Who is this Lamaze guy and why do I want to slap him silly?

Seconded. Despite everything your average L&D staff apparently believe, you are not there to perform on their schedule, make them comfortable, or make their lives easy. They, and your SO or whoever you bring to the birth are there for YOU.

I did not have my babies without medication because I had “something to prove”. I believe that labor and birth are normal and my body is capable without medicalizing the event and handing lots of control over to others. I had my babies without medication because I wanted to avoid the cascade of interventions that often follows. That said, in birth, as in the subsequent parenting, you gotta do what works for you.

1st birth: Lamaze. (plus lots of moving around, walking, getting in bath) for pain coping. Pretty painful, but I did it.

2nd birth: Bradley. much less moving around, also got in bath. Much more relaxed, better than first. Still very difficult. Faster labor.

3rd birth: Hypnobirthing. Spent all of labor with headphones on listening to hypno tapes. No walking. No bath. VERY relaxed. Still painful, but cared much much less about it. Still painful, but much much better , even faster.

4th birth: (this coming Feb) Hypnobirthing again. We have a winner!

My conclusion. Lamaze actually interfered with my ability to relax and go with the flow. Bradey gave me some relaxation tools, but not enough. Hypnobirthing (several books/tapes/websites/methods) gave me the specific techniques to really really relax, and relaxing was really the key to pain coping.

And there is pain much worse and much longer than labor. Labor should definitely not be considered the “worst pain evah” standard.

This pregancy I’ve discovered the www.mothering.com discussions boards, thanks to somebody here at the Dope (thank you, I’m sorry I forgot who!) They are much crunchier granola than me, but go over to their birth stories forum if you want to read very honest stories from people who planned to avoid medicaton and did, as well as those who planned to avoid medication and didn’t.

Good Luck and congratuations Shana!

We can each tell our own stories, but I think a mistake a lot of posters here are doing is extrapolating their labor experiences onto everyone. I don’t think that can be done. Every woman’s labor is an individual experience, and every woman’s pain-tolerance is a different thing. Saying that labor will be the worst thing you ever feel, or saying that labor isn’t any more painful than bad cramps; both of those things can be true, depending on the woman. I would never deliver drug-free. However, as positive as my 2 labor and delivery experiences were, I wouldn’t say to anyone “Epidural is the only way to go.” It makes me deeply uncomfortable for anyone to make categorical statements about labor.

Me? Labor for me before my epidural was an enormously painful experience with a feeling of not being in control of my own body. My labors couldn’t have been more different: one was 21 hours, with most of the labor in the hospital and the next labor was 5 hours, and I held out at home for as long as possible. The pain-management techniques I learned during my pregnancy absolutely helped lessen but didn’t fully resolve the pain for me. Of course when I was not actually contracting, there was no pain at all. It was completely gone, no lingering feelings or anything. During my second labor I was able to cook breakfast for my family in between contractions. But the contractions themselves were horrible. Once I got my epidurals (at 5 cm both times) I was able to be present for my own labor, and honestly felt able to participate more fully. I know the epidurals slowed down my pushing but that is a tradeoff I feel really good about, and that was well worth it for me.

You? You might have a labor like my mom’s when she delivered me. About 3 hours total (and I was her first baby!) and she said the labor pains were “Noticable”. Or you might have a labor like my girlfriend’s, 52 hours ending in a c-section. No way of telling until you get there, so I think the best thing to do is to prepare yourself to decide then what you want to do. If the pain is not so bad use the Lamaze. If you are in agony, yell for drugs. Either way if you go home healthy with a healthy baby you’ve had a successful delivery.

I guess I’m another one who believes you should do what works for you. I worked with a woman who went for her weekly doctor’s visit, was told she was at 9 centimeters, refused the ambulance, went and bought her daughter a nightgown for the visit grandma’s that would take place while she was in the hospital, went home, called her husband to take her to the hospital and gave birth about 10 minutes after her arrival - all without any pain or Lamaze, and I’ve known a women who begged for the sweet release of death after 4 hours of pushing and all the stupid-ass breathing she learned in class.

You know, I don’t think this really helps. You go on to say that women who end up with an epidural should do so guilt-free, but calling people scaredy cats if they are concerned about the pain of childbirth isn’t really constructive in this conversation, IMHO.

I agree with those who have stated that it is different for every woman, and every birth is different as well. My experiences for very much like Twiddle’s (well, OK, I didn’t actually cook breakfast for anyone) but I wouldn’t tell anyone that epidural is the only way to go, either. I just know that I also felt much more in control and better able to really enjoy the births of my children than I had pre-epidural. I really did try to hold out, too. I had a room with a whirlpool for my second child’s birth, and it was glorious while it worked, but I did eventually ask for the anaesthesia. I felt guilty as hell and kept apologizing for it, too, which was completely a waste of my energy. Once I was in less pain and not, you know, projectile vomiting, I was calm and focused and watched my son being born and really loved it

Different things work for different people, it’s true. My best friend had her first baby without any pain meds, she thought it couldn’t be all that bad. Afterward she said it wasn’t the end of the world, pain-wise, but she’s definitely going with an epidural next time. For her, it’s epidural or a good amount of pain, she is not the type of person visualizing or breathing techniques or hypno-birthing is going to help, because she just doesn’t have that personality.

My cousin does have that personality and used the Bradley method. It went swimmingly for her and she’s definitely using it if or when they have another child. Though I’ve always wondered if there may be something genetic involved. Of all the moms in my family, only one of my aunts has had a c-section and all of them claim it never hurt more than stubbing your toe really hard.

Between them my 3 sisters have given birth to 10 babies. No epidurals, no pain meds. And they said that it’s called “labor” for a reason, but once it’s over, it’s not bad at all.


Seconding whoever it was who said that fear of pain causes tension, which causes muscles to tighten, which makes labor longer and causes pain. A vicious cycle. Also seconding that in the “old days” medicated childbirth often consisted of a general anaesthesia or sedative, which not only put mom out but sedated the baby as well, depressing his/her vital signs. You don’t need a sleepy newborn.

I had Lamaze training, which was the only alternative to fully medicated birth at the time, and I did every single exercise and practice at home, religiously. It consists of lots more than funny breathing. I learned to be able to relax every muscle in my body, and to then be able to clench just one limb without tensing up any other. The education also helped; the simple fact that for most of the time you are comfortable for much longer than you are uncomfortable in any way was very important. The work part of my labors was short and effective. I was extraordinarily happy to not be sedated. In fact, after the first I was so high on adrenalin that despite having been up all night, I could not sleep all day. I was wonderful that when my daughter was brought to me, she was not a stranger, more like, “Hey, hi there! I know you! I met you a couple of hours ago!”

I also used the Lamaze techniques often in other painful situations.

Oh, and among the other things worse than labor are ear infections, toothaches and sinus headaches. These things go ON and ON and ON unrelentingly. For most of labor you get a few seconds of contraction and a few minutes of nothing.

Any childbirth education person who emphasizes how much pain you’re going to be in is IMHO an idiot. Also anyone who criticizes a woman for needing medication is a jerk. There is no one true answer for everyone.

I have done both labor and I get menstrual cramps.

Both feel identical, though I dont get the feeling that my hip sockets are getting the barbie treatment with cramps [you know how a barbie dolls hips are jointed? If you take a barbie doll and rotate the leg 90 degrees sideways - the directionit is not jointed to go - you can see the hip ball coming out of the socket. That additional feeling I had in labor. I make the assumption it was because of the softening and disjointing of the pelvis.]

I found the perfect description in a book about how to describe the feeling of cramps/labor from my point of view. In the first Asprin Thieves World collection, Tempus [son of the storm god] reaches up a eunichs bum, grabs a handful of intestines, and pulls them out. Add a nice rummage around and twisting to that and that is what I end up with. If i wasnt neutered and got pregnant again, the first words out of my mouth to the GYN at the point of the bunny test results being positive woulld be “I AM GOING TO HAVE AN EPIDURAL” and there will be NO argument. And FWIW, I actually have a seriously high pain tolerance, and am no wimp about pain. I get debilitating migraines, I have serious back injury problems. I have days and weeks where I can barely move from pain. I would hold the head of the hospital at scalpel-point to get an epi/pain meds if they otherwise refused. one


It wasn’t meant to help. The next 325 words I wrote were meant to help.

Those first dozen words were an exasperated reaction to the posters before me (**Shirley **excluded, as we were typing at the same time) who all advised an epidural for the OP or compared labor to great mystic feats. They weren’t directed at the OP at all, but at the tone of the thread.

It got better.

Wow, look at all the replies! Thanks everyone, truly, for all your opinions…I must say that after reading about your experiences I’m more scared shyte-less than before! However, I do feel more informed - and I’m the type that likes to know what I’m up against.

I have had a lot of pain in my life due to a chronic illness. So there is part of me that thinks that maybe it won’t be so bad…but then I think, “Um, yea, but I don’t like pain. Why experience pain if you don’t have to?” I have absolutely nothing to prove. I just want to get through this without it being too gruesome or like a bad ER episode - and I want a healthy baby of course.

Right now I’m thinking epidural. Yep, I am :eek:

Oh and Shirley , those are all really neat suggestions. I will keep them in mind!

BiblioCat , I’m due in mid September…Although something tells me I’m not going to last that long!

You know, at the time, I think I meant that it didn’t help the old “natural = good, epidural = wimpy and bordering on neglect” argument. But, hey, maybe I’m just being defensive because I had epidurals. In which case, I’m not helping either. Anyhow, didn’t mean to offend you, and I apologize if I did.


When I had a gallbladder attack, I was told by several women who had had babies and gallstones, that the gallbladder attack was much worse.
It wasn’t fun, but I know now that if I could handle that, I could handle having babies.

However, everyone is different. Shana, just grit your teeth, feel out your own pain, only you will know what you need, and wish a gallstone on that whacko Lamaze instructor. :wink:

And seriously, good luck and I hope the birth goes smoothly for you. :slight_smile: I’ve found that many times, when other people tell you how bad something will hurt, it’s not nearly as bad as you thought it would be. (I was once told by a boy in my class that “getting braces will be the *worst * pain you ever go through in your entire life!” Granted, I treated him like someone who had never had a menstrual period, but it still scared me. And guess what? The braces did hurt, but not as bad as I had thought they would. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.)

It hurts, yes, but one thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that at the end, you’ll have something to show for it. It’s pain with a point.

My first delivery was a nightmare; I was barely 17 and unmarried, the nurses were horrible vicious bitches to me, and I spent 43 hours in back labor before they decided to do a C-section, by which time the epidural had worn off so they had to give me a general; the boy was 4 days old before I ever got to see him (he was in neo-natal intensive care - they never would tell me why).

My second kid was much easier, almost textbook. 12 hours and schloop! out she came. I spent the first few hours up walking around, then got some Demerol and hopped into the bathtub, where I dozed off. They woke me up after about an hour and got me out and checked me, and I was about 4 cm along, IIRC. I got a spinal (I think that’s what it was; it wasn’t an epidural, just a shot of some kind) because I was too sore and tired to walk around anymore, and I figured I could take the drugs, nap for a couple of hours, and be all fresh and rested when it came time to push; my cervix didn’t need me to be conscious to finish dilating. My husband had my back the whole time, which made a nice change from my first pregnancy, when my son’s father spent the whole freaking time playing in the elevator and my mom sat in the corner timidly submitting to the staff’s treatment of me because they were “professionals”.

At no time during the 2nd delivery was the pain overwhelming. It was during the 1st one, in large part because they put me on the gurney flat on my back (while I was in back labor!) and wouldn’t let me move because I might mess up all the lines they had in me (IV, blood pressure cuff, external fetal monitor, internal fetal monitor, etc. This was in 1990, BTW, you’d think they’d have been more advanced).

Anyway, just relax and realize that it’s going to be uncomfortable at least, and probably pretty painful. You’ll be sweaty and stringy-haired and damn sore by the end of it. But you’ll have a wrinkly little cross-eyed human to show for it. And you’ll forget every bit of the pain.

Just for reference, I medicate sinus infections, ear infections, and the screaming endless pain after surgery, too. Modern medicine is pretty amazing. Generally speaking, we are now able to manage pain so you don’t NEED to go through it.

Labor may not be the worst pain there is, but it can be pretty bad - and it depends on both the individual, the labor, and the ability of the coaches to coach. If its bad enough for you to want it medicated, there should be no guilt involved. If you want to try medicated free, its completely and totally possibly.

(This will not be the first thing you do where you have doubts that its the best possible thing for the kid, but at the moment it IS the best possible thing for you.)

Y’know, if I could get in the Way Back Machine and take a camera with me, I would take a picture of my daughter as her head came out between my legs.

It was such a bizarre moment and really, how often can you take a picture of your crotch and not have it be labeled as smutty?
Please continue with the conversation, I’ll go take my meds* to control this blurting problem I have.

*There are no meds that control this :slight_smile: Sucks to be all of you!

Lamaze was only helpful for me up to a point. I found it helpful for very early labor and more to keep me from panicking or tensing up than helping with pain. I remember the nurses commenting on my breathing though and how I was a very good breather. I did not get any sort of award for that, though :). It sounds obvious to breathe during labor, but at the end you are so focused on pushing you can forget - my Dr. had to remind me a few times to breathe out! I was taking a big breath before each push but not exhaling. Oops.

My advice is to go in with a plan, but also 2 or 3 backup plans because most people’s labor does not go the way you think it will. Especially if this is your first and you have no idea what it will be like. Also be aware that epidurals do not always work and sometimes you miss the window of opportunity for one. It is fine to go in and tell them you want an epidural, but also having some way of coping like Bradley or Lamaze is a good idea, often several hours may pass while you are waiting for that epidural and if you can’t get one you want a way to get through. My epidural was late because he was helping with an emergency and I was not a priority (note: I think hospitals should have more than one person able to give epidurals! :slight_smile: )

I didn’t want an epidural at first but I was so glad I got one. That feeling of relief was so needed for me at that point - I had a love for my epidural giver that I have for no other man. I joked with him that he must be one of the most adored people in the world - if you want a job where people will kiss your feet, give epidurals. There is no way I could have had the energy to push for hours after being up all night and on my hands and knees trying to get baby to turn over. I almost didn’t have the energy anyway, the biggest thing about labor for me is just how plain exhausting it was! I always laughed at the women on tv who said at the end “I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this” but It Happened To Me - the Dr. had to be very tough with me and I remember hating her for a few minutes :). The epidural gave me a few hours of relief to doze and rest to get my energy up for the last few hours.

I do not know if I would have asked for one if I was not having back labor, for me the back pain was by far the worst part and I don’t know how much of that comes with a regular labor. If they would have let me stay in the tub forever I might have been able to go without one. I also had full sensation at pushing time, either they turned my epidural off or it wore off, I am not sure. I was given control of it for a while with a button I could push for more medication, I did not choose to turn mine up at all. You might want to ask about this as it gives you some control over how much pain medicine you are given.

I have gone through painful sensations before, including the above mentioned burst eardrums / infections, an adult tonsillectomy without pain meds after, and some others. It is hard to compare pain with other pain and I don’t really do it. I would just say that all were painful and I wouldn’t want to do them again. If I need pain relief and I can safely get it I will use it without a moment of hesitation.

I had a very good recovery with an epidural, and I was able to hop off the table and walk as soon as it was over, I also had full movement of my legs during pushing but I understand for many women this is not the case. Ironically, the one thing I was most afraid of and would do anything to avoid was the episiotomy, and it ended up being no big deal at all. (The main reason I was afraid of epidural was I thought I would not be able to feel when I needed to push and for me that was not the case at all, but I needed an episiotomy anyway.) The worst part about it was getting the stitches and after that I really did not have pain from it. I kept on the Tylenol schedule they gave me for a few days and never felt I needed more.

Next time I am going to look into the Bradley method more. I suggest researching all methods and be open to things once you go in. If my next baby has a quicker labor and is facing the right way I am open to not having an epidural, but on the other hand I am not afraid of having one again either. And remember that women love to tell their labor stories and tend to embellish one way or the other, and they also forget what it was really like. The second before baby is out you are thinking “I will never do this again, ever” and the second he is on your tummy you are thinking “This is the best thing in the world.”

Finally, my biggest advice is to avoid people who say always or never. "Always get an epidural! Never get an epidural! Labor is nothing, it is easy! Labor is the most horrible thing ever in the universe! Do what is right for you and screw everyone else - and keep that in mind when you are raising that baby, too. People will have strong opinions when it comes to anything baby related.

Having watched my wife go through labour four months ago, I think that Lamaze will work for you-- as long as you practice. It’s a hypnotic technique of relaxation that you need to learn and reinforce, and I get the feeling that most women who go into Lamaze class never bother doing their homework.

You also need to work with your partner during practice, and during the labour itself. Tell your partner when a contraction starts so they can begin counting, etc…

I don’t know how bearable the pain is, but having seen my wife in pain I think the order goes: broken collarbone, in labour, wisdom teeth with drysocket.

As for the best idea of what your first labour will be like, talk to your mother. My wife’s labour was identical to what her mother went through, complete with the water breaking twice, week of labour, and lightning-quick jump from 4 cm to 10.

I haven’t read all the previous posts yet, but I’m putting my 2 cents in anyway.

I’ve had two children. Both naturally, but neither time was that by choice. I’ve never taken Lamaze ( I thought it sounded dumb, sorry). My first labor lasted about 11 hours in the hospital, and my second labor lasted about 3. Let me tell you first off, you will make it. Yes, you will. Read The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy, if you haven’t yet. Will it hurt? Yes, but you will make it. How bad will it hurt? No one knows. Every woman’s labor and tolerance for pain is different, so no one can say. My first and second children were radically different; I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t. Maybe someone with five kids knows for number six, but even then I sort of doubt it.

So, learn your lamaze, but just tell yourself over and over… I will make it. I will be okay. I might scream (you probabaly will when its time to push, but mostly just because its hard work), I might whine, but I will make it. Go for the epidural if you want to; I sure did! But don’t count on it. And let me tell you something my mother told me when I was very frightened. I didn’t really believe her then, but it helped. You won’t believe me either, but its true:

Childbirth is hard and scary and it hurts. But when they hand you that little baby, I promise, you forget all about it. I swear, it’s like it never happened. You still even hurt a little; hell, they might still be sewing you up! But it doesn’t matter. Looking at that little miracle, its so worth it. And you think, I’d do it again, I’d do it a hundred more times, just for this. That pain and misery and fear just vanishes, and is replaced by a new, much more powerful fear and worry for this little kiddo. Oh, but its sweet.

Good luck, you’ll do fine.

I read a account (by Michael Criton IIRC) of how childbirth was before Lamaze.

Women who were drugged were not ‘out’. They were awake, they drugs just made them not remember it. The drugs also affected the women in such a way that they were saying and doing things they probably wouldn’t normally. (very vulgar cursing) And these women were restrained (tied down) to the bed.

Oy. Labor. Everyone’s is different and so, please, YMMV.

To me, it was like waves of pressure. As labor progressed, my body took over–“you” (ie, logical, rational, thinking you) are NOT in charge. Something primitive and powerful is–don’t fight it.

Pain is a subjective experience and so noone can tell anyone that their pain is too little or too great.

Certainly, I would try to prepare yourself for the experience-Lamaze (which was useless to me, since in nursing school I was taught that the breathing basically gave the woman something to do and control-a distraction that might also have a relaxing effect-to which I say, Ha! didn’t even do that). Dunno about Bradley, but would think that logically anything that is practiced and learned over a longer period of time is bound to be more effective.

Epidurals. Yes, well. Timing is everything with these–I asked for one with my last birth and the anesthesiologist came into the room. Sadly, he insisted on a full medical history of me during some horrible back labor and I spoke rather tersely to him. I believe I told him that all that info was in the chart and that I needed pain relief now. He stalked out of the room, offended (I can only imagine) and never came back. Luckily, my OB was on an old school one and gave me a pupendal block.

It is not true that once the baby is on your chest, the pain does not matter. That happened with two of my deliveries, but with one, I resented the pain the baby had put me through and I was not willing to “make nice” for about an hour. I share this only to de-mystify this whole “birth is glorious and once the baby is here, all is wonderful” myth that we have. Many women forget about the pain and immediately get that rush of endorphins or whatever–and just as many do not.
All vaginal deliveries:
1st child: labor of 18 hours, Stadol (off the market now) given for pain; Pitocin afterwards–delivering the placenta and having the Pit hurt more than the labor. Was given a huge episotomy. Had bitch nurse named Laurie.

2nd child: labor of 10 hours. Had Demerol for pain. No Pit. Best labor/delivery. Tiny episotomy and wonderful nurse named Laura.

3rd child: labor of 12 hours. Had Demerol and pupendal block. Baby was facing backwards (not transverse–dunno term, not an OB nurse). No episotomy and wonderful nurse named…Laura.

(none of the Lauras were the same person-go figure).

My advice? Go with YOUR instincts. LISTEN to your body. If you feel engulfed in constant pain-maybe you need an epidural. If the waves of pain/pressure (and to me it was more pressure than pain) are bearable with rests in between, ask for a med given in your IV to take the edge off. LISTEN to your nurse/OB–if they say baby is in distress or whatever, be prepared for that. Don’t insist on your labor matching someone else’s preconceived expectation --or your’s either. Let it happen.

And come and tell us your story!