An expecting mother has a lot on her mind, and one of those things is pain. It is normal to wonder how much it will hurt, if it’s like what you see in the films, how long it will last? For some, these questions become fear of birth, and something that is thought lots about for nine months.
But we come bearing good news, so read on.
The perception of pain in labour is as specific as the women who experience it. Pain thresholds vary from person to person, and what one person may find difficult, the other may hardly notice. It isn’t uncommon for laboring women to find the early stages of labour the most uncomfortable, it also isn’t uncommon to not realise you’re actually in labour until the later stages. Pregnancy and birth are as unique as the beautiful baby you’re having.
The most important thing during labour and birth is that you feel in control of the decisions you are making. If you are in need of medical pain relief, this is ok, it is your choice at that time. As we have said, all women experience labour differently, so just because your sister, or friend, or cousin didn’t need medical pain relief does not mean they are somehow tougher than you are – they won’t have experienced things in the same way that you did, as they can’t, they are not you.
Equally, you don’t need to panic when your friends tell you how painful their labour was. You don’t have to worry when you see a film with a laboring woman in agony. Because it’s not you, and your labour is only yours; it is not defined by what others have experienced.
Sometimes it is the mind rather than the body that is feeling the discomfort. The tension and fear of being in labour can alter the hormones within the body, which changes the physiology of birthing, this change can create a genuine feeling of pain. The brain is powerful like that, but you can use it as a tool to achieve the opposite: calm and control, where pain is pushed away to somewhere else. Some ladies will use or memorise words to help for example ‘Pain is Power’ or ‘My body is Strong and Powerful’.
There are medicine-free options for pain control. These include breathing methods that are far more modern and refined than the ones you see on the screen with panting mothers and counting fathers. There are massage techniques that can help you to maintain calm and stay in control. You can explore the idea of a water birth as a way to soothe and comfort your body during labour. And visualisation can help to keep you focused and picture your body doing what it needs.
The more relaxed you are during labour, the more comfortable you can become. This is because the body needs to stretch and move to help your baby birth, if you are tense it can restrict this process and make it more uncomfortable and difficult.
If you would like to know more about the classes we offer that can help you during labour and birth, please get in touch.