The Fear of Pain
Pain. The pain of labor and delivery was number three on the top ten fears list. Who the heck doesn’t fear pain? Of course there are ways to control pain, and sometimes even stop it but, chances are, during labor and delivery you will experience some pain. To what degree is one part up to you, one part up to circumstance, and one part up to your doctor. Knowing what to expect and having a pain management plan is a good start. If you’ve never given birth before, I suggest taking some kind of Lamaze or labor and delivery class. They can educate you on what to expect during the stages of labor and advise you on what techniques are available to alleviate pain, such as: Lamaze breathing, meditation, hypnosis, distraction stimuli and drugs (Demerol, Nubane, Phenergan, Vistaril, and the oh, so glorious epidural!)
During my births I tried a combo of Lamaze breathing, meditation, squeezing the shit out of my husband’s arm and drugs. Yes, I admit it- I did drugs during labor! Personally, I am all for accepting pain medication during labor and delivery. It’s good to be able to relax and save your strength for the pushing stages. Some women get so physically exhausted during labor that they have no strength left to push the baby out.
Some of the drugs can make you sleepy or groggy, which may be a good thing if you need to get some rest. But, as with any drug, these can also have adverse effects like vomiting or creating feelings of excitability or anxiety. These depressant drugs can also have similar effects on the baby.
My all-time favorite pain medication is the epidural. What a wonderful invention! Within seconds, the body-traumatizing contractions fizzle into minor pressure cramps. The epidural can save you (and your partner) hours of physical and mental anguish. But, if you are going to have the epidural, you have to face that big, ol’ needle in the spine. Right? The thought of how creepy and painful it would be is a big concern, not to mention the fear of possible paralysis. My fear of paralysis diminished quickly when I found that the chances of that actually happening were just about the same as if a house fell from the sky and flattened me.
And, the creepy and painful part was really not bad at all. Contractions, and getting relief from contractions, were the only thing that I could focus on during labor. Having a needle put into my spine seemed so trivial at the time. I didn’t care if the needle had to be administered through my eyeball. I wanted it!
Every woman I know who has had the epidural cannot praise it enough and admits she would take the needle anywhere the doctor wanted to stick it. But it is a personal choice.
One more note on the epidural: if you do decide you want one, it should be one of the first things you tell the admitting nurse, so that preparations can get underway ASAP. If your labor is too far along or you are progressing too quickly, you may not be an epidural candidate.
Some women don’t require or want any pain medication at all. My friends Tammy and Bridget delivered all seven (between them) of their babies without any medications at all. They both claim that they never needed or wanted them. I wish all of us could be that lucky!