Dear Yo Mama,
I've been doing perineal massage, and I've been keeping it pretty light so far. Doing it brings up some notable sensations that give me a small glimpse into the intensity of the final push (oh goodness). Here's a question: why don't we use a perineal massage oil with a natural numbing property during birth? I imagine that area is one of the most painful during delivery, so I was wondering if a topical anesthetic would help us especially during the burning of the crowning moment. Is that something that you've ever done or thought about?
Preparing For Labor
Dear Preparing for Labor,
Great inquiry! Yes, this is referred to as the "ring of fire" during pushing (when baby's head is severly stretching the perineal area). My experience is that some mamas seem to be acutely aware of it and simply need reassurance that it is normal, to be expected, perfect, in fact, and is not going to last very long (usually one contraction - and then baby's head is born). Other mamas seem not to be aware of it or focus on it. One thought about this is that the hormone surges through the body (the oxytocin that is flooding our system) allows us to endure increased sensation (both of the surges/contractions AND when the ring of fire does eventually present itself, albeit briefly). I've been with mamas who have had epidurals in place and had a more difficult time enduring this fleeting sensation than other mamas whose bodies are receiving the flood of oxytocin at increasingly intense levels throughout their labors.
The next thought I have is that many of us are so focused on the active nature of the pushing stage of labor, in contract to the passivity of simply allowing surges to move through us, that the focused effort is pregnant (no pun intended) with meaning and sometimes detracts from the focus on the "ring of fire."
Finally, I'll share that my "ring of fire" was (from my altered labor perspectice at least) than almost any labor I've ever been to as my first babe was a bit stuck and... voila! I had an orgasmic birth. No kidding. So maybe some of us will encourage slow birthing of the head - and a nice stretch? (We also know that this can prevent excessive tearing - another perk).
All in all, I'd say that most of us would describe active labor (pre-pushing) as the most intense - and painful - part of labor. The pushing for many of us is a relief - even if it takes some time to get the hang of...and even if our perineum is stretched beyond our wildest imaginations.
Keep doing the massage! Do you have Wishgarden Herb's Peri-Massage oil? Many believe it greatly reduces tearing...it's helpful for use during pushing too. Have your doula have it read/available and hand it off to the practictioner assisting you during pushing. This is an easy one to forget to pull out amidst leg holding, photographing, etc. Hope this helps and answers your question.
Best to you and your pregnancy. Let us know how it goes!