New Beginnings Doula Training

New Beginnings Doula Training
Courses for doulas and online childbirth education

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The value of Pain

In the LDS religion, pain and trials are seen as something that is valued. We believe that before this life we choose to come here and experience pain so that we could become more like our Heavenly Father. We believe that Eve knowingly made the choice to experience pain in mortality so that they could become more like God. Somehow experiencing pain, in the LDS view, is associated with becoming better people. From the last conference address, President Eyring expressed this view.

"The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of [Heavenly Father's and Christ's] infinite love. God gave us the gift of living in mortality so that we could be prepared to receive the greatest of all the gifts of God, which is eternal life. Then our spirits will be changed. We will become able to want what God wants, to think as He thinks....

"...we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do. We are prepared for so great a trust by passing through trying and testing experiences in mortality. That education can come only as we are subject to trials while serving God and others for Him.
Henry B. Erying, "Adversity," Ensign, April 2009, 23

On the other hand, I don't think we would ever hear anyone teach that we should not try and avoid pain or adversity. I think the key here is not what kind of trials or pain we go through, but how we choose to experience them.

It's so hard to try and guess how the LDS population takes this perspective with them into childbirth. How do women/mother's view their childbirth experience as it pertains to learning from pain, and do they find any value in it? I'm not just talking about the whole epidural thing either, because let's face it, pregnancy and birth are hard work no matter what way you choose. In reality, motherhood could be faced with the same questions.

Does our view of pain influence how we view birth and how we choose to give birth? With our perspective of pain, do we gain anything from going through the trials of childbirth? I would be curious to see what others thought. I'll share some of my own thoughts from what I've seen in my next post. I would also direct anyone to see Jennifer Fulwiler's post that she shared in the comments section. It's truely beautiful for those who are of a more religious mindset. It is also and interesting example of how one's religion might effect their views of childbirth.


Sheridan said...

I personally don't like pain and try to avoid it. :) That is one reason that I really like Hypnobabies. Hypnosis allows childbirth to be un-medicated AND comfortable. It is amazing the power of our mind, which God gave to us!

I think that certainly each mom needs to choose the birth she wants. Some want to feel the pain, they see it as pain with a purpose. That is great for them.

For me, I didn't want pain, so I prepared a different way and it was powerful and wonderful! It was still an empowering learning experience. I didn't need pain to learn.

But you are right there is challenges for many starting with pregnancy. I think of the 9 weeks I was on bedrest with my first baby and then the emergency cesarean. That was not what I had hoped for or planned for. I certainly learned a lot from that experience as well.

The thing is we can't control pregnancy or birth, no matter how we prepare. So we need to be open to learning from whatever experience we end up having with pregnancy and birth.

Rachel said...

A comment posted on a different site:

"As an LDS mother myself, I must admit that not once have I thought that pain is part of my religion and something I should embrace rather than avoid. I look at birth from the standpoint that God made our bodies capable of handling birth, and that I should trust in my body, and also in God, to let my body do it's thing. I would agree that people's view of pain tends to dictate how and where people give birth, but I'm not really sure that LDS women are ok with pain; I think they accept they will have trials, but I think those are two separate things. From what I can see, it seems to me that most LDS women want nothing to do with pain in childbirth, and think that if they can have a baby without the pain, why would you go through such a horrible thing as natural birth? I Would also say, though, that it seems like MOST women think that way, regardless of religous affiliation. Given the state of our maternity system, that's what it looks like to me. I personally feel like God gave us brains and agency and he expects us to use them. That's what I have done, and I feel that for me, home birth is the safest and best option that I can provide to my new babies."

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.