Natural labor and delivery?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2007
Natural labor and delivery?
5
Thu, 07-12-2012 - 1:00am

I know I'm fast-forwarding a bit here, but one thing that has been terrifying me lately is the actual labor and delivery. You'd think with being on my fifth kid, I'd be a pro at this. And I honestly wouldn't be so scared, but I've had an epidural with each of my other births and really don't want to get one this time around. I had complications with the last three epidurals I got, but the one with my last baby was the worst. I won't go into the gory details, don't want to scare anyone, but it ended up turning into an emergency situation which scared the hell out of myself and DH. DH and I are both medical professionals, and although I don't remember much of it, he says that he was really afraid that things were going to turn out much differently. There were other issues as well, that weren't as bad, but the whole experience was enough to keep me away from it this time around.

Anyway, my question is this... How much does natural labor and delivery hurt? I guess that's a dumb question, because I can only imagine that it hurts like hell, but just give it to me straight. And how did you get through it? I definitely plan to labor and deliver in a hospital, but just hope to stay away from as many pain medications as possible. Any tips, advice, or just the honest-to-God truth would be much appreciated! Thanks!

 

--Heather-- proud mommy to five amazing kids and one more on the way!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 11:11pm
gafirewife wrote:

Anyway, my question is this... How much does natural labor and delivery hurt? I guess that's a dumb question, because I can only imagine that it hurts like hell, but just give it to me straight. And how did you get through it? 


I would highly recommend taking Bradley Classes and/or hiring a doula.  Bradley students deliver natural 85-90% of the time and having a doula DRASTICALLY reduces the odds of epidural, c-section, etc.    

A LOT of how much labor hurts (IMO) is actually all mental.  If you are "going with it" and not afraid versus fighting it, it will hurt a  lot less.  Think of if you ever have a severe back or neck pain--when you feel the pain, you tend to compensate by tightening other muscles, trying not to move the area, etc.  In labor (and often with a regular back or neck spasm) all of these things would make the pain WORSE.  Moving around, massage and/or counter pressure, staying upright, trying different positions/using a tub to labor in, etc, all reduce the pain or odds of pain.  

Most people I know how have had both say that all an epidural does is dull the intensity of contractions.  Usually by the pushing stage (and crowning was the worst for me, by far) they have had to let the epidural wear off anyway, so it is similar either way at that point.  Another thing to consider is that an epidural (and having to lay down since you have an epidural) makes labor go a LOT SLOWER.  

When I was in labor the pain was TOTALLY manageable but NOT when I was laying down.  I had a 5 hour labor and did not lay or sit once because it made the pain 10X worse.  If I had to lay down when I was in labor I would have NEEDED an epidural but as long as I was up and moving around (i liked to stand and lean/squat on a wall or over the toilet when I was in labor) the pain was totally manageable.

And how bad was it?  Well as someone who has a history of severe back spasms, it was not AT ALL the worst pain I have ever had.  It felt like VERY SEVERE period cramps and crowning---okay crowning was very painful (still not as bad as the back spasms) but only for like 5 mins and my son crowned an arm and shoulder with his head so it was worse than it could have been.  

My biggest recommendation though, along with the Bradley classes and the doula is to CONQUER YOUR FEAR.  Watch the Business of Being Born, if you haven't already--they show some great natural births and you can just tell from watching that it's NOT a big deal for the Moms.  I LOVED the book "Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth"--it REALLY helped address a lot of my fears and re-program my mind from fearing birth to being downright excited about it.  And the re-programming WORKED.  I was NOT afraid, I did NOT fight my body during labor, I followed my instincts/body and spent most of the labor standing and squatting, NONE of it laying down, and I had a fast and easy labor.  The mental stuff is huge.  

Congrats on wanting to go natural!  That is awesome!   

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Re: Natural labor and delivery?
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 11:16pm
Tabigale wrote:

I'm not sure if anyone else has found this but I found that the acutal delivery/pushing was worse with an epidural than without . I can only explain it as this - when the pressure of the baby leaving my uterus started on the epidural I was shocked and writhing in agony perhaps it was so evident because of the complete painless state leading up to delivery that made it so noticable. 


Oh yeah another thing to remember is that the endorphins that come along with a natural birth are VERY POWERFUL.  More powerful than morphine apparently.  If you are able to make it through the beginning of the pain your body starts to produce endorphins which are EXTREMELY dissociating and powerful.  I was literally in another world when I delivered my son.  I would imagine this is why it felt worse with an epidural because you don't have that natural protection that comes from actually going through the initial pain of contractions.  It is not to be underestimated--it's the best pain relief available and it comes from a natural birth only!

 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Re: Natural labor and delivery?
Wed, 07-25-2012 - 11:22pm
mhgwyn wrote:

This is my fourth, and I have never had an epidural. I have had some version of the medication in the iv that lasts a short period. I have nothing against epidurals, but I personally am more scared of the epidural than the pain of the birth. People always tell me I am crazy, but I can own that lol.

Actually I just heard the whole story on the (after) birth of my cousins' 3rd baby.  With the first two she'd had epidurals with no problem--but when she got the epidural for her 3rd son there was a complication that basically put her FLAT on her back for over a month, unable to move much, unable to breastfeed since she couldn't move (she planned on formula anyway bt still) and unable to hold her son during all that time.  Her sister lived with her and took care of everything during this time . . . 

So YEAH that is scarier to me than birth--sounds WAY more painful--and lasted like 30X longer!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2012
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 9:06am

Your post reminded of my Hypnobabies classes.  My class officially starts Aug 4, but I've already begun listening to the first cd daily.  But reprogramming the way we think about birth and staying relaxed is the whole basis.  Tearing down the thought that it will be painful and relax and let your body do what it knows to do.  Because of the negative connotation of the word "contraction" they replace it with "pressure wave" and you learn to just think about the whole process differently and stay calm and relaxed.  In one of the informational emails I received, it talks about labor in other societies and how the US differs.  What the mind and body together can do is pretty amazing.

Pregnancy%20ticker
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Thu, 07-26-2012 - 6:52pm

Yeah I really like a lot of the things I've heard about Hypnobabies.  I guess personally one reason I advocate Bradley as oppose to Hypnobabies is that the Bradley Class involves a lot of "logical" things--exercises which promote the baby to be in the best position for birth (head down, face down), a diet which in 7000 cases has never had a case of pre-eclampsia.  These are issues which can interfere with wanting to have a natural birth since labor with a sunny side up baby is often a million times longer/more painful, and pre-eclampsia would start you off with an induction which is not the way to go for natural birth.  Bradley also does relaxtion exercises, teaches you how to navigate through the hospital system, and it's a 12 week class which is really how long I feel like a birth class needs to be in order to really take in and put into practice all the things they are telling you.  It also educates you about what is happening duriing L+D which makes everything a lot less scary.  It just seems to be EXTREMELY comprehensive to me, and while I like what hypnobabies does, I feel like it doesn't cover quite as many bases.

Also, I think?  hypnobabies almost claims that labor shouldn't hurt at all, or that it's possible for it to not hurt at all.  While I know plenty of people do have pain-free or nearly pain-free labors with Hypnobabies (and some with Bradley, too), I know a LOT MORE people who did hypnobabies because they wanted a PAINLESS childbirth, and there is still fear driving that desire, if you KWIM.  The Bradley approach says:  Yes it hurts some, but if you practice your exercises, stick to the diet, and practice the relaxtion, you will be successful at having a natural birth, just like 9/10 of your fellow Bradley students.  It's almost like allowing yourself to understand that it probably will hurt some, but that you still have the power to get through it--to me that feels more empowering and like facing your fear, while some people are attracted to hypnobabies precisely because they are holding onto their fear.  Idk if that makes sense to you.

My cousin actually did both and I think was able to use techniques from both to have a successful natural birth (even after being forced to be induced with pitocin by her doc).  I think both things are great techniques, but like I said, personally I really like the comprehensive and longer-lasting approach of the Bradley method.  

However I will say that I did undergo an outside and seperate brain-washing/reprogramming that I took on myself by surrounding myself totally with POSITIVE, EMPOWERING birth stories (that book I linked I literally probably read cover to cover non-stop repeatedly while I was pregnant, at least 10 times).  I wanted those women's power as part of my psyche--their stories, their successes--I made it a part of--the biggest part of--my understanding of birth.  I rejected the scary stories on "birth story" and other TV depictions of birth as inherently scary and painful.  So I DEFINITELY appreciate the power of this and that that is a great aspect of the Hypnobabies method.  

For anyone considering a natural birth, again, I would seriously recommend that book of birth stories and one thing I love about it is that every story talks about different ways to prepare for natural birth--you can hear different womens takes and experiences with Bradley and Hypnobabies and Birthing From Within and all kinds of different classes.  And every birth story also contains the story of each women's different pain relief approaches and techniques--when and how water helped, or the birthing ball, or being on the toilet or squatting or walking or relaxing or whatever they did that helped them.   I loved to be able to read like 30 different womens' POSITIVE experiences with natural birth and tried to learn from each of them ,and like I said, absorb their birth power and approach.  BUY IT FROM AMAZON, LOL

http://www.amazon.com/Journey-into-Motherhood-Inspirational-Stories/dp/0974785326/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343343100&sr=1-1&keywords=journey+into+motherhood

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