Pain. Ouch! Why do we get pain?
Pain is your bodies way of getting your attention. It is a system in place in our bodies to protect itself. It is a “red flag” or “warning sign”. It is telling you something is happening that you need to pay attention to. Sometimes it is telling you to pay attention before you cause an injury. Sometimes it is telling you to stop what you are doing, sometimes it is telling you to do something else, sometimes it is telling you to rest. Pain accelerates healing, because we will rest injuries; most of us need a reminder to rest until healed.
So why am I talking about pain as a doula and as a lactation consultant? We can experience pain in labour and birth and with breastfeeding. The experiences differ, yet can over lap in areas.
In labour we experience pain for various reasons; to tell our body to pay attention to this very important event, to tell ourselves to get somewhere safe, to tell us to rest. Our pain can diminish if we listen to it during childbirth. It can lessen with support, safe people, rest. It can really be heightened when we are scared, not supported, not in a place we are comfortable and exhausted. We cannot stop this pain by stopping the process. Labour and birth need to continue so we have to simply find ways to cope (medical and non-medical options as needed). There are lots of options available and a doula always has ideas in her head about how to get women more comfortable. Good childbirth education classes can also give a good understanding of birth, how it works and how to make a plan to minimize the pain.
With breastfeeding there really is no degree of normal pain that we need to just work through. There is trauma, injury, infections, fear, stress, etc. Again, we need to figure out a way to cope. The body is saying “something is wrong, do something else” or “rest the breast” but, of course, that is easier said than done as babies nurse every couple hours around the clock for the first few days/weeks. This sort of pain needs to be addressed. Most causes of pain in breast-feeding is position and latch, so that is the starting point. If it continues, it is worth investigating further with skilled lactation help to stop the source of the pain, make a plan to heal from what is causing the pain, stop the source of the pain and get to comfortable breastfeeding. An IBCLC is a terrific resource for resolving these sorts of ongoing concerns.