-section almost two years ago. I heard the birth story once, but it was at a party and I didn't fully hear it all. So I'm not 100% sure what led to the c-section, but I did hear that she had a lot of pain and was desperate to get some drugs. She was also overdue, so may have been induced. Anyway, we were recently talking about my pregnancy and plans for birth, and I mentioned that I'm going the midwife route. Her husband didn't understand the difference, so I explained the midwife philosophy of trusting the body to know what to do. And my friend said that clearly her body didn't know what to do. Then the conversation continued into birthing classes and that I was planning to read up on / attend classes of different methods to deal with labor. She said she didn't do any of that - didn't really read anything about labor, didn't go to classes, didn't even go to the basic hospital birth class! I guess she just showed up and expected everything to work out? So I'm wondering now if that's part of why she ended up with the c-section, by not really knowing what to expect or how to manage the pain.
 

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Who on here has the signature, (something along the lines of) "Will one minute of worrying change the outcome, or be positive for you" or something along those lines? I love it. As my favorite line in a Tom Petty song goes, "Most things I worry about never happen anyway." Perhaps our worrying about them is our way of experiencing them on a different level, so that when we get there, we can respond. But perhaps that's just a lot of wasted energy. Moving forward. Always moving forward. :stillheart
That is @gabeyho :) It is Matthew 6:27/Luke 12:25 - "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

I love when she post cuz I get reminded of that spectacular line. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Knowledge is power, Sarahjs. But it's more than power in a birthing situation. It can be a powerful relaxant, too.
There are people (a very very very) small percentage whose body just doesn't know what to do, or complications that are very real that need to be addressed. But with knowledge, recognizing those situations puts you in a different place. You doubt your body less when it does something that is perfectly normal, though unexpected when you haven't tried to understand the process. Delivering a baby is no joke! But without knowledge, one can become fearful, and when fear emerges, our natural tendency is to clench our body, our yoni's included. Clenching an area that is trying to open is counter productive. With knowledge, even those hardest contractions can be understood as temporary and necessary, the burden of fear automatically eases, and you can give your body its best shot at doing what it's naturally inclined to do...
 

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I definitely experienced pain in birth, but it was a pain I could handle because I knew what I was getting out of it. It's different from the pain you'd get from cutting yourself or breaking a bone or something.

Years ago, I had surgery done on my big toes with a local anesthetic. Getting the numbing shot in the tips of my toes hurt so much that I can still feel the pain if I think about it. I can't feel the birth pain I had 3 times. I remember the fact that there was pain, but I can't remember exactly what it felt like. I can't feel it now like I can the pain of those evil local anesthetic shots.
 
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For me, @sarahjs, there was pain. But, when I would relax my body and welcome the sensations, the pain was significantly less than when I would tense up in preparation for the pain. The difference was immense and I can totally see the fear-tension-pain connection. Also, there is a difference between pain and suffering. For me, childbirth never went beyond pain into suffering.
is a good video that explains the pain v. suffering and how the pain turns into suffering usually... by Penny Simkin, the same woman who wrote the chart that the mothering article Valerie11 posted. A few weeks/months ago, @murrelet wrote about the pain of childbirth being like a hike and it really resonated with how I feel about the sensations of childbirth. I will try to find it and link to it, but... does anyone else remember what thread that was in?
 

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I found transition very painful in both my natural births. But I did it and I will do it again.
 
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@happyday8598 Being young I guess causes a lot of people (even men???) to laugh off my views on birth. They say things like "oh you say that now, just wait you'll be begging for an epidural." I just think it's so silly to waste your breath trying to discourage another woman from having the birth she chooses and trying to scare her.

I don't want to have a natural birth so I can say "yeah look at me, I'm the best!" I just want to feel in complete control of my birth so I can feel empowered and strong knowing that I can do hard things. Very, very hard things!

I feel a blog post coming on.
 

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@sarahjs, I think there are a lot of factors that determine what kind and level of pain you will personally experience. Sadly, you won't know those factors until you are in the throes of labor. That is why having an excellent birth team (your partner being well-informed, and a doula) will be YOUR best defense against YOUR specific type of pain. If you experience labor that lasts 4 hours or less, start to finish, you can kiss a pain free labor goodbye, but that doesn't mean it has to be unbearable.

Childbirth education is where it is at, IMO, for setting yourself up for the best-possible outcome. I couldn't actually attend the Bradley Method workshops, so I read the material and my doula was an instructor. I found that to be adequate for my needs.

As far as the real deal on natural labor, I wanted to share a few things that helped me deal with the pain. Contractions are like a wave-- they slowly build in intensity, and they slowly release. You'll have some breaks in between to regain your physical and emotional composure. Some of us get much shorter breaks, but that is outside of our control. I loved knowing this pattern going in to labor because it helped me cope instead of feeling like it would last forever. Transition is the most demanding part--physically and emotionally. Usually a woman will say, or think, something that is just crazy. Some say they can't go on anymore. I personally began to have very vivid fantasies of the midwife meeting me in the parking lot with an epidural, hahaha. And, it is never too early to practice relaxing. I would lay in my bed, and instead of just laying like usual, I imagained I was a stick of butter and tried to melt. Many women visualize the ocean tide or flowers in bloom. But I love eating, so it was butter for me! I relaxed as much as possible during my labor and the practice paid off.

I think the fact that you're in this DDC, seeking support/information is going to be so helpful, and like Happyday said, empowering.
@boscopup, Pre-e and e are no joke, no wonder you are worried. I'd be fearful, too. Please keep us updated. I'm rooting for you!
 

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I'm thinking we all process pain differently. I was surprised to read in that article I just posted that if the baby is posterior, it hurts in the back. My labors always hurt my back, but I'm not sure that means they are always positioned a certain way.

Also, I remember being more aware of the idea of trying to relax through the contractions, of letting go during each one, by the third birth. I really did try to do that, but trying and wanting to do something physically is different than what I was actually able to do. I just kept tensing up anyway. I'm not much of a physical person, though, so maybe it was just me.
 

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Here is a factoid I virtually never share, because it seems pretty discouraging to others and also because I'm still hanging on to some foolish pride about myself and natural birth:

During both of my home births, I went through periods of feeling that I'd made a huge mistake, was a moron for choosing natural birth and forgoing medication, and would absolutely never ever do this again outside of a hospital. During these periods, pride and stubbornness were the only things preventing me from voicing that feeling, and probably asking to be taken straight to the nearest anesthesiologist.

Now, here is an emotion I joyfully share with everyone who will listen to me:

Right as soon as the above sensation passes and literally at every other moment in my entire life thereafter, including during pushing, crowning, tearing, recovery when it burns to pee, scary postpartum emotions, all of it--I LOVE birth and have LOVED and been grateful for the experience. I suppose that I should be also grateful to the stubbornness that led me to put on a show of trusting the process, even when I absolutely did not trust the process. Oh, yes, it was difficult. It was hard as heck, even the moments that were exhilarating! Like Jodie and murrelet have both mentioned, I love it so much that I would gladly birth someone else's child for them (and haven't 100% abandoned that idea yet). It's seriously that great. Not for every single one of us, but for many of us. A lot of that probably has to do with what boscopup described, not being able to remember the sensation of that pain. I don't remember what it was like at all, even though I clearly remember my thought process around it. Somebody whose name I can't remember said a beautiful thing that I also can't quite remember, but essentially it was that the memory of birth pain fades away, but the knowledge of what you did together never will. I love that, and have found it to be quite true.

On preparation--two thoughts:

First, I really love what happyday said about clenching. So true. For me, what really brought the concept home was Ina May Gaskin's explanation of "sphincter law." Sometimes it's not easy to relax! But birth goes by so, so much better and easier when we can! That being said, I think that I may be SO concerned about overexerting myself and tiring out, thus exhausting myself right into the hospital, that I probably go the opposite extreme and relax myself right into stalling labor (this seemed to happen when my eldest was born).

Which brings me to my second thought... It seems to me that our bodies and our received wisdom allow us to go through labor. That figures into the whole clenching thing, the overexertion thing, the sensation-of-pain thing... So many of us have so much to unlearn, but then we also have stuff to learn! We don't have the kind of knowledge about laboring that might have been much more commonplace a long time ago. I think this way about breastfeeding, too, how so many mothers are so frustrated to be told it should be "easy and natural" and if there is struggle, it's "wrong" somehow. Um, it was "easy and natural" a millennium ago when "learning to breastfeed" meant being crowded with seventeen sisters and cousins and aunties and mothers and nanas and neighbors from across the road, all telling you what worked for THEM when THEY were breastfeeding, as opposed to a single lactation consultant over the course of two fifteen-minute visits if you're lucky. Seems to me it's the same for birth--not that you necessarily gave birth attended by a whole crowd, but... you'd likely have all of that experience to draw on by the time you were ready to labor. "We're just born ready for it, our bodies just instinctively work this way" seems to me to be a bit of a damaging half-truth. No wonder so many women walk into the hospital with no real plan--we're just supposed to, like, be Real Women, right?, and let our bodies do their thing? Well... I just don't know about that!
 

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I agree completely, Tee. A few hundred years ago, you grew up with your mother giving birth well into your teens. If you were a younger child in your family, you saw your sisters go through it and you likely witnessed several births before going through it on your own. Same thing with breastfeeding. Before I nursed my babies, my only thought about nursing was that it was only for "poor people." That was my impression and I have no idea where it came from. My mom nursed and had natural births, but I just thought she was crazy and poor, of course. A few hundred years ago, this was not so! It was everywhere! You picked it up over the course of your whole life. I think a lot of it is "received wisdom" as Tee called it. This culture can really do a real number. It is so bad that you have to unlearn it to have the greatest chance of a successful outcome. But, the unlearning needs to be replaced with other truth. Otherwise, you just fall back on those old beliefs.

Also @TeeThatsMe, I love that you used the word "factoid."
 
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I think I used it completely wrong for the context, too. Yep, I am That Nerd. :D
 

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I am glad to be on a forum when there are different ideas about birth than what I usually hear. Most of what I hear around me are scary stories or about people who got an epidural from the get go. I also loved the wave metaphor and feel like that knowledge will be extremely helpful to me.. knowing that it won't last forever. I can't wait to buy all my birthing books and start my hypnosis self-study course (planning on ordering these after a certification i take next saturday) because i truly believe that knowledge is power and I know that I am a strong powerful woman that can do absolutely anything I set my mind to.
 

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If you experience labor that lasts 4 hours or less, start to finish, you can kiss a pain free labor goodbye, but that doesn't mean it has to be unbearable.
:lol My births were 2.5 hours, 4 hours, and 8 hours respectively. I think they all felt about the same toward the end. The 8 hour one probably went longer because baby had his arm up by his forehead (he came out with a strange bruise on his forearm), and he probably moved it out of the way at some point and then I progressed quickly as usual. I was kind of bored during that 8 hour one. Didn't know what to do with myself, and the "birth house" didn't have cell service or Wifi, so no internet. :p I know, first world problems!

To make the pain more bearable, my own technique is to breathe deeply. That's also how I stave off nausea when pregnant. ;) The only problem with my breathing deeply is that I end up needing O2. Thankfully, the midwives carry that along. ;)

During contractions, my DH typically applies counterpressure to my back. That helps immensely. Also, I listen to what position my body wants to be in. In my first birth, I was stuck in bed due to PPROM and being in the hospital. I think they were afraid of a cord accident, though they let me get up to go #2 , and baby was engaged the whole time, but whatever. The point is, I was not allowed to be upright, and my body *really* wanted to be upright. The pain was less when I was upright. My DH tried to get me as upright as I could be when pushing (he supported my back). In my out of hospital births, I labored on the birth stool the first time, and the second time I labored in the water (ohhhhh that was nice!). We didn't have time to fill the tub that first time. Second time they had a hot tub set up, ready to go with the correct temp for water birth. That tub is so awesome. Anyway, being upright helps me through the pain. Different women (and sometimes different labors!) will require different "happy positions". If you have a good midwife or doula present, they'll suggest some positions and you can see what works best for you. For me, laying down was NOT beneficial. Some women actually feel better laying down though!
 

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I agree completely, Tee. A few hundred years ago, you grew up with your mother giving birth well into your teens. If you were a younger child in your family, you saw your sisters go through it and you likely witnessed several births before going through it on your own. Same thing with breastfeeding. Before I nursed my babies, my only thought about nursing was that it was only for "poor people." That was my impression and I have no idea where it came from. My mom nursed and had natural births, but I just thought she was crazy and poor, of course. A few hundred years ago, this was not so! It was everywhere! You picked it up over the course of your whole life. I think a lot of it is "received wisdom" as Tee called it. This culture can really do a real number. It is so bad that you have to unlearn it to have the greatest chance of a successful outcome. But, the unlearning needs to be replaced with other truth. Otherwise, you just fall back on those old beliefs.

Also @TeeThatsMe, I love that you used the word "factoid."
I just came across this article and I think the bit at the end sums up what jodieanneanton said above about preparation and knowldege

http://www.hundredrivers.com/blog/of-course-you-fear-birth
 
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Here is a factoid I virtually never share, because it seems pretty discouraging to others and also because I'm still hanging on to some foolish pride about myself and natural birth:

During both of my home births, I went through periods of feeling that I'd made a huge mistake, was a moron for choosing natural birth and forgoing medication, and would absolutely never ever do this again outside of a hospital. During these periods, pride and stubbornness were the only things preventing me from voicing that feeling, and probably asking to be taken straight to the nearest anesthesiologist.

Now, here is an emotion I joyfully share with everyone who will listen to me:

Right as soon as the above sensation passes and literally at every other moment in my entire life thereafter, including during pushing, crowning, tearing, recovery when it burns to pee, scary postpartum emotions, all of it--I LOVE birth and have LOVED and been grateful for the experience. I suppose that I should be also grateful to the stubbornness that led me to put on a show of trusting the process, even when I absolutely did not trust the process. Oh, yes, it was difficult. It was hard as heck, even the moments that were exhilarating! Like Jodie and murrelet have both mentioned, I love it so much that I would gladly birth someone else's child for them (and haven't 100% abandoned that idea yet). It's seriously that great. Not for every single one of us, but for many of us. A lot of that probably has to do with what boscopup described, not being able to remember the sensation of that pain. I don't remember what it was like at all, even though I clearly remember my thought process around it. Somebody whose name I can't remember said a beautiful thing that I also can't quite remember, but essentially it was that the memory of birth pain fades away, but the knowledge of what you did together never will. I love that, and have found it to be quite true.

On preparation--two thoughts:

First, I really love what happyday said about clenching. So true. For me, what really brought the concept home was Ina May Gaskin's explanation of "sphincter law." Sometimes it's not easy to relax! But birth goes by so, so much better and easier when we can! That being said, I think that I may be SO concerned about overexerting myself and tiring out, thus exhausting myself right into the hospital, that I probably go the opposite extreme and relax myself right into stalling labor (this seemed to happen when my eldest was born).

Which brings me to my second thought... It seems to me that our bodies and our received wisdom allow us to go through labor. That figures into the whole clenching thing, the overexertion thing, the sensation-of-pain thing... So many of us have so much to unlearn, but then we also have stuff to learn! We don't have the kind of knowledge about laboring that might have been much more commonplace a long time ago. I think this way about breastfeeding, too, how so many mothers are so frustrated to be told it should be "easy and natural" and if there is struggle, it's "wrong" somehow. Um, it was "easy and natural" a millennium ago when "learning to breastfeed" meant being crowded with seventeen sisters and cousins and aunties and mothers and nanas and neighbors from across the road, all telling you what worked for THEM when THEY were breastfeeding, as opposed to a single lactation consultant over the course of two fifteen-minute visits if you're lucky. Seems to me it's the same for birth--not that you necessarily gave birth attended by a whole crowd, but... you'd likely have all of that experience to draw on by the time you were ready to labor. "We're just born ready for it, our bodies just instinctively work this way" seems to me to be a bit of a damaging half-truth. No wonder so many women walk into the hospital with no real plan--we're just supposed to, like, be Real Women, right?, and let our bodies do their thing? Well... I just don't know about that!
Funny, I have been avoiding this thread to reduce the chances of taking on fears I don't have etc. But for some reason, I felt called to check out what you all are chatting about. And I just scrolled straight to this. What a gorgeous testament. So real and deeply inspiring. This was a great read for me as I prepare myself for the homebirth journey. Thank you Tee!
 
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