Labor Pain Made Painless

The thought of labor pain is enough to put many of us off giving birth at all. Many years ago, I relished the idea of a c-section so I wouldn’t have to confront the pain of labor! Some women’s desire to avoid it is so strong they decide not to have children. But here we are pregnant, or on our way, and we want to know, can we handle it? Are we going to be able to give our baby and ourselves the natural birth that we want, or will it be too much?

If it’s our second baby (or more) and we had a rough experience, we may have emotional and physical scars from our previous experience. Now is the time to face the fears, the concern and the anxiety. Now is the time to let go of impatience and just be here, where we are, on the journey.

Labor Pain as Social Conditioning

There are so many aspects that go into labor pain, our western culture has continually watched movies with women screaming in horror as they go through birth, our mothers, sisters, best friends and strangers have told us their own nightmares… this is our social conditioning, unless…

Unless before birth we’ve explored and searched out, or even had the blessing to know personally women, family or animals who experienced birth sensations very differently! Some of these women describe pain, but doable. Some of these women describe intense sensation, but not pain. Some of these women even find intense sensation with pleasure, even with orgasm! And some women have literally gone to sleep and woken up with baby!

Lets open the mind and ask ourselves, which birth do we want to experience with our baby? Do I think it’s as easy as us picking? No, we can give lip service to one of these choices above, and continue to prepare our bodies for another kind.

For example, I might say I want to have an orgasmic birth, but in fact know I am too conscientious to have an orgasm in front of anybody but myself and my mate...and yet I keep inviting more and more people to the birth! How am I going to birth with orgasm? Pleasurable birth takes us knowing ourselves and standing up for our innermost wants and needs!

Labor Pain and Trusting the Body

Labor pain is also about how in tune we are with our bodies. Birth as meditation asks have we sat with pain and not run off in fear? Labor sensations can be extremely powerful, they say the lining of the uterus may be one of the strongest muscles by weight in the body, so imagine this incredibly strong involuntary muscle moving at its greatest without having the on/off button!

To do this and face the fears that might come up, the power of this magnificent involuntary action, takes us being in touch with our bodies in a very intimate way. What am I saying? I mean can we trust ourselves enough to know our body is doing what it needs to do, what is natural and what it is made to do? Or do we have built up fear and shame that we cannot face, that we continually run away from?

In the book Calm Birth: New Method for Conscious Childbirth, by Robert Newman, he quotes, “The willingness to face fear is itself fearlessness. Fearlessness is not merely the numb absence of fear. It is the strength and dignity that are nourished each time we face fear directly…the strength that comes from directly stepping into fear…(Hayward & Hayward, 2001).”

It is not that we have to have conquered everything within us and in society and be perfect before we can go through a birth we can enjoy, it’s that we must be willing and used to facing fear, facing great sensation and great power and diving into it, instead of running!

Labor Pain and Our Own Birth

Another aspect of labor pain is our own birth experience. What do you know of your own birth? My mother continually told me of the “pain you will never forget” that she experienced. It wasn’t until I was in this work of natural birth that she told me she had pitocin! All these years I’d heard birth was the horror, only to find out later she had experienced an unnatural birth.

In Painless Childbirth, by Giuditta Tornetta, she quotes Penny Simkin’s idea of what has been found in people who do not repeat their own negative birthing experience. Penny states that there are four main attributes of women who do not repeat their own experience,

1. Women who had a significant adult figure who made them feel “safe” during childhood.

2. Women who were raised in a non-gender typified family (girls are equal to boys).

3. Women who’ve experienced significant episodes of success in activities that ranged from sport to business and/or artistic expression.

4. Women who exhibited a strong faith in the divine. (And I like to think women who exhibited a strong faith in nature!)

Spending time journaling or sharing our feelings with a wise person about our own experience, our own birth and in-womb time gives us incredible vision! Not only to our deeply held beliefs about birth, but also our, sometimes unconscious, reactions to life.

Our Body is Our Temple, Our Birth is our Temple

Our physical body is our own little temple where we have so much input. Are we treating it as sacred, as worthy of the best? If not, how could we expect to have a birth that is worthy of the best? Are we preparing it for labor sensations, or are we telling it to endure the harsh reality of unbearable labor pain?

Are we listening to how it wants to move and what it wants to do? If it is asking to walk daily and we are sitting on the couch, how are we going to be ready to understand how the hips want to move through birth, or what position the body is asking for, not to mention the respect of giving it it’s desires?

Are we trusting it or are we abusing it? Are we eating life-giving nutrients, or *&%^? I do not mean to say we have to become paranoid with every thing we put in our mouth, and every time we exercise, in fact that is quite the opposite of what I’m saying. Do we trust ourselves, do we respect ourselves enough to do what we know, what we are called to do and to let nature grow our baby?

When I first found out I was pregnant I became obsessed with what to eat, what to do (in truth it was even before I was pregnant, in the state of opening for a baby)… but then I quickly realized those thoughts and feelings are not what I wanted to feed my baby.

I wanted my baby to learn that it could do what it felt right and relax. So relax. Meditate. Do what you want to do, what you are inspired to do; the things that feed our soul will not bring harm to our babies. (Of course if you think a bottle of tequila will feed your soul, I request you look a little deeper!)

Labor pain is not a simple yes/no experience, nor is it easy to say, well, I won’t have any pain and all will be great! To be with the body, to let go of the fear, to trust ourselves and our babies.

To cherish this moment and never forget that we are doing what our bodies were designed to do. To be in birth and recognize this, even as our cervix is opening and our babies are passing through. This is the glory of letting go and coming into union with this moment, no matter what this moment is presenting! This is where labor pain can fall away and ecstasy can enter.

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