Just hearing the word PAIN makes us shudder and recoil. No one wants to be in pain. We spend our whole lives trying to avoid pain. It is no wonder that pain is the number one fear women have of labor.
Pain has a purpose.
Pain is our body’s way of protecting us. It is a signal to “pay attention”. In the instance of touching a hot stove, it creates an immediate and powerful reaction to protect us from burning our hand even more. For athletes, pain keeps them from pushing themselves too hard and damaging their muscles.
Even early contractions are sometimes uncomfortable. But why? Being uncomfortable is your body’s way of saying “today is different, you should be paying attention”. It is our signal to get to a safe spot because labor is starting. Contractions cause us to slow down and start paying attention to the work our body is doing.
The chemical cocktail
Pain also triggers an endorphin release in our brain. This is our brain’s way of protecting us from the pain after it has been made aware of what is happening. A powerful chemical cocktail helps keep our pain levels in check and makes labor more tolerable. As the intensity increases; so do the endorphins.
Pain vs Suffering
Pain is an amazing and normal bodily function. There is nothing wrong with feeling pain in labor. Suffering however is another story altogether. Sometimes labor cross the boundary from pain into suffering. There is no reason to suffer in labor. Suffering happens when you are overwhelmed with pain and feel like you are drowning in it. This can create lasting harm in your psyche and contribute to bad feelings about your labor.
An end to suffering
Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine we are able to almost completely end suffering in labor. With everything from hydrotherapy to epidurals we have an amazing world of pain relief at our fingertips. No one should have to suffer in labor. Your doula can help guide you through your options!
What really matters
As doulas our primary goal is for you to have a satisfying birth. We want you to look back one this momentous occasion as one of the best days of your life. Your brain has an amazing way of protecting you by minimizing your memories of the pain and highlighting the other parts of your labor. You can help by using the tools at your disposal to end suffering and enjoy the process.
Lancaster Doulas wishes you a happy labor !