Pain is your body's way of telling you to take action. Consider the pain you feel when you burn yourself. The pain tells you to take your hand away from the flame! Similarly, when you sustain an injury, pain might influence you to apply ice or to get an X-ray.
Childbirth pain gives you a message: the time of birth is near. It encourages you to take action: to choose a safe place to give birth, gather your support people, and bring your baby into the world.
Childbirth pain is not like other pain
Yet childbirth pain is very different from most other types of pain.
- It is NOT is a signal that something is wrong. Childbirth pain helps you determine what is happening within your body, what part of labor you are in, and what actions you might take.
- It is not constant, but comes and goes as the contractions do, giving you a chance to rest and regroup.
- It is pain with a positive purpose. Childbirth pain leads to the birth of your baby, which is greatly different from the pain of injury, infection, or chronic illness.
Recognizing the powerful effect that language can play on our perception, some childbirth experts suggest renaming childbirth pain to provide a positive association related to the work being done by the body, rather than the negative association that accompanies the word pain. One noted midwife, Ina Mae Gaskins, uses the term "rushes," and in HypnoBirthing® classes, women are encouraged to talk about "surges" instead of contraction pain.