Having a Baby is Like Studying for a Test – Part 2: Pain Management

Tea ~ Orange Swirl Rooibos

This is Part 2 of 2 – Read Part 1 here
I think every woman fears being a mom at one point or another. Is it becoming a parent we fear, or is it childbirth we fear? For me, it’s the latter. Pop culture does an excellent job of exaggerating life and life events, sometimes funny and sometimes not so funny. The problem with it is that it morphs into our perception of reality. Let’s take pornography, for example. If your child’s first introduction into sexual relationships between 2 people is the porn they’ve run across on the internet or that a friend shows them at their house? It makes sense that this becomes the foundation on which they build their expectations for future intimate relationships. And no one has told them otherwise – – that IT’S NOT REAL! Setting yourself up for failure, my friend.

Our culture has made it the norm during childbirth to receive an epidural, with anywhere from 60-80% of first time moms in the US opting to receive one. But why is that? With my recent history of extreme reactions to not only drugs, but allergic reactions to foods, I question a lot of things that go into my body. We discovered in April that I have a gluten intolerance, and we’re pretty sure it was causing infertility for at least the previous 1.5 years, because I got pregnant right after giving it up after trying every non-drug method and treatment leading up to that point. We even went to a fertility clinic just to get blood tested and see what my hormone levels were. Before I had a single drop drawn (13 vials to be exact), the doctor sat us down to give us our options – we could start Clomid or move on to IUI or IVF. Whoa whoa whoa, slow down, sister! We don’t even know what’s WRONG and immediately you want to pump me with drugs to fix “something?” You’re fired. We did not return.

After having a thyroid antibodies test done to reveal an intolerance to gluten (not to be confused with having Celiac’s Disease or to be tested for that, it would be negative), it makes perfect sense that if your body & thyroid are working overtime with the digestive system to break down & process things it can’t, what’s the one body system that is the least “necessary” and may not function properly until everything else is up and running as it should? The reproductive system. We even had an MRI done because we were concerned there was something wrong with my pituitary gland in my brain, or maybe even a tumor. There wasn’t, and never once did my neurologist ask me about my diet, something that I suggested when I called to cancel my follow up appointment after discovering the gluten allergy and ruling out a neurological problem. Symptoms of gluten intolerance for me included:  migraines, fatigue (never felt rested, even after 10 hours of sleep), anxiety, constipation and infertility. Symptoms of a gluten intolerance can be anything, by the way. It’s a good place to start (or any food allergy) if you are having chronic issues of any kind. I was 10x more fatigued on gluten than I am pregnant, if you can believe it! Do I miss bread & pastries? Of course I do! But do I want to be healthy and feel well, or do I want to eat gluten? Not a hard decision to make, and I am so thankful I had a diagnosis I could do something about! How did we get so careless about what we put into our bodies? Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good dose of artificial colors every now and then – love fruity candies…hey, they ARE gluten free, after all.

Scripture is pretty clear about our curses from The Fall in Genesis. My fear comes from this as well:

“Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:16-19

I can tell you from personal experience of basically being pre-menopausal for 10 months (no period whatsoever, no real hormonal changes either) that the “desire to control your husband” is what we call PMS. That bitchy-ness we all get monthly, that is part of our curse. Someone asking if it was “your time of the month” based on my behavior used to offend me. After I did not experience those up’s and down’s, Greg & I can call it what it is. As painful as it was to be infertile, I’m so thankful for that time and for the truths of Scripture to shed light on my humanness. I encourage you to meditate on these verses in Genesis and shed light on how you handle your PMS and then call it what it is – part of your curse, and own up to it.

The other part of our curse as women is the pain in pregnancy & labor. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, let me ask you this:  have you ever considered being obedient to your curse? It says it right there in black and white that this WILL happen. Have you considered that by voluntarily and automatically (obviously there are exceptions to every pregnancy and birth) defaulting to pain-relieving medication, you are actually cheating yourself (and your spouse) of not only a rite of passage, but one of the most incredible God-given experiences of your life? I haven’t read a single book on this subject from a Christian perspective – I’ve read this pile of books in the photo above, none of them by Christian authors or scholars, and come to this conclusion based on both this Scripture in Genesis as well as what I read in these books and all the amazing things that God designed women’s bodies to do in response to pain during childbirth! Have you considered that we have these long labor phases (early, active, pushing, etc.) so that our brains can release pain managing hormones to ease our labor pains? If you get an epidural or other pain relief medication, you block these endorphins. And what’s worse is if it doesn’t take or work, you will be in far more pain than if you had never received them in the first place. No time for your body to catch up there! There is risk for what some women have called the worst headache they’ve ever had in their lives for hours, even days or weeks after giving birth with an epidural. Imagine the disruption in breastfeeding for you and your new baby (issues with breastfeeding is another risk, even without the headache). If you have an epidural, you cannot move around into positions that seem innate to you to labor in, you have to remain in  your bed as you will not be able to feel your legs (though you can try to move into positions in your bed to labor and deliver, but labor will most likely slow down if you are not moving around. Keep moving!).

I am really excited to not only see what I am able to do in labor and delivery and hopefully come to the other side with a new sense of empowerment and confidence in myself and what my body can do, but I am just as excited to give Greg an opportunity to take an active role in the process! He’s going to be an amazing coach and father! Why do I want to cheat him of that opportunity? One of the videos we watched in a birthing class that was going through different birthing options showed a woman laboring with an epidural. When she got her epidural, she slept and rested and her labor slowed drastically, forcing the nursing staff to give her pitocin (a drug that mimics oxytocin to increase uterine contractions). She went back and forth with her epidural and pitocin doses just to deliver her baby, and she couldn’t feel her urge to push with the epidural (Note:  This video was in no way trying to convince us that one way of labor was better than another, these were just my personal observations). I turned to Greg and said, “Are we here to work, or are we here to take a nap?!”

Ladies, let me ask you another question. Do we not expect our spouses to go out and work to provide for our families? Go back and reread that passage in Genesis. What is the man’s curse? Firstly, Adam listened to his wife and ate from the tree God commanded them not to eat from. Is that not a constant temptation for men and fathers to just let women or their wives take on the leadership role? If you’ve been asking where the “real men” are in our culture these days, this is sin manifesting itself in their lives from Chapter 3 of God’s Word. The reality is, they are fighting their curse of lazy, self-centeredness as much as we are fighting our curse of controlling them and our world around us. And if we expect our husbands to be obedient in their curse of work and toil without taking shortcuts and looking for the easy way out, should we not be obedient in our curse of increased pain in labor and childbirth? While our pains may last as little as a few hours to our entire pregnancy (or multiple pregnancies), our husbands have 30-40 years of living out their curse and even longer for taking a leadership role in their marriage and with their families.

What beautiful opportunities for obedience men and women have been given! It brings joy and pride to my heart to see my husband taking responsibility for himself, our family and his curse from The Fall as I’m sure it will bring great joy to his heart to see, support and be proud of me for taking my curse by the horns. I don’t want to be cheated of an experience and blessing like this that will most likely take our marriage and friendship to a level I never dreamed! It sounds like an exciting adventure – oh, and then there’s a baby too. BONUS!

I really invite you to do your research and to consider your options and the risks & rewards of childbirth. Birthing from Within was really empowering (I checked all our books out at the Chicago Public Library), and The Business of Being Born is a really great documentary that is on Netflix Instant that I highly recommend.

Be encouraged!

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2 thoughts on “Having a Baby is Like Studying for a Test – Part 2: Pain Management

  1. Pingback: Having a Baby is Like Studying for a Test – Part 1 | Typing with My Tea

  2. Pingback: Zeke’s Birth Story | Typing with My Tea

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