Can you remember the last time you had really painful gas pains? Like the ones that make you roll around on the floor, bloat your belly out a few inches, and make you cancel your plans? If you are a first time mom and wondering what labour might be like, try this on for size.
This is the analogy I have been using lately to imagine what labour it like. Its a little crude, and to be honest, labour is a lot more beautiful than this, because everyone can be loving on you instead of you being alone in your bedroom. But the comparison works in the sense that when you have a really bad belly ache, you intuitively know to lay in the fetal position to try to ease your pain. You would run yourself a bath to see if that will feel good for a while. You would spend some time on your hand and knees and in child’s pose, swaying and rocking. You would try sitting on the toilet for a while to see if that moves anything downward. You may let out a little poop, or a lot. It may be a pebble or a bit of a fountain. You may ask your partner to rub your back or belly, to comfort you and to make the pain more bearable.
Labour is similar in the sense that you keep trying new positions to try to encourage your baby down, and to see how you can get the most relief. Often women love to labour hanging onto things - their partners, window sills, counters. They love counter pressure, on their hips and on their back. What I’m trying to say is, you’re likely not to care too much about your playlist as you navigate each contraction.
Here’s what we know, when a woman has more oxytocin, the love drug, she is able to make more endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. SO in essence, as much as our job is to teach you about your choices so that oxytocin isn't inhibited, support you in your decisions, and help you navigate dilating and pushing; our job is also to love on you, so that you are making as much oxytocin and endorphins as possible. I don't think there's any oxytocin and endorphins in belly bloat pain...
In some ways, labour is better than belly bloat pains, because it comes on for a minute at a time and then you have a break. At the same time, labour usually does progress to a more intense place than gas pains do...or else we might have a full time job being belly bloat doulas.
For those of you who have had babies and had really bad belly bloat pains, how does this analogy feel to you? As someone who has had babies and belly bloat, but bloat more recently than babies, it feels pretty real to me!