Labour pain is like...

(127 Posts)
MadAboutQuavers Wed 22-Sep-10 16:24:44

A plea for unbridled honesty from all you MN mums...

I'm due to give birth to first DC in 6 weeks' time. Like a lot of mums-to-be, the prospect of enduring labour pain very soon is scaring the blardy hell out of me, and like all first-time mums-to-be, the fear of the "unknown" is doubling it.

Obviously, I know that labour is not going to be "ooh, now that's a bit uncomfy" in terms of how painful it is <<cue very nervous laughter>>. I am, if all goes to plan (ahem!), hoping to have several remedies to help me cope with the pain (TENS, epidural, etc.), but I wondered if any mums can put into words what the pain ACTUALLY feels like?

I know everyone has their own different experience, but is there anything you could say that could describe the pain to someone who has no clue?

Not that I'm expecting this to prepare me or anything.... grin

Bagpusstree Wed 22-Sep-10 16:27:14

I really don't think you can explain it. Its unlike anything I've ever experienced before or after. It hurts. A lot. However this is coming from someone who had not a snitch of pain relief (not out of martyrdom choice!). And I'm waiting right now to do it all over again, so it cant have been THAT bad grin

ShatnersBassoon Wed 22-Sep-10 16:36:14

It's not as bad as the pain from an oral abscess. It's just the length of time it goes on for that makes it so difficult to endure.

like bagpuss i think it's pretty indescribeable....

it's actually an intense pressure not a pain if that makes sense...

there's a whole lot of different feelings going on...there's the stretching and the pushing...

if you stretch out your pointy finger and thumb so the skin between them is tight and then push some more it's sort of like that, but then imagine it in a circle and in your nethers... that is sort of like the stretching

and then the pushing is like pushing out a big poo..

but you're trying to do them both at once, with muscles you've never used before and that get tired

and you're not actually in control of the process...not only does it come and go with your contractions you also know that it's unstoppable... the next contraction will come... but you know that it'll all stop the second your baby is out (well appart from the afterpains for delivering the placenta but they're a piece of cake )

I found that I couldn't not shout - i made noises that I didn't know I could make and couldn't replicate now if you paid me. But they weren't because I was in pain or fear but because the nosie helped...

DS was 10lb 6oz first baby delivered in 7 hours, with gas and air for the second stage only....

My main tip would be to blow rasperries with your lips during each contraction... the theory is that loose lips = loose 'lips' if you get my meaning... Initially for each contraction i was doing 10 long rasperries and then they gradually grew to 13 rasperries. the raspberrying and the counting of the raspberries really distracted me from what my body was doing and I think that was a good thing. You just need to let your body do the job it was designed to do without the 'interferrance' of your brain Also with the raspberries start them early - while it still feels silly to do them would be my second tip... and you can get your DP do them too - gives them something to do

But it's the most amazing thing i've ever done and I long to do it again (2 MC since giving birth to DS )

RaisedFromPerdition Wed 22-Sep-10 16:45:00

It's indescribable. And different for each woman.

I think you're doing the right thing going into it thinking about how you might cope. Because you don't know how it might be, but you can find out what your options for pain relief are beforehand, how they work, when it is best to have them administered etc.

I went in expecting contractions to progress, get longer, get more painful and closer together, there to be a painfree gap inbetween etc. And while that is the normal course of labour, mine wasn't like that at all.

Your labour will be whatever it is but you can have a think now about how you might handle it and how you might make decisions when the time comes.

laughalot Wed 22-Sep-10 16:46:46

hell grin

BooBooGlass Wed 22-Sep-10 16:47:21

The worst period pain ever. And it gets longer and closer together. But it is true that you forget the pain, I remember when I was in labour with my second, wailing 'Now I remember!' But yep, forgotten it again now.

RaisedFromPerdition Wed 22-Sep-10 16:48:49

See, Knitter says it's a pressure not a pain. I had no pressure, only pain. It's just so personal.

My friend said that crowning feels like if you make your mouth into an 'o' shape and then try and stretch it either side with your index fingers (like pulling a stupid face to a child). Only different lips...

MadAboutQuavers Wed 22-Sep-10 16:49:43

Wow knitter - what a great description

Someone told me once it was like trying to "poo a coconut" confused grin

Good to hear you ladies are prepared to do it again though... that gives me some positive excitement about the whole thing... I think... confused

BooBooGlass Wed 22-Sep-10 16:51:00

On the flip side, I don't remember feeling any pain at all on crowning. Pushing was a very involuntary thing fo rme. That my body just took over nad did it without me 'wanting' to was the biggest shock for me I think.

tooposhtopost Wed 22-Sep-10 16:52:55

I am with BooBooGlass - it is like bad period pains. But MUCH MORE BEARABLE!!!! because you get breaks between contractions. IMO it was worth labour to avoid 9 lots of periods but then I used to have very painful periods (not so much after child birth).

My sister thought she had a stomach upset when she was in labour, and that is the other similar feeling.

If you are lucky, it's not too bad. If you are unlucky, there are always drugs :-) It honestly is nothing to worry about....look at all the people who go on to have second and third children.

mummyplonk Wed 22-Sep-10 16:55:05

agree with shanterbasson, would take labour over a really bad toothache wink I found it a lot like very bad cramp, feel a bit helpless, takes your breath away, then when it stops you are completely ok. Agree with massive deep breaths/raspberries helped a lot, as did tens machine and birthing pool was great to labour in.

Found the pushing part almost enjoyable as something was happening and obviously v exciting at that point. Good luck, I am lucky enough to see lots of newborns and Mums in my job and the elation and joy you feel afterwards is something even harder to describe than the labour. x

mousymouse Wed 22-Sep-10 16:55:55

my dh asked what it feels like.
I explained to him it is like running a marathon. first few miles are ok, not pleasant but managable. when you reach mile ten, you get a cramp in both thighs. you can*t stop running, because life depends on it. it gets more and more intense and exhausting.

for me it was not true that the pain is forgotten after birth. the intensity is forgotten, yes, but I remember it being really intense.

oooh and yes it is very different for different people. Someone I know's wife woke up and discovered that she'd given birth without noticing in her sleep - she was woken by the baby crying... Didn't feel a thing.. although this is definitely the exception....

Blu Wed 22-Sep-10 17:00:55

I honestly didn't experience it as painful for the most part. It wasn't comfortable, but I would say it's a bit like when you set off on a big fell walk, and you think you can't make it, and why did I choose this terrible uphill slog of a route, wheeze, puff, etc, BUT you never actually want to turn back ou want to get there. It feels like immense hard work, but your body is doing it without your say so.

My whole lower half was just kind of going 'uuuuurgh' in big waves, and I made loud 'eeeergh' noises - but it wasn't a a result of pain.

I was quite happy with TENS, pool and walking round a lot, until I had been pushing for ages. Didn't want the G&A that the midwives had brought. Only bad bit was lying down for ventouse delivery, and the drip they out in to try and accelarate the pushing contractions - then I asked for an epidural, got one and DS was born 3 tugs n the ventouse later. But it meant I missed the last bit of pushing / crowning sensation. But i was sky high on endorphins by then. You can't imagine being in labour with a 'not in labour' mind.

Blu Wed 22-Sep-10 17:02:27

Oh, god, yes way better than having a tooth abcess!

RaisedFromPerdition Wed 22-Sep-10 17:02:29

Not the pain bit, but the feeling of what is happening is like a bad case of food poisoning. Involuntary cramps, massive expulsive effort, nausea etc.

The marathon analogy's a good one. I tried to explain to dh that it's so sore and intense and painful and you're so exhausted that in all other circumstances you'd stop whatever it is you're doing to just make the fatigue/pain go away. But you can't. You have to keep going. That's certainly very weird. You spend a lifetime avoiding pain and exhaustion and during labour you have to develop a new mindset where you are welcoming it.

lostinwales Wed 22-Sep-10 17:05:39

Only ever been induced, on the last one (of three so can't be all that bad!) as the syntocin kicked in DH asked what it was like I likened to to being kicked in the balls, only every three minutes. It gets more intense but for me, between contractions I was laughing and joking and then rocking out on gas and air during (stuff of the gods that). As for the last part, suffice to say I cannot hear that song with the line 'the ring of fire' without crossing my legs!

I would do it again tomorrow with pleasure, every last contraction.

mousymouse Wed 22-Sep-10 17:07:47

lol ring of fire
with ds the radio was on all the time and lemar*s "nothing like it" was on every hour

passionberry Wed 22-Sep-10 17:08:15

I thought it was less like period pains and more like a bad case of food poisoning - i.e. it came in waves, the cramp got more and more intense like all my insides were being squeezed in a vice, then that moment of relief when it stops.

It wasn't that bad tbh - I had some bad moments when contractions were coming so fast that I didn't get a break in between but then I got the lovely gas and air and it was ok after that.

Crowning feels much like you'd imagine - that was the bit I remember saying "ow ow ow it really hurts!!" But then it's nearly over!

Thandeka Wed 22-Sep-10 17:11:09

hell hell hell hell hell and then some.

and then the second epidural worked- heaven

then came to the pushing stage and hell hell hell again,

but then my labour started dramatically with incredibly strong intense contractions as soon as my waters broke- none of that period pain getting endorphins build up just straight into pretty much agony.

and gas and air did fuck all for me coz no-one showed me how to use it properly and then the labour went squiffy and DD was oxygen starved and in NICU for a week. She was 9.5lbs- couldn't get her out.

So yeah next time I am having an elective C-section. grin

But I think I was unlucky! Very jealous of ladies who had good bearable birth experiences.

(sorry probably should have tried to whitewash some of that for you- erm my top tip would be is DON'T PANIC. Do whatever you can to stay as calm as you possibly can- I didn't (not helped by stupid fucking hospital and being left on my own for hours and none of my drips or epidurals working etc) and thats when it all fucked up!)

Oh and practice pushing your poo's out- same muscles pretty much.

passionberry Wed 22-Sep-10 17:11:10

X posted with RaisedfromPerdition who I agree with re. food poisoning!

Bucharest Wed 22-Sep-10 17:11:12

Marian Keyes says it's like shitting a sofa.

My pain was all around the back rather than the front. Kind of like the bellyache you have before really bad diarrhea (sp?) but in your back. <helpful description> (I was a bit cross about that because no-one had told me it might be round the back)

Then the nice man came with his big epidural needle and it was a piece of piss from then on in. smile

RaisedFromPerdition Wed 22-Sep-10 17:22:17

Thandeka, my waters went before labour started and contractions were intense straight away, 2.5 minutes long with 30 seconds break. No peak to them either, just the same pain from start to finish. But then dd was malpositioned and I ended up with an em cs, so it's not 'normal' labour I suppose.

I spoke to a lot of women afterwards who all said it's very normal to accept you're dying while in labour. Because under no other circumstances will you be in that amount of discomfort for that long without there being some kind of quite serious explanation for it. That's a normal feeling. You are not dying or having some kind of premonition, it's just that the experience is so far outside of anything you'll have been through before that you can't rationalise it sometimes. So don't worry if that happens.

violethill Wed 22-Sep-10 17:32:07

Like others have said, it's impossible to describe but here goes anyway....

First stage: Waves of intense, stabbing pains, which can be in abdomen, back, top of legs, becoming more intense. Pain builds up in intensity, and frequency. There may be periods of complete pain*less*ness between contractions, or you may find as they come thick and fast, there isn't any respite. You may feel sick and shivery at transition. As others have said, you may feel you are dying, or that dying would be preferable to continuing.

Second stage: I found the worst part by far. Pushing the baby out feels like opening your legs and having a blow torch directed at your lady bits. At NCT classes, we were taught to place a finger in each side of our mouth and pull slowly apart. Then try to contine pulling even when it starts to sting and burn. That's a pretty good way to get the idea - just imagine it's your fanjo not your mouth!

After the baby is out : utter relief. If even had a couple of stitches without pain relief - seriously - because once you've been through that level of pain, you feel like nothing can ever come close again.

The pain is shocking, but it's also very empowering, and the high afterwards is indescribable. I can honestly say I felt amazed at myself and like I could cope with anything having done that.

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