Whether you plan on birthing a child or not, most women who haven't undergone the experience wonder what exactly labor feels like. The following mothers explain in their own graphic words what it's truly like.
1. Like Bad Menstrual Cramps
"I would consider labor pains as menstrual cramps multiplied by a million. It feels like your abdomen is trying to squeeze out all its contents, not just the baby. They come in waves and varying intensity throughout the laboring process. I would go from a pretty tolerable one to an extremely intense one the next time. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and it is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done."
2. Like A Giant Fiery Poop
"Everyone said pushing was the best part, and they were dirty liars. Pushing out a baby feels like taking a giant, fiery poop. Like if you ate 100 hot peppers and then pooped out a watermelon. That's what it felt like."
3. Like Your Clitoris Is Being Torn In Half
"First off, everything is crushed. Your bladder and all that, you are suddenly aware of all your innards down there because there is a tiny human pressing their way through them and it aches and you feel as if you're going to burst. Suddenly it's time to push. With each bowling ball contraction you are not only instructed to push, but your body has this natural instinct to localize all your muscles into getting this thing the fuck out of you...Imagine your ob/gyn taking the speculum at your routine pap and just extending it as far as it can go, then he/she decides that's not far enough and sticks both hands in there and starts pulling you open as far as you'll go. The worst part is your clit. It has all this pressure behind it to start with but when the head starts to come out, it feels as if it's being torn in half while also being dipped in acid."
4. Like Nothing
"My labor was wonderful. I went in for my 36th week visit and the midwife was checking to see if I was dilated. She got a funny look on her face and told me I was five centimeters dilated and 90 percent effaced! I went to the hospital, got an epidural, and four hours later had a baby girl virtually pain free."
5. Like Getting Hit In The Back With A Sledgehammer
"Pretty painless and felt like period cramps — UNTIL they broke my water. The very first thought I had after they broke my water, post-contraction, was "fuuuuuuuck this!" My first word was “EPIDURAL!" It felt like getting hit in the back with a sledgehammer, very slowly. Agony."
6. Like A Johnny Cash Song
"Whenever I hear Johnny Cash's booming drawl singing "Burning Ring of Fire," I remember labor and delivery. The miracle of what it means to be a woman is that all that agony is worth the 8 pounds, 1 ounce of pure beauty and joy that you hold in your arms for the first moment."
7. Like A Piece Of Cake
"This was our third and I can honestly say it felt ethereal. We have been trained that it is all pain, but coming at it with a different vantage point and desire changed everything. The word 'pain' never even crossed my mind. Pressure yes, pain no."
8. Like Your Pelvis Is Breaking
"My first child was born while I was under the influence of a walking epidural. I did not find that this really relieved my pain but rather made my labor feel like a nasty stomach virus. I swore I would never have anesthesia again because of how awful I felt afterwards. My second baby was born naturally. I found this labor to be much easier to cope with. The pain was very intense, but it was a clean pain almost like a sports injury. Pushing was more difficult. It felt like my whole pelvis was made of breaking glass, but this passed very quickly and I felt terrific almost immediately after delivery."
9. Like Running A Marathon
"Time exists in its own warped plane; 5 minutes can feel like 2 hours and vice versa. There is pain, because of course there is pain, and it's a pain specific to childbirth, and it comes and goes in relentless waves. You make it through labor and feel superhuman and part of this massive sisterhood of other women who have done the very same thing, but each in her own way with a story that is unique to the birth of that one baby, and so it is universal and individual at once. The closest thing to labor I'd experienced before was running a marathon. You are ravenous when you finish, but instead of an ugly t-shirt, you get your own baby."
10. Like An Alternate Reality
"Near the end, I just floated blindly on top of my body. I don’t even remember having thoughts. It felt like I wasn’t in control anymore. I don’t even think I would describe it as pain. Just an alternate reality in which I ceased to be me."
11. Like Horror
"Mine was 38 hours. My water broke at home, but no contractions. I walked the hospital halls non-stop for an entire day with lots of mild contractions, but almost no progress. It was about midnight when they started me on Pitocin and whoa mama — it gave me a little progress and a lot of pain. By 7, I was shaking from the pain, but was still at only 5-centimeters. At 9, I asked for an epidural and I fully progressed within a little over 2 hours. Then, I pushed for an excruciating three hours.
The epidural helped the contraction pain, but did very, very little for the feeling of my big headed baby making it's way out. I said I didn't want an episiotomy so my midwife kept putting her fingers in my vagina and pulling the sides to widen it. After the fourth time she did it I screamed, ‘Stop doing that! I don’t like you anymore!’ Meanwhile my mom was staring wide eyed at my vagina, and my husband stood near my head gagging. The last push hurt so bad, I shrieked and told them I couldn't do anything, it hurt too much, and they said, ‘Well she's out!’
It was horrifying, and horrible, and I remind myself of it every time I get baby fever."
12. Like You're In A Documentary
A C-section is an out of body experience in which you’re watching a documentary about C-sections. But then when you feel all of your insides being tugged and realize that your lower half is being moved around fairly violently, you come to understand that you’re the documentary subject, and that you are, in fact, there.
13. Like You're Being Stepped On By An Elephant
"I have a low pain tolerance so for me the contractions were hell, pushing her out was hell, and I didn't think I could do it. The contractions felt like an elephant was stepping on my lower back and stomach. It was hard to breath, it felt like my bones were being crushed, and then she was kicking on top of that so it hurt worse. And pushing her out felt like she was literally ripping my body in half and tearing my guts apart. Then again, she was an 8 pounder with a big head, so she probably was. The whole time, I was screaming my head off, and at one point I was begging my doctor to just kill me. Dramatic I know! But it's the truth, natural labour was horribly painful for me, but I plan to do it again".
14. Like Pure Happiness
"Labor and delivery hurt. But the most intense emotion I've ever felt is when my son was actually born. One second, he was part of me. The next second, he wasn't. I felt him become his own person and it was unadulterated, transcendent joy. I still cry happy tears if I really stop and remember that moment."
SHARE your thoughts on giving birth below!