Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pain Management

We went to a Pain Management and Cesarean Section class last night at Kaiser. I don't plan on using/having either of those things, so had initially ruled out the class all together. But, as my wacky childbirth prep teacher pointed out, there is about a 25% cesarean rate at Kaiser Hayward, so there is a chance I might need one. While I am going to do everything I can to avoid it, I figured I might as well be prepared.

Morgan and I both knew a lot of the information presented in the class, but it was still interesting. One of the things the nurse anesthetist said that I liked was that just by coming to the class, we were making it less likely we would need pain medication because anxiety about the unknown can contribute to how pain is perceived. I thought this tied in nicely with the book I'm currently reading. During my last massage, I was talking to Kathleen about my disappointment in the childbirth prep class we took; there was a lot of information about positioning the baby prior to labor and the importance of skin to skin contact and breastfeeding after the baby was born, but very little on coping/relaxation techniques for during labor. Which I'm kind of thinking is important. Kathleen recommended Birthing From Within, which she used for her two births.

I'm not as far as the chapter on coping techniques for pain yet, but the first few chapters talk a lot about raising self-awareness and addressing one's own conceptions about pregnancy, labor, and parenting. The author gives examples of women who have gone through her seminars, which includes creating "birth art" to explore feelings. Not being visually arty (and having difficulty holding anything resembling a writing implement at the moment), I haven't done this, but reading about other women's experiences is making me consider what my own preconceptions are.

I hope that I am not cocky. That's my biggest fear, that I am arrogantly assuming I understand what I am getting into. I absolutely believe labor is painful, but I also know it is finite. I know contractions will hurt, but I know they don't last forever. Throughout my pregnancy, I have been comparing it to running a marathon. The last few weeks have been like miles 23-26, where I really want nothing more than to lie down on the side of the road and call it quits, but I know I'm almost done and I know that when its done, the feeling of accomplishment will be worth it. I'm looking at labor the same way. When I run long distances, I take walk breaks; for every however long I run (anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes at a time), I also take a walk break (1 to 2 minutes). I'm considering the contractions the runs and the time in between the walks. I know it will hurt like hell (like running for a measly two minutes after you've already been going for five hours) but I know if I can get through it, there will be that walk/rest again. And at the end, in addition to an amazing sense of accomplishment, I get a son.

Here's where the moms I know can blast me for being naive for comparing childbirth to something like running. But I believe - I hope - that I have the strength to get through this childbirth on my terms. And honestly, my (well researched) fears about medication are greater than my fears about pain. I have phobias about numbness, which I think I've already talked about here. I also have issues with the idea of not being able to walk around once an epidural is administered. Add to that my tendency towards very low blood pressure and nausea when medicated and the 1% chance of a spinal headache, and all in all, the drugs seem like a very bad idea.

But most of all, what I'm focusing on is the fact that the end objective is a healthy baby. If I decide I need drugs, if for some reason I end up needing a c-section, I will not let myself feel a sense of failure. Because I'll have the froglet either way, and that is the important part.


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  2. As a mother of two who has gone through two drugless childbirths and who has also run a couple of marathons I feel your comparing your journey to a marathon is very appropriate.You are going to do fine, Kara, really!

  3. Thanks, Mardie. It means a lot to hear that.