Sorry Ma, gotta say it.... 'don't ever have children!!!' were her exact words! I know I'm not the only one. Mothers and grandmas who pass down grisly tales of birth. Oooh... Not to mention every random stranger who accosts you in the supermarket to share their 'birth' (ahem...horror) story. And that's not even counting friends who for some reason need to share.
Is it surprising we start off our pregnant journey as gibbering wrecks who, incidentally, have to pretend not to be or we're not 'real mother material'? There's a lot of contradictions around motherhood so if this is your first, get used to internalised double standards!
Based on my mother's prognosis I was feckin terrified of the terrible pain to come. I read every book, tried every new age meditation technique and interestingly planned a home birth based on it appearing to be less awful than other options. Then I started to actually get into planning for the birth. And because I've always been a rebel where my Ma is concerned I decided to try and go without pain relief (most of my decisions in life have been based completely arbitrarily on doing the opposite of what my mum told me).
I had an amazing birth and did a hypnobirthing course with my midwives. BUT... The course talked about surges and not to mention the P**N word. All I can say is that when I reached transition I was internally shouting you F***ING B*****DS!!! You lied! This does actually hurt!
However, I don't remember the pain. I know I'd do it again tomorrow. It was amazing, it was exciting, it utterly took me to a place I could never reach again without the use of illegal substances. And I didn't use pain relief - right back at you Ma! (who couldn't have been prouder btw)
Remember that there is a difference between that kind of pain, and the suffering and distress that my own mother experienced. Pain in birth is a combination of intense pushing, pulling, throbbing and pressing sensations (OK, sometimes burning) that is the experience of your baby's body moving its way out of yours. And you forget it pretty quickly and it doesn't matter so much when you're holding your baby.
Distress and suffering arise from a loss of control, anxiety, hopelessness and a lack of support. AND HAVE NO PLACE IN BIRTH!
Hypnobirthing can help you towards the kind of birth you want, and pain or the use pain relief doesn't mean it's not working. It'll help you through the tough times and keep you warm and loved in your birth bubble. How do you look back on your birth? Warmth and pride? That's what to aim for, and don't be frightened of the P word!