Are contractions as painful as people say they there?

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Lady Heather - posted on 06/19/2012

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I am one lazy ass person when it comes to exercising muscle groups and I still had little pain. But I had tons of Braxton Hicks. Tons and tons all day long from about 25 weeks. So I think my uterus was exercising itself. I honestly didn't notice that I was in labour because I was so used to feeling contractions. So if you have lots of BH don't complain - it might help you out when show time rolls around!

Sarah - posted on 06/18/2012

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YES! Seriously though, as Louise said, everyone's ability to tolerate pain is different. I had 2 babies. My first labour, my baby was face up. This tends to bring on horrific back labour. Basically my spine and tailbone were what hurt - it felt to me like they were exploding or breaking all at one time. I felt nothing in my abdomen unless someone touched my tummy during a contraction, then I would notice the cramping. I seriously asked several times if I was going to die because it hurt so bad. I had a VERY difficult labour and delivery - 11 hours of active labour, 7 of which I felt the urge to push because I was basically fully dilated - I had a anterior cervical lip that wouldn't go away for 2 hours, followed by 2 hours of pushing, then finally an epidural (I had asked before but was denied because I was so far along - they were prepping me for a c-section which I wouldn't allow them to do because babe was okay), then another 2 hours of pushing. It was a traumatic delivery (my docs words, not mine). In the end though, the moment they passed the baby to me remains the happiest moment of my life. Do I forget the pain? Even almost 4 years later - HELL NO! Does it matter though? No, because it led to the most significant thing I will ever be - a mother. My son was worth every single ounce of pain.

So, needless to say when I had my daughter I was VERY nervous. The minute I arrived at the hospital, I asked for an epidural. It was the middle of the night and they didn't have an anesthetist in the hospital (they needed to be called in). He never made it to give me one. I delivered her 15 minutes after I arrived (I was only 4cm when I got there - it was quite a shock!). My contractions with her were NO WHERE near as bad as with my son. I didn't even realize I was so far along into my labour. With her, it just felt like pressure really low by my pubic bone. I didn't have any back pain at all, nothing higher up on my uterus, just a intense pressure down below kinda pain. It was kinda a shock for me because had I known that was going to be the extent of my pain, I would have never asked for an epidural (which I didn't get anyways) because although painful, it was also tolerable with breathing and concentrating on something else. I had just expected the pain to get worse because it had been so bad with my son.

With my son, I was incoherent between my contractions because my pain was so high I couldn't even verbalize what I wanted (it was WAY better after the epidural). With my daughter, I could still talk between, hold a conversation, etc. The thing is, when you aren't contracting, you don't hurt. So during labour, you look forward to those rest times. You count each contraction as one less you need to have before you get to hold your baby. THAT'S what gets you through them. After my 2nd delivery (which also had a malpresentation - she had a double nuchal hand), I realized a few things: #1 - Every labour/delivery is different (my pain was different for each, my son had 4 hours of pushing, my daughter less than a minute - no kidding on that at all). #2 - Size matters. My son was 8lbs, 2oz; my daughter 5lbs, 15oz. Coming out was so much less painful with my daughter, with less damage to my girly bits. Having said that - my daughter was REALLY small for a term baby (we found out later she had a kidney condition) and that can cause problems later. I'd take the 8lb-er again any day to decrease the risk of complications. And #3 - Don't have expectations. You don't know how it's going to be or what you'll need. Tell your support people. I LOVED the gas with my son, hated it with my daughter. I wanted cool cloths with my son, didn't want anything with my daughter. I had soft music and lights with my son, didn't even have a chance to with my daughter. If you go in expecting it to be a certain way, you may be disappointed. Just go with the flow and see what helps you. If you need drugs, ask for them. If you don't need them, don't. There's no shame in having them and you don't get a prize if you don't. It doesn't make you any less or more of a mother either. You need to do what is right for you. I had my hubby, sis, and MIL in with me when my son was born. My sis and MIL were against me having an epidural (even though I had been asking). BUT, it wasn't their choice. They didn't get on board with it until the obstetrician they called in said to them, "either she has an epidural and has a c-section, or has an epidural and tries to have a vaginal birth. This baby is not going to come out without it." Remember, it's not what other people want, YOUR the one going through the pain, and only YOU can say what you need to get through it. Talk to your support people beforehand and tell them to not argue with you if you ask.

Anyways, sorry for the book here, but I really wish you good luck. You'll do just fine! Good luck!

Ana - posted on 06/24/2012

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Welp, not in Amber land. They told me I was having contractions and I had to look at the paper to be sure.. I didn't feel one thing with the small ones.. when the bigger ones came in I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride going over bumps, was making me dizzy, but not painful..

But most women have pain.. I figure since my periods were like labor to me every month, the Lord blessed me with no labor pains..

Sherri - posted on 06/19/2012

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You are very lucky Lisa. As I exercised everyday up until I was 8mo's pregnant and also had no drugs. I was also 40 when I just had my last who is now 4mo's old and I can tell you I was begging for death. He was only born in 4hrs 20mins from my first contraction too.

User - posted on 06/19/2012

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No. If you exercise regularly before pregnancy to strengthen your back and abdomen, then do light exercise during pregnancy (assuming your doctor permits) contractions are not the excruciating experience most women claim to have. I had a natural birth (no drugs) with my only daughter and labor was short. I credit my exercise for that. What you will feel is your hips literally spreading for birth. I know that sounds awful but it's more weird than painful. My water then broke on its own and the pain totally subsided. I could have laid there on the hospital bed for hours but baby wanted to come! It did not hurt! And I was 42 years old!

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[deleted account]

If you get induced, they are WAY more painful. I was induced with my first and in so much pain it was unbearable. My second I went into labor naturally and had her at home. I actually slept through most of my labor. My contractions started at midnight and I had her around 11am. My suggestion is don't get an IV to "speed your labor along". While it does make it faster, your in more pain.

Kate - posted on 06/27/2012

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Yes. But it's finite- not that your thinking about that at the moment. However It will end and you'll have a baby!!

Sarah - posted on 06/19/2012

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That's the thing though, I hear from so many women too, "oh I was in labour for 27-24 hours." Yeah, I coulda done early labour for days, it didn't bother me that much. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but it was also tolerable. When I had my son I was in TRANSITIONAL labour for 10 hours total. THAT was torture (usually the transitional labour part is about 30-90 min - transitional labour is the last 1-2cm of dilation, contractions are at their most intense). My contractions were about 4-5 minutes long and about 25-30sec apart. That was what was difficult with him. Even though I had the epidural, I felt every single mm of tear I had with him (which was a lot) and that hurt, but the pain with that was quick. I consider myself to have an average - high average pain tolerance and was practically unconscious with the amount of pain I was in (as I said too, because of him being face up, the contractions were back labour and way more intense). Yet, with my daughter, what was worse was my anticipation of how much pain I would be in, then my surprise that it really wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. Position, I think, is one of the biggest reasons why. I would take 200 face down labours over a face up one again any day. It hurt with my daughter, I'm not going to lie, but I certainly wasn't losing consciousness over the pain nor did I need drugs (not for lack of asking, but that had more to do with my anticipation of it getting worse than my actual pain. Oh, and my transitional labour with her was only minutes, not 10 hours - that made a huge difference. It was actually funny because last night my sis and I were talking about it (she's expecting) and she said, she got a call at 9:30am that I was pushing. Then she called at 12, still nothing, then heard nothing until 6:30 at night. She said it was the most distressing thing to not know, but I delivered shortly before 5 at night. I remember too when I started pushing, my doc actually left my labour to the resident while she went and delivered 2 other babies who had started pushing after me. That was really discouraging! Sorry for the tangent though, I was just trying to make the point, that there are so many other factors, and length of transitional labour, position of babe are 2 important ones too.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/18/2012

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It very much depends on you and the baby. My labour didn't bother me until I was ready to push. When I got to the hospital I must have been close to fully dilated because they checked me after an hour and I was 10 cm. At the time I arrived I would say the pain was moderate? Quite tolerable. Migraines are worse. I don't know if it's all about pain threshold. I am horrible with some kinds of pain. I have fibromyalgia and suffer from near constant muscle pain. For some reason the uterus thing doesn't bother me so much. Who knows why. I was also only in labour for three hours. That always helps.

Now the pushing part - that hurt like hell. But it only goes on for so long.

Stifler's - posted on 06/18/2012

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I had no stitches and didn't want penetrative sex for like 12 weeks after when some people had stitches and wanted it as soon as they came out

Stifler's - posted on 06/18/2012

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I just have a very low pain threshold. I wasn't even in labour and was having apparently mild contractions and I was screaming lol the birth didn't hurt but the contractions did

Sarah - posted on 06/18/2012

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There are so many other things that can affect level of pain other than pain threshold though Stifler's Mom. Baby's position, size, strength/length/duration of contractions vs downtime, first time delivery vs subsequent deliveries, pain medications available to you, support of your birthing partner, room lighting, sounds, full bladder vs empty bladder, length of pushing phase, how much if any tearing (both my sisters would rate their level of pain during the actual birth with their first ones less than me, but they had no tearing, I had 3rd degree tears from my urethra to my rectum - it doesn't mean I have a lower pain threshold, just had more damage), past history (sexual assault, abuse, etc), age, maturity, and many more. I think women should do what they need to get through it without feeling weak if they can't do it med-free.

Amanda - posted on 06/18/2012

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My son was face up and I had back labor, no pain or uncomftableness away in my belly. I was lucky in that I was only in labor for 4 1/2 hrs and at the most intense my contractions only felt like I had pinched a nerve in my back and it was only the bottom of the left hand side of my back that I had any pain. I still have the same niggle in my back if I over stretch or put too much pressure on it and my son is 4.

My labor with my daughter was all contractions in my stomache. From my very forst contraction I was doubled over, short of breath and couldn't speak. She was a 5 hr labor and she came out on her side

[deleted account]

Mine were. In fact, I was really pissed aafter reading all those lovely natural birth books. I was in HELL for 40 hours. I was home for most of it, walking, getting massaged, taking bathes/showers, you name it.

Yes, they hurt.

[deleted account]

i got an epidural so im not sure how it is at the end but when they started and before the epidural i found them easy as pie but mainly because my husband was sitting there preping me for the week before saying how bad they are and going to get and i should suck it up when they first start things like that so when they did start i was like ok these arent bad especially since they will get worse. so maybe a part of it is a mind over matter aspect. where if you think they will be extreme right off the bat they will seem so. or if you know you can take it then they wont feel as bad

Gwen - posted on 06/18/2012

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Yes they hurt. But, it's a different kind of pain that no one can really describe. Pushing felt like the world's biggest burning sensation , but also felt awesome in some strange way. It was like you could finally take the pain of the contraction and DO something with it.

Amy - posted on 06/18/2012

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I didn't find my early contractions to be painful at all. I only went to the hospital because I started bleeding, I walked into labor and delivery and was fine, when they checked me they discovered I was 7 cm dialated already. After a few hours and no progress my doctor offered to break my water but suggested if I was going to get an epidural I should do if before, I opted to get it since it was the middle of the night and I wanted to get a couple hours of sleep. My doctor woke me up at 6 in the morning and my son was born by 6:22, everyone is completely different and it depends on your tolerance for pain.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/18/2012

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I didn't find the the whole labour experience to be terrible. I found a quote from somewhere a month or two before I gave birth, and it put it all in perspective for me. It went something like, "Pain and suffering are not the same. Just as you can suffer without physical pain, you can have physical pain without suffering."

Yes, it hurt, but it wasn't an "Ow, something's being damaged" kind of hurt. It was more like really bad menstrual cramps, which doesn't feel the same as, say, spraining your ankle or getting hit in the face with a baseball, which actually have damaged something. I didn't have "ow, damage!" pain until right when the baby was coming out, and that must have been when I tore a bit, because I did have to have a couple of stitches after.

When I started to want to push, it was very weirdly the same feeling as when you need to poop.

You should start preparing. Read books and take a class on how to deal with labour pains. For me it really helped if my husband stood and I gave him a hug around his neck and then dangled there, stretching my back, or if I sat on an exercise ball and he pressed really hard on my tailbone area.

For me, I didn't throw up in labour, which some people do and would have freaked me right out. The image that kept coming up was that I was at the bottom of a tall silo and someone kept dumping corn down the hole at the top. It kept hitting me and trying to trap my feet, and I had to keep stepping up onto the new stuff, or I would panic. But each step brought me closer to the exit at the top of the silo, and my baby. I tried to do just one step at a time, and not think about how much longer I had to do it. (hey, I'm a rural girl, that sort of image made sense to me! If you're not, contractions = the corn coming down and me stepping onto it, reaching the top = holding my baby)

It worked. It was exhausting, but wonderful. I was sore after, but could jump up and get into the shower right away. The big pain was gone as soon as the baby was born, even the placenta and stitches were more uncomfortable than anything. Or maybe I was just addled from the shock of having a real live baby in my arms. :) But I wasn't under any pressure from other people not to get drugs, it was that I wanted to have the baby at home and hate hospitals, so I knew I had to do it without pain meds. Don't do what other people want at this stage. When you're giving birth, it's all about you. Be selfish and only do what you feel like doing; it's good for you and good for the baby.

Louise - posted on 06/18/2012

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Every person has a different pain threshold so what is painful for someone can be bearable for others. My advice to you is go with the flow, if you are uncomfortable ask the midwife what she recommends for you. If you are in early labour you may want something long lasting if you are nearly there then you need a fast acting pain relief that does not make the baby drowsy. If you through the birth plan out the window and do what feels right at the time you will manage just fine.

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