So the other night I had what I assume will be the first of several dreams about being in labor and giving birth. I’ve always had vivid dreams, and they often strongly reflect what’s going on in my life, for better or worse. By worse, I mean that any time I am the driver on a long road trip, I dream about driving all night long the following night. Which, as you can imagine, is not the most restful thing. But I digress.
As I was saying, I dreamt the other night that I was in labor, and frankly it was fabulous. It didn’t hurt at all, and it was actually quite sensual. I remember feeling warm and giggly, and very powerful in a crunchy-hippie-earth-mother sort of way. I woke up before actually giving birth, but the whole thing felt very happy and warm. I think what struck me most about it was that none of it hurt.
All of this sort of makes sense given what I have been reading lately – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May is a goddess of midwifery, and this book is fabulous. Actually I read the whole thing before getting pregnant, but am re-reading it again now. The section I’m reading is about the process of childbirth, and discussed briefly the expectation vs the perception of pain during the process. One study which compared women in the US to women in Sweden found that the proportion of women who expected unbearable pain during childbirth was the same as the proportion of women who needed an epidural or other similar pain relief during childbirth. And this percentage of women was much much higher in the US than in Sweden. So the expectation of pain was directly related to the experience of pain. Interesting, eh? I mean it makes sense – if you think something is going to really hurt, and you get tense in expectation of the pain, then you will really feel it. The Swedish women, who entered childbirth expecting it to be challenging but not unbearably painful, were more relaxed and better able to manage the experience.
So what does this mean to me? Mostly that it’s really important to be relaxed and confident in your ability to handle childbirth. Fear of the pain will only exacerbate the pain. Go with the flow. Ommmmmmmmmmmmm. :)