5 Ways Labour Pain is Different than Broken-Bone Pain

Some people compare labour pain to that of breaking bones. Besides scaring pregnant people, that’s not an accurate comparison. On the other hand, some women share stories of pain-free birth. Here are 5 ways the sensations felt in labour are different than “broken-bone pain”.

  1. Broken-bone pain is unrelenting and doesn’t go away without strong pain meds; labour pain comes and goes in a rhythmical manner. In fact, throughout labour, much more time is spent in the rest between contractions. Even in advanced labour, most contractions last between 60-75 seconds but can sometimes get to 90 seconds. Then there’s a rest before the next once. In active labour that rest will generally be between 1-3 minutes. In earlier labour that rest will be up to 10 minutes. There is no rest with broken-bone pain. It’s constant.
  2. Broken-bone pain is all encompassing, resulting in the release of stress hormones and injury responses in our body. Labour pain is accompanied by powerful pain-killing hormones such as endorphins. The female body is equipped for labour with strong, naturally occurring hormones that are released as labour progresses. The effect of these hormones has been compared to morphine by physiologists. (However those hormones are not as concentrated and isolated like morphine. Still, that’s a powerful comparison!) Stress makes pain worse.
  3. Broken bones are a terrible injury; labour is a normal human process.
  4. Broken bones are due to an accident; labour is a known and sometimes planned event. Therefore we can prepare for the intensity of labour. There are many helpful tools and strategies for comfort measures that can be done by the labouring person or their birth companions. We teach many of these in our How to Ease Labour Pain Class.
  5. Doulas! Birth doulas can make a significant difference in how labour is experienced and felt. There’s ample research showing the benefits of doula support through birth, including shorter labours, half the rate of Caesareans, significantly fewer requests for epidurals. To my knowledge, there’s no such thing as “broken-bone doulas”. Everyone around someone with broken bones is providing medical care – good thing too. Ideally, labouring people will have someone knowledgeable with them whose only job is to provide comfort and support.
  6. Broken bone pain is measured in weeks and months; labour is measured in hours.

* It’s interesting to note that I’ve only heard men make this comparison. Many pregnant women fear this will be the case but I’ve never heard anyone who’s gone through labour and had a past experience of broken bones say they were the same thing. I’m one of them. A couple of years before being pregnant, I broke my pelvis. There is absolutely no comparison between the two events.

Infant Colic – What Can You Do?

Colic can make the new parenting journey grueling!  What can parents and care-providers do?

Babies are said to have colic if they cry for more than 3 hours daily on a regular basis. The cry is often high-pitched and relentless, accompanied by a red face and rigid body. It often happens later in the day or evening. Nothing seems to soothe the baby. Research shows 10-20% of babies experience colic. It’s heart-wrenching and exhausting for care-providers. 

There are theories about what causes colic but no certain answers. Colic resolves in most infants by 3-4 months, which is the entire “4th trimester”, when we expect babies to sleep a lot and when new families are typically bonding and getting to know each other.

The first thing to consider is your baby’s health. Is your baby gaining weight and soiling diapers as expected? Check out the handy Best Start Chart for signs that feeding is going well. Watch for signs of illness that require medical attention, such as lethargy (limp baby), fever, diarrhea, forceful vomiting.   

Is there a chance your baby is overstimulated? Some babies get overwhelmed by a seemingly low level of sounds, sights, and attention. Others can’t get enough. 

If your baby is fed, dry, healthy and the usual soothing techniques (rocking, walking, warmth, fresh air, holding, breastfeeding, singing etc) don’t help, then suspect colic. Here are some suggestions that can help an otherwise healthy baby who has colic. 

  • Infant Chiropractic care, from a Chiropractor who has specialized training and experience. Over 90% of colicky babies show improvement! It’s gentle and nothing like adult adjustments. I’ve heard countless stories from clients who’ve seen amazing results after only one or two treatments from their local baby-chiro.
  • Consult with a Lactation Consultant. Suggestions to help with latch and positioning can make a big difference, especially if the colic is related to swallowing gas while feeding. LCs spot all kinds of little or big things that can be easily corrected. 
  • Infant massage. There are classes and videos demonstrating how to do infant massage for colic. This can help move gas along, colic or not.  
  • Homeopathic remedies such as Cocyntal. I used to run the Vitamin & Supplement department of a busy health store and this was one product I could never run out of for fear of the pleas from desperate new parents. Many of our customers swore by this remedy. 
  • Fennel tea is a natural remedy for digestive issues such as gas, cramps, flatulence. It helps with colic too. Ready-to-use fennel tea is sold commercially; just add boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes like any other tea. It can also be made by boiling fennel seeds (5ml seeds per 250ml water; 1 tsp per cup) for 10-minutes in a covered pot. The breastfeeding parent can drink 3 cups daily. For babies being formula fed, cooled fennel tea can be given to the baby orally with a dropper, 3-5ml (½ – 1 tsp) three times daily.
  • Break the stress cycle, if there is one. Never punish or shake a baby who won’t stop crying. Take 10. While it might go against your instincts, it’s better to put your baby down in a safe place and step away for 5-10 minutes to breathe slowly and deeply and regroup. Colic is one of the hardest parenting issues! 

I worked with one family who tried everything to no avail. Both parents were loving and kind but exhausted, distressed, anxious and at the end of their rope. Finally, in desperation, they asked a relative to come and stay for 2 nights so they could go sleep at a hotel. They figured they could go home to care for their screaming infant again once they’d restored some energy. When they went back home the colic was over. Done. Never came back. Coincidence or an environment of stress responses cleared up? We’ll never know but they sure were relieved. This is an extreme example but sometimes we have to ask for help and try something we’ve never done.

Angie The Doula – New Parent and Baby Essentials

What are the most important items for new parents and their newborns? Everyone has different opinions about this. Stores and ads would have us buy all kinds of things. What do you really need? Think about what you have to do with your baby. For example, a travelling family will have different needs than a family at home.

This New Parent and Baby Essentials list is from my experience along with comments from families with whom I’ve worked.  It’s biased toward being kind to the environment and keeping life simple.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that really all you need (other than love, food, shelter) is a warm safe place for your baby to sleep when they’re not in your arms, diapers (unless you’re doing EC) and a system for cleaning your baby, and a safe and comfortable way to transport them.  Note that babies will go from laying stationary to rolling over in the blink of an eye.  Save your babe from a fall and potential injury by never leaving them unattended on a flat surface such as a bed or table, unless they’re surrounded by little rails or something that will both prevent rolling and suffocation.

New Parent and Baby Essentials

Essentials:

  • For maternal postpartum recovery and wellness:
    • Bottom spray (postpartum perineum-saver!!)
    • Adult diapers for the first week – not pretty but awesome way to prevent postpartum leaks
    • See Breastfeeding section below
  • Something to wear or a way to hold the baby – sling, wrap, carrier or baby pack for newborn i.e. supports head
    • May need a couple of methods to accommodate different adults – sizes, abilities, preferences – and babies
  • For baby:
    • See Diaper section below
    • Car seat
    • Baby blanket or cover for car seat
    • Receiving blankets – 20
    • Mini-wash cloths can be used as wipes – 40-50 if you’re not using disposable wipes
    • Baby blanket for home
    • Digital thermometer
    • Q-tips, in case of care of umbilical cord
    • Baby nail clippers 
    • Saline-squirter or nose-sucker
    • Baby clothes – many people get much more than they need from family & friends
      • A few outfits including sleepers and undershirts
      • Socks & mitts
      • Outdoor clothing
      • For winter babes, outer clothing such as a fleece bunting-bag or something that covers hands and feet as part of the outfit.  Also a good hat that stays on.
      • For summer babes, a sun-hat, and thin clothing to cover up skin but not overheat
    • Baby ear-muffs (hearing protection), e.g. for music festivals, movie theatres
New Parent and Baby Essentials
  • For breastfeeding/chestfeeding:
    • Nipple cream or pharmaceutical grade lanolin (e.g. Lansinoh)
    • Nursing bras
    • Nursing pads (pref cotton, non-disposable)
    • For consideration: a little manual pump or milk collector device such as the Haakaa
    • Book: Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – quick answers for breastfeeding issues; easy to read and short fix-it suggestions
  • Diapering.  Set up a safe place and have supplies ready to use.
    • Change table with little rails, change pad (with sides) on a table or dresser, or towel on the floor
    • Diapers – what kind will you use?  Cloth or disposable (biodegradable, organic, or regular)
    • Wipes – washcloths / reusable, or disposable
    • If using cloth, you’ll need a storing, soaking and washing method.  Feel free to ask me.
  • Think about sleeping options:

CPS recommends baby sleeps in the same room as parents , ideally for the entire first year, but for a minimum of 6 months.

  • Baby blanket or quilt; no pillows needed
  • Some kind of washable pad for under baby – can be anything from a proper baby-pad to a folded sheet.  This goes under the baby-sheet to avoid scrunching and twisted bedding.
  • Family bed – a futon on floor, extra-wide bed against the wall, or 3 sided crib that attaches or goes against parents’ bed
  • Family room – a safe place for baby to sleep in your room but not necessarily attached to bed
  • Baby room – high quality crib with slats close enough so a pop-can won’t fit through 
  • In a pinch – box, drawer or laundry basket
New Parent and Baby Essentials

Other things that make life easier (and are worth every cent!)…

  • Really great nursing pillow 
  • Smart Medicine for Healthier Kids book has both allopathic and holistic advice on childcare from newborn to teens
  • Calms book – a short read with great tips for learning to communicate with your new baby
  • Medicine dropper – has many uses other than medicine
  • Stroller, or Burley/Chariot 
  • High quality and “clean” baby care soap and laundry soap

Nice to have but not essential

  • Swing or Rocker
  • Baby-bath or Tummy Tub but another option is to just have a bath with your babe to minimize buying stuff.
  • Baby monitor, depending on your lifestyle and home layout.
  • Breast pump and glass bottles in case of emergency or depending on lifestyle.
  • Playpen  

I teach a variety of Child Birth Education classes and prenatal workshops online for people all over.  I have been a birth doula since 2002, and have helped over 300 clients with their births and over 1000 through prenatal classes. Learn more about my birth doula services, and contact me with any questions you may have.

Hospital Birth Room Set-up 101

One of the important tasks I do for my clients is to set up their hospital birth room for comfort, safety and efficiency.  Here’s a list of what I take care of I go into a birth room.  In my local hospital the birth rooms all have a small closet, mini-fridge, blanket-warmer, some empty shelves and an adjoining private washroom with a tub. If you’re DIYing then find out ahead of time what your local birth rooms are like and modify as needed.