What do people yell out at sports events?
Woooo! GO, GO, GO! You can do it! You’re amazing.
What do people say to pregnant women?
Oh darl! Worst. Pain. Of. My life.
Love, have the epidural, it’s amazing! You don’t need to be a hero, you know! You don’t put up with THAT PAIN!
So why don’t we yell out to our sports stars “anaesthetise yourself from the nipples down?” because we believe in them, we invest in them, we want them to succeed and when they do we give them street parades. Where are our street parades for our mothers? Where is the investment in theirs and their children’s health? Where has our belief in women’s bodies and minds gone?
To bring back the belief in women’s ability to labour and birth we need to change society’s views around pain in childbirth. When our athletes are out to win, they are in pain. Their bodies are hurting, they question themselves, yet they push through. The pain they are experiencing is physiological, not pathological. Physiological pain is experienced by the body when the body is working hard, to do something it’s programmed to do like run, wall squat and give birth. Have you ever held a wall squat and felt that burn in your thighs, or clams where your bum feels like its on fire? That’s physiological pain. In labour your uterus, which is a muscle, is contracting. The pain comes from this action of the muscle. Physiological pain is very different from pathological pain. This is the pain that occurs when something happens to the body that is not meant to, a bone breaks, a tooth gets pulled, you cut yourself. Pathological pain is a part of your body’s response to injury, your body’s way of fixing something. Labour is an event that’s meant to occur, not one that needs fixing.
Now you can go into your labour and birth thinking “this is going to be horrendous, this is going to be the worst pain ever and worst day of my life” and chances are it will be because how we mentally go into labour and birth affects how we experience it and think about it after. If you go into your birth going yep, it’s going to hurt, my body and mind will be challenged but the pain is not bigger than me. It’s a part of me and I am stronger than it, I will work with it to bring my baby into the world and I’m going to be so dam proud of my efforts after, then you will be. Let me mentally and physically prepare you for your pregnancy! I know you’ve got this! You were born to birth!