Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

November 11, 2012

WHOLE FAMILY: Going ‘natural’ doesn’t equal masochism

(Continued)

SO, WHEN SOMEONE calls you a “natural birth Nazi” or worse, he or she might say, “You’re just a masochist. Not me. I don’t like the pain.” It’s a strange argument, usually undergirded by one’s own insecurity, to suggest that people like me — normal, natural proponents — are masochists.

Ask my own birth attendants and they’ll tell you: Steph did not like the pain. In fact, she used some colorful terminology toward it, words we didn’t know she knew.

Here’s the BUT, though, the point: Most childbirth pain is normal, natural. Because it is so, it really is — usually — manageable. In fact, at the risk of being called a masochist, normal, natural childbirth pain is  good.

I’ve been preparing a talk for fellow nursing students, a talk I dub loosely, “Natural Childbirth.” In preparing what to say, this struck me:

Most health-care workers, nurses especially, are taught two things about pain: One, pain is pathology; and two, pain must be stopped, usually via medication.

It’s likely at least the former is true for most situations: Pain is, commonly, evidence of something wrong. Could be outright trauma, nerve troubles (“neuropathy”), some sort musculoskeletal misalignment. Even a simple deficit like malnutrition or low blood sugar can cause pain. Whichever woe causes the pain, it usually is that — a woe.

But check this out. Childbirth is not a woe, not usually. Childbirth pain is not pathological. It is supposed to be there. It’s normal, natural, yes, but not all that common in a life span of 80 years to push 7 pounds of baby through a tiny space that has to contract and stretch in great proportions.

So it hurts. Childbirth hurts. And it’s OK.

A pain assessment is considered, these days, to be a vital sign finding, as in we students nurses are taught to always ask our patients, “Are you in pain?” And if the answer is yes? We’re taught — most times — to check for what medications we might be able to administer.

“Alternative” methods to pain relief — say, dimming the lights or reducing sound or relaxation exercises — sometimes get a nod from health-care workers, but that’s usually because it’s just too soon to give another Tylenol.

Because I’m early in my nursing career, I don’t yet know yet about patients with chronic — or even acute — pain. I’ve read just a little and realize pain management is an holistic and worthwhile discipline in and of itself. To those who suffer from chronic pain: You have my sympathies — perhaps my care one day — and not my criticism of  how you handle it. I’m counting on you to educate me.

But I do know about childbirth pain, both having felt it and witnessed much of it in others, and I can tell you we would do well to leave it in a category of its own and not treat it the same way we treat trauma pain or chronic pain.

So next week I’ll go a little further and write about how to manage childbirth pain without Pharmacia. You might be surprised how simple — normal, natural — it is.

Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”

 

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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