What do women want in childbirth? Pain relief!


A few weeks ago I wrote about the farce that is the World Health Organization recommendations Intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience. How could the WHO determine what women consider a positive birth experience? Surely they asked women, right.

No, they didn’t. They asked midwives to opine on what THEY believe women want and, predictably they insist that women what midwives offer. According to the press release:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Will never give birth naturally again. Even if I have to pay for csection, I will.”[/pullquote]

Many women want a natural birth and prefer to rely on their bodies to give birth to their baby without the aid of medical intervention.

That is nothing more than self-serving bullshit. If you want to know what women want in labor it makes sense to look at what women themselves say.

Consider this thread on the UK mothering website Mumsnet. Keep in mind that all women received midwife care.

This is the original post:

Had DS a month ago tomorrow and the labour was the most horrendous experience I’ve ever been through.

Even my mum who has had 5 children described it as traumatic…

Has anyone else felt the same? Gotten over it? Done it again?!?’

The 320 responses are illuminating. Here are 20:

1. “My DD2 wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t been guaranteed a CS for a second baby…”

2. “My labour was 26h of pure painful hell (I was convinced I will die from pain/heart attack) only to have an Emergency section at the end of it. Recovery in hospital was awful, they totally did not care.”

3. “I was injured so badly the first time I was told I’m not allowed to have a vaginal birth ever again. I had more babies because I knew it would be a c-section (and my breach twins made sure of that anyway).”

4. “I had a traumatic first birth including 3rd degree tear. I had an elective csection for my second child 4 years later and it was fantastic. It was a really positive experience all round (recovery took longer but wasn’t overly painful)…”

5. “Totally felt like that and still can’t ‘put myself’ in the memories of DS1’s birth, it was horrific. Elective C section for DS2 was a wonderful, calm experience, no more traumatic than a dental check up. If you do come around to wanting a second, I highly recommend looking into a ELCS.”

6. “My first was a horror show. Induced at ten days over, hours of agony with the midwives telling me I wasn’t even in labour yet and to basically get a grip … followed by epidural that didn’t fully work so still pain on one side…labour lasted 36 hours then baby was tugged out by a bloke with bulging muscles and one foot on the bed for leverage. Baby born with cuts and bruises from forceps and I was stitched from here to kingdom come while a cleaner had to get a mop and bucket to clear up the blood.”

7. “My labour was 50 hrs of hell, ending in an episiotomy and forceps in theatre… I couldn’t discuss my labour/birth for weeks without crying.

We had to take him back to the same hospital for physio (he was stuck, hence the 50 hrs, bad neck) and I had a panic attack in the car when we drove past the parking spot we parked in when I went to deliver.”

8. “The whole setup at the moment is really patronising to women and far too Pollyanna ish. The idea that ANY birth can be ok if you just breathe/don’t technique does women a gross disservice. It leaves women shocked and traumatised when things go wrong and makes them think it’s their fault for not following method x enough.

The type of birth you get is basically down to how the baby lies on the day plus the interaction with your own anatomy. From the get go, some births are going to be easier and some harder. Some will never be ok without intervention. And those women are often the ones ending up with pnd because they think they should have been able to breathe through it. There’s FAR too much pressure on women to ‘do it naturally’ when this is just not the best way for all women.”

9. “[W]ill never give birth naturally again. Even if I have to pay for csection, I will.”

10. “DD has just turned seven. I would rather die than go through childbirth/sick baby in NICU etc again. Though I don’t have flashbacks any more so that’s something.

… I genuinely would kill myself if I got pregnant.”

11. “I gave birth in France … The midwife told us a lot of it was down to luck – the length of labour you could expect, the size of the baby in relation to to the size of your pelvis and the baby’s position. That’s why you are offered excellent pain relief options in France and most women have an epidural (which contrary to everything I’d heard from an NCT friend in the UK didn’t slow things down and make it more difficult to push – it just made everything more tolerable). The aim there is to make everything as quick and painless as possible so you can get back to normal ASAP – they even throw in a course of pelvic physio for all new mums.”

12. “I wasn’t afraid of giving birth. However the birth was horrific from start to finish, dc and I were severely let down, the staff were awful (except the midwives who delivered dc in the end) and put us both in danger, the pain was horrific and their failings continued after baby was born.”

13. “I had my daughter 6 years ago and I have not forgotten the trauma I went through. I would love another baby and so would my partner but I am so scared! I still have problems now because I was pushing for so long (3hrs) I ended up with an anal fissure which has never healed. I’m never pushing anything out of there again.

My sisters both had planned sections and their experiences were so lovely…”

14. “The pregnancy was hell
The birth was hell
The post-birth recovery was hell
Breastfeeding was hell
The sleep deprivation was hell
The PND/PTSD was hell
The SIDS anxiety was hell
The colic and reflux was hell
The loss of my identity was hell
The loneliness was hell
The impact it had on my relationship with DH was hell

Don’t get me wrong, my child is my life, my world and my everything. I don’t regret him…”

15. “I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. I just feel naive now. I had a great pregnancy, spent hours preparing a hypnobirth, thought I’d be on my birthing ball or bobbing around in the pool. Nothing went to plan. Nothing. We both nearly died. I ended up having an emergency c-section and my heart nearly gave out … and the pain after that – fuck me – (gallons and gallons of water and blood shooting out of a tear in my scar for weeks afterwards). It was awful. I felt like a proper dick at the two-page birthing plan I wrote full of hippy-dippy, yoghurt-knitting, dolphin-singing malarky. I thought acupuncture would get me through the pain…”

16. “It took me over a year to even contemplate having sex again. And I’d decided that I’d only have another child if I could have an ELCS. We had money saved for house restorations which we would have spent on private care had I not been granted one on the NHS …”

17. “I knew in a flash I would never be able to go through it again as soon as it was over. I was in that much agony that I was literally convulsing and my head was repeatedly and uncontrollably hitting the side of the birthing pool, I eventually gave up trying not to scream, as it was impossible not to, it was coming out like a reflex action like when you vomit. there was a couple of points where I struggled to keep my head above the water as the violence of the pain was moving my body about uncontrollably. The midwives repeatedly refused my requests for pain relief throughout the entire labour as it was still apparently too early…..she then shot out. For days after, all up the back of my head and neck felt like it had been hit with a baseball bat! 4 years later, I am never going back.”

19. “I had PTSD following the birth of my son. Long, neglected labour and frankly abuse midwife. I went in excited to be giving birth and having a baby and came out a changed person… Fast forward 9 years later and I did do it again … I did Hypnobirthing, worked on my birth anxiety and…. daughter was born prematurely at 33 weeks by EMCS!!! Despite that though it was a much, much more positive experience and one I can live with.”

20. “I’d consider doing it again if:
– guaranteed an elcs
– wouldn’t go to a hospital signed up to the Baby Friendly Initiative
– would buy in help after the birth as it was such a struggle with no family support”

What made these births traumatic? Although a few of the 320 comments referred to unwanted interventions, most — like those I quoted above — found the agonizing pain to be particularly traumatic. In some cases women were refused epidural anesthesia; in some case the epidural didn’t work; and in some case women were forced to rely on the far less effective method of breathing nitrous oxide.

Another theme that emerges is how subsequent deliveries were far better for two main reasons; either they were less painful or they were C-sections, often elective.

I challenge anyone to read all 320 comments and conclude that most women want to give birth naturally without interventions. That’s a lie created by midwives to promote themselves.

Many of the commenters did give birth naturally and without interventions and they’ve been suffering from the mental and physical consequences ever since.