Monday, February 28, 2011

Giving Birth Hurts. My letter to midwives et al.

It takes a lot to get me angry, riled up and frustrated but right now I'm MAD. In true Canadian fashion i think i'd like to write a letter to someone- so here it is!

Dear crunchy granola mammas and midwives,

All of this talk about how childbirth is not actually painful is a bold faced lie. You've got all these first time mamas talking about how they don't buy into the "myth" about pain and then wind up stressed out running to Emergency because they have round ligament pain- which is normal and doesn't mean the baby is distressed. In fact it is just a mere taste of what is to come.

I think it is a real diservice not to prepare these women. I honestly felt like i was DYING b/c i was in real pain and i was told and read every stinking recommended book that all said - its not pain just uncomfortable pressure....and that it should be easy if i did my homework.....i did the drills......i did the perinnial massage......i did the breathing......and it still hurt! At one point in my first delivery I started trying to scan my memory for all of the movies where they did last rites for the dying and was mumbling prayers- AND I'M NOT EVEN CATHOLIC.

When my psycho nurse finally tells me she cannot take the screaming anymore and calls the anesthesiologist I was hoping for relief- but the epidural didn't take- only half of my body went numb and the other was in screaming bloody pain. I remember asking the nurse if I was dying. I asked if my body could literally shatter into pieces. She never answered me. (insert expletive of choice!)

I cannot take it anymore when I hear you going on about how it is all mental rather than physical pain.....RIIIIIIIIGHT....having a canonball shot through your vagina is just mentally uncomfortable. ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOURSELF?

I don't understand how you can lie to these girls- why not tell them that it hurts like heck but your body is made to withstand the pain and you'll make it through to the other side- it won't go on forever. I am a firm believer in the power of the mind........but to say it won't hurt frusterates me....and in all honestly it makes me feel bad- are you saying b/c my labor hurt i wasn't doing it right? wasn't good enough?

My second delivery (which involved spinach pizza, our stairwell and paramedics) and third delivery (peaceful water birth)were natural births and didn't last 30 + hours and only had minimal screaming. I've had great labours compared to many- my stories are not horror stories but probably closer to the average. And in each case it still hurt.

Please- for the sake of all of these woman who are now the walking wounded feeling like they didn't have the "birth experience" that they were lead to believe was possible- PLEASE tell the truth.

Giving. Birth. Hurts. Alot.

It's worth it.

You likely won't die.

And it hurts.

But the stitches and afterpains sometimes are even worse.

And it hurts to poo

And you likely will get hemorrhoids

And it will hurt.

Giving birth hurts.


  1. Wild cheering from across the country! This made me laugh out loud, nod furiously in recognition and want to scream it from the rooftops: YES! IT'S GONNA HURT!!!

    I distinctly remember being told that labour's like the most painful cramps eve...r. Poppyeffingcock. The weeks leading UP to labour were filled with "cramps".

    I'd like to add the following:

    Your vagina will never be the same. Sex might hurt. A lot. For several months afterward.
    Your boobs will leak, your hair falls out, you sweat like a pig in a heatwave and there is farting from areas of your body not previously known for flatulence.

    Even though your midwife participated in "gentle lovemaking" mere hours after bringing a human being into the world via her vagina, you will not be remotely interested. Your partner, if s/he watched you bring forth life from your nether regions, will likely not be fit for lovemaking either, gentle or otherwise.

    Nursing hurts, too. "If it hurts, you're doing it wrong" is woefully misleading and just plain effing wrong. You WILL get through it, and eventually, your nipples with numb out and you'll forget the agony of the first few months but in the meantime? It hurts. Know it. Be prepared for it.

    Knowledge IS power. Use it.

  2. This is an AWESOME piece, Carrie. I've been busily emailing it to people, praising its truth and honesty.

    Well done, Mama. Am looking forward to Part II!

  3. Wow. This is eye-opening. And scary. But honest.

  4. I love this after reading hypnobirthing. The book is good in many ways but they really push the idea of taking a course that will help with all this no pain thing. Of course the courses are hundreds of dollars... Ugh. Glad I never paid that!

    I would like to add to Belly though, that saying nursing hurts is somewhat false. I know a few people who have said that so I assume it does for some, but not all. I nursed both children for 2.5 years, and it never hurt (maybe minus a bite or two). It was hard the first week, but I think everyone is different, much the same as labour some people get super lucky and have these amazing births that dont seem to hurt as much.

    One thing also is that it really bums me out when people talk about how their birth experience didnt turn out as planned and then act as though its affecting the relationship with their children later on in life. I hear this a lot and it sorta makes me sad. I honestly dont know how one day in your childs life that they wont remember shortly after will affect the bond you have at 2, 5 or 10. While obviously we all want to bond instantly with our children, I thin k if you miss out in the first few hours you can make up for it by having years of close moments with them. I dont think its fair to blame one moment for any relationship issues though.

  5. I stumbled across this post through Google and couldn't agree more! I was totally sold on the idea of this beautiful, comfortable birth, and believed everything my pricey Hypnobabies class preached about "mind over matter" and painless birth. Yeah right! Labor was the most horrific thing I have ever experienced. Words fail me, I cannot describe the agony. We transferred to the hospital for an epidural (we were at a birth center) and it was absolutely blissful! I just get so sick of seeing these granola women insisting that birth doesn't hurt and it's just "uncomfortable" and insisting that if it hurts, it's just because of intervention or whatnot. Maybe their birth didn't hurt, but mine sure as hell did. I wish I had prepared myself with tools to manage the pain, rather than buying into the idea that there simply is no pain!