Childbirth expectations

The tech at my chiropractor’s office asked me today if I was planning a natural childbirth (she’s also pregnant).

I admit my first thought was, “Natural? As opposed to what? Unnatural childbirth?”

She was talking pain meds, of course. I’ll be doing hypnobabies again, which is what I said. She’s doing hypnobirthing (very similar, slightly different in some way, I guess).

She wanted to know how it worked for me with Duncan. I wasn’t quite sure what to say.
I’ve had a bunch of people ask me about self-hypnosis for childbirth and how well it works. I do recommend it to people, but I always do so with some hesistation. I feel like I need to explain my experience, without actually telling them how much pain I felt.

What I realized in the shower today was that our expectations of childbirth are plain unrealistic. Whether it’s the epidural that’s supposed to take all pain away — but doesn’t always work exactly like it’s supposed to  — or hypnobirthing.

Hypnobirthing definitely helped me. It gave me something to return my focus to, it helped me relax, and I’m positive that it helped Duncan make a steady transition into the world. I dilated quickly and smoothly, he dropped, I pushed (OK, for 2 hours) and out he came. His heartbeat never wavered (being induced, I was hooked up to the fetal monitor the whole time).

However, I felt a lot more than “pressure.” I felt pain. Intense pain.

And I felt a sense of failure. Because I wasn’t giving birth like those women in the hypnobabies videos who barely moan and sigh and look half-asleep and out comes a baby.

I felt like I wasn’t doing it right. Like it was my fault it hurt.

Would I have felt it was my fault if I’d had an epidural and it only numbed my right side? No. I’d have modern medicine to blame for that.

So who’s fault is it that I felt pain instead of pressure? Did I not practice enough? Believe enough? Focus enough? Did my birthing team not give me enough of the right signals/cues? Who knows. Maybe induced labor really is a whole lot harder and more intense. Maybe expelling a 9+ lb person out of a small hole is supposed to cause a little discomfort. Maybe I just suck a dealing with pain (this is true. Being in chronic pain causes me to have a low pain threshold and fibromyalgia has something to do with feeling pain more intensely than other people).

Anyway, the brilliant realization I came to today had something to do with my expectations – of myself and of any method of pain relief.

Maybe hypnobabies shouldn’t be promising a pain-free childbirth experience. Maybe they shouldn’t focus so much on that. So that if you do feel some pain instead of pressure you don’t feel like you’re failing.

I am going to use self-hypnosis again. If it helps me relax, keeps things progressing smoothly and gives me something to focus on it’ll be a success. There may be some discomfort involved. And I think I can be OK with that.

2 thoughts on “Childbirth expectations

  1. Oh, sweetie! It’s society’s fault, IMO. It’s the doctors who medicalized birth, thinking it is something that needs intervention ALL the time (it isn’t). And the people who don’t want to be in ANY pain. And the pharmas who push their drugs because of those people.

    Childbirth IS painful, but it’s not like any other kind of pain in that it doesn’t mean something is wrong. For me it was most like intense exercise. (My first labor was “augmented” with Pitocin… my second had none, but was just like the first… except that the baby was nearly 3lbs. heavier than his brother.) Personally I was able to use the pain as a motivator to get the kid out!

    One thing I DID miss the second time was the hot tub. I had no jets because of the Pit and the EFM, but the hot water alone was enough to take the edge off… to the extent that the second time around, I didn’t remember what “real” contrax felt like. I wonder how much more effective hypnobirthing would be with hot water?

    I’m glad you will be hypnobirthing. I didn’t use it (didn’t “feel” right for the way I manage pain) but I have heard many good things about it. I hope it is much easier for you this time around!

  2. Well, I will say having been a hypnodoula at quite a few Hypnobabies births…. that Pitocin definitely brings the intensity to a different level. The moms without pitocin were pretty comfortable. The moms WITH pitocin, not so comfortable.
    Hypnobabies has changed their logo… now it is Enjoy your babies birth, in comfort, joy and love. I think it is better to focus on staying as relaxed and comfortable as POSSIBLE, depending on the situation. Anyway, glad you are using it again. Hopefully this time you will stay more comfortable. 🙂

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