In 2000, I first built the Birthing Naturally website. I wanted to provide an internet source of natural childbirth information. I included a list of my birth philosophies on that website and every version since. Here is the first statement from my philosophy:
The amount of discomfort felt, and the extent to which labor is painful is dependent on several factors. Some factors can be controlled, some can be influenced, and others are unchangeable.
Have I changed my philosophy?
I still agree with this statement 100%. I still believe in using comfort measures, preparing yourself for the work you will do, and having supportive people with you. I believe there are things women can do to improve their comfort during labor. I think women can be made “comfortable” even if they are feeling painful contractions. I believe comfort measures do not always work.
Through the years I’ve read different versions of the philosophy that giving birth should not hurt. Sometimes the philosophies are that someone is doing something wrong if labor hurts. Other times the philosophies separate “normal” and “not normal”, with pain expected when labor follows the “not normal” path. But this doesn’t match what I see when I am with women in labor.
Is it possible to give birth without pain? I think it is, I know women who would not describe their labor as painful.
Is it possible to “do everything right” and still have pain? I know it is, I’ve seen such labors.
But maybe the problem with my statement is that I focus on pain as if pain were the same as suffering. Most women expect to have some pain in labor, and they are willing to have some pain in labor. We actually do lots of things that cause some pain, and we enjoy many of them like running or playing sports. But women don’t want to suffer through labor.
What about you, has your thoughts about pain in comfort changed over time?