Sensations of Labour
When we look at the way medicine regards pain we see that it is regarded as a ‘watchdog’. Pain is generally there to signal to us that something is wrong.
Each day we perform hundred of tasks that stretch our muscles in every way imaginable, we walk, climb stairs, lift heavy objects, but we feel no discomfort.
It is only when we perform these tasks incorrectly or with a wrong twist or turn that we experience pain. So then what’s wrong with labour?
Most women who have given birth will state that it is painful. Labour hurts, and many couples come away from their birthing experiences with stories of long periods of terrible pain, drugs and a feeling of helplessness. This begs the question, why is Labour painful? What’s wrong with labour?
How can it be that women have bodies so perfectly created to conceive, nurture and birth a baby, experience pain during labour?
Medical articles written on the subject state that what creates the discomfort is, that there are two sets of muscles that work in resistance to one another. That begs another question, why do they work in opposition to one another?
Well back to Grantly Dick-Read in the slums of London in 1913. He attended a woman in labour in Whitechapel. He found the woman in a small garret, a workers hovel and he asked her permission to put the mask over her face to administer the chloroform. She emphatically refused. He stood back and just watched as she birthed her baby without fuss or noise. As he prepared to leave he turned to the woman confused and asked her why she had refused pain relief. She said, “it didn’t hurt, it wasn’t meant to was it doctor?”
This along with other experiences he was to have made him wonder why some women were able to deliver their babies without too much discomfort and others weren’t.
He soon found the common link, the women who were free of pain were relaxed and free of fear.
In the 20’s he forwarded the answer to what’s wrong with labour ---fear. He was the first to put forward the idea of the fear-tension-pain syndrome, and published the book ‘childbirth without fear’ in 1933. Marie Mongan followed his methods and enjoyed pain free birthing of her children.
The problem is, that fears have 9 months to build, and it is easy to see how this fear can exist. Horror stories from our mothers and others reinforce childbirth as a terrible endurance. Right form childhood we are bombarded with images that teach us that childbirth is agony. Women who have had children often do nothing to help expectant mothers and seem to announce proudly, “Oh just you wait my dear you’ll never experience pain like it”. The power of suggestion is very strong and what we expect is so often what we get. Fear builds tension and anxiety, tension and anxiety cause pain.
So if we know about this, then why can’t we just say "OK I am not afraid anymore, I know the reason and that will be enough"
Well because this constant exposure hypnotises us into a belief that goes deep into the subconscious. Simply consciously knowing something does not give us control over it. Look at phobias. We may know that a spider cannot harm us but that doesn’t stop many people going into a blind panic at the sight of one. Rationalising fear does not prevent it.
So what is the answer, well we need to attack these deep-seated beliefs and fears on a subconscious level, we need to de-hypnotise ourselves in other words.