Surrendering to the Pain of Labor

Surrender: To yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.

When we think of labor, we often think of painful contractions and/or scary stories of long unrelenting hours of pushing. Often when I am teaching Prepared Childbirth classes to first time moms, the concept of relaxing during labor is confusing to them. How would you relax with these painful contractions? How would one surrender to pain? Perhaps it’s changing the paradigm of thinking when it comes to the pain of labor. A unique chemical cocktail of hormones is released when labor starts.

Oxytocin is the first hormone released during labor and is commonly referred to as the love hormone. Oxytocin is released when we hug, kiss and have sex and is also released when we breastfeed, which helps with bonding. The second hormone released is Melatonin. Melatonin is released in calm, dim settings and is typically thought of as a way help to relax and drift off to sleep. Lastly, our body’s own endorphins kick in, which are our own built-in pain killers. All of these hormones are working synergistically to produce the contractions that will bring baby earth side.

So what does all this mean for the pain of labor? The good news is our brain is set up to feel pleasure sensations more than just pain. Most comfort techniques taught in a prepared childbirth class are centered on working with your body, which requires that you surrender. When we use mindful breathing, massage and visualizations, we are working with our body. But surrender can also look messy with making noise, crying and rhythmic movement as you work with your body. This is ultimately a journey.  One powerful concept in viewing labor pain is the understanding that you are that contraction. You are that powerful, and this is part of your journey. Surrendering can make the difference between working with the pain of a contraction or suffering through them.

Taking a Prepared Childbirth class or hiring a doula, are some ways to learn comfort techniques to help with labor. I recommend practicing these skills long before labor begins so it’s okay to start a childbirth class in your second trimester. Start with researching which classes will work for you. Taking childbirth preparation classes helps to decrease fear and increase confidence in the body’s natural processes. Call Labor of Love for doula resources or call 505.898.3030 for the childbirth class schedule.

Blog submitted by Kristin Dawe, Community Health Worker and Childbirth Educator for Lovelace Labor of Love.