Using Your Childbirth Classes Beyond Birth: Tattoos

Childbirth classes are for birth right? I think they are for more than birth...they are for life! Prenatal education involves learning about childbirth but the right class will go beyond that giving you and your partner life skills. I started writing about my tattoo experience, but the more I thought about it, I use the skills I teach in my classes every day. This will be an epic series!

Tattoo Vs Childbirth: Using Childbirth Skills Beyond Birth

Tattoos Vs Childbirth: Which is More Painful?

A discussion for the ages right, does a tattoo hurt more than childbirth? I had a small tattoo done on my back (yes, its there and a great idea at the time). I can remember it being painful, but not terrible or memorable. Fast forward 13 years and two babies, I went in for another tattoo. This tattoo happens to be on my inner wrist. Wow, it was way more painful than I remembered, probably due to location.

In order to sit through it without squirming (and making a giant mess on my arm), I relied on my childbirth relaxation strategies that I used personally and now teach. They worked. I still felt the pain, but I was able to acknowledge the pain and work with the pain. My favourite was vocalizing. I hummed my way through most of the tattoo once I got over the fact that people could probably hear me. The tones varied, but went very low during the exceptionally painful sections. Rhythmic breathing, rhythmic tapping and loosening my jaw were other tricks I used to keep relaxed. I tried to visualize, but its not as powerful for me. I wish I had a tattoo doula...

I officially declare being tattooed to be more painful than childbirth. Who knows, maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. This session lasted less than an hour but it was intense. I found the hardest part was there was no rhythm to the pain. There were brief moments of no pain as she refilled the ink, but there was no pattern; it was always changing. My second child was an unmedicated birth. It was rhythmic with surges that always gave away to peace until the next started.

The winner, however, is me. These skills I have learned and continue to practice each week give me access to tools that I can apply to life when I need to relax. Think about the way you relax, the way to work through a stubbed toe, a tough headache. Those tools are important in childbirth as well.

In regards to my tattoo, I hold perinatal mood disorders close to my heart and now wear a symbol of mood disorders on my wrist. Project Semicolon is a movement based on this: "A semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life." I dealt with postpartum depression after each pregnancy and continue to feel it's effects in my life. There is so much stigma associated with perinatal mood disorders as typically only the very tragic cases are shown and talked about in media. Many parents struggle and our systems are not set-up to catch all. This stigma is the same for mental illness in general. I'm embracing the next part of my sentence as I have so much more to share. You can find resources at

If you're expecting a special babe of your own, please check out our current schedule for Birth Boot Camp in Calgary, Alberta!

With Love & Light,

Laurie McGowan

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