Are you interested in natural childbirth but wondering if you can handle the pain? The ability to manage labor pain may be a lot ore doable than you think.
Guest Post by Wendy Hanenburg of AwakeningWillow
Are you interested in natural childbirth but wondering if you can handle the pain?
You’re not alone.
Labor pain remains mysterious until it’s experienced, so most women wonder what it will *really* feel like. In the meantime, we hear stories about “excruciating pain” from those who birthed before us, which has led to a modern-time myth about natural childbirth:
Myth: You must have a “high pain tolerance” in order to have a natural childbirth.
I consider myself to have a “low pain tolerance,” if there is such a thing.
Fifteen years ago, newly married but before any thought of having kids, I assumed I would choose an epidural when it came time for kids due to my “low pain tolerance.”
A bonked toe or elbow will have me howling in pain and practically curled in a ball on the floor.
During a run, as soon as it gets a little challenging I take a walk break.
Or if I feel a funny pain in my foot or shin.
Or if it’s too hot.
Let’s just say that I prefer to maintain comfort in my day-to-day life. I don’t seek out difficult or challenging adventures. I’m not special or talented or athletic. And yet I have had two natural births; one at a birth center, one at home, both with a midwife attending.
How can that be?
Fact: Preparation and vulnerability are more important than “pain tolerance.”
It’s not about someone’s ability to cope with pain, but rather their willingness to experience a certain type of pain.
Two Things You Really Need to Manage Labor Pain
Choosing to have a natural childbirth is being willing to prepare (physically and mentally) for the challenge and being willing to be vulnerable to experience the unknown with no guaranteed results.
How do you prepare for what you don’t know and can’t predict?
in my ability as well as to a strong determination to have a natural birth, which in turn led to choosing a supportive caregiver and planning for a natural birth.
Preparation changed the way I viewed labor pain, from fearing it to allowing it as a normal part of the process. I was willing to accept the pain that came with labor; I now viewed it in a different way.
Thanks to my preparation I had more tools to help me manage labor pain, and my top two tools for natural childbirth determination and belief in myself were strengthened.
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It’s hard to wrap our minds around the unknown. When labor begins, you don’t know exactly how long it will take or how hard it will get.
My willingness to be vulnerable to the experience of natural birth was aided by my preparation.
What I knew about birth gave me confidence to face what I didn’t know.
I developed realistic expectations and a belief in myself: I knew there would be pain but I believed I would be able to handle it.
- Determination was my fuel.
- Reading books helped me learn about birth.
- I chose a supportive birthing environment.
- Reading natural birth stories and daily positive affirmations helped me stay in the “can-do” mindset.
- Natural birth class helped me reduce fear and prepare mentally.
The five keys to natural birth worked together and interesting things happened to this selfdescribed “low pain tolerance” woman: I learned to trust birth and to trust my body.
Great Paradox of Natural Birth
- Prepare: Do what you can to set the stage for a natural birth.
- Be vulnerable: Let go and lean in to the experience.
Natural childbirth is allowing certainty and uncertainty to coexist. And that can be scary. But it is also doable.
If you are interested in natural birth, don’t be scared away from it by thinking you can’t handle the pain.
Because you can. As a woman you’ve always had the ability to birth your baby naturally.
I believe any woman who wants a natural birth can have one. If you are interested in natural birth, start preparing; your confidence and belief in yourself will grow.
Four Reminders About Labor Pain That Helped Me Have a Natural Childbirth
This acronym reminds us how labor pain is different from other types of pain:
- P: Purposeful
- A: Anticipated
- I: Intermittent
- N: Normal
Willingness Starts with Your Why
Why do you want a natural birth? What reason is more important than any pain or challenge you may encounter?
Once you find your reason for wanting a natural birth, use that determination to prepare physically and mentally for the challenge of natural birth.
If I can do it, you can do it!
How did you accept the uncertainty of labor pain?
Wendy Hanenburg is the creator of AwakeningWillow where she writes about healthy food, green living, peaceful parenting, and natural birth. She and her husband are constantly learning from their two children; they are great teachers! Her book I Can and I Will: Cultivate Your Courage for the Natural Birth of Your Dreams was born of her passion to share the “hidden treasure” of natural birth with others. In addition to writing, she also enjoys reading, running, and playing the drums.