One of the most incredible experiences I’ve had is going through labor and delivery of my three children. I remember the intense pain I felt through my pelvis as if I was being ripped apart at the sacrum, similar to the picture of the Levi -brand jeans being torn apart from the right and left side by horses. It felt as if my iliac bones were being ripped out of my body. It would be similar pain to that of being sawed in half at the waist. I couldn’t catch my breath, there was no position that removed the pain, and there was no break between contractions. I remember crying and wondering how I was going to make it through hours of this debilitating pain.
Eventually I did get an epidural. However, it didn’t quite work that well. My right side continued to have the excruciating perpetual pain around my spine and hips, so they upped the epidural so much that I couldn’t feel anything. Not one thing. When it came to pushing the nurses had to tell me when to push. I had no idea if I was having a contraction, how hard the contraction was, and I didn’t have a clue as to what to do. I just pushed as hard as I could, hoping it was enough to end the misery.
I know this is gross, but you know that feeling you get when you are going to go number-2? That feeling tells you what to do, when to do it, and how hard you need to work to get it done? It’s a feeling of impending need, a feeling of pressure, or a sense of prioritization- otherwise you’re going to shit your pants. During labor and delivery, your body gives you similar feedback, but with pain that is magnified by five-billion three hundred-thousand seven-hundred and ten, or so. Because I chose to receive an epidural with my first two children, I was never exposed to that feedback and didn’t understand the capacity of the human body to communicate its needs- until the delivery of my third child.
Come to find out later that the pain I experienced with my first two children is called “back-labor”. My third labor and delivery was a very different experience, however. There was no back pain, there were normal breaks between contractions, and I could breath. As a contraction would rise I could mentally prepared to relax through the pain. The pain was entirely in my stomach and would build up like a wave that lasted a few minutes. In order to get through the wave of pain, I imagined I was floating on my back like a limp peace of seaweed. The moments I tensed up, the pain was much worse. I quickly learned to submit to the fact that there was no getting out of the delivery and I would have to allow the body to do the work it needed to safely deliver my baby. I willingly stepped aside and went through about 6 hours of this deep relaxed state, allowing my body do what it needed to prepare for delivery.
I regret that I agreed to get an epidural because the pain was manageable (compared to back-labor) with meditation. But, I am deeply grateful to the nurses because they knew when to turn the epidural down and I ended up have 100% of my feeling back an hour before delivery. Those nurses gave me the opportunity to understand how incredible the human body is. I could feel everything, and the most amazing feedback my body was giving me was the sensation to push. It came in three-dimensions: how hard, how long, where the pressure was, and when to push. It was a life altering experience for me. The sensations were so loud and clear that, this time, I was yelling at the nurses and telling them when and what was going on.
My husband and I are done having children, but I would love to go through that experience again. There have been times that I recreate that pain in my mind and I put myself in that meditative state, but it’s not the same. Without the pain or not having a choice in the matter, I’ve found it difficult to duplicate the level of consciousness required to separate my ego from dictating my body. I wish I could go back and choose to go through the entire labor and delivery without an epidural. But with what experience I was given, the gift was in being exposed to how incredible the body is at taking care of itself through something as miraculous as creating a human being, and then delivering it without killing me or my children. What a mind-blowing piece of art that our intelligence isn’t capable of duplicating.
Are we as humans intelligently capable of duplicating the perfect feedback and guidance that our bodies give to us? Do we need a monitoring device to tell us when to poop and how hard to push? Do diet businesses (that are more concerned about selling products and their profit margins) really know more about our hunger rhythms than your body? Is there another single human being with adequate super powers to tell you when your body needs to eat, of how much, and what it is craving? Are diets that manipulate food by calories capable of understanding how seasons influence changes in hunger with change in weather and pressure, moon cycles, menstrual cycles, stress and sleep fluctuations, and let us not forget impact on hunger with exercise and activity levels?
To all of the women reading this, has any diet ever explained to you why you are hungrier before your period and why you’re less hungry after you period, and did they adjust your food intake for that reason? Do diets accommodate for any dynamic change in hunger rhythms and do they continue to weigh you as if the water weight you gain each month is fat? My point is that the diet and nutrition industry (which is driven by the need to make money) is so misguided and off when it comes to understanding your body’s own intelligence. I don’t think our conscious intelligence has that capacity, nor the humility.
There is no static diet that can fulfill the many dynamic influences of your body’s need for food hormonally. But there is one perfect system, and that system is hard-wired into your body as a sense of hunger.
Hunger is more than just physical urge to eat. There is timing or a sense of urgency to eat. As you get hungrier the sense of amount of food increases, and then there’s craving for certain flavor, texture, and food substrate (fat, protein, carb, water, salt, fiber, nutrient, etc.). Have you ever considered your body’s dictation rather than the food and diet industries control? I give you this challenge: For the next few weeks, eat only when your body tells you to eat. Eat what your body is craving, but not a bite more than what is necessary to remove hunger. This means you should never be even close to full. This is similar to how you would eat if you were rationing food as of more isn’t an option. Never get too hungry, avoid fullness at all cost, and eat what your body is craving- NO GUILT OR JUDGMENT OF THE FOOD.
Take notes of changes in energy level, body temperature, sleep, sex drive, acid reflux, and anything that changes as you use your own body rhythms to guide eating. To help I’ve attached the hunger-scale I created for people I coach. You can use your own words to describe hunger and understand that for those of you who are morbidly obese hunger will manifest differently than it does for people who are leaner. For example you might get a headache, burning throat, or quick onset of exhaustion, but not necessarily urgency.
Unfortunately, because we’ve allowed the food and diet industry to dictate when and how much we should eat, many people have completely lost trust in their body, and have lost touch with what hunger feels like and what it’s like not to be full. The more you practice and commit to only eating with your body’s feedback, you’ll notice you naturally feel much better and you naturally lose excess fat without needing to pay for a diet. The other thing you’ll notice is how less you have the urge to binge.
There are many benefits to using your body to know when and how much to eat. But until you try it, you’ll never know. So take my challenge and let me know after a couple of weeks how amazing your body is and how amazing it’s always been. Like trusting that your body knows when it needs to poop, you have to gain trust that your body knows when it needs food too. Think of it like potty training, but with hunger.