I'm an educator that calls pain "pain." I think that is how most people perceive it. I used to feel the "p" word was bad, and I used all manner of euphemisms to avoid saying it. When you teach almost 2000 hours a year, you hear back from a lot of families. When more than one former student came back asking me why I didn't just call it "pain," I decided to adjust my viewpoint.
I do have an activity where I "break down the pain" into sensations, involving a bucket and water. The intent is to dissect each sensation, that when clustered together, we call "pain." I find it makes the physical sensations we experience more recognizable and less scary. But I digress!
I begin this activity before class, really, when I bring out the Hot Wheels track pieces absconded from my sons. When the first couple arrives, I ask them to put the track pieces together. Once finished, they are laid on the ground, the starting line by me, the finish line at the back of the classroom.
You would be surprised how happy it makes people feel to see Hot Wheels tracks and cars on the floor of the classroom where they are learning about how to have baby! This is generally class 3 of our 6, when we discuss pain theories and comfort measures. This is how I share the Gate Theory of Pain, essentially, that we can make pain worse (turn it on) or make it less (tune it down) by what we think, feel, and do.
To start, I lift up the end of the track near me, the starting line, and I let a few cars loose. Unobstructed, they zip down the track like greased lightning (hello, Grease fans!). Then I ask, "What have you heard about, in books or from your friends or family, that helps with labor pain?" People start shouting things out. "Water!" Okay, get your Post-It notes out and write "water" down on one. Choose a partner to come and place his or her shoe under the track, and stick the note on the shoe.
Ask again. "Massage!" Same thing. Have a partner come, place his or her shoe under the track at a different point, and slap that Post-It note on the shoe. How many people you have here depends on how long your track is. Pretty soon you have something that looks like this the top image, above (except I have them continue to stand while we do the next part -- I was home alone when I made the pictures here and I opted for empty shoes).
Now repeat the exercise with the cars. Start sending them down (I use 5-6 cars). Some will make it all the way to the end, some will slow, and some will get knocked off the track. What you will see, though, is that the undulations made by the shoes (interference, right? Comfort measures) will compete with the "sensation's" ability to get to the end (the brain). We can make sure the road is clear for those sensations to fly straight up and tell us we are in pain, thereby triggering the fear-tension-pain cycle, or we can "congest" those nerve pathways by throwing in other sensations to confuse our brains about what we are really feeling...enter comfort measures and emotional support! Voila.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)