Why I Need the Pain of Childbirth

  1. Madison M says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience about your births. I had a question…do you think it was the lack of pain or the medication that made you feel out of touch with your first? I have been pondering the spirituality of birth a lot recently because I felt very dissatisfied with the birth of my first baby this past May, my sweet Bernadette.

    I was obedient to the doctor because I really didn’t know what to expect, and she made is sound like my body wasn’t going to go into labor the day before my due date, the baby is getting big, increased chance of c-section, etc. Nothing had changed with my cervix, she said. So we scheduled the induction for three days past my due date. I go into the hospital and am told that my body is consistently contracting…and, I realize that I had been all day, but without pain. Are they dilating my cervix? Well, apparently, it had begun to open. I felt kind-of duped by my doctor. The induction continued, I felt I could manage what was happening, but they wanted to start pitocin. I just couldn’t mentally handle it. My cup was full, and I could not handle the pitocin added onto what I was currently experiencing. So I decided to get an epidural. They gave me the epidural, and it was alright. It relieved my pain, it mentally relaxed me, but I could still feel everything…I couldn’t sleep, for sure, but I could breathe. It got painful at the end, and it was super involved and engaging. I had to push for three hours, maybe because of the epidural. Some of the most intense three hours of my life! I was able to stand, move, squat, and I am under the impression this is unusual for an epidural. It was overwhelming holding her, and I sobbed. I feel like I had, in some way, the high of an unmedicated birth…just not quite. But, after several weeks passed, PPA and PPD set in for me as well. There were other things going on that may have contributed to it, but overall I felt deprived of the natural birth experience that I hoped for…a little disconnected from my body, like it wouldn’t do what it was made to.

    Maybe I can’t make sense of why I have had the experience I had. I felt disconnected from my Bernadette’s birth, but it was also different in that I definitely didn’t have an “out” from the pain. Well, just with you in your processing your first birth, and just bringing myself here because I felt somewhat understood by your writing. Please pray for me to have the redeeming experience of a natural birth in the future!

  2. HELEN D says:

    To each their own. I have a very low pain tolerance

  3. Karen e daniels says:

    I am expecting my fourth and I recently had this thought about the pain and I googled it and I’m so glad I found your blog my third was natural and was an amazing experience. Your comment on how involved your husband was really struck me. My husband was more amazing than I ever could have imagined for that birth. My first 2 were c-sections and I wasn’t “present” at all for the birth of my firstborn and you helped me see that is why I struggled so much loving her as an infant … I had been given ambien that night and told it would be an uneventful night. Except they woke me up at 3 to say she wasn’t doing well and I needed a c-section. I literally said “I don’t care”. Thanks for this great reflection!

  4. John Gatesby says:

    You are a very strong woman! You chose to endure that pain, which is considered one of the worst but yet most rewarding of all and you endured it every time, counting your blessings with complete faith in God. Incredible!

  5. Jessie says:

    Wow. This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you so much for your perspective. I wholeheartedly agree with you!I have 4 babies (3 natural births and one epidural). I will never forget the way it feels, after hours of pain and laboring, when you meet that baby for the first time. It makes the joy so much greater after the agony and pain. It’s like a bright rainbow after a hurricane.

  6. Katie says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve experienced medicated and unmedicated births and I agree, there is pain in both, just a different kind. I think the thing that most struck me (at this moment in my motherhood) was when you wrote about being torn in 2 and dying to yourself to serve your children and your family. I feel this so acutely right now. Thanks for putting it out there- I can identify with you! I’ve never commented on your posts before but I am always reading your stuff. 🙂 Also, I was given the Mary planner for Christmas and LOVE it! Thanks for putting good Catholic REAL things out here for us mamas to read!

  7. Julia Larsen says:

    OK, not sure this is working — Look up Catholic Doula Program — training doulas for spirituality of birth. http://www.catholicdoula.com
    Love this article too!

  8. Julia Larsen says:

    Love this article — I agree — I had all my births naturally — yes some of it was painful — but I felt more in control of the situation. I didn’t want to be hooked up to stuff (though my last birth it seemed like I still was for reasons I don’t know now). I prefer to labor at home as long as possible, etc. I am not sure if you know there’s a Catholic Doula Program — we train Catholic doulas — check it out at http://www.catholicdoula.com — thanks!

  9. Krista says:

    This is a great perspective and sounds like a great case study for a doctoral student. ? but I’m just wondering what you mean by ‘unmediated’. Does that mean without a doctor, not at a hospital or was it a type-o for unmedicated. The first time I thought It was a type-o but the second time made me think maybe it was meant to be that way and I wasn’t sure what you meant by it.

  10. Claire Traas says:

    You write: “my failure to engage with my baby began when I disengaged with his birth.”

    Your failure? No, ma’am, that’s a cognitive error right there. There are so many factors that go into PPD and there’s no way to know if you would have developed it if you went all natural. PPD can make it harder to feel bonded and engaged with your baby, because it’s an illness that affects your ability to function. You did not fail. You developed an illness.

    I once sent my therapist a really long, 8,000 word email about some stuff and I proofread it and made sure it didn’t contain any spelling or grammatical errors. When I talked to him about it, he said, “Well it had some cognitive errors.” Well, crap, I didn’t think to proofread for that. But writing “my failure” is some pretty harsh self judgment and here we are reading it, and some of us might be influenced to judge ourselves that harshly. I don’t think you were a failure.

  11. Molly says:

    Interesting prespective. My first birth I suffered through the depression while pregnant, it was bad… really bad. What I needed was relief and because of that my epidural and csection were such a gift to my state of mind. This time around I’m having a rainbow baby after multiple losses… I’m hoping for a natural vbac as far as I can stand yhe pain, but again I’ve had “pain” leading up to this so my desire for experiencing pain during is minimal…. I “need” the end of the rainbow, which will hopefully be a baby and more faith in a body I no longer trust to function as it should – very little of the how that occurs even registers as important at this point.
    This isn’t meant to be a comment denying what you need though. 🙂 just a different perspective on how pain can deliver us.

    • Yes! Thank you for sharing this! We all need pain, and pain comes in so many different ways through pregnancy, labor, and raising children in general. We call come to know what we need and I hope that you really do find that joy at the end of the rainbow!

  12. Sara Y says:

    Wow! Thank you for this expression of your labor experiences. My first child was unplanned c-section, followed by three VBACs. The first two medicated, the last one not, but not by choice just because of timing. It went verrrry quickly so the doctor didn’t make it there on time. The pain was AWFUL, but also empowering and amazing! And it was so much better to not have needles and tubes everywhere and no drug hang over, except for what was needed when it came time for stitches due to tearing. I’ve never read anyone else making this point about the pain being useful in some regards. We know God told Eve her child-birth pains would be greatly increased due to her sin, but I never thought about it as being a necessary suffering to prepare one’s self for mothering. I don’t expect to have anymore children, but if I were to, I would certainly hope to get through it drug-free again. None of the child-birth options are a walk in the park, but I would never want a c-section again. And having gone through labor without drugs was such a moving experience compared to not being able to even feel a contraction to know when to push.
    Thanks again for sharing.

    • I am so glad you agree! I am sitting here with my brand new baby, having just gone through another unmediated labor and what I want women to know is not only that the pain can be important, but with a supportive husband we can get through it. It is terrible, yes, but we are strong enough, we really are. And, when we unite our suffering with the suffering of Christ, it is meaningful.

  13. Kari says:

    Loved this! I couldn’t help but get teary eyed as I read this in the waiting room, waiting to be called in for my 6-week post-partum checkup. My last two deliveries were without meds bc they happened so fast and I didn’t even have time for an epidural. But even though it was excruciating and I screamed like a lunatic, I’m so thankful for those experiences! I found myself nodding in agreement throughout your article. Great perspective!

    • Congrats on your new baby–and on getting to 6 weeks! I always feel like that is a big accomplishment. I also scream like a lunatic each time ;). I know birth is different for each and every person, but I am so glad to hear you agree with me. In all my birth prep I never heard this perspective, and I wanted to share it.

      All the best, and thanks again!

  14. Devaree says:

    That was an absolutely beautiful expression of your childbirth journey. Thank you for sharing it. I am due in one week with number 5. I have experienced every child from the start just as you described your second birth. 2 back labors and I could never have done it without my wonderful husband you experienced all of it right along with me. Giving birth to my angels have been the most spiritual experiences of my life. Thanks for sharing your story. Sincerly, Devaree

    • a week ago from delivery! Oh my–all the best. I honestly hope that my deliveries aren’t too terrible. I really want to make it without drugs, but I am such a wimp! And the closer I get to delivery the more scared I get.

  15. Brittany says:

    Thank you for this post.
    I also had an epidural with my first child, who is turning 8 very soon. I had a bad reaction to the epidural so I’m going naturally with my daughter, who I’m due with in march. I’ve been rather nervous about the pain but this brought to light some of my concerns that I can talk over with my husband.

  16. Karyn says:

    Hm, I’ve never thought of it this way. I’ve had two homebirths, two epidurals, one birth in the car, and one c-section. I’m undecided what to do about for this seventh labor (though another car birth is not in my plans, lol). The c-section was the most surreal but I had the hardest time after the “car baby”. I never really thought about the role the actual labor played.

    • wow! you have really done the whole tour of possible childbirth scenarios! That car birth seems like it would have been exciting but super scary. I wrote this post mostly for first-time moms that are pressured, as I was, to get pain meds. I just felt like this was a side of the story I didn’t hear and, at least for me, it’s an important on.

  17. emac says:

    Not that your experiences are not valid, but I know what it is like to give birth to a dead son and it does not matter whether or not you feel the pain as long as the child is healthy. I hope that women can remember what is really important. Love your baby.

  18. Heather Buesing Syltie says:

    Beautiful. Don’t stop writing what a gift you are sharing with the world.

  19. Sommer Welling says:

    Oh my goodness- I’m due in September and I’m still completely undecided on birthing methods.
    This is a great input on natural delivery- and I do severely worry about postpartum depression especially since I’ve suffered from depression quite a bit throughout my life.
    Yet at the same time, terrifying. Usually I have a rather high pain tolerance- but since I’ve never given birth, I’m folding to the assumption that I’m not going to be able to tolerate it very well! Not only that- I’m very tiny (Size 0 pre-pregnancy), and my sister’s babies were HUGE (almost 10lbs!). And she’s only slightly less tiny than me, had an epidural and still felt excruciating pain.
    Where as in your post you did state that you felt the pain without the epidural, but the pain was only for a few minutes. I’m assuming you mean because you didn’t have to push for very long? Is this the case? If so, do you believing that was because you were more coherent and adamant during delivery? Or do you have some kind of miracle prenatal exercises/stretches that you do?

    I would love to do a natural birth if the high levels of pain is only for a maximum of 20 minutes, and not for an hour+. (Too bad there’s no way of knowing)

    • yeah, there is totally no way of knowing and every women’s body is totally different. The best and only advice I have is to try to do it naturally, get your husband on board to help you, get your prayer intentions down before hand so that you have a good place to send the pain and if things just get too tough, allow yourself to get the medication. It’s not a failure to get the medication if you have been laboring for hours and hours. Not at all. Because, seriously, at that point you have experienced LOTS of childbirth pain already!

  20. Alexis says:

    This was great it made me tear up. I can’t say I’ve been through both scenarios, but I did go through natural. I had heard so many scary epidural stories from my friends that had had babies. But I had found some bible verses and prayed with God and it became something I felt like I could do. It was hard, it was short, but it was hard. I’d would be a liar if I didn’t say that I thought I wanted the epiderel. But as you said your husband was there for you, my husband encouraged me to remember what I wanted for our baby and was a true cheerleader cheering me on every centimeter. I felt in control of my daughter’s birth, in a way. And I felt so close to my husband and my Lord. And I felt amazed to have a beautiful girl that gave me more joy then I could ever imagine our of that pain. That I honestly bareley remember. Haha

    • thank you so much for sharing this! I totally wanted an epidural too–in that moment when it just feels like you can’t do it any more. But, when you are through it and holding that baby it is all worth it!

  21. BTW, I just saw you on the Best of EBA Bloggers board! You’ll find me there, too. Nice to meet you totally by accident…I was just surfing Pinterest 🙂

  22. I couldn’t agree more. I had an epidural for my first and it just felt so wrong to me. I saw what my body was doing on the monitor, but I didn’t feel anything, and that was so wildly unnatural to me. I have since had 6 babies without any medication. It is a rite of passage that I wish every mom would experience! I’m sharing on my social media channels today. The word needs to get out about the amazing experience of childbirth!

  23. Christie says:

    This is an absolutely amazing perspective.

  24. Chandra Calvert says:

    I’m with you, Nancy! I’ve done it both ways, too. You are spot on- the recovery and confusion post-epidural was massive- and I was very unprepared for that. For my second (with no epidural) the pain was excruciating, but only for a few minutes. It was totally worth it to be up and at ’em right away. Thanks for sharing- I agree with all of the reasons you mentioned.

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