Humans can only take in so many sensations. Our brain can only process so many signals at once. As an example during the birth process you are in some discomfort/pain you are only going to be quite focused in on that. However if you are receiving other more pleasant signals like your Partners touch, the sound of music, or a pleasant smell then your brain will focus its attention there and the previous sensation of discomfort/pain will be experienced less.
A good experiment to prove this is to introduce a new sensory input to break up and distract the feeling of pain or discomfort. This method is called the ‘Ice Cube’ technique.
Put 2-3 ice cubes in a zip lock bag. With a timer time holding the ice cube in your closed hand for at least 60 seconds. Some Birth Educators can introduce this 60 seconds like a comparable contraction example. You can also have the ice held at the wrist or if that is to uncomfortable pinch the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. All of these examples are to create a discomfort.
Next 60 second contraction test- while holding the ice cube in the preferred position, do at least three slow breaths together with your partner. As well your partner is slowly and tenderly massaging your shoulders or back. Communication is also important and during this time let your partner know if you would like soft or firm strokes, short or long strokes?
Through the exercise you will notice that the discomfort/pain process of the ice is not so noticeable because it is getting replaced by the larger sensation of caring touch. This experiment is a great way to understand that you DO have control of your body and tools to build confidence through your pregnancy and labor.