Anyone Surprised?

Ante-natal classes are failing to prepare women for the painful reality of childbirth, a study claims today.

New mothers are often shocked at the "intensity" of the agony they experience in labour, researchers from Newcastle University found.

"Unrealistic" expectations also led many to believe that they wouldn\’t need pain relief during childbirth.

We\’ve had decades of hippie dippy propaganda about "natural childbirth", about how it is the most rewarding off experiences, about how the use of pain relief somehow detracts from the experience.

In truth, it might be some of those things, but it\’s also damned painful. The blame clearly lies with those running the classes, their being a tad unrealistic in what they tell people.



8 thoughts on “Anyone Surprised?”

  1. The clue is in this sentence:

    “The study also found that those who overestimated the pain of birth had a worse experience than those who were optimistic.”

  2. We went to some NHS ante-natal classes recently. Pretty useless for the most part, and definitely not worth paying for if you had to pay for them yourself.

    It wasn’t so much that they gave you unrealistic expectations — as Eva points out, it’s actually better not to be all full of fear about it — but that the whole thing was so vague.

    I heard from a friend who went to some that NCT (National Childcare Trust) classes really push the natural, anti-drug line. Apparently they claim that evidence shows that you’re more likely to have problems if you have epidurals or pethidine/diamorphine, but both her and my wife have been looking at the literature for this, and it isn’t clear whether this is just because people who have difficult births are more likely to ask for these things.

  3. So maybe the answer is to have reasonable expectations of pain, which most women do have as they hear accounts from others and decide on how to proceed on the basis of how the birth is going. If it is prolonged and painful, doctors and midwives will usually give assistance in whatever form is needed. It is also important not to listen to bullsh***ers on both sides of the divide – not the natural birth fanatics, nor the I-am-so-anti-PC fanatics.

    I wonder who funded that report.

  4. Sellotape: It might be worth looking at a book called ‘Taking Care of Your Child’. It has a good section on birth/medication, as well as a useful flow chart system for diagnosing sundry problems later once the sprog has arrived sans instruction book. 😉

  5. My wife found childbirth much less disagreeable than pregnancy. My old Ma also found childbirth fairly straightforward, and she was a wee woman who once produced a hulking pair of twins. Could it be that experience is varied?

  6. By coincidence I was on an ante-natal ward (being treated for a condition of early pregnancy) when I read this. After spending two days listening to women in early labour without access to pain relief I am under absolutely no illusion that labour is a great deal more painful than advertised by many of the midwives I have met.

    As for childbirth being less disagreeable than pregnancy, I do have a good friend who says that too, but then she spent the first 20 weeks of her pregnancy throwing up several times a day. These things are comparative.

  7. As a practitioner it is always useful to look at birth phsiology to see what will work best. The physiology is the chemical workings of the body which must be respected as they govern the labour. Fear will unfortunately shut down the labour and lead to problems. Think of an animal in labour and a predator arrives the labour would stop. Maybe I should write an article/blog on this to explain the exact nature of what happens chemically so women can help themselves?

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