Pain – A Useful Signal

Excerpt from The Birth Book written by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.:

Pain has a purpose.  This unwelcome alarm sounds to make us aware that something unphysiologic is going on in our body and serves notice that we need to make a change.  So it is with pain during labor.  It is a signal that implies the woman needs to relax.  When a woman is relaxed, the sensations of her contractions signal that labor is progressing normally and she can let it happen.  When this relaxed woman feels pain, she is being signaled to make a change.  For example, back pain during transition would urge her into some creative positions to deal with the pain.  Besides making the contractions more bearable, her new position helps her baby also change positions, rotating to find an easier way out.

Because women have been so conditioned to expect pain in childbirth, they often discount its significance as a signal.  If the pain is ignored, its value as a signal to make changes is lost.  Another problem with the “pain in childbirth is normal” belief is that women automatically opt for anesthesia, or they bite the bullet and go natural “for the sake of the baby,” not knowing they could make changes in their labor that would alleviate the pain.

Unmanageable pain during birth is not normal.  Even in athletic training, the old axiom “no pain – no gain” has been disproven.  When a muscle hurts, its function is compromised, and it is more prone to injury.  In labor, the less the pain, the more the gain.  Pain in labor stimulates release of hormones that inhibit labor.  You do not have to hurt to deliver a baby.  Pain, properly understood and sensitively managed, is a valuable labor assistant.  Listen to its signals.

~ by cmb0414 on July 16, 2010.

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