Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On the subject of pain

I've been reflecting a lot over the sensations of labor, trying to decide if it was pain I was feeling or not.


I've mulled over the idea of "pressure, not pain" and I think that really is accurate. Labor involves amounts of pressure that we REALLY don't experience on a day to day basis. I mean, goodness, one of the uterus's MAIN jobs is to SQUEEZE your baby out! It's a muscle!


My labor with Heidi was different for whatever reasons. People say every labor is different anyway. Maybe it's my age, time of day, food eaten, music played, things I thought about...who knows! And maybe those reasons really don't matter. I think that labor with Esther was more like this time around. With Esther, because the pressure and intensity was so huge, I wasn't prepared for it. I was expecting a repeat of Heidi's birth. I really like that when labor started this time, I stayed up and found things to busy myself with. At that point it wasn't at all intense enough to require all my attention, but I think I would not have been able to sleep -- just as I wasn't able to sleep with Esther. And with Esther I was frustrated that I couldn't sleep. I really just wanted to sleep. Of course, I had just lain down to go to bed. With Becca I at least had slept two hours. But I think I would have handled things better with Esther if I had stayed awake and tried to find things to do. Oh well, right? She's a healthy two-almost-three-year-old now and she was born safe & sound! That's what really counts!


So anyway...I still find myself holding to the philosophy that labor does not have to hurt. And the biggest part of that is coming to a point where you can step back and avoid the "fear-tension-pain" cycle. Addressing any birthing issues early on and figuring out how to see things in a positive light and discard any concerns makes such a difference. And embracing and accepting the pressure that does accompany laboring. I'm not saying that labor is "enjoyable" the way watching a movie or reading a book is enjoyable. Labor is certainly intense and uncomfortable with a whole myriad of huge sensations, but I think pain is not a word to describe it. I realize that other people will differ in their opinions. Some of you will probably even outright disagree -- and that's okay! We're allowed to. :)


* And if you've noticed that I don't reference my labor with Autumn in any of these comments, that's because she was a 3-week-early-placental-abruption-water-broke-purely-pitocin-induced-threatening-c-section-ending-in-forceps-delivery. Thoughts on her delivery don't really fit what I'm talking about here. I'll save those for another day. Maybe.

18 Comments:

  1. Liz Johnson said...
    I love how you talk about this. I agree - it doesn't have to be painful. And really, pain is meant to communicate something. If you're able to eliminate fear and tension, and you still feel pain, that's your body telling you to find a different position or try something new so that your body can birth your baby.

    My friend (Abbie) recommends a book called "Pain: The Gift That Nobody Wants." It's written by a surgeon who deals with leprosy, and she said it has a lot of those same messages.
    jjstringham said...
    Um. Ok. Perhaps I was in fear, but I KNOW I had pain. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I tore with both (big) babies. Either way, I'm perfectly happy with having an epidural. And my labors have gone fast enough (even with the epidural) to not have anyone even suggest pitocin. Sorry to be the party pooper. :-P
    Abbie said...
    You have to read "Pain: the gift nobody wants" if you haven't already. It's a great book. Although I did feel pain with Audrie's birth, but I'm really hoping that my next birth will be full of pressure and no pain.
    Abbie said...
    haha I just read Liz's comment. It really is a good book.
    cmnacnud said...
    I think birthing should be done the way the mother is prepared to do. Without proper preparation any method can be a disaster. If you know what you're getting into and are prepared for it, you, a woman can handle anything.

    I'm interested in your experience with chiropractic this time around. Did you notice a difference or can you even compare. I've never been able to do a good comparative study because that would be mean to deny it to my wife.
    Headle said...
    Abby,
    I would love to hear what strategies you use to avoid pain!! Did you have to work through some fear after what sounds like quite an ordeal of a labor with Autumn? How did you overcome that fear? What did you visualize or think about that allowed you to stay soo relaxed?? I'm totally fascinated by this!!

    Seriously, I'd love to learn anything else you are willing to share. Its encouraging to hear that you felt intense pressure and not pain. I'm getting closer to my guess date and any insight you have would be totally awesome!!
    Leah Marie said...
    My delivery didn't hurt a bit. ;-)
    JAMIE said...
    Apparently y'all have a much higher pain tolerance that I do. I had "pain". Worst pain in my life. :)

    I'm so glad it was such an awesome experience for you.
    Heidi said...
    Abby, I thought about your emails a LOT when I was preparing for Joseph (and I hope I expressed to you how wonderful and helpful they were.) I read several books with our most recent pregnancy that talked about the fear & pain cycle and this was by far my most relaxed birth experience and I think that's why I was laughing at 8cms and saying, "It doesn't hurt, but I'm scared it's going to start hurting!" (I love that picture of me now when I look back and remember the joy of that sensation, feeling Joseph's head descending while I stood there laughing with Kit's arms around me.)

    For me, the intensity and pressure did start to hurt when I was pushing him out but for other women I've heard that pressure can almost numb the nerves. I had no "ring of fire" with Moira but I did with Joseph. Granted, with Moira my water was bulging out over her head and she was only 6lbs 1oz vs. his 8lbs 10zs (and broken water.) Hmm...

    Anyway, I LOVE reading your thoughts on birth. Thank you for sharing them. Sorry for my marathon response. :)
    Qait said...
    love you, abby! typing 1 hand(baby sleeps in other)
    I agree w/ you. I did have pain (induced, yuck), but I relished it b/c i was so excited.
    you're amazing!
    Trishelle said...
    Hmmmm. Very interesting thoughts on the matter. I've been thinking about that myself as I've been pondering the next few months. Thanks for the insights.
    Crystal said...
    I don't know you guys...my labors were definitely painful. I have a hard time with the concept of pain-free birthing. Something that size being squeezed out of your body with such force--how can it NOT be painful?
    Emily said...
    wow! I had no idea what you went through with Autumn! I can't wait to read "the story"! I haven't yet, but I will! I look forward to seeing more pics of little Becca.
    Emily said...
    I read it! wow, i'm amazed you were able to do so much during labor! I'm so glad everything went well.
    Sarah said...
    Hey Abby! I just found your blog through Lisa Badal. I can't believe how grown up your kids are! You have a beautiful family and I loved reading your birth story. I'm due next Friday, so I've been reading everything I can. :) Good luck with all your girls. Tell Eric hi.

    Sarah Nowland
    Tiff said...
    I'm glad that I'm allowed to outright disagree, because I do. ;) Freaking 18 hours of PAINFUL labor with Malia of non-stop, never troughing, constant contractions at an incredibly high intensity with back labor to only result in a c-section? Yeah - sorry. It hurt. *shrug*

    Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, I just went in for the cesarean the 2nd time around. HA!
    Lauren said...
    This is cool. I'm reading the book "childbirth without fear" right now..by Grantly Dick Read and it talks all about this. I want to believe it but it's hard to have zero fear when you've never been through it before and don't know what to expect really. I'm hoping for the best!!! But thanks for sharing this with me :)
    Abby said...
    Lauren, if you really want to believe it -- have your hubs talk to you every night, just relaxing you from head to toe (did you get that Facebook message?) and addressing the things you have the hardest time accepting or are worried about, in a positive light. Seriously, that did more for me than ANYTHING else. And if you do that consistently for at least the last four weeks, that'd be awesome! You're due next month? Same as Emma?

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