Babies: 0 - 3 Months

I need a straight answer, especially if you went natural.

Do contractions hurt worse than those terrible leg cramps at night.  I don't mean just a leg cramp but the kind where you can stop screaming, can't form words, then puke, and can't walk the next day.  Because if so I should just go ahead and ditch this natural labor plan.

Re: I need a straight answer, especially if you went natural.

  • LOL.

    Well, I got an epidural eventually, but labored naturally for about 10 hrs first. I also got the leg cramps. 

    I would say it's a different kind of pain. The leg cramps come out of nowhere, for me usually in the middle of the night waking me out of a deep sleep, and you don't know when they'll end. Also they never made me puke (you poor thing - could you be low on potassium?)

    Labor pains were a little more predictable once labor got going. You get into a routine and it helps you cope. For the most part they last about the same amount of time so you can kind of predict when they'll end. You have a (small) break in between. For me they were probably objectively more painful than leg cramps, but I wouldn't let that stop you from trying to go natural. 

    It was hard, and I did get an epidural eventually, but I still plan to try again next time :) GL with your labor! Hope those leg cramps calm down!

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  • image Lambie.:
    Do contractions hurt worse than those terrible leg cramps at night.  I don't mean just a leg cramp but the kind where you can stop screaming, can't form words, then puke, and can't walk the next day.  Because if so I should just go ahead and ditch this natural labor plan.
    Ugh! I hate Charlie horses. I used to get them every night. I got as far as having my water broken and on pitocin Before ending up with an emergency c/s, and while they hurt like hell they were a different kind of pain. I kinda feel like they were worse(the leg cramps that is). While contracting i had to keep my eyes shut and not talk or be touched by anyone. I didn't cry though, like I sometimes do with leg cramps. Lol. Sorry if I'm not much help. I'll let someone else who went all the way vaginally answer your question.
  • I personally have never had a leg cramp that even compared to what my contractions felt like. I went natural and even though it was painful I would never do it any other way.

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  • Supposedly limiting sodium intake can also cause them, which I had been doing to combat swelling, but I guess I will be rethinking that.  I have been getting cramps every night now for weeks but I had been able to work them out before they clamped down into that "please someone amputate my leg now feeling".  Thanks for the imput.
  • This is a good time to thank your hormones.  We have a hormone during L&D (I can't remember which one exactly) that separates the emotion form the pain.

    Yes, contrax hurt, but we soon forget the pain. We remember we were in pain, but we don't remember the actual pain itself...if that makes sense.

    I ended up with a c/s after hours of pushing and I can honestly say that I was in more pain getting out of bed for the first time post-op than even my worst contraction. 

    You kind of get into a zone during labour.

    GL!

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  • I went natural but not by choice, I didn't get to the hospital in time. That being said, far worse than a leg cramp of any kind IMO. If those make you puke...well I don't want to discourage you. The end result of going natural was the BEST thing that could have happened to me. For dd #1 I was induced and had the epi and this time around I felt amazing postpartum compared to how I felt with dd#1. So I say, go into knowing it's going to hurt like heck but that you can do it and it will END.
  • I "went all the way" (love that phrase) on Pitocin but I've never had leg cramps like that so I'm afraid I can't answer your question either! 

    The pain of contractions is hard to describe because they just take over your whole world. I never asked for drugs during labor because I was just on another planet.

    Now, breastfeeding pain... if I could get an epidural in my boobs I totally would. 

  • It is definitely painful.  I won't lie.  I don't think the experience can be compared to a charlie horse.  People have different degrees of them - they are stronger for some people than others.  That being said, I can usually take pain pretty well.  I did feel like puking and thought I was going to - I had stomach acid coming up into my throat.  I definitely wanted an epidural once my water broke.  Unfortunately I could not get one because I was too far along at that point and they wouldn't let me get one.  Lucky for me I gave birth in less than an hour after my water broke.  How some women can go longer than that I don't know.  Unlike charlie horses I don't remember there being much pain after wards.  I only remember being really weak and shaky.  I had a difficult time standing in the shower because my legs were shaking so bad yet.  But like I said people's pain tolerances are different as well as their birthing experiences are different.
  • For me contractions were the worst pain I have ever felt. I got an epidural and wouldnt have it any other way. I had a long long labor (26 hrs) and was able to relax, talk, sleep during labor. Depends on what you want your labor to look like. I cannot imagine not having an epidural!!
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  • And once you get into L&D you will know your answer. I was unsure of an epidural, then the contractions started and I knew I wanted one!
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  • I would like to go natural for several reassons but the biggest ones are how I would feel post partum and then I would like to stay at home and labor as long as possible.  If I stayed there until I felt like pushing that would be fine with me.  If I have to be induced and stuck to the monitors, or if I'm in labor for 2 days all bets are off.

    And thank you for reminding me about the hormones and the "zone".  These at least have to be more usefull than being woken out of a dead sleep with horrific pain.  I tend to think I have a fairly high pain tolerence.  I have broken bones, bruised my kidneys and ribs (worse than the broken bones) and separated my shoulder and these legs cramps are far far worse than any of these.

  • I pretty much went natural with my second son (got the epi at 9cm, and was pushing three minutes after epi) and I've had the night time leg cramps/charlie horses. Sorry to discourage, but the two aren't even comparable, imo. Contractions were, by far, the worst pain I have ever felt.
  • image Lambie.:

    I would like to go natural for several reassons but the biggest ones are how I would feel post partum and then I would like to stay at home and labor as long as possible.  If I stayed there until I felt like pushing that would be fine with me.  If I have to be induced and stuck to the monitors, or if I'm in labor for 2 days all bets are off.

    I was induced and stuck to the monitors but I made it through w/out the epi... you just never know how you're going to feel during labor. I thought I would want to move around and change positions but actually I did not want to move AT ALL once I was in active labor. It's really best not to build up any preconceived notions about it. :) 

  • Are you serious? I wouldn't even put the two in the same sentance... just wait and see..

    There is no pain you can imagine that will compare to full blown labor contractions...

    I had an epi with DD1 and natural with DD2 (except for some demerol)

  • I think some of you are having a difficult time understanding that it is possible for people to have excruciatingly painful leg cramps, and to be frank, you're being a little insensitive.

    Ever seen athletes on the side line of a big game, having their legs massaged while they grimace in pain? Those are leg cramps. You think those guys would be sittin' there chillin', missing playtime, if it weren't horrifically painful? No.

    So before you ask the poor girl if she's "serious" or comment on her pain tolerance level, please try to remember that she may be having a slightly different experience than you. 

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  • image Rach03k:

    I think some of you are having a difficult time understanding that it is possible for people to have excruciatingly painful leg cramps, and to be frank, you're being a little insensitive.

    Ever seen athletes on the side line of a big game, having their legs massaged while they grimace in pain? Those are leg cramps. You think those guys would be sittin' there chillin', missing playtime, if it weren't horrifically painful? No.

    So before you ask the poor girl if she's "serious" or comment on her pain tolerance level, please try to remember that she may be having a slightly different experience than you. 

    I think that people only understand varrying levels of leg cramps if they have had the worst ones.  I have heard many people say they don't hurt that bad, which I didn't understand until recently because before getting pregnant if I got one it was always terrible (and for those of you who don't get this I know I can't make you understand but think of your muscles being contracted so long and hard you can't support any weight on your leg after).  Since being pregnant I have gotten them more frequently but they are usually a more mild/moderate pain and tolerable.

  • image Rach03k:

    I think some of you are having a difficult time understanding that it is possible for people to have excruciatingly painful leg cramps, and to be frank, you're being a little insensitive.

    Ever seen athletes on the side line of a big game, having their legs massaged while they grimace in pain? Those are leg cramps. You think those guys would be sittin' there chillin', missing playtime, if it weren't horrifically painful? No.

    So before you ask the poor girl if she's "serious" or comment on her pain tolerance level, please try to remember that she may be having a slightly different experience than you. 

    Yeah but they aren't massaging their leg every two minutes for 16 hours.  BIG difference.

    I did a 26 hour, cytotec induce labor, naturally. Umm.... I suggest being committed to the cause or your gonna want the epi.  Hell your gonna want the epi, but I got through by knowing exactly why I wanted to go natural.  Even then, if the hospital staff hadn't supported me by not offering anything I probably would have caved.

    Just remember the goal is to have a baby.  If you can do it the way you want, Great!  If you have to change your birth plan midstream the role with it.  It's not like you get an award for going natural.

  • image manx:

    Yeah but they aren't massaging their leg every two minutes for 16 hours.  BIG difference.

    Confused 

    If you read my first response, I did say that I think labor pains are more painful than leg cramps. My point was not that they are the same or even comparable - it's that the people acting like the OP is nuts for even asking need to get a clue. 

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  • I went entirely natural.  Contractions are not the worst pain I've ever had.  Appendicitis is so much worse. 

    Anyway, a charly horse is completely different from labor pains.  For me, contractions felt exactly like the worst buffet-induced food poisoning I ever had with a tiny bit of lower back pain.  So no, it wasn't scream worthy, more of a curl up in a ball and whimper sort of discomfort.  So, once I realized I was in labor, the pain management skills I learned in my birthing class actually helped. 

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  • Yes, I also understand that one leg cramp does not equal hours of labor that is not only painful but exhausting and emotionally trying for many. I was just trying to get a 1 to 1 comparison. I am an OB nurse and worked LandD for several years. I understand, although not first hand, that it is impossible to compare a 3 min leg cramp to the experience of labor as a whole. I also understand the need to be flexible in my decisions and even more than that I have seen over and over that without a solid commitment to going natural, 99.9 percent of people will cave if offered the opportunity. I appreciate all the thoughts.
  • I attempted to go natural and my contractions were not that painful at all until my dr broke my water. Holy cow did they start hurting then. They were off the charts, I was hunched over the side of the bed crying. I don't remember how long I made it after my water broke without pain meds. I did go from 5 cm to 8 in an instant. I cried to DH to get the nurse and since he knew I wanted a natural birth he made me make the call. Once I got the epi and it took to both sides I was in heaven and had my baby within an hour. I probably could've made it all the way, I felt like I failed but was glad in the end. Next time I will get an epi sooner.
  • My labor was pretty painful due to my LO was turned, so I had all back labor, and he was stuck.  I have never been in so much pain in my life.  Also, my plan was to have an epi but it wore off minutes before I reached 10cm and my nurse told me to start pushing.

    Good luck going natural, I have a lot of respect for women that can do that!

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  • i had HORRIBLE leg cramps thru most of my pregnancy and they would last for days. enough said. i had a c-section after having contractions for 2 weeks and they didn't hurt me (even though my dr. said they were pretty serious contractions--i had them straight thru one of my weekly appts.) DD was transverse so c-section it was. and i had all intentions of going natural.....having been thru all of my experiences i will tell you this.....

    1. you can plan all you want, but be prepared to throw it all out the window--that baby will have the last say as to how you deliver her.

    2. drink LOTS of water, cut out sodium, eat a banana every day and make sure you have magnesium in your diet to help with the cramps.  and make sure you are elevating your legs if you are on your feet alot, especially if you are wearing flat shoes.   

    good luck and stay feeling well.......

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  • I think it definitely is a different kind of pain. I have an extremely low pain tolerance, but as long as I was left alone, I was fine. I stayed in the shower and walking around for ages...

    The only time it got to where I couldn't handle it and I panicked was right at the moment the urge to push hit. I was ready to climb up the walls because it blew my focus. :') Once DH got my focus back (by hollering quite loudly at me since I wasn't paying attention) it was just fine. I wouldn't ditch natural labour if that's what you're hoping for.  You can always change your mind when it hits. 

  • image Rach03k:

    LOL.

    Well, I got an epidural eventually, but labored naturally for about 10 hrs first. I also got the leg cramps. 

    I would say it's a different kind of pain. The leg cramps come out of nowhere, for me usually in the middle of the night waking me out of a deep sleep, and you don't know when they'll end. Also they never made me puke (you poor thing - could you be low on potassium?)

    Labor pains were a little more predictable once labor got going. You get into a routine and it helps you cope. For the most part they last about the same amount of time so you can kind of predict when they'll end. You have a (small) break in between. For me they were probably objectively more painful than leg cramps, but I wouldn't let that stop you from trying to go natural. 

    It was hard, and I did get an epidural eventually, but I still plan to try again next time :) GL with your labor! Hope those leg cramps calm down!

    This. But I had always planned on getting the epi...I just wanted to see what it felt like so I waited until my contractions got bad.  However, it didn't take on my right side so I felt a lot, but they reinjected at 9cm.  It is a different kind of pain and I honestly can't remember it anymore so I wouldn't let that deter you.  Good luck and the bedrails are a great tool during contractions! Wink

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  • i had no plans for a natural birth but ended up having one.  i did not find it to be particularly painful but i was apparently quite lucky in that I had a very fast labor.  I got to the hospital expecting to give birth in the next say 10-12 hours based on talking to the doc and what we knew and was already 10 cm when we arrived :)

    gl 

  • Well, I was induced and went natural, so granted my contractions were worse than if I didnt have pitocin, but yes, they were significantly worse than any pain I have ever felt or could ever imagine existed.  I screamed the entire time and blacked out at some points (pushed for 3.5 hours)
  • I had HORRIBLE leg cramps when pregnant, but no, they don't even compare to the contractions I had for 6 hours or so until the epi.  IMO contractions are waaay worse....
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  • I never had leg cramps that bad but labor also was much less painful than I anticipated.
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  • IMO, most leg cramps that normal people feel aren't typically the types that hard core athletes get.  On that note, my contractions hurt much more than any leg cramp i have ever had in the past.  plus, leg cramps although happen continously with no break, they typically don't last more than 5-10 min and with that, you can massage your leg through it. I did get an epidural, but it was dosed just enough where in the end (abour 7-8 cm or so) i felt extreme pressure and i could definitely tell and feel when a contraction was coming on.  I was glad that it was done this way because i knew when to push (not just looking at the monitor or waiting for someone to tell you to push) and i was able to readjust the way i was pushing if i was doing something that the nurse thought was an unproductive push.   I was only numb from maybe a few inches under my chest to mid thigh.  I could still lift my leg, bend my knee, move my toes, etc.  I know that some gals were completely numb and felt nothing at all during their delivery.  If you're concerned with the pain, maybe the epidural dosing is something you can discuss with your doctor and the anesthesiologist. 
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