Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 2] –
I bet most of you are here because you want to know how to have a pain-free birth, right? Who wouldn’t? The few of you who aren’t planning to give birth in the future and are just here out of pure curiosity are thinking, “Yeah, right! Like anyone can really have a pain-free birth.” Unless, of course, you’ve experienced a pain-free birth, and then you know exactly what I mean.
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So I think we need to back up a little bit. In Pain-Free Midwife Assisted Natural Birth of My Enormous Baby [Part 1], I shared mostly the process of deciding to use a midwife for my second birth. I published the birth story of my first child under the title Why I Had the Rest of My Kids with a Midwife, so I probably didn’t need a lot of convincing, but since I never do ANYTHING without tons of research, I still spent years arming myself with all the evidence I needed to support my decision.
**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not a healthcare provider of any kind. I’m only sharing my personal experience and the conclusions I arrived at after years of research and eventually three pain-free, natural births (following the very painful birth of my first child).
By the time I was pregnant with my son, I was beyond confident using a midwife was completely safe, but I wanted more than just completely safe. I wanted a pleasant birth experience this time. I know some women do not have a pain-free experience even with a midwife. Yet in my research between the birth of my first daughter and the later pregnancy for my son, I read hundreds of birth stories. I repeatedly read accounts by women claiming to have experienced a pain-free, natural birth.
I decided that’s what I wanted as well. I suppose no one says, “Oh, I want to have a really painful birth.” I’m guessing most women tend to believe you either have pain in childbirth or you don’t though, and they don’t think they have any control over it. I wasn’t willing to accept that. I figured if all these other women can give birth without pain, then surely I could too. I knew there must be some technique involved, and there must be some specific conditions that make pain-free birth a lot more likely, so I started paying attention to the common factors in pain-free births.
Creating a Pain-Free Birth
Overwhelmingly, the birth stories where the women claimed to have no pain were either unassisted homebirths or midwife-assisted births either at home or in free-standing birthing centers. There were just a few that involved a midwife delivering in a hospital. Not surprising to me after the experience I had with my first, none of the pain-free birth stories I read involved a doctor. I started to see a pattern, and I set out to crack the pain-free birth code.
Fortunately, lots of other experts have already cracked the code on pain-free birth. There are whole books written on the subject. One of the most popular ones is Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read. The first edition of this book was written over 70 years ago. It actually makes me kind of angry that I didn’t know about this book during my first pregnancy.
The other book that’s probably more commonly read by pain-free birthers today is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
Basically, the pain in childbirth is a result of fear and tension. Fear and tension cause pain. We all know everything hurts worse if you are tense. Any athlete knows this. My husband once took a first aid course for coaches, and one of the first components they learned was to calm the injured athlete because the pain is worse, and any bleeding is worse if the athlete isn’t calm. Often if you can get an athlete calmed down, you will find the injury wasn’t nearly as severe as it originally seemed, but if the athlete panics, the discomfort is much worse. Fear and tension cause pain. Anxiety causes pain.
Culturally Conditioned to Expect Pain in Childbirth
Women in our society are led from an early age to fear birth, so overcoming that anxiety isn’t always an easy task. Women are taught there will be pain, and this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Christian women are told pain in childbirth is part of the curse because Eve ate the fruit. Even as a child, I considered that bogus.
Although more modern translations of the Bible use the word “pain” in Genesis 3:16, I’ve always read the King James Version myself, and the word “sorrow” is used instead. I don’t necessarily believe this verse was meant to describe physical pain. To me that scripture is saying there will be sorrow in giving birth to children in a world that now has sin.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply they sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children . . . (Genesis 3:16 KJV)
But even if that sorrow was meant to translate as physical pain, Jesus died for our sins to free us from the curse of the law. Are we to assume Jesus death was not enough to end that part of the curse? If we accept pain in childbirth as some God-given mandate, we’ll have pain in childbirth. I decided to reject bad theology and faulty religious tradition for my second round of childbirth and rather accept that Christ’s blood was shed for my freedom from the curse. Ridding oneself of a culturally conditioned fear takes work though.
Ridding Ourselves of the Fear and Tension about Birth
For one, it helps to really educate yourself about birth and how the body is made to function. I don’t believe God intended something as normal, natural, and common as birth to be a medical emergency. There’s pretty good evidence to support my suspicion that modern interventions in the process of pregnancy and birth are the real cause of the vast majority of complications. Complications in a healthy pregnancy are actually statistically very rare.
When a woman’s body is allowed to go through the process of birth at its own pace without “help,” it generally does what it needs to do, and it does it more efficiently and without nearly as much strain and struggle. I really just had to get to the point where I was able to trust that God made my body to give birth and have complete faith in a good outcome.
Faith and fear are two contradictory forces. You can build your faith, or you can build fear. Some ways to build fear are by focusing on all the things that can go wrong all the time and letting fear and doubt take residency in your mind. Faith and fear can’t occupy the same space in your head. Building faith pushes fear out.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
We build faith by reading the Word and hearing the Word of faith preached. Faith is like a muscle, and it must be exercised though. We can’t just read several chapters of the Bible one day, and then be good for a few years. Just like we can’t run five miles in April and think that’s going to have us in shape to run a 5K at the end of the summer. It doesn’t work that way. Faith requires constant nurturing and building.
I’ve been reading through the Bible every year for a couple of decades, but during the pregnancy of my son, I increased that reading. I now use the YouVersion Bible in a Year plan on my phone. That was long before the Bible app was something you could get on a phone. I didn’t even have a cell phone then, although most other people did. During that time, I was reading two chapters of the Old Testament, one chapter of the New Testament, one chapter of Psalms, and the chapter of Proverbs that corresponded to the day of the month.
I know that’s a lot of reading, but that was what worked for me. Constant abiding in the Word gave me peace concerning the pregnancy and birth, despite having experienced a miscarriage between the births of my daughter and my son, and despite having suffered a very stressful and fearful birth with my daughter.
What about someone who is not religious?
I realize not everyone believes the way I do. Many women who do not follow any particular faith have pain-free births. Actually, I would guess more non-religious women have pain-free births than Christian women because of that previously mentioned scripture about “pain” in childbirth being part of the curse. These are women who trust in the nature of their bodies. They trust that their body will do what it was created to do, just the same as women’s bodies have done for centuries.
These are women who have found ways to calm themselves through the process of birth. These are women who know enough about birth that they don’t have to fear it. Some study hypnobirthing. I have not tried hypnobirthing, and I know some Christians freak out at the mention of it. They think it’s some kind of voodoo or witchcraft. I don’t believe that’s true. Everything I’ve seen or read about it makes me think it’s just training your mind and body to stay calm. I think it’s ultimately what I did as well. I just didn’t call it hypnobirthing.
I found a really interesting article the other day that mentioned Princess Kate was learning hynobirthing during one of her prior pregnancies. It was titled The Women Who Say They’ve Proved Giving Birth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: No gas and air, no epidurals -just positive thinking. This is a very informative read for anyone exploring pain-free birth. Many of the women interviewed had conditions that would be considered complications in the United States. One of these women suffered from MS. Another woman interviewed gave birth to twins at home.
The article also discusses why the “fight or flight” response in the body causes pain. I was surprised at how similar some of these women’s experiences were to mine.
I have no way to confirm if the Dutchess of Cambridge using hypnobirthing is true or not, but I suspect she did find some way to rid herself of the fear and tension many experience during birth. There have been pictures plastered all over social media of the princess looking amazing only hours after giving birth to her third child. I’ve seen so many women share the pictures and ask how that is even possible because they felt like they had been hit by a truck after giving birth. I understand where they are coming from because my hospital birth with my daughter left me feeling that way.
However, my midwife-assisted births left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I certainly didn’t look as amazing as Princess Kate because I don’t look as put together as the princess even on a normal day when I didn’t give birth, but I definitely felt as great as Princess Kate looked in all of these pictures. Birthing without the fear and tension isn’t emotionally exhausting and physically draining like my first birth. I felt amazing with my younger three kids.
For me, birth without the fear and tension was more like going through a workout. I used to be a distance runner in high school (not a very competitive one though). I was still running (or more like jogging) 5K’s even after the birth of my third. My births with my younger three kids, after I figured out how to do it without pain, were not that much different than running a 5K. They were a little bit tiring, but it wasn’t like I was wiped out afterward. I felt healthy and strong and accomplished. I could do whatever I wanted almost immediately – only a few hours later.
Creating an Environment of Calm
No matter how calm you’ve convinced yourself to be, it will be an uphill battle if you are in an environment that doesn’t support your peace. If you are with a healthcare provider who sees every step of the birth as a medical emergency instead of a natural body process, you will not be able to remain calm. If you are in a facility that does not support the idea that birth is a natural and normal occurrence, you will not be able to remain calm. If you want to have a pain-free, natural birth, it is imperative that you find a healthcare provider and a facility that hold similar philosophies of birth.
I’m also going to get real here. You must not let anyone near you who will make you stressed. This is your birth. You get to determine who’s present. If your mother/sister/best friend/etc. will stress you out, DO NOT let them be there. If someone is going to be a negative presence or speak words of fear and doubt, keep them away from you. I don’t care how much they want to be there, you have to do what makes you calm. Calm = No Pain. Stress = Pain!
I’m not sure I would go so far as to suggest you should kick the Baby Daddy out, but if your spouse/partner is not someone who can stay calm, you definitely need to get it through to him that he cannot be panicked in that room. You need to find a way to make him understand that failure to remain calm on his part will cause you physical pain. He should not want to cause you physical pain. Make him read Childbirth without Fear and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. You need to have nothing but calm.
You have to do what makes you calm. For me personally, I didn’t even tell anyone I was in labor ever. The very thought of people waiting around on me to give birth just stressed me out. The idea of that made me feel rushed like I would need to speed things up for the people waiting. You would definitely not have seen me posting status updates on social media (not that it was even an option then) while I was in labor. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means, post away.
If you have certain music that calms you, use it. Some people have certain scents that calm them. Scents often bother me, so that’s not something I tried. I prefer no noise over music. You need to create a calm and peaceful environment whatever that may be for you!
Getting on with My Story
I know that was a really long tangent, but the road to a pain-free birth began for me long before I was in labor for my son. Some women and some cultures are naturally better at trusting the process of birth. I obviously had learned from my first birth experience that it was going to take a little more groundwork for me, and it would be impossible for you to understand the birth of my enormous son without the background information.
Once again, you’ll have to stay tuned for the actual event. One really tricky part of not having pain during birth is that it makes it a lot more difficult to know when you are in labor, and that can create an interesting scenario. I promise we’ll get to that soon!
You can now read the conclusion of this birth story here.
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