Being with Pain in Childbirth Part Two : Birth Recovery

When women come to see me post-natally for birth recovery sessions or to settle their baby, they often speak about how they felt out of control. “It all happened so quickly”, “ I felt afraid and had no choice but to do what I was told.” Common stressors include being left alone for periods of time, not knowing what was happening, having to birth without a loved one, being treated dismissively, not being shown how to do something,  not being believed or acknowledged in some way.  

Simply put women may feel that despite their beautiful baby they were cheated of an empowering birth. Many want to move on and not talk about it and it is not until they become pregnant again that they realise their first birth is still impacting them. 

So how did healthy mums end up having such a disempowering experience? Some of this is because we are not birthing in ways that recognize the subtle needs of our nervous system. it is only natural to contract and become overwhelmed as the pain seems to escalate. We just don’t know if we will be able to manage it, if it will ever end or intensify. 

When I speak to mums they often tell me they were feeling ok up to a point and then they lost connection. Perhaps the midwife that they connected with changed shift or their partner became fearful… there was some ripple that disturbed them.  

At every twist and turn if a mum is surrounded by health care workers who feel that pain should be avoided and taken away that will make it a lot harder for a mum to work through the intense moments. At these critical moments of self-doubt,  I believe women don’t necessarily need pain relief; instead they need deep human connection. Mums need to be surrounded by those that believe in them and be reminded  that  her body is designed to birth. Positive human contact helps us stay expansive and connected whilst fearful states makes us contract.  

Moments a mother never forgets.

For those wishing to labour as naturally as possible attention should be given to the support team and make sure that the mum has a birth advocate who is clear on the birth plan. Engaging a Doula, a birth companion to reinforce your choices throughout the process has been shown to give excellent outcomes. From the outset it is helpful to opt for the care provider who is most suited to your desired outcome. In order to limit the impact of  ‘the cascade of intervention’, (see next blog Is our own birth influencing our attitude to pain relief in pregnancy?),  it is worth weighing up all possible scenarios ahead of time and knowing what the options might be. Being well informed about your choices and the impact upon your baby is vital.