Do women really think labor isn't going to hurt at all?? — The Bump
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Do women really think labor isn't going to hurt at all??

I was at the hospital tonight (they have a ldrp area so it is ob/newborn all together) and they were joking around about a patient that showed up and was like, it isn't supposed to be like this ! when can i get an epidural?  The girl was about 1 cm and not in active labor, so she definately had a long road ahead of her.

It just made me wonder....do people actually think it is going to be all fun and games? I planned to get an epi, and did around 7 cm, but I didn't think it was going to be all easy peasy and pain free. Even if you are planning to get meds, don't people think there will be pain???

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Re: Do women really think labor isn't going to hurt at all??

  • They don't know what kind or how much pain until they are actually in the moment though. I give it a pass.
  • I don't know...I honestly wasn't prepared for how much it hurt because I read a whole bunch of Ina May and other natural childbirth books/articles etc. because I had planned on no meds. I labored 7 hours unmedicated before they told me I was having back labor and since DD was sunny side up I had a long road ahead of me, but it could be done. Being that I had nothing to compare the pain to since she was my first, I truly thought I could make it with no meds anyway. I didn't know until afterwards that I was actually in way more pain than is typical.

    I tried to withstand the pain, but after a few hours of contractions being less than a minute apart and still only being 5 cm, I ultimately decided on the epidural b/c I knew I needed some some sleep to have strength for pushing. It wore off anyway, and I ended up feeling everything in the end. But to be honest, I didn't really believe everyone who told me it would be most painful thing ever. I had my mind made up that it would be "pleasant pain". Umm, yeah right.


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  • I think most women figure that "they have drugs for that" - especially since there is not a focus on dealing with pain in typical childbirth classes that women take. 

    I always feel bad for the girls who plan on the epidural and have one that doesn't "take". At least I planned for the pain.

    So yeah, I really do think that most women believe they won't have to experience too much (if any) pain.

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  • I think if you want to know what labor feels like, then go out in the street and let a car hit you. Honestly, there's no way anyone can prepare you for it. I was in tears and begging for an epidural at 1 cm the first time I delivered.

    image

  • image KKMMex:
    I think if you want to know what labor feels like, then go out in the street and let a car hit you. Honestly, there's no way anyone can prepare you for it. I was in tears and begging for an epidural at 1 cm the first time I delivered.

    Yep this was me.  I knew it was going to hurt, but I didnt know how badly.  I was floored and crying with the first few "real" contractions.  

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  • I'd never presume to know what other womens pain was. I was able to labour naturally at home for 9 hours and didn't get uncomfortable until 8 cms or so. I found my section recovery far worse than labour. However some women are in blinding agony at 1 cm. Idont think they are unprepared for pain, just not the kind that their body gives them. How do you prepare when you don't know what your body or pain threshold is? Holy self righteous.
    image Josephine is 4.
  • I think the key part here is the girl was 1 cm and not in active labor. I call puss factor, for sure. Some people view all of pregnancy as one big disability, with labor as the biggest medical intervention one can have. I don't know how anyone can go through pregnancy and think that the end of 9 months of intermittent discomfort + pushing a person through your vagina is going to be pain free, or even tolerable pain for most people. 
  • My mom stalled at 1 cm with both labors. She went to the hospital and was having double peaked contractions but wouldn't dilate... they cranked her up on pit and still no dilating. Finally they broke her water and she dilated FAST. She still describes those hours of being "stuck" as pure hell (and she didn't have drugs with the first delivery).

    I like to pretend that labor and delivery nurses don't talk to each other about things like that... because I don't even want to know what my nurse would be saying! After 2 hours of pushing I told her I was done and wasn't pushing anymore Embarrassed and might have said some less than nice things when she laughed and said that wasn't really a choice EmbarrassedEmbarrassed It was not my best moment.

  • image eml569:
    I think the key part here is the girl was 1 cm and not in active labor. I call puss factor, for sure. Some people view all of pregnancy as one big disability, with labor as the biggest medical intervention one can have. I don't know how anyone can go through pregnancy and think that the end of 9 months of intermittent discomfort + pushing a person through your vagina is going to be pain free, or even tolerable pain for most people. 
    lovely. 1 cm or 8 cm you don't know her pain. And I don't put a ton of faith in nurses who chatter about the "wimps" they encounter. All labours are different all pain is different.
    image Josephine is 4.
  • I really hope I have a labor like my mother's.  Her contractions were so mild she didn't realize she was having any until she was already 7 centimeters.  She thought she just had a back ache. 

    That said, I'd be delusional to convince myself it will be that easy.  It could very well be sheer hell.  Every woman and every labor is different, so you really don't know what kind of pain the girl was in.  I fully expect it to hurt, badly. 

  • My doula said the number 1 "complaint" she hears from her clients after labor is that she (the doula) failed to tell them (the women) how much labor hurts.  I have to admit, after my labor I told her the same.  Going into it I knew it would hurt, I was aiming for that "pain with a purpose" feeling.  I got none of that.  I got double peaking contractions, too close together for any recovery, no dilation, back labor with a sunny-side up reluctant to be born kid.  I wrote a birth story way back when and totally admitted that when given the option to have the epi (and eventually the c-section) I basically jumped at the chance before asking for a little validation.  It hurt.  It hurt a lot.  A lot more than I thought it would. 

    But...1 cm? I don't know.  I didn't go into labor until I was already at a 4.  

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  • I didn't go into labor (althought as it turned out I was having contractions when I arrived at the hospital for my planned C-section for my big, breech, lassoed in place by his cord baby) - but I didn't really feel anything.

    However, I do believe that unless you are the inhabitant of the body being discussed - you can't know what that body is experiencing - and how it feels. Someone else's 1cm labor might be your 7cm labor.  Or it least, it might feel that way to her brain.  You just don't know.  So I think to poke fun or question anybody else, well, it's pointless - because you can't know what someone else's pain feels like. (And I hate when these boards and their participants are SO overly PC and I am being exactly that here but in this case I do believe it.)

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  • I'll be that one crazy lady...

    It wasn't pain like any I'd felt before... it was the most intense feeling ever- but not pain. Breaking my tailbone snowboarding hurt more. I had an unmediated home birth that lasted nearly 24 hours. I accepted that it would be unpleasant and possibly hurt like hell...but it wasn't like that. I baked cookies for the first 5 hours...

    It is a proven fact that women who are afraid will experience more pain...perhaps this woman was scared? 

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  • I have a pretty high pain tolerance and I feel like I tolerated the labor part of my birth experience pretty well. We walked the halls and honestly I was thinking to myself "if this is as bad as it gets, this isn't that bad and everyone who whines about childbirth being the hardest thing they've ever done has clearly never gone through college soccer preseason". But once they broke my water (meconium) and I had to stay in bed all the pain intensified and I asked for an epi. Unfortunately, by the time they came to give it to me I was 9 cm so I had to stick it out without the epi. Dilating that last cm and pushing her out was by far the hardest thing I've ever done physically and the most pain I've ever been in. She was worth it.
    S- March 09 E- Feb 12 L- May 15


  • image tak2002:

    I'll be that one crazy lady...

    It wasn't pain like any I'd felt before... it was the most intense feeling ever- but not pain. Breaking my tailbone snowboarding hurt more. I had an unmediated home birth that lasted nearly 24 hours. I accepted that it would be unpleasant and possibly hurt like hell...but it wasn't like that. I baked cookies for the first 5 hours...

    It is a proven fact that women who are afraid will experience more pain...perhaps this woman was scared? 

    I sort of felt the same. It just didn't hurt that much for me. However, the point I was making was, how does our experience/lack of real agony mean anything if another woman IS feeling it. Surely we cannot assume that what we felt is the what every other woman feels.

    Just because I had a great labour (crappy delivery and recovery though) doesn't mean another woman can't be in shocking agony at 1 cm. And why does it matter? Being a L&D nurse means you need to help support everyone.  

    image Josephine is 4.
  • Looking back, it wasn't as bad as I expected.  But it does depend on your pain tolerance, how the baby is positioned, and what type of pain you've experienced before.  I played soccer for a full month with stress fractures in both shins.  I was on anti-inflammatories, but it felt like someone was constantly poking me with nails on good days, pounding them in with a hammer on bad days.  I never knew when that was going to end.  I had sciatic pain during pregnancy, tylenol did nothing.  I take 500mg naprosyn for period cramps because they wake me up. 

    I wanted to go unmedicated.  I asked for an epi, but went from a 6 to 9.5 in the 30min it took to find the anesthesiolgist.  Pushing was a huge release for me.  Thhe key part of labor pain for me was that I knew it would end.  Other pains I've suffered had no such deadline, especially not with such a great reward.

  • I was definately not judging that she was in pain....just more thinking that I was prepared that it was going to be BAD....so I was expecting it would be like being hit like a car....and it was!  Everybody is different for sure.
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  • I think the reason that the human race continues is because msot women get labor amnesia.  That which was heck seems not so bad a year later when you little one is crusing around and you are completely healed.  So many women tell their pregnant friends that it's not that bad, a bit of burning, it was over quickly, etc.

    And then OBs never say it hurts like the dickens.

    I was induced way too soon - the doc that was over my MWs requested an NST and said I had too little amniotic fluid and because I was 2 days overdue had to be induced THAT DAY.  They couldn't find my cervix, I was so not physically ready.  They did every drug possible for contractions, three days later I finally asked for an epi when the pit was dosed up so high there weren't breaks between contractions and I was still only 1 cm dilated.

    They had to manually break my water, and I gushed with PLENTY of fluid.  My epi tube fell out mid-actual pushing and no one realized and the pushing and contractions didn't hurt nearly as much as the balloon catheter that swelled with every contraction.  I had back labor, they used forceps, I was stuck on my back and the nurse said if there was anything higher than a 4th degree tear, i would have it.

    And seriously, even with all that horror, I really think if I was able to actually GO into labor, it would have been a manageable pain and experience.  I think it's a lot of mental, a lot of spiritual, a lot of research, a lot of knowing all the potential outcomes. 

    If you think you can have a contraction or two and get some drugs and pop out a baby an hour later and then that does not take place... you will be begging for any drug to take away the pain.

  • I was completely unprepared for how much labor would hurt.  I had back labor that was just unreal.  I didn't get a break in between contractions like everyone said, and none of the pain management things I tried worked, because I had pain in my back, my belly AND shooting down my legs.  I was sobbing because the pain was so bad.  And guess what, this was all before I was in "active labor."  

    If her baby was posterior or in some other weird position, it's completely possible that she was in much worse pain than your average person at 1 cm.  

    I think until you experience labor, you just can't really know what you're in for.  It's such a silly thing to judge people over, especially if you don't know the whole story. 

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  • I really think it depends on the person.  My mother swears that 3 of her 4 labors were painless and "orgasmic" (her word, not mine) and the last time, my youngest brother was born at home by accident b/c she didn't realize how far along she was. She swears that she only felt pressure, and that the babies crowning and coming out were the best orgasms she's ever had.  Well, except for the first one (me! lol).

    On the flip side, I know women who were in excruciating pain at 1cm. I'm hoping I'm built like my momma, but I don't think anything can prepare you for how your body is going to handle labor.  

    Judging someone for how much pain they can handle seems a little bizzare, given how different women's bodies and minds seem to handle labor. 


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  • I think until you're there you can't understand how hard it is. I took a Bradley class and the teacher told us how bad it was, but at that point it wasn't something I could really "get" Her exact words were "I never asked for any pain medication, but I did ask for a gun."

    I just thought it would be the kind of pain I could work though with relaxation and focus. Yeah.

     

      

     

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  • I was induced due to signs of Pre-E and I can tell you that spending 16 hours on Cervadil with contractions 1-2 minutes apart and many on top of each other only to find I was only 1cm and 80% effaced was horrible.  An additional 10 hours later after upping Pitocin and then adding an Epi into the mix a bit before delivery--I can tell you it was one wacky game show!   I am 100% positive that being induced before my body was ready made my pain much worse than "natural" labor.  Nothing could have prepared me for the mind-thrashing pain, nor the heavenly pleasure of holding my baby girl.
  • Yes.

    My upcoming labor is not going to be painful. Uncomfortable, probably, but it's not going to hurt.

     

  • I didn't think labor was going to be as intense as it was!  I read a lot of Ina May and other natural birthing books and I think that it was a good thing that I had that positive attitude.  Yeah, it hurt more than I anticipated it would--a lot more--but I didn't go into childbirth with the attitude that it's going to hurt too much and I can't do this.  I had an epi-free birth, even with pitocin, just a little stadol so I could sleep a bit before pushing.  I think there's no way of anticipating what childbirth will be like until you've experienced it!
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  • I honestly didn't think it was going to hurt as much as it did. I was unprepared for the pain of back labor.
  • image DomerJenC:

    I think most women figure that "they have drugs for that" - especially since there is not a focus on dealing with pain in typical childbirth classes that women take. 

    I always feel bad for the girls who plan on the epidural and have one that doesn't "take". At least I planned for the pain.

    So yeah, I really do think that most women believe they won't have to experience too much (if any) pain.

    this

  • I *grossly* either underestimated how bad the pain would be or overestimated my pain tolerance. :)

    I mean c'mon I've had a stomach full of ulcers and I made it through that. ;)

    I did make it through without the meds (3rd degree tear and all) - but good lord - that was the worst pain I have ever imagined.

    And there was a girl in the room across from mine that screamed - yes screamed at the top of her lungs - fromt the moment she got there, through every drug and epi they would give her until she finally had the baby. And I have to admit to judging :)

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  • image KKMMex:
    I think if you want to know what labor feels like, then go out in the street and let a car hit you.

    Someone (maybe you?) said this in a thread I posted on 12-24 asking what labor feels like. I labored med free for 10 hours or so, and right before I asked for the epi I thought "that girl who said this is like being hit by a car is so freaking right!!!"

    So if it was you, thanks for the accurate description ;)

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  • I def did not think it would hurt as much as it did, whatsoever.  I had a doula and a lot of friends who went natural.  One of my friends who went natural said it was like really bad period cramps - so I'd put those on my scale of 8 out of 10 for pain.  Labor, comparatively, would have been a 47 on that scale.  I seriously had no idea it would be that bad - I don't think I am one to cry uncle too early either.  They broke my water and I had strong contractions for about 5 hours (a few hours of milder contractions before that).  I finally got an epi even though I wanted to go natural (like pp posters said, it I thought it would be manageable productive pain).  I do think it depends on the person though - I was only 6.5 cm when I got my epi and my eyes were rolling and my knees were buckling - I can't imagine having gone to 10 cm - so bad period cramps weren't even in the ballpark. 
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  • I was not prepared for the intensity of the contractions. It was painful and more intense than I thought it would be, but it was bearable. I did a lot of hypnosis before the delivery, and I really think that plus the awesome midwives I had at our homebirth, helped me relax and ride out each contraction. I'd go natural again - and I say that AFTER pushing an 11.5 pound baby out of my body, sans drugs!

    I think what makes labor MORE painful for some women (aside from the position of the baby) is the natural tendency to tense up with each contraction. I had to fight that tendency to tense up. My midwife's apprentice did a great job of talking me through each contraction and helping me to relax all the muscles of my body so my body could do what it needed to do. It hurt a lot more when I tensed up then it did when I relaxed. 

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