Re: pain free labour?
I think every woman's experience is different and a lot of it is psychological: what are your expectations? What are your past experiences? Things like that. Our society trains women from a very young age that childbirth is a horrible excruciating experience and can't be done without medical intervention. That just is not true. Yes, there can be complications and I'm glad we live in a time and place where medical interventions (including pain meds) are available when they are needed, but I also believe that the majority of women *could* deliver naturally and without medical "help" if given the chance and the support. I tried to go into my first birth (and this one) with a completely open mind. I told my dh and my OB that I did not want to be offered drugs or pressured to take drugs, but if I asked for them, I did not want anyone trying to "encourage" me or talk me out of it either. I had done the research on what options were available and the pros and cons of each and I would make an educated decision when the time came. I didn't anticipate that I would need drugs but if I did, it was to be my decision 100%. Things didn't work out that way, but that's life.
My first birth was not what I would consider "pain free", but it was also not what I had been taught to expect from labor. When my water broke, I went to the hospital and told them there was no way I was in labor because I felt fine. At that point, I was totally pain free. In between talking with the nurses, I was talking on the phone with my boss about what needed to be done at work to cover for me and chatting with one of my cousins about Harry Potter movies. I was 3 cm dilated and according to the monitors having "good" productive contractions 2 minutes apart lasting 90 seconds each. I felt nothing except a strange pressure like I was a little constipated. I kept going to the bathroom and trying to push but nothing would come! Even up to an hour before my son was born, I was more than 6 cm dilated, having strong, regular contractions, etc. but I only felt like I had mild menstrual cramps or constipation...I tried to convince my husband to go back to work an hour before the baby was born because "there's no way I'm really in labor...they have to be wrong...I feel fine!"
At that point (about 45 minutes before he was born) my OB insisted on giving me pitocin to "speed things up" because I was almost 6 weeks early and my water had broken (and I'm sure the fact that it was Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend had NOTHING to do with it! GRRRrr!) I was on the phone when they started the pitocin drip and within just a minute, I dropped the phone and it was like my whole body siezed up...I couldn't move or breathe or talk. My dh told them to give me something for the pain so they gave me Stadol and told him that it would have no effect on the baby because it would be out of my system long before the baby was born. About half an hour later, I told the nurse that I needed to go to the bathroom. She wanted to check me first and totally freaked out that the baby's head was already crowning. I thought I was having a massive poop. The OB ran in just in time to catch him...it only took two pushes. He was 6-2 and 19.5 inches long so not really small considering how early he was. My water had broken a little before 8 a.m. and he was born at 1:15 p.m.
I won't say that the labor was pain-free, but I'm very grateful that my water broke when and how it did to clue me in because had that not happened, my son would have been born either on the side of the road on the way to the hospital or worse, in a toilet at work. My "labor pain" was far less than many periods and (TMI) less than some of the constipation I've experienced during pregnancy.
I know that I was very lucky with my first labor experience and I'm not counting on this one being the same...heck, I'm in more pain now at 28 weeks than I was during labor with DJ...but I am keeping an open mind and trusting that this is a very natural thing and my body is equipped to handle it. I am going to great pains to ensure that my caregivers will not intervene unnecessarily this time. Both the OB who insisted on giving me pitocin last time and the midwife I'm seeing this time have said that the only thing the pitocin did for me was to complicate things and make the pain worse. That baby was coming with or without drugs but pitocin contractions are far more intense than natural contractions. I believe with all my heart that if they had not given me the pitocin, I would have still been walking around talking, laughing, and joking right up through the pushing. Not pain free, but definitely not miserable.
All I can tell you is to try to keep an open mind and trust in yourself. (And don't let them induce you without a VERY good reason!) If you go in full of fear and anxiety and thinking that the people who say this isn't painful are crazy, then that's the experience you're going to have. If you go into it knowing that this is what your body was designed for, God knew what he was doing when He built you this way, and millions of women have been doing this for thousands of years, then you are far more likely (IMO) to have a positive experience. Know that assistance is available if you need it, but give yourself a chance and you may be surprised to find out that you don't need it after all. And keep in mind that one intervention leads to another in a massive snowball effect. If you want to let your body do what it was designed to do naturally, then you have to be willing to "step back" and trust a little...