Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hormone to Forget Childbirth? Part Two.

So, I wrote this post almost 3 years ago about forgetting the pain of childbirth shortly after giving birth to my first son.  It is, by far, one of the most read posts on my blog.  Most people find it by searching "hormone to forget childbirth pain" according to my stats.  So lots and lots of strangers read this post.

It talks a lot about the pain I felt during and especially after giving birth to BBZ.  It talks about it in a very scary and negative way.  I feel the need to update this post after the very different experience I had birthing my second son, without any medication.

You see, according to that earlier post, I forgot the pain I felt afterwards.  I remember it now, but until I visited my friend who had recently had a baby, I had forgotten the only time in my life that I had pain bad enough to take prescription pain medication.  It came back to me in a rush, nearly a year after my son was born.

But the experience with my second son?  It was completely different.

I did not have an epidural with my second son.  I had very little medical intervention and very little time at the hospital.  I remember every single thing about that very special day.  I remember the pain, which was extremely intense, but I don't remember it in a negative way.  In fact, I sometimes want to have another baby just to experience the birthing process again.

I don't want people who do not know me to stumble upon one blog post and file that information into their minds as truth, especially when the unknown pain of childbirth can be so scary anyway.

I feel as though I have a unique perspective as a woman who has experienced both medicated and non-medicated birth.  And I can say, with absolute certainty, that while the pain of an unmedicated birth was certainly more uncomfortable and more intense, it cannot even come close to the pain I felt following a medicated birth.

With the epidural I had back pain, pain from a third degree tear, I did not feel attached to my baby, I felt disappointed in the experience and was extremely swollen and bloated from the continuous fluid I received when the epidural was placed.  While I may have been pain-free for most of the labor, the pain that followed was unexpected and not fun.

With my unmedicated birth, I remember the pain of the contractions.  I remember my need to change positions and move around.  I remember the intensity of his movement down the birth canal.  I remember the break in the pain I felt in between contractions and am so relieved the the human body knew to give me those much needed breaks.  I remember everything, because I was present and felt everything.

So in my opinion, if a woman is present in her body, embraces the pain, doesn't hide from it with medical interventions, then the pain is not forgotten.  However, if a woman does have medical intervention and covers the pain with an epidural, something happens in the human body that allows a woman to forget the pain she experienced.  This is how it happened with me anyway.

**Updated to add** The more I thought about this post after I wrote it, the more I wondered if it was the negative experience I had with my first son's birth that caused me to forget the pain rather than the medication.  My second experience was so much more positive and what I hoped it would be...perhaps it still would have been positive had I chosen to have a medicated birth.  I certainly did experience more pain following the medicated birth than the unmedicated one, and I remember the pain of my unmedicated birth much more clearly.  But I also know of women who have very fond memories of their planned, medicated birth.  My experience was a lot about control.  The lack of control I felt with my first experience and the full and uncompromised control I had over my second.  Ultimately, I truly believe that a woman can have a positive and beautiful birth no matter what kind she chooses.  For me, that kind was unmedicated.

I hope that this post becomes as viewed as Part One has been.  I really want my words about birth to be positive and empowering to women.  Because the truth is, we can birth.  Our bodies are made to do it.  And when it is done as nature intended, our minds hold on to that incredible feeling of "I did it!" And who would want to forget that?

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”  
-Ina May Gaskin


  1. I wish that my births were anything like your 2nd one. I went for a VBAC and my contractions were one on top of the other, on top of the other. I mean, I had chance to take a breath, but that was it. Less than a minute apart. And I wasn't even close to dilated yet. Maybe at a 4. They said they could give me something to slow them down, because they were coming too fast (and not doing anything for me), and it took a freaking HOUR to get the IV in. By then I was screaming from the pain and the nurses in the hallway were asking them to close my door. JERKS. Finally since they couldn't get the iv in I asked them to just give me a shot of something to help me rest (I had that with my first and I figured if I could get a short nap, I'd be recharged), but instead of ordering it, the nurse just stood there and did paperwork. I was just glaring at her. I was at.. I don't know 4 hours of contractions that were just going and going and not doing a damn thing for me, and she stood there forever writing up stuff. Seriously lady? I gave up and got the epidural. I ended up with another c section, but not after hours and hours of pushing and tearing, getting sewn up and tearing again. My poor body was just not designed for a 9 lb baby. I'll be resigned to future c sections as much as I hate the idea, but if I couldn't deliver a 7 lb baby and couldn't deliver a 9 lb baby, unless I have a 3 lb baby or something, I have no chance of delivering. Which SUCKS. I know I'm the exception to the rule, that my waters broke before I even got to the hospital and that's under those 'it NEVER happens, but if it does, go to the hospital' sorts of things. But I'm not sure you even forget. I don't recommend medication for anyone unless they have to--getting the epidural ended up making me sleep during both births, I'm determined for that never to happen again. so unfair I missed my babies being born!

  2. I had planned on an unmedicated birth too, but like Jill, above, I was stuck at a 5, for an hour, with contractions coming so close that I couldn't even think straight. I ended up getting a half epidural, which was the perfect compromise for me. I still felt everything; I still remember every detail; but it took the edge off. Like you, it was a completely different experience than when I got my full epi with L. My blood pressure dropped, I felt awful, I had a fever, etc. But also like you, I don't know for sure that it was only due to the epidural. It's such a weird thing, wondering about it. Oh well- unless something very unexpected happens, we are done, so I'll have to live vicariously through my friends' birth stories from here on out. :)

  3. Hey sis,
    As you know I had a C-section with CJ - good thing too - my body was not big enough for him to pass through. The inner-middle of my pelvis is too small for any baby larger than 7 pounds... Since CJ was 8#3, I don't expect to have any non-medicated births (oh I so wish I could!)
    I wanted to try no meds so badly, but ultimately my body said, "nope, gotta go get him" - darnit :)

    It's a bummer that I probably won't have a VBAC, that if I have more kiddos I'll have to go thru surgery again... but if babies are small enough (with our family history? ya, right!), MAYBE nature will be kind to me :)