Pain vs Pleasure


Pain and pleasure are perceived differently by different people. For some, pain IS pleasure. Some don’t feel pain, no matter how intense. And for others, even the slightest pain is excruciating.

I have heard childbirth called ‘painful’ and ‘pleasurable’. Now, what makes people have such opposite views on birth?

First, I asked myself “What makes childbirth painful”?
-Fear
-It is different than any other pain
-No one can truly explain the pain you feel
-Not being able to move around
-Incomplete relaxing techniques
-Inability to concentrate
-Not able to eat or drink
-Not prepared
-No support to alleviate pain

Now, what would make childbirth pleasurable?
-Being prepared
-Having around the clock labor support
-Having your privacy respected
-Being able to move around
-Able to eat or drink
-A ‘natural’ mindset
-Complete surrender
-Complete relaxation

And even if you are prepared, you could have a very painful childbirth. And if you aren’t prepared and are scared, you could have a very pleasurable childbirth.

When you insert a tampon, it can hurt or you can feel nothing at all. When you have intercourse, it can be very painful, or very pleasurable.

It all depends on the process. If you are prepared and relaxed, it won’t hurt. This is like vaginal exams. They can hurt or you may not feel a thing.

When I was in ‘labor’ with my daughter, I had the epidural from the version still, and as I got my feeling back, everything felt a little wet. So the nurse came in, and they didn’t know if I had peed on myself or my water had broken. (I didn’t have a catheter in for the first epidural). I wobbled my way to the bathroom, and when I came back, they had to do a test to see if it was my water.

To test this, they use a metal speculum and a little test strip.

Now, before this, I had heard horror stories about the speculum. The nurses all would joke about how painful it is, and how uncomfortable, and you never want them to use one on you.

When she pulled this out, I almost cried. I had only ever had one pap smear, and this looked bigger and meaner than the thing for that. The nurse noticed my fear, and she said it would be ok. She wasn’t going to insert it until I was ready.

To get me ready, she had me do kegels on her finger and she would stretch my perineum a little with every kegel. It took about five until I was open enough for the speculum to go in and I didn’t feel a thing. I am still SOOOOO grateful to her for being so nice and helping me prepare myself for the speculum.

In labor, there are tons of hormones floating around your system. Oxytocin, endorphins, proglastins, adrenaline… all sorts of stuff. Dr. Grantley Dick-Read summarized that the main cause of pain in labor was the FTPS, or Fear-tension-pain-syndrome (interestingly enough, the same acronym as failure to progress….. interesting….). He said that when you are scared, your body tenses, thus releasing adrenaline, which can stall or stop your labor. If you are relaxed and not afraid, then you won’t feel pain.

Ina May had a couple examples in her books about women that were dilated to 7s or 8s and stalled for days so they went to the hospital. When they went in, the doctor was so rough with them, they shrank. He noted that they were only 4 cms. When Ina May would check them again, they would be at the 4 he had noted.

When the doctor was so rough, your body instantly wants to protect its baby from the environment. It can cause pain, stop your labor, and even make your dilation retreat.

Anonymous Mommy has a really great post on fear of childbirth. The way this world is going, it’s amazing that some women still want natural childbirth. Everywhere we go, we are inundated with the fact that birth is absolutely painful. The woman needs to be saved from this. How ridiculous is this?!

I know that even if you are prepared, you probably won’t have a pleasurable labor. But, if you are more open to it, it could happen. And pain is only temporary. It does go away.

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One Response

  1. I really liked this post. I am so excited to experience birth now that I have learned so much and know that I will be prepared.

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