Pain... it is what most women fear about childbirth. When making decisions about one's birth experience, the question often arises, "How will I handle the pain?" Fear has great bearing on the sensation of pain. Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear, hypothesized that when one is fearful one tenses her body and, thus, the sensation of pain increases. This is known as the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. It would seem logical, then, that to overcome the fear of pain, we must change the way we perceive it.
Consider this: In every other instance that we experience pain, its purpose is to alert us to harm or the possibility that something is wrong within our bodies. Pain can be a sign of an infection or other medical condition. It may be a response to touching a hot surface or a sharp object. Pain in childbirth, however, is due to the natural process of bringing life into this world.
Therefore, when preparing for giving birth, one must, in essence, re-tune the mind and body to embrace the sensations of labor. Renowned midwife, Ina May Gaskin, uses the term "rushes" to describe contractions and HypnoBirthing uses the term "pressure waves." Imagine for a moment, the sights, sounds and feelings of the ocean waves. They gradually build then recede. Practicing imagery and altering the language surrounding the labor process are just two useful tools in re-framing one's thoughts about birthing.
Your care provider, childbirth educator and doula can help you discover more ways to prepare your mind and body to work together in labor. Remember, each rush brings you closer to embracing your beautiful baby!