Some people’s fear of pain makes them demonize the pain and in an effort to be positive about birth they gloss over it. But the pain of labor is real. We do not do a service to birthing women if we deny it. Pain is challenging. Pain is painful! Pain is powerful. We are powerful. Through the pain we will feel the joy. Mary gave birth with me at her home many years ago, but the picture of beautiful Mary rocking on the floor on all fours, moaning and swaying and shouting out “Bring it on!” comes back to me often. Mary enjoyed labor. Some women do. Most do not but they all emerge from the journey changed and strengthened.
I have cared for many women who have used Hypnobirthing https://us.hypnobirthing.com/ or Hypnobabies https://www.hypnobabies.com/ childbirth preparation. Some of them love it. But quite a few find it not only useless but deceptive. I remember one particular labor where the mother, rocking and rolling her baby out, letting out load labor bellows, shouted out “F*** Hypnobirthing”. Several have said “I was not prepared for the pain”. I believe in hypnosis. It works! I believe in positive affirmations. And the experience and perception of pain is moderated by the environment. This includes the room, the lighting, the sounds, the smells, the people, the words they use. But in preparing for labor, it makes no sense to demonize pain.
Some women in labor have their hypnosis recordings on during labor, sometimes using headphones. Perhaps this makes sense in a hospital where being present in your environment might feel scary, where you don’t trust the people around you, all you trust is the impersonal voice on the recording, but it doesn’t make sense in an supportive out of hospital setting with a caring midwife and people you love. If you are connecting with the stranger, it is hard to receive their support. The person on the recording knows neither what your body is feeling at that moment, nor does she love you like your family does. She does not know you at all.
Pain is a signal to the brain. It makes a lot of things happen. It makes endorphins flow. Endorphins are our personal narcotics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorphins . Not only do they help relieve pain, they create feelings of euphoria. And the euphoria combined with the love hormone, oxytocin in action, create the magic of birth bliss.
This amazing photograph shows the relationship of pain to ecstasy, euphoria and love. Bring it on!