Friday, May 10, 2013

The pain of childbirth? Does it fade or doesn't it?

Interesting story and not too surprising conclusion. Women who have a positive birth outcome, which can be measured by a number of different yardsticks, are more likely to forget or rate the pain of childbirth low down on the intensity scale. Compare those women who have a less than positive outcome and expect their rating to be much higher on the Richter scale of pain. It also seems that a small number (3-6 percent) of women are so traumatised by the pain and the overall birth experience that they suffer a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yikes - no wonder so many women reach for the nitrous oxide or call for an epidural. And yet the study also indicates that women who had an epidural may still remember the birth as painful overall. All of that said, my dear colleague, midwife and author Susan Ross who trains doulas and also teaches “hypno-birthing”  to prospective mums, dismisses the idea of painful labour. As a woman whose two short, straightforward labours, took place long before I met Susan and were indeed painful, I can’t give a first hand report on the likelihood of achieving pain-free birth.

However what I do know is that labours are presently much longer and more difficult than Nature intended. There are multiple reasons for this, and while I don’t suggest that I have all the answers, they include some factors that can be very easily dealt with and you can begin on that check list well before your pregnancy starts. 

Here are my suggestions for not only optimising your birth outcome, but for increasing the likelihood that your own memories (if painful) will indeed fade away ...
  • optimise overall nutritional status - potent probiotic, comprehensive prenatal supplementation and zinc levels to be assessed and maintained throughout your pregnancy
  • regular exercise - particularly include specific stretches for an active birth
  • stress reduction - that includes giving some serious thought to where and with whom you will labour
  • be informed - understand the downsides of the medically managed birth (which includes pain relief)
  • avoid the doomsayers - listen to women who remember their birth experience as a high point in their lives (whatever pain they experienced notwithstanding)
  • believe in the power of your well-nourished, well-prepared body and mind 
  • believe in the normality of birth!

More in my latest mini ebook 

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