Archive | October 2011

Question : Generally speaking, does giving birth have to be painful?

Cassandra Wilson from  Healing Horizon for Emotional Energy Healing asks, “Does giving birth have to be painful?”

The simple answer is, “NO, but for most women it is.”

No one actually knows why labor feels painful. There are many theories. It’s sort of like what causes period cramps and why do some women feel period cramps and others not?

The part of labor that is mostly “painful” is the contractions of the uterus which pull back on the cervix to dilate it. The uterus is the strongest muscle in the human body so when it gets going, it’s pretty powerful. The brain interprets these intense sensations as pain.

Some women either naturally don’t feel pain at all or deliberately work to mentally and physically relieve the pressure and interpret the sensations positively instead of as pain. I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to do. You can’t just say ‘mind over matter’. It’s a lot deeper than that. Some women feel so overwhelmed with positive emotions and endorphins and love that they have an orgasmic birth.

The majority of women however, do feel pain, but let me separate the “good” pain from the “bad” pain. If you think of the natural process of birth ie. animals, tribal people, people who give birth in their home surroundings, the pain is never more than they can handle. A bit of pain can be useful. “Pain with a purpose.”

A bit of pain sends a signal to the brain to produce corticosteroids, which is the hormone that stimulates the baby’s lungs to produce surfactant. Surfactant coats the lungs so that the baby can breathe air when it’s born. Babies born by scheduled cesarean without labor tend to have a slightly higher risk of respiratory problems because they don’t have enough surfactants. Also, a bit of pain can be useful  in evolution for letting the mom know something big is happening so she needs to move to a safe place.

The other kind of pain is what I call “bad” pain. It is the kind of pain that is useful in letting us know that something is wrong, you need to do something about it. Think about when you have gotten a massage. The massage therapist presses on a sore point to relieve the pressure. It feels a bit painful, but it feels like a good pain. Then maybe she presses with her nails, or presses on a new injury. That feels like a something-is-wrong pain. You tell her to stop. Or like if you put your hand on a stove. The pain tells you to move. If you didn’t feel the pain, you wouldn’t know to move.

Labor is like that. There’s the normal intense sensation, and then there’s the something-is-wrong pain. The trouble is, as a culture, we have been programmed to believe that labor is supposed to be the most painful thing ever, so we don’t know what to do with that overwhelming intense pain. We just think, get an epidural.

There are a few factors which produce that kind of pain :

1. Being in a not so great position. Lying on your back is probably the most painful position to be in. It’s also the least optimal for the baby’s descent and rotation. In all tribal cultures studied, not a single woman labored on he back. The problem is, that’s the position we always see women giving birth in on TV. And hospitals tend to ask women to labor or birth lying back because the fetal heart monitor works best that way, and it is convenient for the hospital staff. If a woman is listening to the pain as  information from her body, she would lie down, say, “oh that’s too painful,” then change to a different position. Some other more comfortable positions might be sitting, kneeling, standing or even lying on the side.

2. Another factor is having a labor that is induced or augmented with artificial oxytocin or prostaglandins. These can make contractions more intense than natural labor, and the uterus may not relax as much in between contractions. Other kinds of interventions can also restrict mom’s movement, disturb her from fully relaxing in between contractions and being able to go inside herself, breathe and focus while she is having contractions. These can cause a greater perception of pain.

3. Another huge factor is what is called the fear-pain cycle. When mothers feel safe, and supported, they’re bodies produce oxytocin effectively and when labor gets going, they produce endorphins. But when moms feel anxious, disturbed, unsafe, stressed or fearful, they produce adrenalins, which inhibit oxytocin, endorphins, and make the sensation of pain feel much more intense. This is telling the body that something is wrong. Mom doesn’t feel safe. This is when labor feels like unbearable pain. Knowing this, Mom and the people supporting her can help reduce her anxiety and help her feel safe and supported.

A lot of research has been done on having a Doula (professional, non-medical labor support) in childbirth. They found that doulas help reduce the need for epidurals, cesareans and instrumental deliveries by about half. The reason for this is that doulas are trained, and focused on reducing moms fear and stress as it comes up, and helping her feel safe, supported and confident in her own abilities. This doesn`t just make for a more pleasant experience. Moms`emotions in labor affect the hormones she produces, which affect the amount of pain she feels as well as whether labor will be smooth or complicated.

I teach a whole in-depth class on how to have less pain in labor, or even no pain, so It can`t be summarized effectively in a post. Let me know if you want to find out about pain-free birth. 604 809 3288.



Celebrities and their Births

I’m not one for jumping on the celebrity gossip bandwagon, but since many people seem to be concerned about celebrities and their pregnancies, babies, and not to mention, their figures after having a baby, I think it is interesting to find out what choices they are making for their Births. 

Jessica Alba just had her baby girl. She used hypnobirthing for her birth. Hypnobirthing is a method using visualization, or light hypnosis during labor to relax deeply and release pain and fear so people can get through it more easily. Read how Jessica Alba describes her birth.

Singer, Erykah Badu chose to have homebirths for all three of her children, attended by a midwife and a doula. For her last birth, her two older children watched their baby sister being born.  Read how Erykah Badu describes her birth. People are sometimes surprised about older siblings being present at birth. They imagine a lot of screaming, pain and trauma. They imagine the kids being freaked out. But in reality, planned homebirths are usually a quiet event. If mom is yelling or making noise, it’s not in a frightening way. Kids tend to do very well watching the birth of their sibling and feel much more connected to the baby and the miracle of life afterwards.

There`s a whole list of celebrities who chose natural birth, waterbirth or homebirth :

Ricki Lake, Talk show host – Had such an amazing, life-changing experience with her home water birth that she went on to make a movie about childbirth called The Business of Being Born.

Pamela Anderson, Actress – Had two home water births

Charlotte Church, SInger – Also had a home water birth

Cindy Crawford, Model – Two homebirths

Ani DiFranco, Singer – Homebirth

Demi Moore, Actress – Two homebirths

Alanis Morissette, Singer – Homebirth

You can read what they and other celebrities said about their births. Totally throws the “Too Posh To Push” theory out the window!

Because homebirth, waterbirth and various natural birth methods are relatively unknown in mainstream consciousness, it’s great when celebrities have non-mainstream births. It lets people know that every birth doesn’t have to be treated like a medical emergency. Yes, there are some situations where there are real problems and benefit from medical help, but in actual fact, it is rare if labor is left alone to follow it’s normal course. Complications arise so frequently in most births today BECAUSE of medical interventions. A little intervention here, a little procedure there, and the whole natural process of birth gets thrown out of whack, then people end up with real problems.

The most devastating thing that comes to my mind when I think about celebrities and their births is that of Anna Nicole Smith. We all know what happened to her a few days after she had her baby. But I was shocked with her interview before her death when she described the reason for her cesarean. She said doctors told her that from the ultrasound, her baby was going to be too big to birth. Now I don’t know if that is what they really said, or if that was how she understood it, but the fact is her baby was just over 6 pounds. 6 pounds is not a big baby for any mom, certainly not for a mom who`s 6 feet tall.

I am flabbergasted that no one picked up on these discrepancies. Are people so afraid of birth that they will believe that a 6 pound baby is too big to birth? Of course the doctors didn`t actually know how big the baby was going to be before it was born. What people don`t realize is that no one can tell accurately from an ultrasound exactly how big a baby is. The accuracy is give or take 2 pounds. That means if a doctor predicts from an ultrasound that a baby is about 9 pounds, it could be anywhere from 7 to 11 pounds. That`s a huge difference. But even if a baby is large, that doesn`t automatically mean that it`s going to get stuck.

A pregnant woman`s body produces the hormone relaxin. Relaxin relaxes the joints. Most importantly, it relaxes the joints of the pelvis. The pelvis is not rigid in labor, but can expand up to 33%. Think about it. The two bones at the side and the sacrum and coccyx at the back can move slightly to make the pelvic opening larger to let a large baby pass through. That`s why squatting and other pelvic opening positions are effective at letting babies out easily. If a mom is sitting or lying on her back, the pelvic bones don`t have much room to move. This is just fine most of the time because most babies have enough space to get through. But if baby has a large head, or mom has a small pelvis, open positions become more important.

Although people tend to be shocked when they hear of 9, 10, 11 or 12 pound babies, it doesn`t always mean they are to big to birth vaginally. There have been a lot of moms who were told their pelvis was too small to birth a baby larger than 8 or 9 pounds, but then went on to have subsequent vaginal births for even larger babies than the ones that were `stuck`. If an ultrasound looks like you may have a `big baby`, ask yourself, “So what?” Don`t get sucked into the fear and panic. Understand that ultrasounds are not totally accurate. Learn the skills to help you get into a good position for pushing and to help you have an easier time in labor.

I don`t want to portray the image that natural birth or homebirth is always better, it`s not. There is no such thing as better. One of the most important things that makes the difference in whether moms feel positively about their birth or not is how they were treated. When moms ask for information and are supported in making informed choices, they feel good about their births. Sometimes interventions are useful, and moms can feel good about using them when they want or need them. But when women are not clear about whether they really need an intervention or feel pressured into it, they feel disempowered. Negative birth experiences can be one factor causing Post-Partum Depression, Post Partum Anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

No one knows what caused Anna Nicole Smiths death. I don`t know if anyone looked into whether she had post-partum depression or if she developed a post operative infection. But I do know that women who feel disappointed about their birth experience can feel a lot of sadness, even though they are happy about and love their babies very much. If you or anyone you know is disappointed about their experience, or has post-partum depression, you can contact me at 604 809 3288 or

Have a good day!



© copyright 2011 Kaurina Danu The Prenatal Journey


Prenatal Classes in Langley now open for registration

The Prenatal Classes are all set and ready for expecting parents in the Langley, Surrey area. Evening classes for first-time parents will begin Tuesday October 25th 2011 in Willoughby, Langley.

Classes promise to be pretty exciting and extremely useful for parents preparing for birth and new parenthood who want to understand how to have a positive experience. A lot of people have told me they’re not sure if they should take prenatal classes because they’re not sure if they will really be useful. The media has done a good job of portraying prenatal classes as a place where round crabby women learn to breathe while saying, “hoo-hoo hee-hee.” I assure you there’s a lot more to preparing for birth and parenthood than hoo-hoo heeing. Actually hooing and heeing is not even in our syllabus.

Our classes at The Prenatal Journey are not simply a biology class either. Memorizing a bunch of facts is NOT going to help you get through labor. In fact, that will most likely stress parents-to-be out more and undermine their confidence in their own abilities.Our classes are hands-on, interactive and totally enlightening. We have never had any clients say they didn’t learn so much that was actually useful. Clients always feel that all their questions are answered, and their fears transformed into confidence.

“You didn’t just teach us what to EXPECT when expecting. You taught us what to DO!”

– Jenny and Tom, Surrey, BC.Comparing their experience in the Refresher Class for second pregnancy to previous experience in other prenatal class with first pregnancy.

You can go to Prenatal Classes for info about classes and prenatal course content.

Now is the perfect time to register for classes. Because this is the first time Kaurina Danu and Jamie Taylor are collaborating, we’re offering our Introductory price of $165 for First-time Parent evening and weekend classes, and $100 for Refresher classes. This price won’t last long. Most expecting couples attend classes in their last trimester, but even if you’re in your first or second trimester, you can place a deposit now for future classes to get the introductory price.

I’ve also had a lot of people, since learning about the classes, find out about and register for Doula Services. They can’t believe how much value they’re getting for such an affordable price. It’s been so rewarding being there for people at such an important moment in their lives, making the whole experience easier and so full of love, instead of stress.

If you have any questions feel free to call 604 809 3288 or 778 908 7636. If you have any friends who are expecting, let them know about us so they can have an easier time too!


Have a wonderful day!