Pain Scale Question

When in labor you will probably be asked this question: On a scalre of 1 to 10, with  10 being the worse pain you have ever felt and 1 being no pain, where are you on your pain scale?

This scale was determined to be used by hospitals for pain control and management. If you had surgery and had postoperative pain this is useful. It is not useful when someone is having labor pain to focus on levels that are not anything she has ever felt before.

PAIN : purposeful, anticipated, intermittent and normal

Purposeful pain alerts us to action. In labor early pain tells us to alert support, go to where you are going to be birthing, hydrate, call the midwife, etc.

Anticipated pain readies us for being prepared by taking classes, learning pain coping skills, understanding our options. To go into labor not anticipating pain means you are going to be shocked when your body goes into labor. Anticipate it- welcome it- as it brings your baby closer to being in your arms. The fear- tension- pain cycle that Dr. Grantley Dick-Read wrote about tells us that if we fear it- we tense more and the pain is more difficult.  So know it may be painful- not so painful you can’t do it- just painful- so prepare!

Intermittent pain means it is not ongoing- in fact if you have contractions 3 minutes apart- that is twenty an hour- and if the peak is the part that is the most difficult, you are looking at less than 7 minutes of difficult pain per hour. It is not like having constant pain- it is intermittent. So, try to go with the intermittent time between contractions- use it to rest- to recoop. Then ride the wave during those seven minutes and think about surrendering to it, not fighting it.

Normal pain means what you will be feeling is normal. 300,000 women will birth with you on the day you give birth.  Birth is not so painful that we should not want to do it again. Our species relies on it. Birth in normal.

So, keep the pain scale for the pain that is not purposeful, not anticipated to have to be present, not intermittent and not normal. And keep this skill out of the labor room!

If you are asked about this pain measurement, know that you can tell the staff you decline being asked further.