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10 things about... Pain in labour

1. Pain in labour is useful. 

P: purposeful:pain results in something positive(your baby!)

A:anticipated: you can prepare for whats coming

I. intermittent: labour is designed to have natural breaks from the pain

N: normal: pain in labour can be understood and does not need to be feared

2. Pain in labour can follow the fear-tension- pain cycle or the confidence-relaxation-comfort cycle depending on what you do to prepare for labour

3. Pain in labour should be built on the understanding that labour can hurt. Hurt comes in many forms and in many ways, You have inborn and learned skills to meet this challenge. If you learn how you deal with pain and how you will deal with the pain, then you have the awareness to be very active in how you cope. If something suddenly changes pain wise or if it is an unusual or distinct pain you can communicate it with your care providers. 

4. Pain in labour is a working, active effort, not something that is broken. Because of that you don't have to tell yourself stories about the pain. Example "oh this really hurts I don't think I can do it". This can lead to suffering. Suffering is where 'not being able to manage' happens. No one wants you to suffer in birth.

5. Pain in labour can guide you during birth. You can move, use relaxation and comfort measures and find better positions.

6. Pain in labour can vary from woman to woman. Early labour pains may feel like menstrual pains,cramps or back pains (if baby is posterior). It will increase in duration and frequency as labour progresses. Pushing pain is different from labouring pains and you may feel a relief to be pushing and feel stretching and burning in your vagina.

7. Pain in labour can be experienced differently depending on who is attending your birth. In "A Wise Birth", authors Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman explain that women who are treated well by birth attendants, have their needs considered and bodies respected and whose mothering responsibilities are honored will give birth more easily. In contrast, women who are challenged by their birth attendants, restrained, distrusted and treated indifferently will have more trouble with labor. They conclude, “drugs and technology in birth, as in life, have proved to be poor substitutes for true, human attention.”

8. Pain in labour that has become suffering can be helped by the compassionate and wise use of medical intervention. An epidural can provided much needed relief but will interfere with the production of oxytocin and your body's natural ability to know what to do. 

9. Pain in labour is shared with your other birth partner- your baby. Your baby is also experience labour along with you. The baby's head is molding and shaping to your pelvis and making his/her way down and through the birth canal. Keeping you amniotic sac intact and allowing your natural hormones to do their work will help baby transition into his/her new environment. 

10. Pain in labour is a controversial subject and has become quite political in our country and around the world. Because of the thought of pain can be frightening and something we wish to avoid there has become a culture of fear and prevention. The basic rights of women have been forgotten in the increasing medicalized system of care in childbirth. Women should have the basic right of birthing where, when and with whom they choose. These following links may help you wade through some of the controversy.

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