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Thread: How bad is labour really??

  1. #1

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    Question How bad is labour really??

    Hi how is everyone?

    As a first time expectant mother I have a lot of questions.

    As far as labour goes I really want to avoid assisted delivery c-section, forceps, vaccum extraction, episiotomy, being induced etc. I also want to avoid pain relief as i want to be able to push, not be drowsy and I have heard many kinds of pain relief can make baby drowsy for a few days. I will consider pain relief preferrably only gas and oxygen though but I want to speak to a midwife about all options when I start going to prenatal visits. The fact that I have never been in labour however makes unsure (for obvious reasons) if I will be able to handle labour with no pain relief medication.



    So I am just wondering if you guys could tell me how bad is labour really? Also just wondering if any of you have any stories of pain relief (whether or not you would use it again and why), or if you have had medication free births or plan on giving birth this way???

  2. #2

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    Hey there Jas,

    I had all those questions the first time around...labour seems like a very scary thing before you've gone through it with all the horror stories you hear.

    The two labours I have been through, i chose a pain-relief free labour both times. I wouldn't even accept gas. The first was an induced labour at 37 weeks and went for 2 days, but 8 hours of what I'd call real labour with bad pains.

    The second was a spontaneous labour at 42 weeks (but they did need to rupture my membranes) and went for 10 hours.

    Both my labours were OP labours which are meant to be more painful than a normal labour. It means the baby was facing the opposite way with it's spine on mine, so the back pain was continuous and waaaay worse than the contractions (I remember screaming HELP MY BACK lol).

    At the time, I was married to an awful man who would have considered me a failure if I had pain relief, therefore I transferred those feelings upon myself. I had very little support in labour also...X slept through all but the last hour of the second on my birth beanbag (the midwife kicked him awake lol). Because of this and the immense pain, I am sure that helped me to develop PND afterwards...not the pain itself, but going through it with so many high expectations put on me by my husband and then enduring so much pain with no support. So looking back now that I have a brain and some spirit back in me, I would have chosen to have pain relief and also probably would have kicked X in the head

    This time around, I am aiming for a pain-relief free labour......but only because I want to do that for the best for my baby and I really want to breastfeed. My current partner has no expectations for me and is also extremely supportive. But I will allow myself if things get too bad to have gas and will consider if it goes on for days other pain relief.

    The contractions themselves were bearable I found, even in transition...but the back pain I had was what made it agony. I suffer from endometriosis and get severe period pain so I think that helped me not find the contractions themselves too bad. I would liken the period pain I get now to around 5cm dilated contraction pain. So I had a warm up if you like. So for me, most definately bearable.

    No one can really tell you how painful it is because how painful it is is a very individual thing. If one woman finds it more painful than another, it just means their pain receptors are different, I believe it has nothing to do with pain tolerance or strength or any of that. We all feel pain differently.

    One plus to not having pain relief is that the endorphins kick in. These are a natural hormone that takes over when your body is experiencing a lot of pain. I can only describe this as I felt like i was on the roof looking at myself in labour. They kind of separate you from the pain. So the body does do it's bit too

    It's a very personal choice and thing deciding about pain relief. The only advice I can give is to only make the choices based on what you want, research lots, but don't let anyone else tell you what you should or shouldn't do when it comes to your body in labour (obviously unless it will harm your baby). Don't put any guilt or pressure on yourself if you get there and end up needing pain relief. Some women find labour a breeze, others intolerable. But that doesn't change anything about who you are.

    Good luck

  3. #3

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    Tara,

    Thsnks heaps for your reply, it was really helpful! That sucks about your previous husband I'm glad I have a husband who wouldn't do that even if it was our millionth child and he was over the whole process. I can see why he is an EX!! I definitely want to do it for myself and for my baby and no one else. I too would like to have no gas if I can stand it! I think I will opt for pain-relief if I feel I need it but I will make sure I prepare for that scenario and research pain relief options so I know whether or not I am willing to take something!

    Congratulations on finding someone knew and your pregnancy, goodluck with it all!

  4. #4
    pholmes Guest

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    Hi,

    Every labour is different, I think it is important to think about what you want but realise that sometimes you need to change your plan. My first son was an emergency c/s (undiagnosed footling breech so no other options), my second ended up being 5 weeks early and had to be a forceps delivery as his heart rate became erratic ( I also needed an epsiotomy), my third was a normal vaginal delivery, however, his shoulders were stuck and it was the most excrutiating pain. He was blue and had to be resucitated. I only had gas with all 3. None of these scenarios fitted in with my plans but I just had to go with the flow. Ask as many questions as you can. You wont really know what its like until you do it so the more informed decisions you make the better off you will be. My third labour was only 4 hours and 18 minutes but it was awful, Id take the extra couple of hours, episiotomy and forceps I had with my 2nd any day and I never thought I would say that. Every person is different and every labour is different. Good luck.

  5. #5

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    I think it's really now you deal with the pain as to how bad it is. For eg. My first labour was induced at 41 weeks and only went for 5 hours, yet i thought it was the most horrible pain i ever have experienced. I had gas and pethadine. But with my second labour, i went spontaniously at 39 weeks. Bub was posterior(his back on mine) so i had intense back pain the whole way through. My labour also stopped and started for 2 days. So i had contractions plus back pain that whole time. Yet i never had any drugs because i knew this time i could do it and i accepted the pain and not fought it. Although i did end up having an epidural, not because of the pain as such but because i was just SO tired and i had to have the drip put in because labour kept stopping. So, i think, it's all to do with just going with the flow, letting your body take over and just know that you have the power to do this, and everything will be fine.

  6. #6

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    Jas - it hurts! LOL. but... you get a break between contractions to compose yourself (albeit only a minute or so towards the end of 1st stage!). I found myself breathing through the contractions waiting for it to peak and start fading away. Knowing that it's going to fade keeps you going most definitely.

    And don't forget that the body produces wonderful hormones that help you to cope! It still makes me laugh that a few weeks later I was just 'dying' with a headache and NEEDED panadol. LOL. I had just done a drug-free birth... but couldn't handle a headache?? If only we had those hormones and natural painkillers all the time

    All the best with your labour, I hope it all goes smoothly for you

  7. #7

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    Jas - it hurts, but the amazing thing is most people forget the pain afterwards!
    I would say mine was like really bad period pain (like the worst ever....) coming and going in waves every few minutes. The constant back pain I had was actually the hardest bit.
    If you prepare yourself for it, and know that your body is capable - as well as having the support you need, you have the best chance of getting through it all safely and happily.

  8. #8

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    It's so true that you forget! I actually look back at the labour, and feel like I actually enjoyed it! LOL!

  9. #9

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    I went into labour spontaneously 2 days before my due date with Jasmyn. Contractions started and remained 5 mins apart for about 3 hours, then 3 mins apart. lasting 2 mins. By the time I got to hospital, I was already 6cm dilated (I had only been in labour for 2 hours!). The contractions were painful, but I moved around a lot and was upright most of the time. My waters were ruptured, and Jas was born after about 1 1/2 hours of pushing. I had a slight tear (which I didn't feel at all) and had 6 stiches. I had no pain relief, but spent a good 2 hours in the shower which really helped relieve the pain in my back. In total, my labour was 7.5 hours, and I was pretty tired by the end, and falling asleep between contractions. I am hoping for the same this time around, and my Ob seems to think my labour will probably be quicker. Apparently quick labours can be an inherited thing, all of my sisters and my mother had relatively fast labours, especially after the waters had broken.

    Good luck!

  10. #10

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    I'd suggest reading all the Birth Stories on this website, adn get stuck into the Labour adn Birth threads.

    Most of my labour was at home either in the bath (got in when things were getting quite uncomfy) or standing up swivelling my hips (leaning on a chair back, or in the shower) durign contractions, adn when I got to the hospital I was already 10cm. To get to that point, it took about 15.5 hours, with contractions starting at 10 minutes apart. I breathed out for as long as I could (if that makes sense!) during contractions which helped heaps.

    I also told myself leading up to labour, and during labour, that I could do it, that I was created to do this, and this changed the way I acknowledged the pains. They were like nasty, heavy period pains in my lower gut.

    Caty was born nice and calm and although I tore a little getting her out, it wasn't enough to need stitches and it actually healed within one week. Nice.

    Good luck!

  11. #11

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    I was exactly the same first time around - wanted to go natural, maybe gas but that was it. Then we had a fabulous midwife for our antenatal classes who took us through an excercise about our birth plan. It would be quite lengthy to explain but we had to start out with laying out our perfect birth plan. Then she had us take away cards - in other words, she began to show us that we had to flexible and have plan b, c, d, e, etc and in the end, of the 18 cards, we had 6 left - these were what DH & I decided were our non-negotiable birth plan cards. I was so glad we did it because in the end I needed to be induced, had an epidural and they had to use a ventous to get DD out and she tore me to shreds!!!!! So a little bit left field of my 'perfect birth plan'!! ROFL!!!!

    As every labour is different (even for the same mother), all I can encourage you to do is be informed of ALL your choices and be open to plan b, c, etc and know that even if your plan a doesn't happen, you haven't failed at all!! You are simply doing what is best for you and the baby!!!

    And yes, it does hurt :eek: but picture pushing a watermelon thro a hole the size of a lemon!!! But once you're holding your little miracle, it just doesnt matter and you will forget the pain.......it must be true!!! I'm going for a second round!! LOL!!!!

    Enjoy the journey lovey!!! It's a rush and the best!!!

  12. #12

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    Im feeling the same as you right now.. I have a few friends who have had children and all say they will go back again and one has and they have all told me in GREAT detail there labours although i know they are all different i have decided to take a bit from each to make a labour i can get through hehehehe PMSL.. Nah my theory is to keep my mind open to anything and everything i will see how my body copes and go with any advice the midwifes and drs give me..

  13. #13

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    Hi,

    I think labour pain is very much an individual thing. I ended up having 3 c-sections, but I did get to "enjoy" 12 hours of labour before the first c-section. Let me tell you, it hurts A LOT!!

    I kept trying to imagine the pain - would it be like a strong leg cramp, or a bad burn, or really bad period pain? No, it is a really unique pain - hard to describe and easy to forget. To be frank, it felt like I was trying to **** a bowling ball. No really, it did - it felt exactly like this. I hated it. It felt completely "unnatural". I wanted to claw my husband's face off - and I still really love him now.

    I don't know if I had a particularly bad labour - my baby's head was "stuck" in the birth canal. I mentioned to my dr that the pain was unbearable and that surely "normal" labour wasn't that bad, but she said to me that what I was experiencing was normal labour pains. I also wasn't allowed to push (as I was waiting for surgery) so perhaps that made the pain seem worse. I don't know. Let's just say that when my doctor recommended a c-section for my next two babies I wasn't too upset!! Oh, and I was able to breast feed all 3 babies for over a year - the c-section didn't seem to affect this function for me, although I wish I was able to spend more time with each baby immediately after surgery.

    My only advice to you is to keep an open mind about pain relief - I so desperately wanted a epidural but I had to wait for this pain relief for a period which seemed like eternity. I finally got one and the relief was immediate and profound. I never wanted to suffer like that again (and luckily I didn't).

    Good luck, Mary

  14. #14

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    I was one of the lucky ones that didn't find labour all that bad. i honestly would rather do labour than pregnancy. I found it to be the most empowering event in my life. I had a little gas/oxygen but mainly just o through a mouth piece at transition and found it to help me to focus on breathing. I think what helped me was understanding why labour hurt adn that helped me deal with it. also I was induced and had a very fast labour - only 4 hrs so I didn't get exhausted like I would have if the pain went on for hours and hours. Stay positive, do lots of reading adn research and trust in your body but mainly you just have to wait and see how you handle it knowing that if you do need pain relief it doesn't make you a failure or a bad woman or anything, you have to birth in the most positive way for you and if that means pain relief than do what's best for you.

  15. #15

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    I had an epidural the first time and only gas the second. If I had a choice again I would choose to do it without the epidural as I felt much better afterwards and liked being mobile straight away. I'm sure I recovered more quickly too. Also first time I need forceps due to foetal distress and this meant a tear and episiotomy. I did tear second time too but not so bad. Whether the forceps would have been necessary without the epidural I'll never know.

    My second labour was 3 hours so the contractions were very intense and painful and very close together (ie no time to rest in between). But I was already 5cms when I got to hosp (after just an hour or so) so no time for pain relief but also psycologically (sp?) it helped to know I was half way there. I won't kid you, the pain was very bad and if I'd had the choice I might have weakened and had an epidural again. But I am very glad I didn't and I recommend you give it your best shot to last without it.

    ETA, It is extremely empowering as has been said.
    The most important thing I did second time round was prepare. I read birth stories and articles here, and also New Active Birth which I highly recommend. This reading made a HUGE difference. I also had painful BH second time round, so I was able to practise breathing through them and also to experiment with positions that felt relatively comfortable. This clearly worked. I found a position that helped with the pain (after reading New Active Birth) and when I got to the delivery suite, I got straight into that position and stayed there. The midwife told me that it was a great position as it was opening my pelvis right up. After it was over she told me that as soon as she'd seen me get into that position she knew I'd be able to do it without pain relief.

    One thing I remember from my first labour was that I was lying on my back when they recommended an epidural. Had I known more, I would have tried changing positions before deciding. The pain is definitely worse lying on your back, and also sitting (as in the car on the way to hosp). So try not to make a decision at these times. Find a better pos and try that first.

    Good luck, it is hard and painful but it can be done and is well worth it.

  16. #16

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    hi there Jas, i will be a first time mum too, so can't really give much first hand experience advice, but thought i would share where i am at, at the moment (24 weeks).

    ideally, i don't really want any of those things either, in particular an episiotomy, forceps etc, i'm pretty okay with getting pain relief, it would be great to get thru the labour without it, but at the end of the day, if i need it i will be screaming for it!! you may even hear me ;-)

    i think its great to have a plan, but also keep in mind important to have an open mind too. i think its virtually impossible to predict how things are going to go, and you may find it harder/easier/longer/shorter/whatever and need to make last minute changes to accommodate all the variables that can happen on the big day. I guess you just have to trust your instincts, trust the professionals around you, and don't be too disappointed if things don't go exactly to plan, or if you decide you need some pain relief, or if the doc says you need an episiotomy (fingers crossed not!!) - i guess you just have to go with the flow and do what is needed in order to bring the bub into the world. I am terrified but calm at the same time strangely enough. i figure if hundreds and thousands (millions!) of women can do it then so can i, and regardless of how awful it may or may not be, i guess it will be over in time and all in the past and i will have a little bundle at the end of it to make it all worth while. So for me, whatever has to happen I guess has to happen. I sort of feel in a way a lot of things are out of my hands and up to the gods! (and thats strange coming from me, the control freak!!)

    Anyways enough rambling, and best of luck!!

  17. #17

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    Hi Jas! Congratulations on your pregnancy! Hope all goes well for you. Planning for a drug-free labour and delivery is great, but I wanted you to know too, that if you do decide that you want some relief during labour, that's OK. I had a nubain shot about 45 minutes before Elyse was born (she came a lot faster than I or the doctor were expecting) and she nursed immediately after birth with no troubles. With Marieke, the same thing happened - it was Demerol that time, and she was born about 40 minutes later. Never any trouble nursing, etc. So if you feel you need it, I don't think you have to feel like a "bad mother". Labour, especially the first time, can be overwhelming, so if you need relief, that's what it's there for. As you already said, you don't know what to expect, so keep your options open. And it's not a test of your mothering - you'll be a great mom whether you need drugs or an epidural, or not. (BTW - both girls were born with no tearing! Hurray! But my MD said that around 80% of first time moms have a tear/cut that needs stitches. So I'd say, go in expecting that, and if you get away without it, count it a bonus!)
    That being said, I would totally support your plan to try it drug-free. You CAN do it! Try to find out what best helps you relax and cope when you have a headache, or muscle pain, etc. now. (ie. a hot shower or bath, back massage, music, whatever!) I found both times with my deliveries that the shot didn't take ANY pain away. It still hurt. The difference was that I was relaxed and I didn't care that it hurt. (I'm actually hoping to have my next baby at home, without drugs - we'll have to see how that goes.)
    And yes, it really does hurt. It is an indescribable pain, but it is a "good" pain. It's bringing your baby to you. When you are in labour, breathe, tell yourself you can do it, have a support person who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!!, and remember that it will end. Contractions don't last forever. (BTW, I highly recommend getting in the water during labour. It's the best!)
    Well, I hope you can make sense of my ramble. Just wanted to make sure that you don't feel like you would have to feel guilty for taking pain relief.
    All the best!

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