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Labour Pains








Ask the Childbirth Educator

Labour Pains

I’m pregnant with my first baby and while I am really excited, I am REALLY scared about how painful childbirth is going to be. I really like the idea of a natural birth, but I’m just not sure I will be able to manage labour without drugs. What’s your advice?

-Kate, Melbourne

Being pregnant with your first baby is exciting and scary all at the same time. Unfortunately, thanks to things like Hollywood, television, magazines and the internet, women today almost never hear positive birth stories and instead we are barraged with non-stop images of women being wheeled into hospital in a wheelchair (exactly why she can’t walk, I have never worked out!) screaming with pain and begging for the epidural all the while cursing her poor stressed-out partner who doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what’s happening.

Then we see the woman lying on her back in a hospital bed, wearing a horrible hospital gown, her legs up in stirrups, still screaming, still cursing, with the obstetrician whose face is covered by a surgical mask telling her to hold her breath and push on his count of 10. Moments later the baby is born and voila, it’s all over!

And as for all those awful reality shows about pregnancy and birth, every woman seems to have the rarest life-threatening medical condition and every baby born is a miracle of modern obstetrics.

Again – where’s the normal in all this?

Well sadly Kate, what is actually normal (i.e. natural birth) is increasingly considered to be abnormal these days. Australia has a 33% Caesarean rate now – and some private hospitals have a 50% Caesarean rate! We’ve become so conditioned to believing that labour is something so difficult and painful that we can’t possibly manage it without the assistance of powerful pain medication.

In order to give yourself the best possible chances of having a normal, natural birth make sure you do the following:

-Have a great support system in place for your labour. Apart from your partner, consider hiring a professional doula (birth assistant) to support you emotionally and physically through your labour.

-Avoid watching and reading birth stories that scare you and focus only on extreme medical emergencies. Instead, actively seek out positive and empowering natural birth stories – for example, check out Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth or Katrina Zaslavsky’s “A Modern Woman’s Guide to A Natural Empowering Birth”.

-Enrol in a prenatal education course that promotes normal, physiological birth. The course will provide you and your partner with an enormous amount of useful information that will build your confidence, empower you and help you to prepare for your baby’s arrival.

Finally, I will leave you with this great quote:

“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement, not your greatest fear.”

– Jane Weideman

Tanya Strusberg is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and teaches prenatal education to pregnant women and their partners in Melbourne.

She and her husband Doron have two beautiful children, Liev and Amalia.

To learn more visit






Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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