Pain of labor vs. pain of tattoo? RP from Aug2011 — The Bump
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Pain of labor vs. pain of tattoo? RP from Aug2011

Hey ladies, I'm re posting this from the August 2011 board, but I got to thinking you all might best be able to answer!  I'm planning on having a med free hospital birth with a doula and my dh as support. Here's what I posted:

So, I'm just wondering if the pain of labor and the pain of getting a large tattoo are comparable at all for those of you who have given birth (in this case med free) and had a tattoo.  I ask because last year I got my first tattoo and it was a pretty big one in the middle of my upper back.  It took about 3.5 hours to complete, and was the most pain I've endured thus far. The tattoo artist only took ONE break the entire time! eek!  I love that someone tried to tell me tattoos feel like scratching a sunburn....ummm yea, no, it felt like someone cutting me over and over with a razor blade in the same spot for almost 4 hours!

Anyway, I know that the two pains are very different types of pain, but I'm just wondering if the pain LEVEL is comparable?  With the tattoo I started off in pain but able to at least carry on conversation through the pain, and by the end I was unable to speak, think clearly and was repeating in my head "you are fine, people get tattoos everyday" over and over!  

 Thoughts?

 

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Re: Pain of labor vs. pain of tattoo? RP from Aug2011

  • Hell no.

    I have two small tattoos (shoulder and foot).  You can't really compare the two, IMO, because the tattoo pain, even if it's a large tattoo, is localized to one area.  The pain of child birth radiates from the center of your body - from the inside.  Getting a tattoo is like being cut with a razor; contractions are like having your whole middle being squeezed in a giant vice.  Labor is also work, while getting a tattoo only requires you to sit still.

    I'd put the pain of a tattoo at maybe a 4-5 at the worst and the pain of contractions during transition at a 9+.  (I consider a 10 to be pain that makes you pass out - and I was really close at points!)

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  • from my experience (9 tattoos, two med-free births), the pain of getting a tattoo is nothing like the pain of labor.

    the tattoo hurts, but the repetitive jabbing can also give you an endorphin rush and create an oddly pleasant sensation. while the beginning of my first labor felt pretty neat (not exactly painful), i can't say there was anything remotely pleasant about what i felt during the end of my first labor and all of my second labor.  like pp said, labor pains take over your entire body. 

    in spite of all of the pain, i would *highly* recommend a med-free birth to anyone.  the reward of feeling your body do exactly what it was meant to do is well worth the pain -- i found it truly amazing to just have my body take over.  really an incredible experience. 

     

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  • It is not comparable at all. I didn't think my tattoos were painful though, just uncomfortable. Whereas labor was painful. Labor pain is different from any other pain you will experience (even severe menstrual cramps trust me I have endometrosis) you can't really compare it to anything. The thing to remember is that it is pain for a purpose and it will end.
  • I'm a FTM, so this might mean less coming from me, but I have a tattoo that covers about 75% of my back, and I think that is sort of a ridiculous comparison. If tattoos hurt that much, I don't think they would be that popular.
  • kesryakesrya member
    imagesuperned:

    Hell no.

    I have two small tattoos (shoulder and foot).  You can't really compare the two, IMO, because the tattoo pain, even if it's a large tattoo, is localized to one area.  The pain of child birth radiates from the center of your body - from the inside.  Getting a tattoo is like being cut with a razor; contractions are like having your whole middle being squeezed in a giant vice.  Labor is also work, while getting a tattoo only requires you to sit still.

    I'd put the pain of a tattoo at maybe a 4-5 at the worst and the pain of contractions during transition at a 9+.  (I consider a 10 to be pain that makes you pass out - and I was really close at points!)

     

    This! I have two tattoos - the pain is not even comparable for the reasons listed above.  Though I would put the pain of labor at an 8 for me.  The only two things that were 10s in my life was falling off a cliff resulting in shattering and severely dislocating my ankle, and hiking for 8 days up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro - those were both worse than my 40 hour labor.  Tattoos were pretty quick and easy.

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  • For me, my tattoo wasn't half as painful as labor. But, my labor was less painful than getting a spinal for my c-section, less painful than my herniated disk in my lower back, and my labor was also less painful than most cavity fillings I've gotten. I think the physical sensation is not the main determining factor - it's your fear level, whether you are relaxing or fighting it, and whether you feel in control. I used hypnobirthing and really believe that all the practice helped me be prepared for the pain and open to it. In other situations like the dentist, I haven't planned for how to deal with the pain.
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    etaylorw
  • imagemissfire:
    For me, my tattoo wasn't half as painful as labor. But, my labor was less painful than getting a spinal for my c-section, less painful than my herniated disk in my lower back, and my labor was also less painful than most cavity fillings I've gotten. I think the physical sensation is not the main determining factor - it's your fear level, whether you are relaxing or fighting it, and whether you feel in control. I used hypnobirthing and really believe that all the practice helped me be prepared for the pain and open to it. In other situations like the dentist, I haven't planned for how to deal with the pain.

    Eh.  Both of my labors really fvcking hurt.  Not because I was scared or fighting it.  But because labor really fvcking hurt.

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  • imageiris427:

    imagemissfire:
    For me, my tattoo wasn't half as painful as labor. But, my labor was less painful than getting a spinal for my c-section, less painful than my herniated disk in my lower back, and my labor was also less painful than most cavity fillings I've gotten. I think the physical sensation is not the main determining factor - it's your fear level, whether you are relaxing or fighting it, and whether you feel in control. I used hypnobirthing and really believe that all the practice helped me be prepared for the pain and open to it. In other situations like the dentist, I haven't planned for how to deal with the pain.

    Eh.  Both of my labors really fvcking hurt.  Not because I was scared or fighting it.  But because labor really fvcking hurt.

    I agree. Don't tell me I was afraid or out of control. I was fine... I was just in a lot of bloody pain. That doesn't make me unprepared... it makes me a woman birthing a baby.

  • imageiris427:

    imagemissfire:
    For me, my tattoo wasn't half as painful as labor. But, my labor was less painful than getting a spinal for my c-section, less painful than my herniated disk in my lower back, and my labor was also less painful than most cavity fillings I've gotten. I think the physical sensation is not the main determining factor - it's your fear level, whether you are relaxing or fighting it, and whether you feel in control. I used hypnobirthing and really believe that all the practice helped me be prepared for the pain and open to it. In other situations like the dentist, I haven't planned for how to deal with the pain.

    Eh.  Both of my labors really fvcking hurt.  Not because I was scared or fighting it.  But because labor really fvcking hurt.

     

    Yeah...I might have been able to say that about my first birth but NOT my second.  Sorry, a 9lb 5oz baby who is coming out posterior is going to friggin' hurt, I don't care how many CD's you've listened to.  

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  • i'm not sure you can really compare the two exactly. saying you have two tattoos, one on your foot and one say on your chest is like getting stung by a bee. with tattoos, the pain is almost immediately gone once the needle is off the skin. there are different places on the body that handle tattoos easier. now, if you had a huge tat done on your ribs, then underneath your arms, then your full back, and then on your neck...i think you would be more able to compare the two.

    i got a huge piece on my back years ago. it took two sittings, four hours each. the tattooist said i could go through child birth any day...we shall see. of course, i don't know if she meant med free!

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  • I just delivered a 9 lb 4 oz. baby on wednesday, 18 hours of that spent getting from 6 cm to complete, so it's all fresh.  It hurt more than can be described in words.  A tattoo or any other pain cannot be compared, for me at least.  All coping techniques, other than just ENDURE went out the window pretty quick.  Everyone has their own experience, though.

     

  • They are two different kinds of pain.  There is no comparison.  I would say the pain level of labor is higher than a tattoo.
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  • Another vote for no comparison. ;)
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