It’s strange though that we cling to it as an absolute certain when it comes to birth almost above anything else.
I never swerve the word, it’s very real, but I do choose to talk about how pain is subjective. Like anything...everyone will experience it differently.
I choose to talk more about how we can work with our bodies in labour and how working on our mindset beforehand can undoubtedly influence how we experience the birth and our concept of 'pain'.
I had my very own tryst with pain this weekend - not a baby...but a TOOTH. A very angry and painful tooth that just about wore off enough for me to do my courses over Saturday and Sunday, but enough to remind me of my very own terror about dentists.
After a succession of pretty awful experiences over my my nearly 38 years - almost 2 years ago I said I didn't think I'd ever be able to get in to a dental chair again.
I knew intellectually that this would be a hard thing to maintain, but the feelings were so strong - I was going to try my damnedest to stay away from one.
This weekend came along to prove me wrong.
It forced me in to a position that I knew would probably come one day, but one that I found almost unbearable to think about.
I spent the entire morning in tears.
And when I say tears...I mean SOBBING.
The physical impact that the memories were having on me were almost like it was real time. It was like I was sitting in the chair before I had even got there.
But - I knew I had to do it. The pain was too much to cope with and with a full week of work ahead, I knew that I had to brave the dentist.
I went home and went to sleep for an hour.
When I woke up, I decided that I was going to face this head on. I was going to do EVERYTHING I talk about and put my faith in the fact that this time wouldn't be like all the others.
I was going to breathe my ass off in that chair in the same way I breathed to birth my babies and that this would be my super power!
Toothache IS NOT like labour.
There is nothing natural about that level of pain, except of course it's a natural consequence of something being wrong.
In a straightforward labour - there's nothing wrong, unless you can't make sense of what your body is doing.
It's powerful, don't get me wrong, but it's a force that we can best surrender to when we can understand what our bodies are doing.
What makes a difference to our experience of labour is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what we think we know and even what we may have experienced during another birth.
But the great thing is - every single experience is different. There may be similarities, but they are all different.
The range of positive is HUGE.
But my experience told me yesterday and in a birth context that the care we receive is paramount.
When I walked in to the dental surgery yesterday, the receptionist was immediately warm and gentle. She referred to our conversation in the morning and she felt familiar.
The dental nurse came out and greeted me in a soft and empathic manner.
The dentist gave me his time and let me ramble on for a few minutes before I climbed in to the chair. He let me express my fears and listened with a gentle disposition.
He then treated me with such care and compassion and was so gentle that I was able to breathe deeply and let go of all the anticipation I had. I did this so much so that the dental nurse asked if I was meditating.
BOOM - another example of when this amazing breathing has saved the day.
I had about 40 minutes of treatment - including a wisdom tooth removed and I walked out of there feeling almost euphoric.
I had taken myself to such a relaxed place and had CONQUERED the shit out of a fear that had prevented me from going to the dentist for nearly 2 years.
Yes it cost me, but you cannot place a price tag on that level of care and compassion.
It is totally possible to change our mindset on ANYTHING.