July 30, 2021
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Is It Going to Hurt? - Talking About Pain and Labor
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 0 Comments
This month’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators addresses the topic of the pain during labor and birth. This idea works well both virtually and in person, and I would like to credit Teri Shilling with first sharing about PAIN and this activity with me. To see all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators blog posts for free, click here.
You simply cannot teach a birth class without addressing the pain associated with labor and birth. Frankly, it is the elephant in the room, even if no one mentions it. People arrive to a childbirth class already having heard from multitudes of friends, family and even strangers, how much (or rarely - how little) giving birth hurts. If they have not given birth before, they are left wondering how bad it might be, and are they going to be able to handle it. I find that addressing this head on and providing tips to reduce pain throughout the class or class series helps normalize it and also helps families to understand that they have options, both non-pharmacological and medication, to help reduce the pain.
Four laminated sheets of paper, each one containing one of the letters, P, A, I, N, each taped to a wall in the four corners of the room
A Jamboard background divided into four quadrants, labeled, P, A, I, N.
When to do this activity
This activity is one I do after we have covered physiological birth and practiced many comfort and coping techniques. As we begin to talk about pain medication options, I intro the topic with this exercise
How long does this activity take
I allow about 10 minutes for this activity
How to do this activity
Let families know that the pain of labor is purposeful (P), anticipated (A), intermittent (I) and normal (N). In person, I invite each person in class to walk to the placard that gives them the most comfort when they think about the pain of labor.
In a virtual class, I share the link to the Jamboard with the sharing permissions set to “anyone can edit” and ask them to mark/stamp/draw in the area that most resonates with them.
After everyone has moved to a corner (in person) or marked (virtual), we have a discussion about why they made the choice they did. What resonates for them from that selection? If they are pregnant, I ask them if they would find it helpful to be reminded of this when they are in labor? Partners and pregnant people may or may not be in the same place. And that is ok. The discussions that result from this activity are rich and useful as people navigate their options for labor.
What do the families say about this activity
Everyone enjoys this activity. People like expressing their own thoughts and also hearing how others feel if they have chosen a different letter. It is especially helpful for partners to observe what the pregnant person has chosen. Families appreciate addressing the fact that labor will most likely be quite uncomfortable, but it is not necessarily a damaging pain or a sign that something is wrong.
Other ways that you could conduct this activity
As an alternative, if everyone is partnered, you can ask them to predict what their partner might choose. I also like to share the video by Penny Simkin - “Pain Versus Suffering in Labor”
Pain is a part of labor, and there are many tools that families can use to reduce pain and discomfort, including coping and comfort techniques along with a variety of pain medications. Knowing what to expect, having tools to help and understanding the risks and benefits to common pain medications in labor helps families to feel in control and prepared to handle this during their labor and birth.
TagsChildbirth education Pain Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Sharon Muza Virtual Childbirth Classes