90% percent of the questions I receive are on “labor pain” and contractions – “how painful are they and what do they feel like”
No one has been a champion of contractions sharing their good news. Rather the focus is on how “painful” they are and if birthing your baby is around the corner, surly you’ll experience the “pain” as well.
I choose to champion them and share the good news with you because there is good news and it may change your mind about them. This of course depends on how you choose to experience them with the following information in mind.
You know that saying “Your body knows what to do” ? What does that really mean? For one, it’s the truth. The Uterus, the largest muscle in your body, lies dormant for years waiting to be called to task – to care for and birth a baby. Amazing! So begins the magic.
Once called to task which is communicated to the uterus through hormone instruction and direction within your body (by the way, you have no conscious awareness of all this activity behind the scenes), the uterus begins to expand in response to the growth of baby. The uterus nurtures and provides a safe, protected “home” for your little one to develop in peacefully.
Isn’t it interesting that most women have an “easy” or comfortable pregnancy? The complaints they have are “side effects” of your uterus being a temporary boss of your body because it finally has an important job to do.
The fearful part for many women pregnant are the dreaded uterine contractions. You may have even had this thought, “OMG, how is it going to come out of me?” – right?
The uterus is part of your body! Why would your uterus intentionally want to hurt you? The uterus doesn’t think it responds o hormonal instructions. So yes indeed, your body does know what to do. The task now for the uterus is to move baby out of your body in rhythmic forceful motions to birth baby.
Anatomy of a contraction:
- They ALWAYS come in a wave pattern
- when a contraction begins, it gradually peaks with muscle tightening, then the tightening releases causing muscle relaxation
- There is ALWAYS a rest in between, or break
- a contraction varies in intensity from one to the next.
- When labor begins (determined by cervical dilation) contractions become longer, stronger, and closer together.
What do they feel like? And here is where the labor “contraction” is most misunderstood.
“Pain” congers up in the human mind torture, unrelenting agony, illness, death, sorrow, something’s wrong, etc. And in most cases feeling physical pain is a communication tactic the human body uses to tell you something’s not right health wise and needs to be attended to.
For labor, “pain” is totally different. Labor is not an illness and how you describe your “contractions” will differ from another woman’s experience. The word “pain” seems to be the only universal word used to communicate the physical sensations of labor contractions. Yet, it does an injustice to women by assuming all labor is painful when the truth is – it’s not.
Labor “pain” depends on 4 things:
- The amount of attention you give it
- Your “pain” threshold
- Your perception of what you’re feeling physically
- Your expectations
Notice, these have nothing to do with the uterus’s task to care, create a safe environment for baby to grow in, or it’s ability to “contract” to birth baby. But everything to do with how you choose to respond to your body’s brilliance, innate intelligence, and know-how.