Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Past pain free labours

Pain free labour is not a new concept. People for generations have been aware of the fact that labour contractions are not meant to cause pain.
Doctor Grantly Dick-Read was born in Britain in 1890, he studied at Cambridge University and practiced at the London Hospital. He noticed during his work that labouring women, who were not afraid of childbirth, did not require any pain relief. In his book, Childbirth Without Fear, he outlines why women feel labour contractions as painful. "Pain in an otherwise uncomplicated labour arises from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system by the emotion of fear." That is the actions of the hormone adrenalin outlined in my post: Why labour hurts 2. "A labour without disproportion or malpresentation of the baby is long because it is painful, not painful because it is long." In this statement he is referring to the cervix being held shut by adrenalin causing the contractions to become stronger and making the labour much longer as discussed in the post: Why labour hurts 3.
As you can see, during the 1940s when Dr. Dick-Read's book was first published, a pain free labour was often had at home by women who were not afraid to labour. I don't know if the good doctor recommended any relaxation techniques in order to have the best chance of experiencing a pain free labour, he does however outline hypnobirthing which must have been in its infancy during that time.
Dr. Dick-Read's book is an interesting read as a historical text book. It is however not relevant to today's women who don't want to plough through a lengthy book just to extrapolate the information you can glean just from reading my blog. Sorry Dick.

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