Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Painless Childbirth?

Off and on over the last six years I've heard people claim to have painless childbirths. Some attain it through hypnosis or other methods, some simply don't register their contractions as painful. I have to admit that I have a hard time believing people when they claim "painless childbirth." And even further than that, I don't know if I'd even want it myself.

The other night I was talking with my husband. We were on the subject of how this birth could go very quickly, and I told him I really hoped it wouldn't because I'd feel short-changed. I said, "I don't want it to be over quickly. At least give me a few hours." He looked at me sort of like I was insane. Why prolong the agony? no doubt he was thinking. But after a moment, his facial expression relaxed, and he said, "I guess I can see that." He's a hard-core running fanatic and marathon addict, so putting it through that lens, he acknowledged: "It's like why I would prefer to run a marathon than a 5K." Exactly. Some people see it as prolonging the agony, but for the one who chooses it willingly, it is simply magnifying and intensifying the satisfaction and euphoria.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not asking for an intense 24-hour labor. And I don't want to make it any more painful than it has to be. But "quick and painless" wouldn't be my ideal birth. Ecstatic and euphoric and beautiful... bring it on! But painless?

I just can't even comprehend it. I love giving birth! But I'm not going to lie to you. It hurt A LOT. But there's nothing like the relief and release that washes over you when that slippery little person emerges. I think that's how God and nature intended it--that it is your beautiful baby who brings you the gift of relief. Most women experience that glorious relief prematurely--as a gift from the anesthesiologist so many admit to wanting to kiss.

I've never given birth without pain, so I have no concept of what it would be like. Most of the women I know have given birth with epidurals. I wouldn't presume to claim that their births were any less miraculous and wonderful, but I just have no concept of what it would be like. As strange as it may sound, I don't really want to know what it would be like.

Am I totally insane? Thoughts?


Fig said...

I think it still hurts, even with an epidural, for some people. Not as much, obviously. I've never heard anyone say it was painless, that I can remember.

I'm okay with the painful birth. I think. Haven't done it yet, but it's the only kind of birth I've ever imagined, since I was a little girl. I was pretty old before I even learned about epidurals, because my mom never had one, in all her 7 deliveries, and I just didn't encounter the concept.

Rambling, rambling. The point is that your post makes sense to me, and if all goes as planned, someday I'll join you in the ranks of the pained birthers. :-)

Buscando la Luz said...

The people I was referring to in the first paragraph are the non-drug users. The ones who claim to have painless childbirths simply through natural means. You're right... many women with epidurals still experience pain. Even those that have a complete loss of pain with the epidural usually experience pain before they get the needle put in place.

Did I know your mom was a natural birther? That rocks!

Fig said...

Right - I was looking at the last paragraph.

I may have mentioned it, but I can't remember. Yes, she was a "natural" - even with her last baby, who was born when she was forty! That time, she had a midwife instead of an OB (she LOVED the midwife experience). Mom was afraid that she was too old to give birth without medication, and the midwife said "are you crazy? You've done it six times already!" and basically wouldn't let her get the drugs. :-)

Liz Johnson said...

I think you're right - it's ok to crave either experience. I admit that I crave the normal birth experience, which would include a non-induced labor, the "ring of fire" of crowning, the pain of the contractions, etc. It's something about being connected with your body and the process. I want to experience it.

That said, I had complete pain relief once my epidural kicked in with Nate. I didn't feel a darn thing once it was full-force. And I have to admit, it is awesome. It is a rush of euphoria. And you still get a high when you have the kid, but it's almost like two different hills of happiness rather than one mountain. Or at least that's how it felt to me.

Also, my epidural was shut off two hours before I actually gave birth to Connor. I think I felt most of it, but not all of it. The birthing experience was truly amazing... just the feeling of him being born was awesome. The pitocin contractions before were awful and excruciating, but his actual birth, and the pain associated with it, was truly amazing.

Anonymous said...

I have no desire to experience birth with any type of pain medication. I believe in the power of my body and after giving birth to my daughter unmedicated (after being induced with pitocin) I know without a doubt the power I have been given as a woman. Nothing can replace that feeling, ever.

While it still hurts either way, I want to experience every moment of the pain. I feel it allows you to grow in ways you can never describe.

Just my 2 cents. :) Love your blog btw.

Buscando la Luz said...

Thanks for your comment, Anon! An unmedicated birth in the face of a pitocin induction is almost unheard-of! That's incredible! Way to go! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Sarah H said...

I have three kids (twins and a singleton) and have had scheduled C-sections, so I don't know what the pain of labor is like.
But, I REALLY want to feel that pain. I feel jipped of the experience in a way. A mother in my ICAN group explained it very well. She said she didn't mind the pain of her VBAC attempt because it was HER pain, not the pain from the c-section. That's how I feel. I am a bit scared for the pain, but I really want to feel that pain, because it will mean I am giving birth.
During my time as a student nurse I always thought it was a bit strange when someone in labor, someone going through one of the most important things in life, was spending it watching reruns of an old TV sitcom or playing cards with their husband while conveniently hooked up to all the machines that took feeling away.
Anyway, I feel a bit hypocritical talking about natural childbirth when I haven't experienced it, but after my disappointing c-sections I really at least want to experience the pain of labor and not the pain of surgical recovery.

Buscando la Luz said...

Sarah, not hypocritical at all! And I totally know what you mean about people playing cards or watching reruns. I consider a laboring woman's vicinity sacred ground and it just seems so, I dunno, strange... to mar that ground with the trappings of the everyday world.

I really hope for you that you get to experience that beautiful pain you long for!