I was at a birth recently where, after a few hours of labor and through transition, the mother says between surges “It doesn’t really hurt, but the power! The power is so intense.” As she spoke these words, she smiled. It was a look of wonderment, a powerful moment for me to witness. Not pain- as we so often refer to labor as being- but intensity was what she was experiencing. I really got to thinking…. Is that what our culture is missing?
Are we teaching- or, have we been taught- the difference between pain and intensity? IS there a difference between pain and intensity? Do we consider ourselves suffering and hopeless in painful situations? Or is there a learning experience, a memory being created along with the intensity? There is a culture surrounding most of us: If it’s painful, take some advil. If it’s exhausting, have some caffeine. If it’s unbearable, take some xanax. COVER.IT.UP.
And then along comes pregnancy. Most women are told its excruciating, most women feel blindsided, and most women opt for epidurals. Why FEEL these things if there is some remedy available that allows you to carry on and possibly ignore the bigger issue?
I love being a birth doula. As such, I have heard many times in conversation “Why WOULDN’T you take the epidural?” (There are about 100 ways to say this same statement, essentially. I have heard them all) Well what if we looked at the whole scenario differently? What if someone said that instead of taking the advil, take 15 minutes (the time it takes advil to be digested and start working anyways) to stretch your neck, and potentially alleviate the cause of your headache? What if, instead of running to take something for anxiety, we take a 5 minute breather, and then 10 minutes to write about what is bothering you? Or CRY? Do we allow ourselves to have intense feelings? What if, WHAT IF, instead of running to the epidural, we discover a greater knowledge of our bodies and the innate ability to labor and give birth? These are not always popular concepts, they take time and energy and focus. It requires education and learning. We have to get to know ourselves and our bodies. We have to make decisions- maybe life changing ones. We have to take chances. Admittedly, many are not up for it. It doesn’t keep me from wondering though, what WAS life like before advil and epidurals?
*Most will read this and know: I am not giving medical advice. I am not suggesting that those who rely on the use of medical advancements have given up, or that they have never looked for alternative treatments. I AM suggesting that a different approach to life and the things we experience could change our culture. If society began changing its approach to pain or intensity, we may find ourselves more empowered as a whole.
“A rising tide lifts all boats.” – JFK