Birth Pain And Birth Plans
All memories of pain, like all things, gradually fade over time whether the memories are those associated with birth or otherwise. That’s normal in all our lives. Who really remembers any regular sickness other than ‘I was so sick at the time’ or ‘it really hurt’? Unless we are sick or in pain right now, we aren’t worried about how painful we felt before. We remember we were pained but we can’t recreate the intense experience of it at will. It’s not that women have amnesia about birth pains. They know it hurts but they can’t replicate that experience right now. When they give birth again, then they remember the pain, just as when we get another headache we remember how it feels.
Births rarely go as “planned” and that’s why Birth Plans shouldn’t be thought of as being like choosing items from a menu or a wish list.
What Birthing Better skills do is permit us to adjust to the event as it happens. In other words, if we have the right skills, we can adapt to use them at any moment.
Many women explain birth so well
‘I want things to be different next time and have learned greatly from this birth experience’.
Given that we give birth so infrequently in life, it’s perhaps surprising how fast we decide what we could have done differently were we able to replay it. That’s what our mind does for months and sometimes years after each birth. If we don’t have birth skills to add to the next event, then we just often wish that our birth was different. Sometimes we believe a different Birth Plan will be the solution that improves our next birth experience. Yet this can often lead to disappointment. As you know the outcome is very significant (ed: I don’t understand what this means so I couldn’t edit it), but it’s our own process of going through labour that we learn from.
After 35 years of listening to Birth Stories, I can actually tell you that there are certain types of births; for now, we’ll talk about labour, and vaginal births.
Not an infinite variety
Yes, every birth is different and unique, but in its simplest form labour is a series of contractions that arrive one after another, spread out over time and with levels of intensity ranging from ‘I don’t feel anything’ to ‘I feel a tightening’, to ‘ooh it’s a bit painful’, to ‘it’s quite painful but manageable’ to ‘ohh this is intense’ to ‘the pain is overwhelming’. Many women go through the whole gamut of painful sensations as labour progresses. You can testify to that in your own story if you have already laboured and given birth.
What is unique to each birth is how fast we move through those stages. The quicker we move through them, the faster our labour is progressing.
Progression of labour
All labours progress by contractions becoming longer, stronger and closer together. Here’s a response I gave to a woman who felt overwhelmed by her labour and was pregnant again.
‘When you say that from the start you had strong but bearable contractions and in 6 hours you were 7-8cms this should tell you (in hindsight) that your body’s ability to labour effectively and quickly is part of who you are. Which means next time, you might have a shorter birth with contractions coming close together, although next time they might not be as ‘strong’ at first. Some second-time mothers who have had similar births as you have vaguer early labour and then suddenly full-on for a very short time. Because they confuse the early part as ‘non-progressing’ they can end up suddenly finding themselves pushing.
“You’re the type of woman who needs to think next time about not being able to get to the hospital. However, if you want to birth in hospital then you need to really learn to ‘check’ yourself so you can feel how quickly your cervix is dilating. You’ll also know by how fast the intensity changes. If you have questions about this or anything I say, please feel free to ask.
“One thing you mentioned is that you changed position ‘not really thinking about what was keeping you open but just doing what made me feel better’. May I ask a question here? Were you told in childbirth class or read that you should get into any position that makes you feel comfortable?’ (Ed: I didn’t edit this because it appears to be something the author already said or published so didn’t seem appropriate to edit it but I could if you wanted).
Birthing Better skills were developed by hundreds of moms and dads, used in every type of birth because each family’s birth is important to them! Birthing Better online birthing classes are housed in Common Knowledge Trust