thread: How much does labour REALLY hurt?

  1. #19
    katanya Guest

    Sorry, but I am going to be one of those people that is going to get b@#$% slapped

    Honestly?? I enjoyed my labours. I get pangs when I drive past the hospital when I think that someone is in there having a baby... my friends laugh at me when I say things like that, but it is true, I was lucky enough to have an extremely positive experience.
    Jillian you are a lucky girl to feel that way about labour, strange you want to be back in there doing it with others but I agree with you it is an amazing expereince, I get all misty over the first few days but NOT really over the labour part, even though mine was also pretty good!

    Did you have your partner with you during labour? My dp wants to be with me throughout, but a part of me wonders whether he would really like to see me in labour, considering he can't stand blood and anything vaguely icky!
    I did, even though DP wasn't much help to be honest, but the thought of him there definately did. It was important for him very much so, I think seeing his son come out was a mind blowing experiene for him, as even while I was pregnant I think reality hadn't hit properly that we were actually having a baby! The fact he was there and saw his head come out(he turned green and nearly passed out but that's okay!) was REALLY important, because he tells Felix all the time about it!

    My labour expereince was positive, it wasn't what I wanted or planned but I actually ended up having a good time.

    I was 13 days overdue, and induced with gels, waters broken and hormone drip, and due to being stuck on the bed and having to moan forward with contractions, I went for the epidural, after that, I watched a movie with DP( the green mile) and after 4 hours his head appeared at the bottom I was told to push and within 3 pushes Felix was born, no tearing and he was a healthy bubba..
    I was intially against an epidural but things didn't go as I expected, all the natural birthing aids were useless because I actually never went into labour naturally! I had all thes wires and drips and though..oh well one more wont hurt!
    After Felix was born, I had such an amazing time, I said I'd have 5 kids with an epidurals during labour, DP said, not with me your not!

    Seriously though, all I can say is keep an open mind and just think of why you are there, you want a healthy baby and healthy you..end of the day that is the only reason you are there! The rest you'll forget about in a hurry!

  2. #20
    Lucy in the sky with diamonds.

    Jan 2005
    Funky Town, Vic

    My man was in there with me and he was a bit useless really and I was pretty angry with him. I don't think he thought it would be so quick, although I warned him. Silly bastard was still cleaning out the birdcage when I was wobbling out the front door!!
    This time he has promised that he will be more on the ball. I probably could have done things differently but I was so bloody determined to do it on my own I think I felt he shoudl stand aside.
    Anyway, your DP should be in there with you so he can see what a wonderful thing you are doing!! He doesn't have to stand down the business end anyway, he can be holding your hand and well within punching range!

    Having a hundred people rummaging around in your fanny is more off putting I think, so I am going to a birth centre where they believe childbirth is a natural state of affairs and I wont have to fight with them, or have them chase me around with monitors and beeping things.

    Check out what they do after the birth too. With my first I was jabbed in the leg without my permission and I didn't know why until later. Also my bubs was given injections (considered routine) I wasn't aware of until later and I would have liked the choice. I didn't like baby being whipped away so quickly either and having god knows what done to her . That can be just as traumatic, so check out this stuff too.

    P.S I just don't think it is necesarry to force out the placenta with an injection when it is going to come out on its own anyway. Sometimes they need help, I realise but it would be nice to be given the choice.

    Another marathon post!!


  3. #21

    Mar 2004

    DH was with me all the way. He wouldn't have missed it and I'm not sure how I would have coped without him. I'm not sure that he expected it to be so hands on (I ended up giving birth with one foot on his shoulder).
    Maybe if you're worried about your DH being too squeamish you can have a second support person there just in case he faints or needs a break.

  4. #22
    Registered User

    Mar 2004

    I couldn't have done it without DH and my mum there with me. Having that support really helps.
    As for pain - yes it hurts a hell of a lot. But you do get through it and the memory fades very quickly. Women are made for pregnancy and childbirth. Our bodies are amazing things.

  5. #23
    sueedge Guest

    preparation is the key

    Firstly, what does labour actually feel like? For me, it started as bad labour pains and built up to an intense, overwhelming feeling which is hard to describe but I liken it to standing with my belly right in front of a wood stove. When the door was opened (a contraction) my belly would be blasted with this intense, burning heat, and when it was closed, the pain instantly disappeared. The pushing stage feels just like you are having a bowel motion and so can feel very satisfying, although uncomfortable as you ARE trying to pass something the size of a rockmelon! However, the moment of crowning was the moment of greatest pain for me in my first birth. It literally felt like someone was holding a flame to my groin! I believe that this pain can be reduced considerably by giving birth upright as my subsequent birth crownings were much more pleasant

    Being prepared for childbirth can make a big difference in the level of pain you experience (assuming a normal birth) and how you cope with it. It is like being forced to run a 20km marathon with no preparation. You would find that agonising but if you had prepared for it for 9 months, your perception of the pain would be different, you would have coping skills and tricks to use to reduce pain. Labour is much the same. Knowing what to expect, practicising different positions and breathing to cope with different stages, having good support people, can make all the difference to how you perceive pain during labour.

    My own experiences have been thus:

    First birth was 8 hours long, no practice but lots of reading, willing but inexperienced support people. As a result, I coped well until the contractions started hurting bad. Then I lost it, and tensed up in panic, and not surprisingly, the pain intensified even more! My support people tried to encourage me but as they had less knowledge than me, I didn't trust a word they said (thus the importance of picking at least one support person who has been through birth, pref. the kind you hope to have). It was only when a lovely midwife took charge that I calmed down a bit and got on with the birth. I later found out that they all thought I would have to have a caesarean because the baby still hadn't descended even after 5 hours of labour. Fortunately, we got our act together!

    Second birth was a 12 hour posterior birth, 3 support persons including my mother, lots of yoga practice. This birth went well until I hit transition. I changed my positions to cope with the labour as needed, lots of hot nappies, massage etc, but unfortunately no one picked that the baby was posterior and so the transition went on for about two hours. I didn't have any skills left to cope so I collapsed and refused to participate in the labour (doesn't work!). When the midwife realised the baby was posterior, the dr was called in to turn the baby around. Not as bad as it sounds, and once that happened, I sat on the midwives' knees and pushed my baby out. That was very satisfying!

    Third birth was 5 hours, 2 support people, LOTS of breathing and yoga position practice from Active Birth Handbook. I stayed upright and active until 7 cm, then moved to the bath where I stayed until the baby was born. The loveliest part of this birth was how in control I felt thoughout it. It never felt overwhelming even through transition. I know some of that is just experience but it was also feeling like I had the skills and support I needed for whatever I encountered in the labour.

    Hope this is helpful.


  6. #24
    Registered User

    Mar 2004

    How interesting are all the different opinions!

    It is a pain that you have never felt before, but for some reason (for me personally) you accept it because you are in the safest place you can be for you and your baby and you trust your midwife to do everything she can to help you get through it as best as possible.

    I always thought I would end up having an epidural, but I didnt and if I am lucky enough again next time round (8 hour labour), I would do it all the same. Aidan was a reasonably big (over 9 pounds) baby and I dont think it would have hurt less had he been smaller, because for me the crowning was nothing compared to the pain of contractions, I can look back and laugh as I remember feeling like a big sook because I was mumbling and crying "he's hurting me, it stings" but I wasn't screaming or anything and I remember thinking at the time I thought it was gonna hurt more!

    I know it sounds like a load of crap but all pain goes away when your baby is in your arms *getting teary*.

    I remember asking the same question only a few months ago and didnt feel satisfied with the answers, but now I can understand where everyone was coming from.


    p.s. Dont be scared, enjoy the experience and remember ask for pain relief if and when you want it and dont accept anything except what YOU want.

  7. #25
    Registered User

    Mar 2004
    Wales, UK

    Wow, thank you so much for all the replies!

    What's a c-section like? How long does it take to recover, and do you feel any pain at all during?

  8. #26
    Registered User

    Apr 2003
    Western Australia

    All I can say is...

    (a) It HURTS!!

    (b) EPIDURAL!!!!

    Ahhhhhhhhh!!! I love (b)!!! It actually made Liam's birth quite enjoyable.

    Trust me - the joy you feel once your precious baby is born will soon override your feelings of pain.

    Best of luck!

  9. #27
    Registered User

    Jan 2004

    Hey Gwen,

    I had DH with me the whole time. The midwife who ran our ante-natal class, threatened all the men, saying she did not want to hear of them leaving us at all during the labour. DH even followed me into the toilet, to which he was politely told to wait outside the door at least!

    DH was brilliant, he was timing my contractions, getting a cold washer for me, all of that wonderful stuff.

    The pain?? For me wasn't all that bad. I found the c-section far worse than contractions, waters being broken and pushing. Mind you, I didn't actually push DD out as she got stuck, so I can't comment on that feeling.

    Whats a c-section like? I think it really depends on the circumstances. For me it is something I don't want to do ever again!! I'd had 5 hours sleep, when I was told I was in labour. 43 hours later on, I was told I needed to have a c-section. I'd had no pain relief during labour, so when i got to theatre they gave me some pethidine, then an epidural. I could feel them prepping me for the surgery after I'd been given the epidural, so I then had to have a general anaesthetic!

    I felt so sick afterwards. I tried to get out of bed asap, but didnt end up doing that until the next morning after DD was born. I had no energy, I just felt really weak. I'm hoping the next time round will be a more positive experience.


  10. #28
    Registered User

    Sep 2004
    Melbourne, Australia

    Things that helped me to get through the pain were:

    That it is a productive pain
    That it is finite
    That you have a baby by the next day
    That there is epidural
    That most child-bearing women are happy to do it all again at least one more time.
    That lots of people have done it before me, even wimpier ones than me!

  11. #29
    leabdea Guest

    Re: preparation is the key

    Being prepared for childbirth can make a big difference in the level of pain you experience (assuming a normal birth) and how you cope with it. It is like being forced to run a 20km marathon with no preparation. You would find that agonising but if you had prepared for it for 9 months, your perception of the pain would be different, you would have coping skills and tricks to use to reduce pain. Labour is much the same. Knowing what to expect, practicising different positions and breathing to cope with different stages, having good support people, can make all the difference to how you perceive pain during labour.
    I totally agree. I just had my 3rd daughter 8 weeks ago. I prepared for her birth for the last 12 weeks of my pregnancy (about the same length of time of preparation I did when I ran in the Sydney City to Surf a few years ago). It's important to me to prepare because I know it helps me to stay healthy and low-risk for the birth. And it also gives me the stamina I need for my uterus to work efficiently - because labour sure is an athletic event.

    I've also read that giving birth is similar to swimming. If we are told that 9 months from now we will be thrown into a pool at the deep end - but we don't know how to swim - then on the day when we are thrown in it would be scarey and we would thrash around and find it quite traumatic. If we had gone to swimming lessons we would have learned how to swim and could make it to the side to get out. We can learn how to give birth just like we can learn how to swim.

    We can learn how to avoid unnecessary pain in labour, how to work with our bodies rather than against them, our partners can learn how to work together with us as a team to achieve the kind of birth experience we want, and we can learn how to communicate well with our medical team to make sure we are part of the decision making process during labour and birth - so we are empowered (b*%#@ slap me now, hehe) and responsible for the start of our little precious baby's life.

    I was totally committed to having no pain medication during my childrens' births because I didn't want them to start their lives with drugs in their bodies - since the drugs are chemical cousins of cocaine and heroin. If there was a medical complication then the drugs can be life saving. I think we can prepare well, though, so that in the absense of medical complications we are able to have a normal non-medicalised birth and it can be a wonderful, joyous experience.

    As well as eating a healthy well-balanced diet, I practised consciously relaxing my whole body for 20 mins every night for the last 12 weeks of my pregnancies. Also practising breathing normally (abdominally) while I was doing it. And I learned about what my body is doing during labour so that I would understand what was going on and not be fearful.

    When I was in labour the thought of pain medication didn't cross my mind. I knew I had a job to do and I knew what the job entailed (i.e. what was coming up...the different emotional and physical stages of labour). So I was able to focus my whole self on doing what I needed to do.

    And I agree that we can think of it in terms of positive pain. Once we have avoided any unnecessary pain, then any pain that is left is bringing us closer to holding our beautiful baby.

    We need to learn how, though, just like we learned how to swim.

    I want to encourage you - that you are a strong, intelligent woman and you can take control of your birth experience.

  12. #30
    Melody Guest

    I'm pregnant with my first & have devoured every word on this post.... I am hoping I can have a totally natural birth but admit that I am also very scared.

    My family (mother & sisters) have all achieved this goal multiple times & I hope this trend of short & trouble free labour will extend to me.

    I would like to offer something little to think about though.... my cousin just recently gave birth for the first time & hers is a very interesting experience. She is only 20 & has lead a really sad & troubled life, the victim of horrid abuse, dropping out of school young, drugs & trouble with the law. When she found out she was pregnant something inside her clicked & she suddenly did absolutely everything right but still I was worried about her ability to really cope with being a mother. She was so emotionally fragile & young herself.

    No word of a lie she had the WORST labour on record & everything that could go wrong did, baby got stuck, too late for a c-section, bumbling nurses, bad decisions by numerous staff & the hours ticked by.... no pain relief.

    That poor girl had nothing left after 5 hours & her labour was in full swing for 24 hours before she gave birth by forceps. When I spoke to her a few days later I asked her about it & her reply was "Just when I thought I had nothing left, I found a little something to go on".

    I hope you don't think me niave but her experience has inspired me that the sky will not fall & I can do this. When I need to 'find it' I know I will & to worry about it too much is just pointless.

  13. #31
    Registered User

    Feb 2005
    out and about

    Hi, yeah I've gotta say it hurts. A vaginal hurts before the baby comes, and is forgotten staight after, a csec doesn't hurt til after the baby is born and you remember a lot longer!! The DH couldn't touch me in the 1st stages, rocking worked then, and later he had to rub my back (and get yelled at if he stopped) he cried when the head crowned. Mum and sister were there too! :happy4u: Crowning stings like everyone else says, and i was terrified that I would scream, but just did the primal groans. Mum is a MW too, and gave me the best advice , to not fight the pain, but to ride it like a wave to work with it, not against it.

  14. #32
    sueedge Guest

    I think learning to relax your body during a contraction makes all the difference. Our normal reaction to pain is to tense up but during birth, that makes the contraction pain all the worse. I consciously relaxed all my muscles for each contraction during my third birth, and it made such a difference! Great birth. It does take some practice, though, so get started!

  15. #33
    *Yvette* Guest

    Hi Welshgirl and everyone!

    I'm really interested in the birth experience so it's fascinating reading all these replies.

    It hurts like hell, but you forget it instantly and you can cope if you trust yourself. The more you read and find out the better, and having your baby well positioned is something you can take steps to control. I remember spending ages on knees and elbows whilst watching tv, wiggling my hips trying to encourage baby to settle the right way round.

    I've had tattoos too, and was fine with the pain, but it's quite a different kind of pain.

    You need to accept the contractions, and see the increasing intensity as a good thing, bringing you closer to birthing your baby. If there's no drip going on, which can make them come on too fast to adjust to, you get used to it gradually. The contractions are like a really bad period cramp, you can feel your uterus contracting. Think about the good those contractions are doing.

    The important thing I tell myself now (I've had 3 so far) is that when I get to the stage where I'm whimpering and thinking I can't do it any more, and I'm getting really cranky, that means I'm in transition and very close to pushing.

    When it gets to the pushing stage, a miraculous thing happens with me. The contractions are less intense and further apart. The pushing is something that just happens by itself. The discomfort of stretching is quite tolerable compared to the contractions I've been having. Seriously, this is the bit I was most scared of, and it's the easiest! Much quicker too. A little tear is not even felt, but there is always a stinging sensation near the clitoris. Just pressing your hand or a warm wash cloth over the area helps. And by the time you're at this stage, if all is OK you're already starting to relax.

    Once the head is out, it's downhill from there. You will start to relax, and as soon as baby is born, you will suddenly feel invincible and alert.
    Seconds later you'll be thinking, "yeah, I handled that"

    Knowledge overcomes fear!

    And if the whole 'experiencing it fully' thing is just not you, read up on epidurals instead, and just make a plan based around that. I'm considering having one for the twins, but I'm worried about the increased likelihood of intervention associated with it.


  16. #34
    *Megan* Guest

    Gwen - thanks for posting this topic! I have just read all of your responses word for word and as a first time mum to be - it does make it sound manageable....the pain is not what worries me though surprisingly - it is the thought of damage, major tearing etc and also having the baby yanked out by forceps! Can you really prepare for any of this NOT to happen? I feel that I am physically OK and have had the best pregnancy thus far (not a single day of sickness!!) but am now thinking that I will have a nasty birth experience as everything has been a little too perfect......thanks again for all of your posts, they were wonderful to read and they have instilled me with hope that it can be done!

    Thanks girls.....


  17. #35
    *Yvette* Guest

    Love this topic.

    For my next labour in Sept, I will remember Sue's advice about relaxing my body during contractions. I'm sure I always get tense, despite my very loud vocalising. And Vanita's advice about 'riding it like a wave, to work with it, not against it" is great too. I'm putting these in my birth plan, and going over all the other posts again. My birth plan is something I'm always working on.

    Re fear of tearing, Megan, there's lots you can do.
    -Perineal massage. Stretch it while you're pregnant.
    -Oils on the area during labour - haven't tried but read about it.
    -Warm compress (like a face washer) held against the perineum during crowning. My midwife did this for my last birth and no tear at all. Very comforting.

    I had a small natural tear for each of my first 2 births, and a slight graze (where theres a small surface splitting of skin). I didn't feel them at all. The stinging I feel is always at the front and nowhere near the tears.

    For my first baby, HC 34cm, 8lb 10oz, one midwife thought she might need to snip me a bit and the other one talked her out of it. I'm very glad, because my little natural tear didn't need a stitch. Next 2 babies had slightly bigger heads & all ok.

    I think baby being in a good position, and being allowed to take your time because baby not in distress, and not being told to push too much, being told when to stop pushing etc by a good midwife helps a lot.

    I think we should all talk to our midwives and doctors as much as possible, ask them every time we see them about how they deal with various aspects of labour. If they don't want to talk to you about it, ask youself why.

    Happy posting girls. Anxiously awaiting new installments.

    Oh yes, Vanita, how was the birth of your twins? C section or vaginal? How were they positioned? Did they come early? I'll be after lots of detail from you in particular. Any other twins mums around?


  18. #36
    Registered User

    Feb 2005
    out and about

    Hi Yvette. The twins were born vaginally. first one was cephalic ( head down) 2nd one was transverse ( horizontal) They told me I might have to csec 2nd, but apparently a lot of 2nd's repostion when 1st out of the way, told me I had to have stirrups in between 1 & 2 to check position, but by the time they had started to set up no 2 was out, head first!! and no pushing for no 2 for me, as I say door was open, she sort of slid out!!
    All women are powerful. WE CAN DO THIS!! this is what our bodies were designed for!!