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Pain during childbirth is a common phenomenon. It is most often associated with the contracting of the uterus. However, did you know that pain can come from all sorts of areas and for all sorts of reasons during labor and childbirth? Often these are overlooked in the process.

In my course, I teach about various ways to assess pain, where and why you may experience pain, and how to deal with the different kinds of pain. Below is a few examples that are often overlooked (these come from a student of mine for the assignment on pain):

Depression is a social or emotional pain.

  • It can also cause physical feelings of fatigue and headaches.
  • It may cause pain by causing and intensifying pain.

Fear of the unknown…..could be social pain.

  • Fear makes pain feel worse.
  • The uncertainty of the situation can definitely cause fear.

Not having enough choices during birth can cause social pain.

  • Allowing the woman to feel as though she is not in control [may cause more pain].

Emotional distress is a social or emotional pain.

  • It causes pain by upping the mothers’ anxiety, fear, and feelings of loss of control.

Anxiety about the level of pain is emotional and cognitive.

  • Feeling as though she can go non-medicated and then having a high pain level during labor could make her view herself as a failure for lack of control.
  • Anxiety can increase pain by allowing fear to creep in.

The baby getting stressed is an emotional pain.

  • It increases fear and anxiety about the baby’s well being.

Fatigue would be considered a physical pain.

  • Fatigue can increase the mothers pain by decreasing her pain threshold and possibly making the mother feel like she can’t go on any longer.

Hunger and thirst during labor would be a physical pain.

  • Not taking care of such basic needs can increase the mothers fatigue and in return increase her pain.

As you can see, there are many other factors that go into how a mother may experience or perceive pain.  In order to take care of her completely all these factors must be taken into account, assessed and incorporated into the doula’s plan of care for her client.

Follow Rachel Leavitt:

Rachel has worked as a register nurse (BSN from University of Utah) since 2004 with a work history in Labor and Delivery, NICU and Postpartum Care. She is also the founder of New Beginnings Doula Training which she organized in 2011. When she's not busy being a mother and grandmother, she can be found reading research papers related to some aspect of childbirth.

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