When Harry Kane posted his proud picture of his other half and their brand new baby, praising her for giving birth with no pain relief he was flooded with abuse from individuals for shaming mothers who have used pain relief. As a mother who has used most pain relief going in labour I couldn’t understand where people were reading this post and drawing the conclusion. A man surely should be able to be proud of his wife or girlfriend for giving birth regardless of how she managed it?
After This Mornings debate regarding women feeling pressurised into giving birth au-natural with no pain relief there has been a lot of comments from both sides. It seems now that everyone wants to pit mother against mother in every single thing, now also in the way they manage to give birth. C-section vs natural, breast or bottle fed, co-sleeping or cot, cry it out vs soothing, puree’d or baby led, jumperoo or carried.
The fundamental thing here? What works for one family doesn’t work for another. Why people feel the need to shame others for their choices when they don’t understand the circumstances has always confounded me! Although I’ve always been of the view that everyone should just get along. But then life would be boring if we all lived the same values and beliefs and where would the fun be in that!
My Experience with pain relief during labour
I didn’t go into labour believing it would be as straightforward as writing out a birth plan and following it to a T. So I didn’t. I had an idea in my head around how I wanted it to go, I’d rather go without pain relief for as long as possible but I wasn’t completely opposed to . I was devastated after my first choice, to go to the midwife led unit and use the birthing pool wasn’t an option due to numerous complications with my health during pregnancy. I still researched all the options available and decided that if a water birth wasn’t to be for me, I wanted a birth where I wasn’t stuck on a bed, was able to move about freely and to get by on as little pain relief as possible. That being said I also wasn’t completely opposed to trying any pain relief that might make things a bit easier on me.
My first contractions started after a sweep and strengthened quickly throughout the evening. By about midnight the contractions were every 5 minutes and lasting between a minute to a minute and a half. I phoned the labour ward who suggested I take some paracetamol and took a bath to try and relax. It got to about 3am and I decided I needed more than just deep breathing to cope with the contractions. I phoned labour ward and they let me come in. And there I stayed for 36 hours.
My plan to avoid pain relief for as long as possible was failing. I asked for gas and air which worked for a while. Then I got in the bath again, which provided a little relief for an hour. Next I was given Diamorphine, twice, before begging for an epidural.
Am I ashamed that I took so much pain relief during labour? No. I had a very difficult labour. My baby was back to back and caused the most horrendous back pain and pressure to the point where I thought my lower body was being ripped in half. I was exhausted after such a long labour and really did feel as if I couldn’t go on any longer. I felt pain relief was my only option throughout the whole ordeal.
This led to me being extremely worried about giving birth a second time. I was terrified it would take even longer so I was actually glad this time to once again be told I had to give birth in the labour suite where the option of an epidural was available.
This time labour was much easier and much shorter. I managed on my TENS machine and the breathing I learned through hypno-birthing which led me to stay calm, whereas before I definitely panicked. I took gas & air and also had an epidural.
I felt more in control second time and I do think the hypnobirthing videos I watched on youtube helped with that. But also didn’t feel I had to rely soley on it to have a successful birth.
Do I wish I could have managed without pain relief?
Yes, it would have been nice to say I knew exactly the feeling of giving birth without being numbed, but to be honest, I felt more than enough of the pressure, I didn’t want to feel the “ring of fire”
Is there shame in taking pain relief whilst giving birth?
No. I have a fairly high pain threshold, but I know where my limits lie, I know when I lose my cool and when the panic is about to wash in. A 36 hour labour isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. In this modern age, no one should feel they have to go through labour without any pain relief. Whilst it is amazing that people feel empowered enough to do so, it isn’t a competition and NO ONE can ever be classed as a failure in labour.
Do I feel I have cheated myself out of a “good birth”
Again, no. I felt I had a good birth, as the outcome was a healthy baby.
Celebrating a birth irregardless of delivery type
Giving birth is a huge trauma for a body, if you managed it completely free of drugs, well done! If you managed it via a c-section, huge congratulations. If you managed it with drugs, good going! Regardless of the type of birth, you still birthed a baby, and which ever way it happened you should be proud of yourself and not pressured into doing it a specific way.