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Mar 24 2014

Toughing Out the Pains of Pregnancy to Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

By at 11:11 am

pregnancy-naliboff

Allow me to kvetch for a moment. At 32-weeks-pregnant, pelvic instability has become my constant companion. The tendon connecting my left leg to the rest of my body feels like it’s been tightened past its limits. Something deep in my butt just feels wrong. The outside of my right hip aches. And my lower back feels out of joint, and I can’t lie on my stomach to have my husband crack it. Oh, and he woke me up twice last night to ask me to please stop snoring (thanks, acid reflux!).

Thanks for listening. I just had to get that off my chest. (And speaking of my chest, things are pretty out of sorts in the boob department too.)

Pregnancy is full of aches and pains and discomforts, or as my yoga teacher puts it, sensation. When we’re holding an uncomfortable pose, she invites us to experience the sensation without judgment or fear. To find our edge and meet it, and possibly surpass it–for 10 more seconds? Thirty?

I caught a miserable cold a few weeks ago. Spastic cough, low-grade fever, the works. Ordinarily, I’d take a daytime cough and cold medicine and soldier on, and then a nighttime cough and cold medicine and sleep soundly, but nothing seemed quite safe enough to take during pregnancy. I called my father, an obstetrician. He said to “tough it out.” For the moment, this was my edge. I considered the possibilities. Fight against the sensation, indulge my fear of the discomfort of an ultimately safe elevation in temperature, or experience the sensation without fear or judgment. Nap, eat, drink tea, acknowledge the fact that I feel like road kill and move on.

I practiced the latter. Time passed and I felt better. Nothing bad or dangerous happened, I just felt yucky and got through it.

All these little annoyances seem like the wind up to the big attraction, giving birth. I have no reference point for the sensations I’ll experience then. In my mind it’s akin to conceptualizing the scale of the universe. The earth is this tiny pea, relative to the beach ball of the solar system, relative to the entire solar system that makes up the universe. Pelvic instability is a tiny pea. Childbirth is a beach ball? The whole solar system?

My goal is to have a natural childbirth, although I am extremely aware of the many factors that could conspire against me here. And there’s a whole catalogue of things that threaten to crack my composure.

For instance, there are all the things beyond anyone’s control that spell a quick ride to the OR: cord prolapse, breech position, drops in fetal heart rate, failure to progress. And before the OR trip, there’s a spinal. As I mentioned in relation to my Tay Sachs test, needles are my actual least favorite thing in the whole world. I’m more panicked about the possibility of deciding I want an epidural and then getting an epidural than I am about the currently inconceivable pain of childbirth. Oh, and the IV port getting put in. And whatever blood work they do before, during and after the baby. Not to mention the follow-up Rhogam shot if the baby turns out to be Rh+ like her father! What if I have to get induced? I’ve heard that Pitocin-induced contractions can be way, WAY worse than their (again, inconceivably painful!) natural counterparts.

Whatever happens in the next eight weeks, up to and including actually having a baby, it’s going to happen whether or not I’m on board. Struggling against my body’s natural functions–or the positive and necessary interventions being taken to help it along–probably won’t get me any closer to the end goal, and might actually make things worse. To that end, I’m practicing meeting sensations, acknowledging them (complaining about them included!) and moving on. Yes, my whole lower half is wobbly. Sure, I’m sick of my maternity clothes. Waddling on the treadmill–definitely not as satisfying as running through the park. I would absolutely love to go more than 30 minutes without having to pee. And then I move on. I hope, when the time comes, that I’m able to acknowledge the sensations of labor without fear and find the strength to keep going.

It’ll be…sensational.

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