What does natural birth pain actually feel like? — The Bump
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What does natural birth pain actually feel like?

This was a question posted a while back.  It got some great responses.  I really appreciated reading everyone's stories.  I thought I'd post it again to 1) help those who missed it and 2) get some new responses. 

What I would like described is exactly what the pain was like for you?  Is it more like a sharp tearing pain or a strong period-like cramp?  Or, is it something altogether different?

Also, please share your story even if you had the intention to go completely unmedicated but were unable to for whatever reason.

Even if  you remember posting on this question before, please feel free to post your story again.

Re: What does natural birth pain actually feel like?

  • I am curious to see these answers also...
  • cant wait to see the answers!
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  • It was like really bad muscle cramp that slowly got worse and spread from my tummy down to my calves, peaked and then slowly backed off.   Looking back now it wasn't as bad as I was imagining it'd be.  I don't know firsthand what natural pushing is like since I pushed once or twice before they did an emergency c-section.
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  • I think I might be strange but it wasn't really painful for me.  I felt a lower back ache early on, like what I felt in late pregnancy.  Then it was more flu-like with that poopy-pukey feeling rolling through my whole body.  I kept waiting to feel something crampy in my belly but I never did.
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  • image jteneback:
    I think I might be strange but it wasn't really painful for me.  I felt a lower back ache early on, like what I felt in late pregnancy.  Then it was more flu-like with that poopy-pukey feeling rolling through my whole body.  I kept waiting to feel something crampy in my belly but I never did.

     

     

    I hoep to have this kind of labor! did you do anything to prepare?

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  • For me, it was like a giant tight band squeezing around my middle and shoving everything in and down towards my crotch.  It took my breath away almost....not a 'pain' like when you stub your toe, but like a really tight bear hug that makes it hard to take a deep breath sort of thing.

    Pushing = taking the biggest poo in your life. EXACT same feeling.

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  • It wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  It felt like a wave coming over me.  It was a really intense twisting/tightening feeling in my stomach, which wrapped around my back.  Towards the end the contractions were also coupled by pressure.  The nice thing about contractions is that you feel pretty good between them, it's a nice break.
  • Really bad menstral cramps that make you want to puke and poop at the same time...sorry for the TMI.

    I moaned and writhed around on bed. I would like to really work on some more relaxation techniques for the next one.

    For some reason, once I was fully dilated my contractions weakened some and I never got the overwhelming feeling of needing to push that people talk about. Pushing felt like trying to poop against a brick wall. It was challenging to figure out what muscles I was supposed to be using. I pushed for 3 hours (ick that was not fun).

    What really helped me was the mirror that they brought in. I could see the head pop out a little with each push and using the mirror I could see which pushes made the most progress. It was crazy (and pretty painful) when the head finally came out and I'm looking at my baby's head sticking out.

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  • It's like a strong period-like cramp... VERY strong.

    It kind of feels like your midsection is getting squeezed very hard... almost squeezing the breath out of you.

    Last time, someone mentioned how it feels like a Charlie horse around your midsection and I thought that was a pretty accurate description, too.

    It's not like a sharp pain but more of a dull ache that comes in waves... but my number one adjective would be TIGHT! lol  It's definitely an odd sensation.

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  • I had back labor (posterior baby) and all I can say is it was the worst back pain I have ever experienced.  

     


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  • Contractions felt like an intense squeezing of my entire midsection.  Sort of felt like a tire stuck around my stomach pulling everything inside me downward. Not what I expected but in hindsight totally what was described in my natural birthing class.

  • very strong cramp...it was all concentrated into my pelvis and pubic bone...like the worst cramp you could ever imagine and like your pelvic is going to snap. I had such a strong feeling that my pelvic was going to break and snap that I didn't want to move at all and had my mom and husband helping me a lot with the pushing.

    The pushing part...I had no urge...still just the same sensation described above and then burning stretching tearing which actually wasn't as bad as the contraction itself.

     

    Would I do it again?...of course. It is all worth it the few hours of misery for the precious little bundle of joy.

  • Early labor was like strong cramps that came in waves.  After my water broke it was like having a huge vice around my abdomen squeezing the hell out of me.  There was also intense pressure and the overwhelming urge to just PUSH.

    It was really intense.  Transition was like an out-of-body experience for me.  I was actually in less pain and more with-it when it was time to push.

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  • image madhatter2003:

    Pushing = taking the biggest poo in your life. EXACT same feeling.

    This cracks me up because when I was pushing I remember feeling down in that region (from behind because I was on my side with my legs closed) and felt the bulge and was like "what the hell, she's going to come out of my butt!!" 
  • As much as I loved my natural birth experience, it has left me unable to give much advice or examples to other women. Basically, I was in labor for 45 minutes: 20 minutes in transition and 5 minutes pushing.

    What I can tell you about transition: while it was painful, I would describe more as "intense". Like, insanely intense! The worst period cramps with no break in between. I remember writhing, unable to get comfortable. I also remember shivering uncontrollably, as well as starting to feel nauseous.

    I had 3 weeks of BH contractions, each week they got stronger and were fairly consistent in duration. I attribute this to my fast labor since they were apparently dilating my cervix. Those contractions were more of a tightening (like a PP described as a tightening elastic band) from the sides and working from bottom to top. I never had any pain or tightening in my back (thank goodness!). When the BH started to become painful, they also felt like AF cramps.

    As far as pushing, it surprised me that my body just did it naturally. I was always told with my first 2 (both with epis) to push like your pooping. I gotta say, that's exactly what it feels like (and yeah, I pooped all 3 times). Pushing was actually the least painful part of the delivery. I never felt the infamous "ring of fire". I felt a tiny little sting on the labia and tried to push less. Turns out I got a little skidmark there, so it's a good thing I slowed down or it could have been worse.

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  • In the beginning it felt like cramps in my belly and lower back. I had increasingly bad pain in my back and almost none in my tummy once it got started. I felt waves during contractions, they would get bad, bad, bad, then worse, then better, better, better and then I'd have some relief. Toward transition it felt like there was a hatchet in my lower back.

    Pushing felt like a cross between being cut in half and trying to sh!t out a full grown man. But, oddly enough, it felt so different than contractions. It wasn't a relief exactly but it felt nice to be able to be more in control and DO something!

    And, during pushing, I remember screaming "My a$$ is going to explode!" lol...

    it was all worth it though ;)

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  • image robbysbride:

    What I can tell you about transition: while it was painful, I would describe more as "intense". Like, insanely intense! The worst period cramps with no break in between. I remember writhing, unable to get comfortable. I also remember shivering uncontrollably, as well as starting to feel nauseous.

    I had 3 weeks of BH contractions, each week they got stronger and were fairly consistent in duration. I attribute this to my fast labor since they were apparently dilating my cervix. Those contractions were more of a tightening (like a PP described as a tightening elastic band) from the sides and working from bottom to top. I never had any pain or tightening in my back (thank goodness!). When the BH started to become painful, they also felt like AF cramps.

    This exactly.  I was in labor for 45 minutes also, and pushed twice.  The first push was just the sac (she was born in the caul).  MW saw the cord wrapped and said "you need to get her out now" (she was looking distressed).  Pushed her out that second push.  Turned out she was fine, and barely left a mark on me.

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  • I labored with DS up until 8-9cm, and his labor was not bad up until the end.  With DD, pain was pretty awful.  Each contraction started with some pain around my scar (it was like a burny/sharp pain combination) that wrapped around to my back.  The back pain was the worst.  It was like the worst muscular back pain ever.  Not at all what I was expecting after DS's labor.  Basically every labor & delivery is different!
  • image nickcrazy16:

    image jteneback:
    I think I might be strange but it wasn't really painful for me.  I felt a lower back ache early on, like what I felt in late pregnancy.  Then it was more flu-like with that poopy-pukey feeling rolling through my whole body.  I kept waiting to feel something crampy in my belly but I never did.

     

     

    I hoep to have this kind of labor! did you do anything to prepare?

    I did do the Bradley classes but apparently I'm just "made to give birth" according to my MW.  I was as surprised as anyone else!
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  • Mine were period cramps with more dull ache through my thighs/stomach.

    When it was  pretty painful (a few hours after my water broke, between about 7-10 cm) It was strong strong period like cramps with aches through my legs, vagina, back, pretty much everything south of my boobs. 

    The best pain relief I found was either in the shower sitting down with the water on my stomach, in the shower standing up with the water on my back, or sitting down with my H pressing on my back and my doula pushing my knees towards my body. 

    The MOST painful was between 9-10 cm. The only relief I felt was in the shower leaning up against the wall squatting. Even then I was still in a LOT of pain. Every little movement was painful.

    At that point if I pushed just a little, like a loooong exhale with a little bit of pushing, I felt a little relief also. That's when I knew I was getting close to the end. 

    When I decided I wanted to push (didn't feel "the urge" yet) was when the harder I pushed the LESS pain I felt. 

    By the time I was full on pushing, I would get a contraction, be in horrible pain for a split second, start to push and the pain would go away. The harder I pushed the less I felt (other than pressure kind of like a bowel movement). 

    I did feel a few "urges". They basically felt like I was puking kind of. You know when you have to puke and NOTHING can stop you? It's like that, but ummm out the other side and a baby not puke haha. 

    ETA. Also, I pushed in kind of a half squat half all fours on the bed. I did feel the ring of fire but it wasn't so bad. It was like the worst UTI I've ever had (same place) but not unbearable. When I started feeling that I would lightly push to make some of the contraction pain go away but not make the fire get worse. 

    I did have on itty bitty tear that didn't need stitches, right where I felt the fire. Between vag and urethra 

  • Contractions felt like an iron fist tightening around my lower half and squeezing really hard. It was not sharp but took my breath away. It was different to anything I had experienced before. I didn't scream or cry but just couldn't breathe.
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  • *lurking - I love reading posts like this so I thought I would add mine as well. Always seems helpful*

    I had mild period type cramps for hours. They started at 8:30am and didn't hurt, even the stronger ones (because I normally had bad periods). My water leaked a little bit all day long as well.

    When we got to the hospital at 2pm and the nurses finally checked me I was 7cm along! When they got me in my room the pain finally hit. I had all back labor.  

    The back labor, for me, felt like someone was crushing my tailbone. Or taking an ice pick to it. I was in my own zone - not even knowing what time it was or how long I had been there. The surprise to me was when I felt the urge to push. I didn't expect my body to just do it on it's own (without any real help from me). My body just started pushing. They got the nurses down there and it was definetly time.

    Another surprise - didn't feel anything during pushing time besides when I actually pushed (i'm thinking maybe because mine was all back labor?). The nurses had to tell me when to push because it felt like everything stopped - no pain whatsoever. Obviously the pushing hurt - feeling like my bones were being pulled apart but I only felt pain when I pushed in the end.

    All in all, my actual labor with pain was only a little over 3 hours! I have a feeling I may not get that lucky with this one lol.

     

  • For me it felt like intense tightening/cramping, starting at my sides and pushing in.

    Kind of a funny story - when I was pregnant I asked this same question. I got lots of responses. One person said that it was like going out into the middle of the street and getting hit by a truck over and over again. At the time I thought "huh, that's a funny thing to say!" During labor I distinctly remember thinking to myself at one point "That poster was SO RIGHT. It is exactly like being hit by a truck!" :)

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  • I was induced at 10 days past due.  I started labor 24 hours before the induction, with contractions every 3 minutes.  The contractions felt like very strong period-like cramping and kept on that way through the first 12 hours of the cervadil.  At 7:00am, they started the pitocin and the epidural that I requested. Unfortunately, I had a bad reaction to the epidural so they had to stop it and it had totally worn off by about 9:00am.  All I can say to explain the next two hours is that it was the most horrifying, terrible two hours of my life.  The pain felt like my body was being ripped in half and twisted all at the same time.  It was terrifying and painful beyond anything I had ever imagined. I really wanted to die.  That all being said, I blame the worst of the pain on the pitocin (which I will never endure again) but part of it was also that my son was positioned poorly and he came out face up.

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  • I felt contractions as intense pressure in my pubic bone and hips, like someone was squeezing my bladder with all their might.
  • image pinksweetpea2:

    I had back labor (posterior baby) and all I can say is it was the worst back pain I have ever experienced.  

     

    I also had a posterior baby and the low back pain was horrible I couldn't stant my legs would limp out on me it also was not helped at all by sounter pressure that made it feel like knives cutting into my spine.  I also had some period like cramps.  I knew I need to push when I felt like I had to poop it was like pooping something way to big but once his head was out it was all better.

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  • With both of my labors, early labor was mild cramping and a bit of back pain. With my daughter I went natural to 8 cm (24 hours) and with my son I had a completely natural homebirth.

    Early contractions were the mild low pelvic tightening, kind of like when you're having belly issues and have diarrhea. With my daughter, it was posterior, so the pain was focused almost exclusively in my back. I remember telling people it felt like someone was poking a hot dagger into my lower spine. I remember the contrctions in my belly as tightening, bnut like I said I felt them in my back, not there. I had the epi just before pushing so didn't feel that part.

    With my son, the contrax were in my belly and back. He had a nuchal hand, and the pressure of his hand by his (big) head and his (big) head slightly malpositioned caused my lower back to ache a lot during contractions. Active labor was mostly in my belly, and down into my pelvis, hips, and upper thighs. It was nothing like period cramps for me...if my period felt like that I'd be horrible to deal with every month. It was a painful squeezing and tightening, and I had to move my legs and otherwise be very still to get through.

    Transition was just that, but more severe I guess. I actually had no idea I was in transition. I was kind of worried about it before his birth after hearing how much worse it could be, but I didn't notice when I hit it. I just felt like my midesction had a life of its own and nothing felt better than when a contraction had peaked and it started to go away. That was heaven!

    Pushing was intense for me. Since he was not small (8 lb 12 oz...manageable, but with a big head and nuchal hand as I mentioned) I felt a lot of pressure in my vagina and rectum while pushing. I could feel him move down and then back up a bit with each push.

    I didn't feel crowning at all.

    If you're curious, here is his birth story on my blog:

    http://theazkahles.blogspot.com/2009/03/rohans-story.html

  • image madhatter2003:

    For me, it was like a giant tight band squeezing around my middle and shoving everything in and down towards my crotch.  It took my breath away almost....not a 'pain' like when you stub your toe, but like a really tight bear hug that makes it hard to take a deep breath sort of thing.

    Pushing = taking the biggest poo in your life. EXACT same feeling.

    Same things for me too.  Felt like I couldn't breathe... like it was taking my breath away.  So weird.  I remember thinking it would be more sharp.  But it was just a tightening... and also kind of like a dull period-like pain.

    Pushing felt exactly like pushing out the biggest poo of your life. lol

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  • The contraction pain felt like a VERY strong period cramp. They would start, build intensity and than slowly stop. 

    That pain was pretty manageable with breathing and just trying to relax. However I had a posterior baby and had back labor which was AWFUL. It felt like I was being stabbed in the lower back. The only thing that helped that was having warm compresses and counter pressure applied to my lower back during  contractions. 

     I had my baby at a birth center with a midwife, so I knew going into it drugs were not an option. 

    I had a very long labor due to my baby being positioned left occipital posterior and asynclytic,basically because he wasn't positioned optimally my cervix didn't dilate effectively. I was in labor for a total of 32 hours.

     To be honest, the pain was bad, and it was very hard work, but is was bearable. My husband was SO supportive and helpful during labor. He rubbed my back, held my hand, supported me in whatever way I needed. If I hadn't had him there I don't think I could have done it. 

    I was really scared of when the baby crowned because I heard people call it the ring of fire and stuff, but honestly it was a strong stretching/burning sensation but wasn't too bad. Pushing is a lot of work but its such a relief to push.

    I would def have a natural childbirth again. If he had been positioned better, my labor would have been a lot quicker and easier. I'm hoping my next baby decides to come out correctly. :) 

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  • It starts out like period pain but then it become a giant charlie horse in your uterus.
    Nobody said life would be easy. Just that it would be worth it.

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