Managing Pain During Childbirth, with Special Guest Dr. William Camann

Managing Pain During Childbirth, with Special Guest Dr. William Camann 1Dr. William Camann has been an anesthesiologist for twenty-three years, almost exclusively in obstetrics. He currently works at the Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

Needless to say, Camann has seen many women in labor, including his own wife (he is the father of two sons, ages 19 and 21).

Camann is also the co-author of Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth.

Camann said he and co-author Kathryn Alexander wrote the book because "we wanted to provide something that was different than other books out there - a comprehensive book about pain relief that wasn't biased or polarized, that wasn't offensive or derogatory to any specific side."

I can attest to the fact that they achieved this goal with flying colors (read my full review here). If you can only buy one book about childbirth, I recommend this matter what your birthing philosophy is.

Following please find a transcript of my recent phone interview with Dr. Camann...

ME: How many women get epidurals in the U.S.?

WC: It depends who you ask, but the number is probably going up...roughly about 2/3 to 3/4 of births today.

ME: Are physicians and nurses prepared to assist women who choose to go without pain medication?

WC: It depends how proficient your caregivers are. Most physicians are not as comfortable as, say, midwives with complementary and alternative methods.

ME: Based on all of the labors that you have seen...If you were a woman, what pain management methods would you try?

WC: I would love to get in the tub - a nice, big birthing tub. I can imagine that it would be very soothing and relaxing. Hypnosis techniques are also very appealing. I would also be totally open to having an epidural. What I would not try is breathing techniques - the panting and hoo-hawing and huffing and puffing. For decades this has been the mainstay of managing pain in childbirth, but it appears to be very ineffective and can lead to hyperventilation.

ME: What is the one "take-home" message that you would like readers to gain from your book?

WC: Go in with an open mind. One of the most predictable things about labor is that it is unpredictable. Having an open mind is one of the best ways to approach labor.

Now, that is great advice. I completely agree with Camann's conclusion about the "unpredictable" nature of labor - and the more knowledge that you have, the better!

WIN IT! One lucky winner will win a copy of Easy Labor. To enter, simply leave a comment and your e-mail address on this post prior to Sunday, November 18th, at midnight. The winner will be announced and contacted via e-mail on Monday, November 19th. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.

*UPDATED* The winner is #11 ash! Congratulations!

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23 comments on “Managing Pain During Childbirth, with Special Guest Dr. William Camann”

  1. I would love to read this book. It seems like it would be a great read before my second baby is born.


    sarhwooden AT gmail DOT com

  2. I've had three very different births ranging from hospital with an epidural to having a CNM and a doula. I think it would be so interesting to hear the thoughts of an anastesiologist on this matter.

  3. i had an easy delivery of our dd, but i have a good friend who is expecting and I would love to give her this.

  4. I love Dr. Camann's comment about avoiding breathing techniques. Hyperventilation seems like the last thing a woman in childbirth should have to deal with.

  5. I had a c-section with the first and a VBAC with my 2nd (but it wasn't a great experience), so I would love to read about this!

  6. I wouldn't mind a copy of this--My first is due in March, and I'm also considering natural childbirth despite my many and varied fears!

  7. Since I was 10, I've been terrified of childbirth (I have 4 younger brothers and so I kind of understood labor via my mom and movies of course), so this book would be of great value! I am 5 months pregnant and due in March, and strangely enough, would like to try natural childbirth. I need all the advice I can get!

  8. I am due in April and this is my 3rd child. I would love a fresh take on the experience.
    You may email me through my profile:)

  9. I had three very different experiences with my three births. With my first, the doctor broke my water AND started me on pitocin at the same time. I would advise to all women to NEVER let a doctor do that. I endured three hours of the WORST pain (and I have a high tolerance for pain). Breathing was useless. My first reaction was to curl up into a ball and cry/totally space out. I had an epidural and gave birth 20 minutes later!

    I went into natural labor the second time around and didn't even go to the hospital until I was 5 cm. I had an epidural, because the doctor wanted to break my water to speed things along (like I wasn't going fast enough already for him?!).

    With my third, I labored ALL DAY. Finally, when it appeared I was stuck at 4 cm, I had a low-dose of pitocin which immediately put me at 10 cm. There was NO time to even think about an epidural. I was in A LOT of pain for about 20 minutes but, with the help of a midwife, I delivered with no drugs. It was great!

    I've heard from a few women who have tried hypnosis that it doesn't really work. I think I would be up for trying most anything, though!

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