The Pain of Natural Childbirth

Pain of Natural Childbirth

Since I started blogging, a lot of people have read about my natural unmedicated childbirth. I specifically didn’t mention pain in my birth story because the topic itself merits its own post. So here we are.

Several people have commented that they are impressed that I was able to give birth without any form of pain medication. Most people believe that childbirth is an incredibly painful experience. I’m sure they have visions of me screaming at the top of my lungs in pain while pushing Max out.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not a superhero. I’ve never experienced a lot of physical pain in my life and I never want to. When things hurt, I vocalize it. (Some may call it whining.)

I don’t like pain. I’m not physically tough. I’m a scrawny wimp.

But there was one thing I never doubted in myself: That I would have the ability to give birth naturally.

I remember reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (a must read for anyone considering natural childbirth) and there is a message in the book that really resonated with me:

We believe childbirth is painful because that’s what permeates our media and culture. Childbirth is infused with the fear of pain. I know from my personal experience that if I believe something will hurt, then it will hurt. And if I’m afraid of that pain, then when I experience the pain, it will be magnified by my fear. You’ve heard of this phenomenon; it’s called, the self-fulfilling prophecy. But if we don’t approach childbirth from a negative perspective (and why should we when it is such a beautiful thing) then there is no pain.

Ok, so if we’re being honest, I know this sounds like total bullshit. I heard about the book Orgasmic Birth by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, where childbirth is not considered painful but orgasmic, and I was like, what the bleep is this crap? (Full disclosure: I never read the book because I thought the concept was so ridiculous.)

My point is, I didn’t go into childbirth believing it wouldn’t be painful. But, I did go in not being AFRAID of the pain.

I never once thought of giving birth in a negative way. I was prepared to embrace the pain because I knew it was part and parcel of one of the most beautiful and natural processes on Earth. I felt privileged to be able to give birth.

And I think mentality is what makes all the difference.

So the burning question is: Did my childbirth hurt?

I can say I distinctly remember three points while I was giving birth to Max that hurt:

1. I was pushing on my back (worst position to give birth in) and my contractions were petering out. In order to strengthen my contractions one of my midwives started tweaking my nipple. In the middle of pushing, I literally glared at her and said, “Ow!

2. The same midwife, who was rougher with her hands, started to stretch my perineum when I was pushing. Again, I said, “Ow!

3. The “ring of fire” right when Max was crowning. It was a burning sensation that lasted for only a few seconds but rewards you with the best gift you could ever receive, a baby. (I would describe the pain as really bad constipation…)

What does this mean? It means of the three times I remember childbirth being painful, two of them were caused by my midwife.

If not pain, then what? Well, I can only describe it as an immense pressure coming from inside of you of a menstrual nature. An intense, powerful force from the deepest, innermost region of your body, your soul. The sounds I made were primal. Inhuman. Uncivilized. RAW.

I have never felt so strong and powerful and primal in my life.

Maybe I’m an anomaly. Or maybe I’m not. I still remember smiling to my doula after birth saying I could do it all over again. She must have thought I was crazy. (In my defense, I was probably high on mommy hormones. And in reality, when the adrenaline wore off, I could barely move.)

I never considered my childbirth to be painful. I know that the pain that other women experience is very real. But I truly believe that too much of the pain is unnecessary and caused by the fear of that pain.

I write this post not to say, look at me, I had a natural childbirth and it didn’t hurt. What I mean, and I hope the message that comes across, is if having a natural unmedicated childbirth is what you want to accomplish, don’t let the fear of that pain hold you back. Maybe you’ll find that it actually hurts less than you anticipated.

I’d love to hear other experiences from women who have given birth!

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14 Comments

  1. babyschmoop December 21, 2014
    • Mommy to Max December 21, 2014
  2. Sarah December 31, 2014
    • Mommy to Max December 31, 2014
      • Sarah January 1, 2015
  3. Deborah January 6, 2015
    • Mommy to Max January 6, 2015
  4. rose May 26, 2016
    • Mommy to Max May 30, 2016
  5. ProudDad November 19, 2016
    • Mommy to Max November 21, 2016
  6. Bora April 20, 2017
    • Mommy to Max April 20, 2017
      • Bora Yu April 21, 2017

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