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Should We Rearrange the Pain?

Posted by Sarah Al Hajjar on June 11, 2016 at 8:05 AM

Shoud We Rearrange the Pain?

By Aisha Al Hajjar

Ask any woman who has bore a child about her experience with labor and birth and two things will most likely hold true:


1. She will be able to tell you every little detail, even decades later.

2. She will not be able to tell the birth story without mentioning the PAIN!


These things will remain consistent, regardless of whether or not she opted for pain medication for her delivery. Of course, depending on the type of pain medication administered, she may or may not remember everything, but what she does remember will surely include pain.


There are basically three types of anesthesia given for childbirth pain “relief”: local, regional, and general.


“Local” refers to the numbing medication given at the “local’ site of the pain. For birth it is administered by a needle injected into the genital area during the pushing stage of labor. Its purpose is to numb that area so that the mother does not feel the baby passing out of her body, or to numb her for the surgical cut (given far too routinely) that widens the opening and makes it easier for the baby to pass. This anesthesia does not prevent her from feeling the pain of the contractions nor does it prevent her from effectively pushing to assist her body with the delivery.


“Regional” refers to the medication given by injection into much deeper tissues or cavities to numb a much larger “region” of the body. The widely used epidural is a “regional.” It is administered by inserting a needle into the spinal cavity. It prevents the woman from feeling any sensations from her waist down and she becomes immobile from the time it is administered until it has worn off. It’s important to note that it also relaxes the uterine muscles and hinders her ability to push effectively.


“General” refers to the medication given that renders the patient completely unconscious so that medical procedures can be performed while she sleeps. It is commonly administered as a gas via a breathing mask, or intravenously through an IV. With this type of anesthetic, there is no way the woman can work with her body to push the baby out.


In the article Drugs, Myths and Birthing printed in The Bradley Method® [of Natural Childbirth] Student Workbook, Jay Hathaway, Executive Director of the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth® raises some interesting points about the “myths” surrounding birthing and the use of pain medications. Some quotes from the article include:


• “Birth is not without pain. Birth is never without risk.”


• “Pain can be minimized, rearranged, changed or postponed…but I doubt it is ever truly gone.”


• “…in labor women make noise, and he [referring to an obstetrician] was trained to make them quiet by giving them drugs to ‘shut them up.’”


• “Has silence been mistaken for pain relief?”


• “…mothers [who plan ahead of time to take pain medication] did not learn any of the many natural, effective techniques for handling pain in labor because they expected the drugs to ‘work’ and assumed they would feel no pain. By the time they realized the drugs were not going to render their labors painless, they were helpless to do anything else.”


• “All drugs used in childbirth are dangerous…they [can] have serious effects…[or even] disastrous effects on the baby and the mother…”


• “…[there is very little] difference between cocaine and the drugs used for epidurals...all of them…[are] caines just like cocaine. All these drugs belong to the same chemical family.”


• “How can street ‘caines’ be bad but, medically administered ‘caines’ be harmless? The chemical effects of the drugs are the same, regardless of the source or the intentions of their administrators.”


• “All obstetrical pain killing drugs have been proven to reach the unborn baby, including epidurals. (Anesthesiology 29:951)…epidurals and even so-called locals ‘may result in significant neonatal drug exposure.’ (Am. J. Obstet. Gyne-Col. 149:403)”


• “…no drug…has ever been proven safe for the unborn baby.”


• “All childbirth pain medications…do reach the unborn baby, usually within one minute.”


• “An epidural…may relieve the pain before birth but it can leave the mother paralyzed and in pain for hours after the birth, and sometimes…can last for days or longer.”


• “The majority of anesthetics are administered into very sensitive areas of the body with very long needles…’pain-relief’ can actually be quite painful [to administer].”


• “A lot of things in life are painful, and yet, nobody uses anesthetics for them. Ever watch a baseball player crash into the…wall to catch a dumb little ball and save the game?...[He doesn’t] ask for drugs…”


• “Drugs decrease performance. What have you ever done that could be more important then giving birth? Drugs mess-it-up.”

I can tell you from my personal experience of giving birth naturally eight times, (without any pain medications or medical “intervention”;) that the pain of birth is over the minute the baby is born. Sure, I feel pain up until that point, but it’s nothing I couldn’t handle by applying the natural techniques I had learned about coping with pain in labor and by working with my body.


I can also tell you that I’ve seen many mothers coming out of the delivery room after a medicated, so-called “painless” birth. Those are the mothers that are moaning and groaning, groggy and sick. They are miserable at the moment when they should be overjoyed and eager to care for their newborn baby.


My experience, and that of other natural (non-medicated) mothers I’ve seen, is that we feel great when it matters most, when our baby is placed in our arms for the first time. We typically are up and walking immediately following the birth. Most of us “natural moms” are ready to go home from the hospital with just a couple hours of restful bonding time in the recovery room.


“Natural moms” also have far less interventions; interventions which cause bruising and injury to our bodies and require a great deal of healing after the birth. It is far less joyful to care for and bond with your new baby when his/her birth is the source of the misery and pain a mother must deal with afterwards. Most “natural moms” feel great and have nothing to “recover” from.


Sure, we can delay or rearrange the pain with drugs. But do we really want to? Do we want to move the pain from a few hours before the birth to a few days or weeks after? Think about it…how you choose to deal with the pain of your labor and birth will not eliminate it, but will seriously affect the outcome and how well you feel during those precious early days with your new baby. Allah (SWT) prepared the perfect plan for our labors, maybe we shouldn’t interfere!


Categories: Labor and Birth

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