Pregnant after a Loss

Natural Child Birth Pain Vs. Miscarriage Pain

Hello!  I was wondering if anyone would be able to compare pain from a miscarriage vs. natural childbirth.  Last year I had a miscarriage around 9 weeks, but the baby probably died a few weeks prior.  The miscarriage did not begin on it's own, and I had to take a pill to get things going.  Within an hour of taking the pill, I began bleeding and having contractions.  The pain got pretty awful, but it was a more natural pain, and I preferred this way much more than going through a D&C, which would have been very traumatic for me. 

I'm now due to have a baby in late September, and always thought I'd get an epidural.  Now that it's getting close, and feeling really real, I'm getting more and more apprehensive at the prospect of a needle/tube in my spine, IV's, and a catheter in my bladder.  None of that sounds pleasant, and as much as I don't like pain, I'm almost less freaked out by it than all of the tubes and needles.

Has anyone had both a miscarriage (not sure if pills that cause contractions cause different pain than a miscarriage that occurs on its own) and a natural childbirth to compare?  I'm sure labor is more painful, but I was wondering how much more painful, and if it was bearable in your opinion. 

Also has anyone had any pain management that wasn't technically an epidural?  If so, how did that work out?

Thanks for any help!

Re: Natural Child Birth Pain Vs. Miscarriage Pain

  • I'd be very interested in hearing what others say too as I'm trying to figure out a birth plan

    Off BC, NTNP since June 2011

    Started acupuncture/herbs July 2012 

    First BFP 9-8-2012,EDD 5-15-2013, heartbeat of 175 at 8w2d, mmc discovered on 10-26-12 (11w6d) Cytotec on 10/26/12

    8/23/13 DX with non-IR PCOS

    Second BFP 9.12.13, EDD 5.29.14, heartbeat of 114 at 6w1d, mmc discovered on 10-18-13, D&C on 10/23/13 (baby girl/Trisomy 10) 

    Third BFP (surprise at Beta draw after d&c) on 1/10/14 (15dpo), EDD 9.20.14 Please be our RAINBOW!

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  • edited May 2014
    Sorry no experience to share since I had a D&C but I just wanted to note that you may want to ask the ladies on PAL as well.

    Eta: fixed wonky typing.  I was hangry (hungry/angry).
    Began trying for a baby January 2012
    BFP 4.25.2013  EDD 1.3.2014  MMC 6.3.2013  D&C 6.19.2013
    BFP 11.3.2013  CP 11.6.2013
    BFP 3.31.2014 EDD 12.10.2014 Baby boy Carlson born 12.19.2014 
  • No comparison except for the bleeding after the fact. My natural m/c was a fraction of the pain of natural labor, and I didn't even make it to delivery without an epidural. I got my epidural around 6cm. But... having said that, yes, of course natural labor is doable. Women have been birthing babies naturally for 1000s of years, so it is certainly possible to survive the pain. In fact, I would encourage you to watch the documentary "Business of Being Born" on Netflix to help you make your decision. There is no right answer, because whatever results in a healthy baby and mama is the ultimate goal. I'm reading Ina May's "Guide to Childbirth" right now and it's an amazing resource if you're considering natural birth. The first half is all birth stories of all kinds and every time I read a new story, I walk away thinking "I can do this. I was made to do this." The second half is coping/pain management techniques, positions that speed labor, etc.

    Personally, I had an epi with DS and I am planning a natural birth this time. Some of the things that are impacting my decision: 1) my labor after the epidural progressed extremely quickly and the numbness caused me to push too hard/too fast resulting in a 4th degree tear and a horrific recovery, 2) I hate catheters, 3) the increased hormonal release from natural birth can promote better milk production/improve early nursing success. There are more reasons, but those are some of my top ones.

    DS born 10/22/2008
    DD born 12/23/2014

    m/c @10wks 12/2007
    m/c @4wks 3/2014

  • I actually find this to be a pretty good question.

    My first loss was a mmc (baby stopped growing in week 8). I found out the sad news on a Monday, and I decided I wanted to try to pass everything on my own without the D&C. Starting Wednesday, I had mild cramping and heavy bleeding, but things weren't really progressing, so we scheduled my D&C for that Friday afternoon. Thursday night the cramps got pretty bad, but by Friday morning they were full-blown contractions. I couldn't take any pain meds because my stomach was supposed to be empty for the surgery, which was scheduled for 4 o'clock. Now maybe I'm a real wimp, but honestly, that was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. The contractions came so hard that I was sobbing and throwing up (dry-heaving actually, since my stomach was empty). My husband was just a wreck because he couldn't do anything to help. The hospital let me in early to put me on a morphine drip, and I felt like I was going to pass out on the way there. It was truly awful! After that experience, I don't think I could handle natural birth. I will likely be getting the epi! 
  • To buggirl72 who "side-eyed" my post: Clearly I know birth is worse.  A miscarriage is my only experience with contractions, and I was basically wondering HOW much worse labor contractions are (10 times, 1 million times...) but obviously it's a hard comparison to draw and explain.

    Anyway, it was nice to hear what everyone had to say.  It sounds like miscarriages and births are all over the place with levels of pain, and women's bodies reactions.  I'm probably going to try waiting as long as I can during labor, and just going with the epidural if I really can't handle it.  This is all really exciting but terrifying! 
  • It sounds like miscarriages and births are all over the place with levels of pain, and women's bodies reactions. 
    This is what I'd guess. I actually had a med-free childbirth with my son, then 2 miscarriages. The first was a d&c and I never bled, the second was an incomplete miscarriage at 6 weeks where the cramps were similar to the early stages of labor but NOTHING close to how hard it was 7cm+ for me. Of course, I ended up needing a second d&c, so perhaps it would've been harder if my body had completed the job itself? But, truly, every body and birth is different!

    If you are interested in natural/med-free childbirth, be sure to take a class or do some reading on it! Preparing is super important.


    2010: son born 9/1 

    2013: 2 miscarriages + d&cs, both at 10 weeks: April & July

    2014: son #2 born 6/29

    2016: Baby girl stillborn at 21w6d 4/29 and baby boy stillborn at 20w 3d 11/16

  • tdf2010tdf2010 member
    OP, as you mentioned, everybody's experience and pain level is completely different.  For all of my miscarriages, I did not have any horrific pain.  Yes, the natural ones weren't not painful, but for me, it was not worse than regular period cramps.  For the birth of DD #1 which was aided by pitocin and epidural free, it was only painful about an hour before I had to push and even that was bearable for me.  I'm not really sure how this one will go.

    From my sister's experiences with miscarriages, her 3 were extremely painful (she has yet to have a successful pregnancy). 

    Not sure if I'm much help or not, but just be prepared that your experience won't be like everyone else's. 

                                                                       Started TTC #1 08/2010

    BFP #1 12/14/2010 EDD 8/24/2011, D&C due to blighted ovum 01/27/2011

    BFP #2 05/02/2011 EDD 1/10/2012, MC at 4W2D 05/04/2011

    Diagnosed with homozygous C677T MTHFR - Lovenox shots while TTC

    BFP #3 08/01/2011 EDD 04/07/2012, DD born 03/29/2012

    Started TTC #2 12/2012 on Arixtra due to Lovenox/heparin allergy

    BFP #1 03/19/2013 EDD 11/24/2013, MC at 5W 3/24/2013

    June/July 2013 - Clomid 100 MG CD 5-9 + TI = BFN

    July/August 2013 - Clomid 100 MG CD 5-9 + IUI = BFN

    August/September 2013 - Femara 5 MG CD 3-7 + IUI = BFN

    LMP 9/11 Unmedicated cycle - BFP 10/11, EDD 6/21/14 Born 6/2/14

                                                                             ~ All AL Welcome ~

  • I find this interesting and I have wondered the same thing myself. With DD I was never in labour and had an emergency c/s. I had wanted a low-intervention, no pain med birth. With my first loss, we found out at 13 weeks that the baby had stopped growing and was measuring around 8 weeks. I took misoprostol. It was the worst pain I have ever had in my whole life. Once it kicked in, I felt like my uterus was going to explode every 2 minutes for about thirty second for about 4 hours. I was this close to going to the hospital because I thought something was very seriously wrong. It makes me wonder if I'm cut out for a pain med-free delivery. I mean, obviously, you are not pushing out a 8lb baby, but I can imagine the contractions can be similar. I think one of the differences is psychological. It might seem very physically painful because it is unproductive pain in the sense that you are not working on giving birth to a live baby. 


    bfp#4 3/19/2014 edd 12/1/2014 please let this be the one!

    beta @ 5w0d = 12,026! u/s 4/22/14 @ 8w1d it's twins!

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  • My miscarriage pain was like bad menstrual cramps. I had one day where they were pretty painful but not anything I couldn't manage. I would say it was about on par with what early labor was like for me. I had intense back labor with DS and even though I had an epidural, it wore off and so I had to push with no meds and it was by fair the most horrific pain I have ever experienced in my life.

    Like others have said, it's more the duration of labor and the contractions coming right on top of each other that, IMO, made it worse. You want so badly to just have a moment to rest but you get through one contraction and then a minute later another is starting. Everything is so much more sensitive, too, that a cervix check is enough to want to make you throw up (or at least was for me).

    Before my epi, they offered me stadol which I declined because from my sister's experience and others it made them feel loopy. Even the nurse said there was a chance it would make me feel like I was drunk. I accepted a sleeping pill which did absolutely nothing. The only relief I had was the epidural until it wore off but the 4 hours sleep I got was very helpful before pushing.

    I would say, if you want to try natural, then definitely plan and prep for it but remain open to the idea of pain interventions if you feel like it is becoming too overwhelming.
  • Junebug060609Junebug060609 member
    edited May 2014
    Lurking from PAL
    I have had two natural m/c. One at 5w and the other was à mmc (stopped growing at 7w, passed at 11.5w). Both passed in the sac (relevant for dilation comparison). I have also had two live births. My son was à vaginal birth, daughter was an unplanned c/s (pushed for an hour). Both births had lots of interventions, though it was not my intent. Both were pitocin inductions, and both involved pain management (stadol and epidural, plus additional meds when we went c/s).

    My feelings on comparison of the two is that my mmc reminded me of *early* labor...what it felt to get up to 5-6cm. Beyond that, once I hit transition, it was à completely different ball game. The contraction intensity (white knuckle grip whatever is handy for dear life), my bodies reaction (I get the shakes and throw up, fun times)...just everything.

    My recommendation for you (global you) is to go into birth with an open mind. Things dont always go as planned, both of my births are excellent examples of that. Have options for pain management in your tool box unless you are adamantly against them, even if they are à last resort for you. Focus on the main goal of any birth: Healthy Mom & Healthy Baby. Good luck!

    ETA: In both labors i was epi free until at least six cm and had it put in when they broke my water. The stadol was used overnight so I could get some rest (27 hr labors each time). First time it didnt do much. Second time it made me loopy and i had the funniest dream (i was in Mickeys clubhouse...yes, i have a toddler lol) in which i foresaw having à c/s.

    BFP#2 2.5.11 (EDD 10.15.11) DS born 9.28.11

    BFP#4 8.27.13 (EDD 5.6.14) DD born 4.23.14


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  • MrsDLMrsDL member

    I took cytotec for MMC. It was definitely worse than very bad menstrual cramps (and I've had horrible menstrual cramps when I was younger), but for me, nothing compared to labor contractions. I managed the MC pain with 800 mg Motrin and ended-up taking two Percocet tablets over 3 days and it managed the pain. Before I took any meds, it felt to me like early labor felt with my son. 

    With my son, I had about 2 days of contractions before it was time to go to the hospital. The MC pain was similar to what I experienced at home for those two days.  I had planned on a med-free birth (DH and took a Hypnobabies course). My contractions became so painful I thought I had waited too long and would deliver on the way or right when we got there. Meanwhile they checked me and she told me I was only about 1cm and it could take two more days. Med-free plans went right out the window at that point.  I gladly accepted something "to take the edge off" and refused Pitocin until I could get an epidural. Once I had the epidural it was smooth sailing and I progressed quickly with Pitocin. 

    It's different for everyone, I have a friend or two who didn't take meds because it was too late and they described the pain as similar to cramps until transition which is the shortest part. For me, the MMC was painful, but in comparison to my experience delivering DS - didn't come close. I thought I had a high tolerance for pain until that point.

  • I had a natural m/c at 5w1d and a natural birth and there is no comparison, IMO. The m/c just felt like bad menstrual cramps, but full-term labor was no joke!

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    BFP #1 8.6.2011 EDD 4.7.2012 DS1 born 3.30.2012

    BFP #2 1.21.2014 EDD 10.1.2014 natural m/c 1.30.2014
    BFP #3 4.30.2014 EDD 1.10.2015 DS2 born 12.31.2014

  • springbeduk2springbeduk2 member
    edited June 2014

    My mc.s were very early so can't compare. But I just wanted to second what many pps said that you can't really predict what labor will be like and reading/researching so you'll feel knowledgeable and at least semi-prepared for many ways it could go is important and also find out what you can about standard procedures atyour hospital and with your OB or MW.

    Also I wanted to share a good birth experience with no pain meds. I had my daughter almost 4 weeks ago and really it was way less painful than I expected. Things like DH putting pressure on my back and mw doing warm perineal compresses was enough. I'm also a person who (like you said, OP) is more freaked out by the idea of things like a needle in my spine, a catheter, and possible side effects of stuff than by more "natural " seeming pain. But I totally might have changed my mind if my labor had been longer and more painful. It just wasn't and maybe yours won't be either.

    Also I agree with PP that knowing there will be a baby in your arms at the end makes labor really different. In fact pretty much exactly opposite from a MC where you are grieving (understatement!) along with having physical pain. Also expectations can play a big role -it's not like it's a surprise that labor hurts ad for me that made it more manageable than unexpected pain of other kinds. But also expecting it to be doable and knowing some strategies from reading ina may's book and others helped too.
    Me: 39  DH: 44  together since 2000 married 9/2004 TTC #1 since 2/2012
    BFP #1 6/5/2012  m/c 6/15/2012 about 5w3d   BFP #2 6/?/2013 m/c 7/1/2013 5w 3d
    BFP #3 8/25/2013  EDD 5/7/2014    DD A. born 5/8/2014!!  Love!!!!
  • I find the eta on this post more than a little offensive. This is a place where women can come and ask questions without fear of judgment or reprisal; as someone who just hd a very physically painful miscarriage, I was also wondering how the pain compares to childbirth. My miscarriage was quite traumatic and it has forced me ro reckon with the potential severity of childbirth. 

    This is a place where women come to get answers to questions that we are often too scared/embarrassed to ask medical professionals, or the professionals lack information or provide conflicting information. Your ‘side-eye’ has no place here.
  • I had an early miscarriage before I had my daughter and recently miscarried at 10 weeks. Each of these experiences were very different. The sensation of delivering natural cannot really be compared. Except that the cramping is like early labor. 
    I knew I wanted a natural childbirth with my daughter. I took hypnobirthing classes along with a more traditional class. The hypnobirthibg was to give me the tools to have a successful natural birth. The traditional class was so I was informed on all types of analgesics. 
    Everyone is different but for me I felt like the more informed I was the better off I would be. 
    I told myself I was feeling pressure not pain through my whole labor and was able to deliver my baby sunny side up. I am the last person you would think could do this.
    Overall I have found there are many things that are more painful than childbirth. But you have to do what makes you comfortable. Let me know if there is anything else I can tell you. 
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