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Friday, October 21, 2011

Pain of Childbirth Vs. Hunting

Over the years Patrick and I have had good discussions about the pain of childbirth vs. elk hunting. I think the conversations began when he would talk about how hard a hunt was, and I would say, "well, its nothing compared to childbirth". ( I gave birth 2X without any pain medications). Patrick would get defensive about elk or goat hunting and how physically tough it is. Just recently, we finally met half way on this topic. It happened when I told him I didn't think I had the brute strength to ever do an elk hunt. And he said he wasn't sure he could go through childbirth.

There are several similarities between the two that we came up with in our most recent discussions....

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHILDBIRTH AND HARD CORE HUNT WHERE YOU HAVE TO PACK OUT LARGE AMOUNTS OF MEAT (such as elk or sheep or goat...this is intense hunting with carrying 3/4 of bodyweight on your back for over miles and thousands of feet in elevation/descent)

-You can't focus on the future, or what is to come, or you will feel beaten down. Patrick says that during a hunt when he is humping 100+ pounds of meat over several mountains, he can't think about the miles that lie ahead. He has to just think about each step he is taking forward. With childbirth, you have to focus on the now as well-thinking about relaxing during the contractions and taking it one contraction at a time.
-Hunting and Natural Childbirth are both can be very hard, painful experiences (but not always) and mother nature helps us forget the pain of them so we will do it again. This will help ensure that hunters keep hunting and babies continue to be born...It is long-term grinding pain, with no end in sight.
-There is a remote possibility of death with both.
-You need support from other people to help encourage you forward. A woman supported by other people (preferably including other women) has better success rate than if she is by herself. A hunter with other people helps it not seem as painful. Misery loves company.
-Both have chance for physical harm to the participant. For hunting, this would include broken teeth, torn muscles, hurt back, etc. For women, there is also a chance of physical harm and possible long term pain. (I recently learned that women who give birth vaginally have 10% chronic pain and after cesarean 18% have chronic pain...which is pain lasting for 6+ months)
-There are no time outs. With hunting, stopping and getting up makes it more difficult because muscles start tightening. You only stop if you physically are unable to move forward. With childbirth, the contractions keep coming...there's no stopping the process. Women say, "I want this to end" but theres no "END NOW" button you can press. You have to endure.


-In childbirth, the rewards are greater.
-In childbirth the real prize comes at the end. With hunting, after the animal is shot, you have the adrenaline and euphoria helping you get through the pain. You are already successful because you have meat on your back.
-Childbirth is part of a womans sexuality~all the same hormonal tracks (love hormone oxytocin) are in play during an unmedicated childbirth. A woman is in the PRIMAL part of her brain, as opposed to the thinking part of your brain ('new' part, or neocortex). Patrick wasn't totally sure if a man is ever in the Primal part of his brain during hunting....we'll have to research that one.
-In hunting, every man in the group is in pain, whereas in childbirth, the "group" supporting the woman isn't in pain.
-Medications for pain are available during childbirth; this is not an option during hunting. You wouldn't be able to walk or find the trail. (and I would argue that the medications during labor are not without potential negative side effects to mom and/or baby)
-With childbirth, the real art in getting through it is relaxing and releasing; with hunting it is more about physical strength and physical endurance. In labor, the more relaxed mom is, the more efficient her body is in giving birth. If a mom is stressed, tensed or concerned, it can slow down her labor. Some women equate labor with an athletic event, which is true in terms of needing endurance and staying power. But the difference is that the more effectively a woman gives into the contractions and lets them do the job, the more efficient her body will be. Also, if a mom has high levels of adrenaline during labor, that can slow labor down, as her body is in react/protect mode, instead of release/relax mode. (Adrenaline usually kicks into action during labor when it is time for the mom to push the baby out) Whereas during hunting, adrenaline is a useful hormone all through the day.

I also want to emphasize that not every childbirth involves pain. Some women don't use the term "pain" to describe the sensation of contractions. They use terms such as "pressure" or "cramps". The sensations and descriptions of these sensations of childbirth are a very subjective thing.


Me in labor with Stuey...supported by girlfriends!! In the one I"m standing up in, I gave birth to Stuey about 15 minutes later! I was not a happy camper at that point in time....
In the goat packing photos, Patrick was carrying 5/6 of his body weight.

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