19 March 2008

Pain-free birth just a pipe dream?

A new study says that women are kidding themselves if they think they can get through birth without pain relief. British researchers from Newcastle University reviewed 32 studies on expectations of labour pain, finding that most women who didn't want to have pain relief ended up with it.

However, what about home birth? 99% of women in America give birth in hospitals. Definitely not places which are conducive to quelling women's anxieties. 90% of births in New York hospitals are induced and epidurals are often doled out without any measures in places to help women manage pain naturally before the drugs are in place.

A 1988 U.S. study found that mothers that underwent labor in a hospital rated their pain as significantly higher than did a home-birth group. In the spirit of Sheila Kitzinger, what about accounting for those mothers that report euphoric, even orgasmic, feelings during what is supposed to be the most painful event in their lives. This study was obviously not included in the current review. More recent studies suggest that knowledge, confidence, and lower anxiety are predictive of positive childbirth. Also where is the discussion of the value of midwives? Studies show that midwives can help birthing women to find their own ability to cope.

This new review basically shuts down any positive feelings pregnant women may have in anticipating birth. Sure, it hurts and there is nothing wrong with choosing to have pain relief. However, why suggest that women are setting themselves up for failure by even thinking that they could possibly give birth drug-free?!

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/women-are-misled-into-thinking-that-childbirth-can-be-painfree-795721.html


AvoidTheRedShoes said...

For all of time excluding the past hundred years or so (or even less than that) the majority of women have given birth without artificial pain relief and the human population is huge. Our bodies were made to give birth. A claim that drug-free childbirth is a long-shot is ridiculous and lacking common sense.

polyglotmom said...

I gave birth three times, in a hospital, without a single drug. It's doable and it's not THAT bad. Yes, it was intense, but when it reached the point when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, it was almost over. I would never do it any other way. I think the expectation of pain cause women to cave out of fear. The fear is really worse than the reality. The way it's portrayed on TV is not close to reality. For instance, the first contraction doesn't make you scream. The way I see it, childbirth is preparation for a lifetime of mothering. Parenting is not for wimps.

Anonymous said...

polyglotmom - I too gave birth without drugs which was not my choice (the nurse dragged her feet for 3 hours and then it turned out I needed antibiotics first and by then it was too late to get the epidural). It was sheer hell. There is no word I could write politely to describe how awful it was. Intense? Nonsense. That's just a code word for excruciating.

Do you think it's being a wimp to get an anesthetic before you get a tooth out? I guess you do.

I wasn't afraid of the pain, I didn't have time to be. I was too busy screaming from the frist contraction (suddenly, about 3 hours after my waters broke).

Parenting has almost nothing to do with birth. Even if parenting is not for wimps how you give birth has nothing to do with that. Besides it isn't wimpy to get safe pain relief - it's SENSIBLE. Who the hell would choose to be in agony when there is no need?

I don't think that unmedicated delivery is impossible - its just undesirable.

Anonymous said...

1.) People have different tolerance of pain.
2.) Some small percentage of people even LIKE pain.

I'm not one of these. I have had horrible period cramps, and if I could have had an epidural for that, I would have. Labor is supposed to be worse, and I have no doubt it is, not to mention shoving a huge head out a small hole.

I really hate when people say that "women have been doing it since the world was around" so they should still do it that way. What they fail to acknowledge was 1.) No birth control and often no choice 2.) No painkillers.

If people want to have a pain-filled experience because they view it as empowering, well, let them.

If people DON'T want to, if they WANT pain relief, stop being judgmental. They have just as much right to decide what to do with their bodies as you do yours. It doesn't make them less of a human (or woman) to want to avoid agony. After all, why go through it when you don't have to.

I never understand people who think that just because THEY think something is the "right" or "natural" way, then everyone else should do it to.

Who gives a hoot what someone else is doing? It's what YOU want to do for YOURSELF that matters. Live your own life and let others live theirs, and everyone will be much happier.

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