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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The practical side of pain

Ok, so some women I think have learned how to not feel the pain.  Many childbirth classes will talk about how to make labor as painless as possible.  But, it has been my experience that childbirth is painful..very much so.  I think it does us a disservice to disregard that, even though I apppreciate those that are able to call their labors painless.  

So, the question I ask myself is, how can I ask myself and others to deal with the pain.  I have found many reasons for myself personally, but it has taken some effort and much introspecition to find meaning in the pain of labor.  For those who are a bit more practical, I found another interesting theory as to why we do and should feel labor pain.  Bear in mind that this is theoritical and I don't think could ever actually be proven, but I thought it was an interesting idea.

There really is a reason our bodies feel pain and that is to protect us or help us to work through potentially dangerous situations.  If you think of when you touch something hot, this is what happens.  Your hand touches a burner that could possibly burn you.  Your nerves send signals to your brain it is hot and you should pull your hand away.  We feel this as pain and move our hands so that it doesn't hurt any more.  

The same thing could be happening during labor pain.  You are experiencing pain, so you move your body in a way that decreases that pain.  Because of this, you body is positioned in a way that best facilitates the birth of a baby and the opening up of the pelvis to allow the baby to come through.  This idea made sense to me.  

If you ask anyone who is allowed to birth without interventions, more than likely they will tell you that sitting still was the absolute worst way to give birth.  From expereince, I can tell you that giving birth on the back (which by the way leaves the least amount of room for that baby to get through), is the  most painful position and I would never do that again unless I had to.  If you watch a women in labor without pain medications, you will see lots of movement and shifting, walking and kneeling.  For these reasons, the idea that the pain is used as an indicator of how best to position that baby in you makes sense to me.  

So there's the practical side of pain, now how to deal with it is a whole different matter, and in all reality there are times when pain control is needed.  But I think it helps to understand that there might really be a reason for it.

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.