I’m not entirely sure anyone can definitively answer that question. Many say yes, a natural pain-free birth is definitely possible. Others who have tried their damnedest to have one would disagree. But I think considering pain, especially in the context of our culture, is a pretty interesting exercise. As a culture, we’re used to turning away from discomfort, or ignoring it, or automatically labelling it as bad. But there are many instances in which discomfort can be an indication that things are working quite well indeed. Take marathon runners, for example. A runner doesn’t quit at the halfway point because her quads are burning. She embraces the discomfort because she knows it’s feedback from her body that it’s working hard. She has prepared physically and mentally for this and knows she’s safe. The exact same concept applies to the principles of a natural pain-free birth.
It’s really no wonder the idea of having a natural pain-free birth seems ludicrous to many of us. Most of us have no other experiences of birth except from what we see in mass media, which is sheer pandemonium. It’s not really in the media’s best interest to portray birth as it can be and so commonly is: calm and long, with the birther mostly dozing in the bath tub between contractions. The only time a dimly lit bathroom scene with a naked woman would appeal to the masses would be if she were at the first part of making a baby, not the very last! In our fast-paced world, we often don’t see the value in letting things unfold slowly. But there are many valid, evidence-based reasons why many women make a natural pain-free birth their goal.
At first glance, most of us are very used to our creature comforts. We can make our homes warmer or cooler with the flip of a switch; ordering food directly to our house is easily done with a couple clicks; we can even access a rental car by pressing a button on our phones. But take another look at your own experiences and you may be surprised with how you might be able to deal with discomfort. If you’ve ever done sports, you can deal with discomfort. If you’ve ever had to make a difficult decision at work for the greater good, you have the power to manage discomfort. Hell, I’m going to a yoga class later that I know will be uncomfortable. I can’t always do it all, but it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to learn about myself. My clients say the exact same thing about birth.
Preparing for a Natural Pain-Free Birth
Every human being has the capacity to cope with pain and discomfort. We’re designed for it. Don’t get me wrong – it takes a tremendous amount of focus and stamina. And sometimes there are things beyond our control that make it impossible for us to access that level of ourselves. Such as sleep, stress, environment, unplanned things happening within our bodies, and the list goes on. (Which is why modern medicine is so wonderful!) So many of us don’t realize that preparing for a natural pain-free birth means preparing to connect your mind and body and practicing your ability to focus on releasing negativity and letting go of tension, so that your body can do its thing. I think the value of mindfulness in allowing us to access power we didn’t know we had is one of the most important lessons we can learn from birth and the most widely applicable to any situation in life, psychologically, emotionally, and of course physically. Even for those who don’t plan on giving birth.
You know what all the uncomfortable things I described above have in common? There’s always someone there to help you. Sports teams have coaches; at work, you have colleagues to rely on; yoga teachers help you modify and correct. And that’s what I do as a doula – I’m your ever-present source of reliable and trustworthy support and inspiration. So, is a natural pain-free birth possible? Maybe. I’ll do my level best to help you find out.