I posted something similar to this a few weeks ago on a pregnancy site I frequent.
Many women are afraid of giving birth. They’ve been lead to believe it will be the most painful experience of their life (It isn’t). Many women believe that if you don’t have an epidural, the pain is impossible to bear (it isn’t). Many women think I’m nuts (I’m not) because there is no way on earth I’d get an epidural and that I don’t find labour and delivery to be that bad. In fact I kind of enjoy it. At least the first two were pretty amazing experiences.
One woman posted about needing to give birth without an epidural. She was looking for ways to cope with the pain.I had two analogies for her – both of which I use when in labour.
First, I am a runner (or at least I was once upon a non-pregnant time). I love to run. But it’s one of the most painful things I’ve done. I’d say the most painful I’ve done willingly. In many ways running hurts more than giving birth. When running, I focus on the next step. It’s a lot easier to keep running the race when there’s only one step to think about. If things are difficult and you focus on how far away the finish line is, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s easy to stop and walk. But if you say just one more step, that’s easy. After that step, one more is easy as well. All you need is just one more step – eventually the finish line is there and all you took is one more step. Ultimately that thought pattern helped me finish races, and place in races that I might otherwise have given up on. A contraction is just one more step.
I am a runner. Being a runner means I will cross the finish line. But the analogy that I use to enjoy the race, the one I can visualize in my mind, the one that brings peace, is the sea.
A dark stormy sea crashing upon the shore, chaotic and bent on destroying all in it’s path. That’s what labour could be like. But if you step back and watch the waves crash on the shore you’ll see it isn’t really as chaotic as you think. There’s a pattern. The waves roll in from the left, from the right, in ‘V’ formation. One after another tumbles in from the East, making their way down the length of the beach. The clouds overhead swirl, but the waves maintain their pattern. Rising out of the depths of the sea, small white caps form only to rise up, 3ft, 6ft, higher and higher. Swelling, churning, tumbling toward shore. But they don’t maintain that height. The waves crash and disappear as the water rolls back out to sea. That small piece of beach has a reprieve while the waves move down the beach. Another wave will come, but in that moment the sand settles. The sea might try to batter the land, but it only reaches so far before it recedes again.
Labour is the storm. Each contraction is a wave. It starts out small, it gets bigger and bigger, it swells, but it doesn’t stay at peak for long. It tapers off. The grip loosens and the contraction ends. There is a space between the contractions. Depending on the storm the space might be long or short, but there is a space to take a breath before the next wave rolls in. Use the space to admire the storm – to see the beauty in the clouds, to hear the music of the waves.
The storm won’t last long and you don’t want to miss it.