View Full Version : Questions on pain!
I have a few questions about pain and pain relief.
Firstly, the feeling of contractions - the worst pain I have experienced is when I sprained my ankle and thought I was going to die from the pain (haha) - is the pain like breaking a bone, i want to kill myself pain, or like a million 'far out this hurts' period pains?
Secondly, do you have a local for an episiotomy?
And finally, do you have a local for an epidural and if so, can you still experience pain from the epidural needle?
Hi there :)
My contractions I compared very much to period pain. Bad period pain. And thats coming from someone who had period pain maybe once or twice in her whole life! It really wasn't so bad, cos it came and went. And its a good kind of pain, each contraction brings you closer to meeting your bub, so just focus on that. The worst contractions are the ones right at the end before you can start to push. But once you can start to push, its all downhill from there, and I found the pain MUCH easier to bear once i was allowed to push during them.
Have no idea on the episiotomy, but i think they might do a local. Depends on the situation though i guess.
I'm pretty sure you get a local for the epidural so you dont' feel the needle. But again, I didn't have one, so don't quote me on that!!
I had both and wouldnt have a clue if i was given a local for either. But I did have the epi before the episiotimy so that probably helped when I think about it. I think the episiotimy freaked by poor hubby out more than me!!
With the epi, I was desperate for the pain relief and I think there was a tiny sting- but bliss afterwards.
Whoa! Big questions! I'll see how I can help
First off, the pain from spraining your ankle is an indication of something being awry with your body. Labour pain is a sign that your body is working well - and remember, not all women have painful labours anyway! A labouring woman is like an elite athlete and ought to be treated similarly. No one offers pain relief when you're running a marathon because the pain is considered normal and good. Same with birth :D Labour that occurs spontaneously (ie not induced) is usually a slow build up over many hours and your body and brain are in tune with what's happening. Your endorphin load grows through labour so you retreat into labour land, like a trance, if you are well supported, feel safe and it also helps to dim the lights and make sure people aren't talking without good reason. If you choose to birth in a hospital you really must have good support to get you through this. A doula is utterly essential for this.
If you're anxious about episiotomy, just say no. There is no medical reason for it and a wealth of scientific research clearly showing that it is a dangerous and unnecessary procedure. You need it written in your records, on your comprehensive birth plan and also have your support people well clued in. Another reason to have a doula! :D If you are upright or in water it is also more difficult to cut your vagina open and simply being unavailable often keeps scissorhappy Obs away. Provided you are in an upright position and only pushing when your body feels overwhelmed by the urge to push and allowed plenty of time to get all the lovely stretching of your perineum happening, you won't tear either. Some women get a local for it, some don't. But if you don't want it, just tell everyone present that under no circumstances are they to cut your vagina open.
You don't get a local for an epidural but if you're scared of pain and needles, don't have an epidural. Apart from the complications rate of about 25% up to and including paralysis, we know from 2 recent Australian studies that 60% of women who have epidurals have to have caesareans as a result. There are many many far better, and safer, ways to deal with labour. Again, have it in your records, and on your birth plan. Tell them to not offer you drugs. You're in a hospy, you're not going to forget that they're available ;) As *good* midwives and doulas say, "Offer hugs, not drugs!" I will PM you a heap and the thread on dealing with labour in the Natural Birth forum has heaps from other mamas in here on it.
I have a heap of information about all that I've said to you and I'll PM it to you. And to anyone else who'd like it. Remember, you are the boss, it's your body, your baby and your birth. If you don't want something, make sure everyone knows. I hope you have a really beautiful birth! I'm happy to help if you need anything else :D
I had an episiotomy and I didn't get a choice.
I had to be cut as my bub was a bit stuck and I was tiring quickly from pushing to get her out. She had to be helped out via vacumn extraction. I was also induced as bub was 7 days overdue.
I got a local before he cut me so you don't feel a thing and to be honest you are soo exhausted and in a different kind of pain in another area to be worried about what is happening down there. I remember seeing the needle and thinking where is he going to put that !!!!
I did not doubt for a second that it was not unecessary though and I do believe that they will only do things like that if they really need to. I wasn't stretching at all and he also had to make room not only for bubs head but for the suction cup that went up to suck onto bubs head !!! I think it was quite busy in that department for a while !!!!!!
The recovery after an episiotomy is probably what you should be asking about moreso. Once the anesthetic wheres off things get a bit sore, plus I think in general everything in that region is pretty sore !!
They give you ice packs to put in your pants along with the boat size pads you need to where but it does help to ease the pain and the swelling.
I showered a couple of times a day but whilst in hospital I washed the area down with the shower hose after most toilet visits as all sorts of stuff gets stuck to the area with all the blood etc.
A tip I found most useful after giving birth and also when I went home is that the area heals quicker when its dry so after each shower visit etc I would blowdry the area between my legs for a few minutes. Not only does it feel nice but it also helps to dry the stitches and heal the wound quicker.
As for the pain... hmmm well I guess everyones dealings are different and we all cope in our own ways.
I am hopeless with pain and I was induced which i heard can be more full on than natural labour as your body has time to adjust. I went from no pain or mild period cramps to full blown contractions within 5mins of the drip being put in.
Having said that though I still coped with minimal pain relief with a bit of gas and a shot of pethadine (both of which I swear to this day did nothing but my hubby argues differently !)
The pain is like nothing I ever imagined nor felt ever in my life and I think the only time I will feel it again is when I go back for number two !!!!!
Hope this helps.
pain of labour...
It was definitely pain that i could cope with, as it came and went, and as i knew it was all for a very good cause, that made it easier.
I think I just went into 'the zone' and did not think about time or anything else at all, just being in the moment, and taking everything as it came.
I have never heard of local being given with an epi, but i would not consent to one anyway. - an episiotomy, i mean, not the local!
It may help you to think about it this way too. In a 12hr labour you will only experience about 2-3 hours of pain. All broken up. You only need to do one at a time & then you will never have to do that one again. Thinking in terms of now, in the moment, may work for you.
If an episiomomy is given for a medical reason then it will generally by given when there is no time to wait for you to stretch, in which case there is not really time for a local either. It is interesting to note that an epis is easier to suture but a tear heals better in most cases. You dont often feel a tear happen either & some women who have epis say that too.
Here are a couple of links to articles on labour & your bodies hormones & natural chemicals & drugs. I have only seen & experienced epidurals with locals first. But in a true emercency there may not be time.
They gave me a local for the epidural I had. So the epi didnt hurt, but you could feel what they were doing. It kind of felt like someone punched me in the back.
The contractions were ok. Started off slow and built up over time. Felt like my stomache was getting really tight. Kind of period like pains.
Im not sure about the episiotomy - didnt have one!
Good Luck! :)
I am going to be brutally honest. Contractions really really really hurt!!! If I had period pain like that I would have a hysterctomey tomorrow!!
However I have had 2 children and planning a third so as they all say - it is worth it in the end.
I don't think it compares to a sprained ankle. Maybe getting your foot chopped off with a blunt knife.
Its bad, real bad but it doesn't last forever. I was lucky my pains started like period pain and gradually got worse so I sort of had some direction. I had 19 hours of labour and I think the period pain - that was maybe the first 2 hours of it.
I am a sook - can't kick my toe without screaming. You will be surprised with how well you cope. Our minds and bodies are designed to cope with childbirth.
I managed with only the gas and alot of breathing.
And look these is always the epidural if you really aren't coping. Just remember if it was dangerous for the baby they wouldn't offer it to you.
Kamaikia lots of things in life, and birth, are allowed and even encouraged but they do come at a price. The side effects both in the short term, and long term, of all the drugs used commonly in birth are wellknown and studied. To say they are safe is simply untrue. We know that at least 25% of epidurals have serious side effects for mothers and we also know that they impact very negatively on many babies and cause massive problems for their early life. Babies are simply not equipped to deal with an infusion of strong drugs through their placenta which is why alcohol and smoking are discouraged during pregnancy. Not only does the placenta concentrate the dose, but the dose being received by the baby is from a dose for a person twenty times it's size. So, yes they are extremely unsafe for babies and when we make a decision to use them we need to know the full ramifications of what we're choosing.
Try this for more info.
The Physician's Desk Reference (PDR), a well-respected guide to all drugs, their usage, cautions, and side-effects, states the following about the Caine derivatives used in epidurals:
"Local anaesthetics rapidly cross the placenta (by passive diffusion) and when used for epidural blocks, anaesthesia can cause varying degrees of maternal, foetal, and neonatal toxicity. Adverse reactions in the mother and baby involve alteration of the central nervous system, peripheral vascular tone, and cardiac function."
The PDR goes on to list the following possible maternal side effects for Caine derivatives: "Hypotension, urinary retention, faecal and urinary incontinence, paralysis of lower extremities, headache, backache, septic meningitis, slowing of Labor, increased need for forceps or vacuum delivery, cranial nerve palsies, allergic reactions, respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, and seizures."
Research done in the last five years on the effects of epidural anaesthesia on newborns has shown that epidurals result in lowered neurobehavioral scores in the newborn; a decrease in muscle tone and strength, affecting the baby's sucking ability, which can lead to breastfeeding difficulties; respiratory depression in the baby; greater likelihood of foetal malpositioning; and an increase in foetal heart rate variability, thereby increasing the need for forceps, vacuum, and cesarean deliveries and episiotomies.
As far as episiotomies go, you can reduce the need for one by massaging your perenium in the last few weeks of pregnancy. I only discovered this recently and will definitely be trying it before giving birth to number 3 next year.
I have 2 children and had an episiotomy both times because I was tearing - the episiotomy heals better than the tear and may require less stitches. It's very painful afterwards though. The hospital I was in gave me condoms filled with ice to put inside the maternity pads and they really helped. But I believe that preventing tearing by preparing your perenium and concentrating on your panting when pushing out the baby - both are better options.
I have also heard that if you are bleeding from an area, then local anaesthetic does not work as it comes out with the blood?...
Good luck for a drug free delivery!
Janet you may be right that the drugs are bad for the baby - I don't sit on either side of that argument. I am not a doctor, I don't know what they do and don't do. But I truly beleive that its a mothers choice and I will always respect that.
I didn't have anything but the gas but I know plenty of healthy babies whose mothers had alot more than that.
More power to a woman who can do it without anything. Unfortunatly I wasn't one of the strong (but my gas was good) :)
I'm not a doctor either but you don't need to be a doctor to read a journal article written by doctors that says very clearly, and based on much research, that the drugs are just plain dangerous. Choice is excellent so long as we know what we're choosing and hospitals don't give us the full picture or very few women would choose the drugs. Gas too has side effects and is actually quite dangerous for the hospital employees to be breathing in over and over. It's amazing what you learn when you make google and medical journals your friends ;)
At the risk of sounding like a hero....
I found my pains annoying for the most part rather than painful. They were a lot like period pain but obviously came and went and more intense as labour progressed. At least until about 45 minutes before both my girls were born then all hell broke loose!! I only had to push for about 5 minutes with each one and it seemed over and done with fairly quickly.
I didn't have an episiotomy or an epidural so I can't help you with those questions.
Part of the reason I chose to become a Doula was because when I had DD#1 I was not told most of the information I needed to make informed decisions. I was told about the risks that were considered very significant statistically, but never the others & never the possible repercusions of those decisions. I wanted to offer women another avenue to find out about it all.
I to respect womens choice, I respect that some women want informed choice and others do not. But I think you need to know what information they are looking for first. If they want the thruth then they should have it. It not them dont tell them anything but dont sugar coat half truths or lies to make them feel better. I am certainly not saying that anyone here has done that I am just making a point about our levels of openness to the truth. If a woman decides to have an epidural not knowing the risks then she did so because she choose to. If she chooses it knowing them, then she also choose knowingly. I think though if we are asked something we need to answer quite truthfully sometimes and say I dont know or "my Dr. told me this but they all have different ideas so maybe speak to another Dr. Or midwife or maybe google it." Just a different take on offering our own experiences to others.
BTW CnC'smum I thought you may be interested to know that a tear whilst trickier in the sowing up, (takes more skill) has actually significantly better healing results than an episiotomy.
I would describe my contractions as a painful tightening in my stomach...not half as bad as I had imagined and I am a total sook!
I had an epidural and it didnt hurt a bit just a little uncomfortable but worth the discomfort!! Couldnt have done it without the epi! The Doctor agreed with me as I had a bit of a traumatic labour. ( I didnt think it was that bad, the dotors did though!)
Episiotomy, I had one due to forceps delivery....didnt even notice they were doing it to be honest. I had a nasty internal tear ( Big baby though 9lbs 4oz) and lots of stitches so I couldnt sit down comfortably for the first 6 weeks after delivery. Now my baby is 9 weeks old and I am completely back to normal.
I think if you expect the worst case then whatever you get seems better, that is what I did and I honestly didnt think labour was all that bad.
Goodluck with it all. :)
it's definitely not an "I want to kill myself" type pain. I kept telling myself to listen to my body and that "it's just pain" and that worked right up until transition when I really started to feel like "Ok. I want to GET OUT OF MY BODY NOW!)" :) But that didn't last very long at all. next thing i knew I was ready to start pushing.
The words "pain" and "hurt" in some ways are not applicable in the usual sense. labour pains are not the sort of sensations you have had before, though yes, they are like bad period pain for a while, so if you've felt period pain b4 at least you know how to tell you're in labour!!!
all this is only words though. you can't really tell anyone what it feels like. most important i found is to trust your body so you can try and relax. let your body (not your mind) do the work. it will be the most physical experience of your life. JanetF's analogy of a marathon runner or olympic athlete is an excellent one. use such imagery as inspiration. it worked for me!!!
all the best! :p
Well I'm going to be honest too ...
I was 10cm dilated with both babies and nothing was happening so they broke the membrane. The :eek: pain started within 5 minutes and my babies were both born less than 3 hours later.
It was nothing like period pain for me and I've been suffering that since I was 13. If I got period pain like that I would have had my bits chopped out years ago! It was like a strong burning and stretching (well I suppose that's what it is!).
I found the best way to cope with it was to embrace the pain ... I can't believe I just said that. It's just that if I focussed on each and every contraction, breathing, visualising what my body was doing - it made it easier. Just one contraction at a time. I also used heat packs which I found very effective.
I didn't need an episiotomy as I tore with number one (didn't feel it ... the perineum is stretched so thin that it's numb) and grazed with number two.
I didn't have an epidural or other drugs because I was doing ok (well as ok as one could be!).
I'm not a saint - I know I have a high pain threshold and I've said it before that there are many instances when I believe pain relief should be used, many!
My advice is go into this with your eyes open and mind informed on every avenue, every contingency.
Try without pain relief ... see what you can do before you need it. If you need it - it's there for you.
I know it's a touchy subject both for and against, however......
My labour was quite long and slow, and I tired after about 15 hours into the first stage. I wanted a water birth naturally, however, ds had other ideas.
I was given a 'mild mobile' epidural which meant I could still feel the contractions, but I was able to rest (I would recommend this to anyone if they get to this point in their labour). I was still able to feel that I needed to go to the loo, and could stand. I also didn't need a catheter.
My son was born after a 30 minute second stage and scored three perfect tens on his apgar even though we'd been working on getting him out for almost 24 hours total. I have no regrets, even though we were trying for a natural birth.
As for the pain, well, I remember saying 'ow ow ow' a lot, but the moment Izak was born I didn't feel anything - even the next morning I felt great! Roll on the hormones!
It is the most incredible thing your body will ever do, try to focus on your baby and every contraction is one contraction closer to meeting him or her!
I chose to have an Epidural for my little 'Hulk' Seth. I was naive and believed that once I was given the epidural, I would be completely paralysed from the waist down. Boy was I silly!!!!.
A friend of mine assured me prior to my Labour, that she had an epidural and she felt nothing, and she basically drank tea and read books through the birth of her son.
I had top up's and also gas during my labour, which went for approximately 6 hours, but my son was also very large (11 Pound 10 Ounces) so his head came out but his shoulders were stuck, for quite a lengthy period.
The crescendo of pain that I felt when his shoulders eventually came out, I can only describe as;
"Pouring battery acid on your bits" (Sorry for the detail)
I felt as though I was going to rip in two! and that was after 'extra' pain relief was given to me so the doctor could get the shoulders out.
Those ladies who give birth with zero pain relief must be crazy! I will never again give birth that way again. As many people have told me, your second is usually bigger than your first, especially if it is a boy.
Bring on the Caesar!
My heart aches at the many examples in this thread of birthing women who have been frightened and misinformed by their care providers, and unknowingly carry that culture of fear and misinformation forward to their subsequent births, as well as passing it on to others. :(
Episiotomies have no medical basis. There is rarely, if ever, any need for them. They are done routinely because most Obs believe themselves to be incapable of attending a birth where the baby is born over an intact perineum; and it speeds up the time they need to "wait around" for the baby to be born if they simply step in and effectively cut the baby out. They heal slower than natural tears, and have more ongoing problems than natural tears. They are an automatic 2nd degree tear, and new studies have shown that they often tear even further and create the very problems they are supposedly done to avoid.
Epidurals have many side effects, both to the birthing woman and the unborn child. I think JanetF has posted some valuable information on this. The choice to receive an epidural is entirely yours, and it's wonderful that women have this choice. With choice, however, comes the burden of responsibility. Our choices should be well informed, and we should be fully aware of the consequences of our choices. Hospitals do not provide full information on procedures such as epidurals. If you are relying solely on the hospital system to inform you, you are not making well informed choices. I recommend Henci Goer's "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" - it contains factual, unbiased, concise, accurate and up-to-date information on all procedures related to birth. A MUST read for the well informed birthing woman.
Labour pain is a signal to your body; to go into a safe place, to drop everything else, to focus on the work at hand, to protect your baby and your body, to keep the delicate interplay of hormones that cause labour to progress going as they should. It is a sign that your body is doing wonderfully well, working hard, birthing your baby. It is very manageable with focus, breathing, relaxation, and above all, good support. It hurts (unless you're one of those women for whom birth is actually ecstatic - they do exist!). But it's like no other pain. It's a good pain; it's the intensity of hard work, the primal power of a body surging with contractions. It's wonderful. Drugs interrupt the labour process and can subsequently stall or stop labour, creating the "need" for a cascade of intervention. We don't need drugs to labour and birth our babies. We choose to partake of them. It is our right to make this choice; but it is also our responsibility to fully be aware of what our choices entail, so that we have the option to make the best possible choices for ourselves and our babies.
Your body is beautifully designed to create, carry, birth and nurture your baby. All you need to do is have faith in that. :)
Janet & Felicity - it's great that you have so much information to impart to others and positive messages to help us all get through labour and birth.
But what can be done to get health professional - obstetricians, midwives, gps, etc, educated too? It's very difficult for us as non-medically trained individuals to research and research and know what's best for us and then to try to get our healthcare professional to change their views. At the end of the day the vast majority of us will trust the advice of our healthcare professional - which often means an induction or c-section plus epidurals, etc, etc
It's great that some people take the time to question their care and research, look for a site like this and get great info from people such as yourselves - but this can only really be scratching at the surface.
I'd love to know how we can get the health professionals to change and be better educated so that we get the best info right from the start...
I know the Maternity Coalition are working on this ... but it is frustrating for those of us who just want to have babies!!!
Hilary there are lots of things consumers can do, and first off is behaving like a consumer. :)
Interview many potential caregivers and ask them questions like what percentage of their clients have normal, physiological births? Ask what their c-sec rate is, and their rate of other interventions. Learn about the two main models of care and what they really translate into in the marketplace. When we decide to have a child, we are responsible for the care we receive and the care our baby recives, regardless of what model of care we choose. So as we do with any other big decisions in life - buying a house, buying a car, renovating, choosing a plumber - we also owe it to ourselves to learn as much as possible, interview many potential careproviders and assume responsibility for what happens. We need to have a careprovider who matches up to our expectations of pregnancy, labour and birth. As you do with any other employee that you interview to fill an important position in your life, choose one who feels right for you in your gut, not just the first one, or one that everyone else loves. Many women are uncomfortable with their careprovider but don't change and get one they love. You need one you love so as to be safest and best served in labour. Unfortunately in Australia we accept care which many other countries have moved away from and as a result their outcomes are vastly superior to ours. But we can make choices which are more nurturing and allow our babies to have a gentle start to life and ourselves to come out of birth physically, emotionally and spiritually intact and even enhanced. We really need to always question and ask the question "Why?" whenever we're embarking on a major life journey, and birth is no different. Providing ourselves with information is essential, and as you say, there is an awful lot out there. Fortunately there are also many easily obtained books, and easy to decipher websites with happy birthing women on them who can jolt us into reconsidering our own choices. Learning more only enhances our capacity to choose since you can't really choose if you don't know what all the choices are, can you? We need to approach birth with the same eager-to-learn attitude that we bring to any other new skills like driving or cooking. There are safer ways to drive and we can always expand our repertoire of knowledge about that. And in birth there is another person's life to consider and for me personally, that was a very good motivator! I'm happy to chat to women, and provide information. Make google your friend ;) and it's never too late to change models of care or careprovider. Your baby and you are too important to waste to someone who doesn't support you in the way that you deserve.
I had a local anaesthetic before my epesiotomy. By then all I wanted was to hold my baby, so I didn't care. He came out sideways!
I had a local for my epidural and I wouldn't say having the epidural hurt.
I too believe google is a great sorce of information but I also believe you need to question every piece of info you come across. Find out if they are a reliable source of information, how many people were involved in a study you may be looking at and the circumstances the study was done under. Anybody can put information out there, but that doesn't always mean it is correct. If you try hard enough you can find info to say what you want it to say.
Just as JanetF said about questioning and being a consumer in the search for a great caregiver, I believe everyone needs to do this when researching on the net for information about their babies and their own health.
Be smart and research the research.
Hope this makes sense. :)
As most have already posted, labour pain is a lot like bad period pain, which gets worse as you progress... I had all the drugs but mainly due to the fact that I hadn't slept...
During my pregnancy, I wanted to go as natural as possible but it didn't work that way... For me the pethidine (sp?) did nothing for me except give me a chance to relax a LITTLE between contractions, but the pain was the same... The gas made mw helucinate (sp?) but took my concentration off the pain and onto the breathing of the gas.. It was actually a very uneasy feeling of losing control... this might make you all laugh, but I was so out of it with the gas that I thought Santas Claus put my epidural in.. I don't think I would have been able to continue without the epidural.. It was the best thing!! :)
Not sure if I had a local for the epidural... I felt everything they were doing and it took a couple of tries to get the epidural in, with my hubby holding my in the right position...
You know your body, listen to it and do what you feel is best... You are a lot stronger that you think... My hubby was amazed with how I coped, given I am such a sook when it comes to pain...
I was given a local for my episiotomy, I felt the sting of the local but didn't feel the episiotomy or the tear I had (don't know which came first).
As for labour pain, as already mentioned, if you go into spontaneous labour and aren't 'assisted' along the way, the pain builds up slowly so you kinda feel on top of it and it doesn't overwhelm you at any point. When I first went into hospital and they put me onthe monitors, the midwives couldn't believe I wasn't in more pain because according to the machine, I was having massive contractions. My waters hadn't broken and I felt well prepared for the labour so was calm and excited about meeting our bub.
Fast forward a few hours and the Dr broke my waters and I'm very upset with myself for not opposing him more strongly. The pain became a bit more intense because bub's head was now pushing down directly on my cervix without any cushioning and my cervix started to contract (is that the right term?) instead of dilate. My fears (not just what was happening this time but also emotional baggage from a previous miscarriage) caused me to lose focus and stress out. My labour kinda stopped and I was a tense ball of angry LOL. The Dr then decided to induce me with syntocin which while not more painful than before was more frequent without the chance to rest inbetween contractions.
I managed to get through the rest of the labour with the help of a great midwife and my mum offering practical suppport and encouragement which I think is really necessary. Before mum arrived, I felt like I couldn't continue any more but once she was there supporting me, I got a second wind and began to focus again. Crowning was painful but to be honest, after a few days, a few weeks, then a few months, you really do forget and are just mesmerised by your beautiful child. I had a sinus infection earlier in the year and I rated that more painful than childbirth without drugs!
And I agree wholeheartly with JanetF's comments about how we are the consumers and should behave as such. I don't believe it's just up to the service providers to change, but it's up to the consumers to find the right Dr/hospital etc for them. A natural birth is not for everyone, and a CS isn't for everyone either. We shouldn't be trying to make all the hospitals/Drs acceptable for all. They should specialise in what they do best and the consumers (us ladies who just want to give birth to healthy babies) should go to the one that will best fulfil our needs.
To be honest...........it felt like a chainsaw was cutting me apart from the back and front of my pelvis( near bikini line) every contraction. I actually couldn't wait for the pushing/stinging part.....i knew it would all be over soon when that bit started :D J
ust push baby out millimetre by millimetre so you don't tear! Remember that...it helped me not have any stitches with the 3rd baby's birth.
am I safe in this room?
who is protecting me?
I do feel safe and loved
so I can let go and relax
there are no strangers watching me
no machines monitoring my bodily functions
no cameras recording my vulnerability
so I can let go and relax
the light is dim
and I feel sensuous and powerful
I am moving and spontaneous
so I can let go and relax
there is silence
as I focus inward
and tune in to my body
so I can let go and relax
the sensations in my body are so powerful
like huge waves that I float on
can my body withstand them?
yes, it can, it is made for this
all time is lost
i am here and yet I am not
I have gone to Labourland
and I am the most present with my body that I will ever be
I am in a dance with my precious baby
we are responding to each other
I am giving this everything I have
as I will also in the journey of motherhood
I worked for this moment
learning, practising, choosing, preparing
and now it has paid off
this birth is gentle, ecstatic, safe and joyous!
the strong sensations of labour do not feel like breaking a bone
but we react to them as if they do
we tense up our bodies and hold our breath
we grip onto things and this makes us tense up more
our uterus is a big bag of muscles
that shorten in a rhythmic pattern
pulling our cervix open over our baby's head
like a turtle neck jumper
the sensation of our uterus working is very strong
but it's not pain
we can get out of the way and let it do its work
by letting go of any tension in our body
when we breath normally with our abdomen
and think as if we are bringing our breath
deep down into our tummy
we are doing the opposite of tensing our tummy muscles
when we relax our whole body with each outbreath
and feel our body getting heavy and sinking down
we enter into a state of deep relaxation
and our uterus is able to work unimpeded
our uterus wants to move forward as it works
so we can help it by leaning forward a little
if we are standing we bend out knees slightly
and sag our tummy extremely
maybe we are standing but leaning on something
so we bend out knees slightly
and sag our tummy extremely
and bring our breath deep down into our tummy
maybe we are sitting on a birth ball
so we lean forward a little
and sag our tummy extremely
and bring our breath deep down into our tummy
whatever position our body tells us to be in
we can be aware of our breath
bring it down deep into our tummy
and let go with each out breath
since all our muscles are connected
any tension in our body will effect our tummy muscles
so we relax our whole body
and breath deeply
the more we can relax
the less pain we feel
and to use relaxation effectively
we need to practise it
10-15 mins each night
for our last trimester
of consciously letting go of all tension
and breathing abdominally
our body gets a picture
of what it's like to be deeply relaxed
and it can go there quickly
even when we are having strong sensations
this is a quote from The Birth Book by Dr William Sears and Martha Sears...
Tension contributes to pain in labour. The stretching of the lower uterine segment and the intensely contracting muscles of the upper uterus are commonly thought to be the primary source of pain in labour. The uterine muscles, however, like those of the stomach and intestines, have few pain receptors. These muscles all contract and relax without causing pain unless these muscles are forced to work in a way they weren't designed to.
Pain from contractions is felt in the tissues around the uterus if a woman is tense and fearful. In this case, the pressure from the contracting uterus is felt in the abdomen, throughout the pelvic area, and across the lower back because the uterus is fastened to the lower back structures. All of these areas are liberally supplied with pain receptors. There is a direct relationship between the amount of discomfort or pain a labouring woman feels during contractions, and the amount of muscle tension she has.
The reason I wrote a post that wasn't just normal paragraphs earlier is that birth isn't really something we can approach just with our intellect. Along with the physical aspect of birth there is also the mental, emotional and spiritual part. Sometimes we need to talk about birth in ways other than normal conversation or thought.....like with poetry, art, singing, and other more intuitive forms of expression. When we turn up at a hospital in labour it is very likely that only the physical aspect of birth will be addressed by our caregivers. To enjoy the experience of birth as empowering, a rite of passage, a growth experience and a chance for a couple to work together to birth their baby (and make the most of the bonding that results), we need to figure out how we are going to address these other aspects.
When we just think of birth as a physical experience, we tend to focus on the pain and maybe try to avoid it. When we include all the other aspects of birth....any pain that we might experience doesn't seem so important and it can be regarded as positive pain.
There are also ways to avoid unnecessary pain - and then ways to deal with any pain that is left (if any).
This is such a huge subject - which is why I have come back to it and posted more - and I imagine I'll feel compelled to keep adding stuff here.
That's beautiful! Making a copy right now :D
As you can see each birth is different for each woman. My labour was pure hell going for 31 hours, most of which was in agony. This is mostly because the midwife refused me drugs and then pretty much told me off for screaming. I did eventually get an epi with no local which again wasn't fun. By the time it came to episotomy and forceps, I was too exhausted and throwing up to really care what they were doing.
Thank you so much for your posts - it's amazing that the uterus has no pain receptors!
Your poem was great - it really made me think about ways to cope. I want to have a natural birth, and this sounds fantastic! When I find where our printer cables are, I'm going to print it out so I can refer to it all the time!
Shaelia, you might be interested to read
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Birthing From Within by Pam England
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
which are all excellent books for preparing for natural birth.
chellegoth, sounds like you had a traumatic birth experience. I'm sorry our maternity system failed you. I'm sorry you weren't supported by someone you know and trust who could provide you with information about what was happening in your body as well as providing comfort measures and some good old mothering.
I wonder if you'd be interested in the books I've mentioned as well. Birthing From Within has some great ideas about how we can explore our past birthing experiences in a way that helps us move forward. Many women use the birth experience they didn't enjoy as a motivation to make different choices if there is a next time.
thanks leabdea, not sure how it would help now though. I am so never ever having another one!!
Thanks leabdea, will give them a go!
I also had a 30 hr labour. I had a positive attitude and breathed my way through 18hrs of overlapping contractions, thinking "well I'm doin pretty good." Well I had laboured all night & was still only 3cm - the same as when I arrived at the hospital!
Thats when I lost it and had an Epi, he was posterior hence the trouble I was having, so it wasn't going to be as straight forward as all my lovely visions of a drug free birth.
They gave me a local before the Epi. It felt a little sore as it went in ( they had trouble getting it in becasue of scar tissue from a previous back injury) but I didn't notice because the contraction's were keeping me busy!
I shouldn't even be mentioning my horror story, it's a bit unfair for a 1st time mum to be, sorry but it's no walk in the park, it is an awesome experience though, it must be since I want to do it again!!!
Labour is painful, but you just have to think, it isnt going to last forever and the very first second you see your baby you completely forget how intense the contractions were. I loved the birth, my epi was stopped about an hour before( or more they didn't tell me cheeky buggers!) so I could feel the contractions and I felt it all. They gave me mirror so I could see his head coming further and further out with every contraction and push. Was so emotional we were all crying!!! My SIL recorded it for us and I love to watch it. It's not for everyone to see, but nice to keep for memories. :D
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