Pain, pain, pain and more pain! I recently attended an event for soon to be parents where a very lovely midwife was talking. She was providing some useful tips and information on healthy pregnancy, labour and the early days with a newborn.
Within minutes of the talk/demo-style event, I quickly noticed how often the word "pain" was being said. I noticed it in part because I don't think I've ever heard it said so frequently in my life. Then I began to count- 32 times in 30 minutes the word pain was mentioned, in the context of ...
"You will want to know your options for pain management."
"When you go into the maternity, they will assess your pains."
"You can absolutely have an epidural to cope with the pain."
"When the pains become more intense, you may need more help."
There was such an emphasis on PAIN with no mention of comfort, closeness, connection or any blip of joy that can come from childbirth.
If I were a first time mom attending this talk, I would have left feeling more nervous and fearful than when I first walked through the door.
More importantly, it definitely would have solidified that birth= PAIN and nothing else.
How can this be harmful? When all families know is birth= pain, that's sadly more than likely what they are going to experience. A birthing person's experience is likely to match what they expect. If you think something is going to be excruciating no matter what you do, you're already gearing your body up for that assumption, which creates an enormous level of stress. And what do we know about stress hormones? They can slow or stall labour and make the intensity of contractions feel worse. Research has also indicated that mums who see discomfort or pain during labour as threatening or serving no purpose are also more likely to experience heightened pain levels. Environmental factors in one's labour space, like noises, disruptions, bright lights and feeling observed can also increase the perception of pain.
Contrast this to people who believe yes, labour is intense, it can be uncomfortable and challenging- however, it's something you can work WITH AND THROUGH to meet your baby. They often also see any surges (or contractions) as a natural part of the birth process and hold more trust with their body. Research has shown a mother's state of mind greatly impacts their perception of pain. We know that people with these beliefs are actually less likely to report such high perceived levels of pain. Their stress level markers are lower, they are much more calm, present and able to relax in a way that helps promote the progression of labour.
If people have only seen and heard pain-filled depictions of birth, they are more likely to experience birth as more painful. If they have broaded their scope and reframed their beliefs on what birth can be and how they will manage, they are more likely to report less pain and a more positive birth experience.
Are you looking to prepare for labour in a way that makes you feel strong and confident? Are you ready to get on the same page with your partner so you both feel 100% ready for any path labour may take? Get in touch with me to organise an in-person or video consultation so you can prepare for your AMAZING BIRTH!