by Deborah Lynn
There are many philosophies about giving birth. Some support a completely natural experience with no drugs. Some tout the benefits of certain structured breathing procedures and positions during birth. Underwater births, at home births, doulas, midwives and planned caesarians are all considerations. I believe that each woman is different and that she should decide how she will handle and, perhaps more importantly, view, giving birth.
I remember watching All in the Family when I was a child. Gloria was pregnant and getting ready to deliver her baby. She was scared. I thought about how scary giving birth must be and have carried that fear with me throughout my life. Ridiculous to be so impacted by a television scene? Perhaps. Valid nonetheless.
Now that I have delivered my little girl, I view giving birth much differently than I used to. In fact, I viewed giving birth much differently when I took a childbirth course. The first few classes didn't do much to calm my fears about how painful and long childbirth would be. As I became more comfortable with the birth process, I listened to the wisdom of women (including my Mom) who have been through childbirth. I applied life lessons gained in my 40 plus years of living, and developed the following birth philosophy which I encourage you to consider and then develop your own personal birth philosophy:
I understand the process and risks but will focus on the positive. It is easy to get wrapped up in all of the details of childbirth and what can go wrong every step of the way - placenta previa, cord prolapse, breech birth, premature labor, prolonged labor, unplanned caesarian, etc.
During my childbirth class, one of the women was very upset and worried about vomiting during childbirth. All of her friends had told her that they vomited during the process of birth and she was terrified that she would vomit, be lying on her back and aspirate it. The course instructors did their best to calm her fears and explained that they didn't believe that vomiting was common to every woman and that she needed to let her doctor and nurses know of her fear so she could change body positions if she felt nauseous.
The point is that she had spent much more time worrying about something which might or might not happen, than the time she will probably actually be vomiting if it ever happens. I, myself, have spent most of my life being afraid of a process which lasted less than 18 hours. By the way, I did vomit once during labor and is was not a big deal.
It hurts, but it's a relatively short timeframe. Contractions hurt. A lot. No doubt about it. Watch any episode of Birth Day and you can see the agony that the women experience. I had no pain medication until my contractions were 1 minute apart and my labor stalled at hour 10. The contraction pain was the worst I had ever experienced. I asked for and received the epidural. Thank God for modern medicine.
On the other hand, I have recently experienced a rib injury that has been incredibly painful and has made it difficult to walk, sit, drive a car, sleep, cough, sneeze and bend over. This injury has caused me to cry out loud in pain when rolling over in bed and has lasted for several weeks. Labor did not last for several weeks. In the big picture of life, labor represents a miniscule percentage of one's life. Understand the process and the risks, but realize that labor won't last all that long. You will get through it.
This is how I am going to get my new baby into the world. I read an article in which the author discussed trying to equate tolerance of dental pain with tolerance of labor pain. They suggested that dental pain wasn't designed with a purpose and positive outcome in mind so it was a completely different thing. This makes a lot of sense. Labor pain was "designed" to help us get our babies into the world. If we change the way we view it from a dread of a painful experience to a welcome process that allows our baby to enter the world, how much better will the experience be?