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What does labor feel like?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am guessing there are an infinite number of answers to this question, and that it is vastly different for everyone. But for you, what does labor feel like? (Any of the stages.) My hair stylist told me last week that her friend said it felt like having a really bad charley horse all over your body. I thought that was interesting because looking back, other than the suggestions I have heard that very early labor feels like lower back pain and menstrual cramps, I haven't heard too many comparisons to other types of pain or experiences. Maybe that's because it can't really be compared to anything. Any thoughts?

post #2 of 22
It's been a while, but it seems like that's a pretty fair comparison. I do remember toward the end that the pressure felt a lot like having a really awful case of diarrhea type cramps. I was talking to my brother's girlfriend who had her first about 9 months ago and said it was a much different type of pain than she'd anticipated, which left her feeling a lot of anxiety during the process. She said she'd expected for it to feel like really enhanced Braxton Hicks contractions but didn't realize it was more like really intense menstrual cramps that wrapped from your back through your abdomen.
post #3 of 22
Very intense deep menstrual cramps along with sharp stabbings deep in cervix. Not fun any way you look at it
post #4 of 22

Food poisoning cramps is a good analogy.  :/    Kind of depends on baby's position, too. Some women feel it in their lower back the worst. I always felt it from my abdomen all the way through my thighs.  I'd want my hubby to massage my legs over and over from my hips down to my knees. And then during transition, I'd fall to my hands and knees, which also helps with back labor.
 

Right now I'm feeling Braxton Hicks from the top of my uterus down to my tailbone. Lovely, really.  ;)  But until I feel it in my thighs, I won't consider it labor.

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchyxianmom View Post

Food poisoning cramps is a good analogy.  :/    Kind of depends on baby's position, too. Some women feel it in their lower back the worst. I always felt it from my abdomen all the way through my thighs.  I'd want my hubby to massage my legs over and over from my hips down to my knees. And then during transition, I'd fall to my hands and knees, which also helps with back labor.
 

Right now I'm feeling Braxton Hicks from the top of my uterus down to my tailbone. Lovely, really.  ;)  But until I feel it in my thighs, I won't consider it labor.

Definitely food poisoning cramps, with an edge.  

post #6 of 22

I don't really get the menstrual cramp feeling.  More sharp, instense sometimes stabby pain.  With my first it was all felt in my back, my second in my front.  Front feels a lot better.  I remember laughing at times just because I couldn't believe how much it could hurt.  what is really nice though, is in between contractions you have zero pain, it doesn't linger.  I think this one is going to be back labor, my few bouts of contractions so far have all been in my back.

post #7 of 22

Labor felt to me like Braxton-Hicks discomfort multiplied at least 25 times.  It started small, then grew over the hours, though.  Honestly my first few painful contractions really freaked me out (from the standpoint of confidence in myself to birth naturally), but I was much more calm later even though it hurt more.  And like a PP said, when they're gone, they're gone.  Mine started in my back and wrapped around to the front, and the description of a charlie horse was pretty accurate for what I felt.  I also had really bad back labor, which I can't even begin to describe.  Pinch-y, stabbing-type pains, I guess?  It made 95% of positions hurt like hell during a contraction.  Standing and swaying while holding onto DH for support was about the only position that worked.  No Zen water birth for me....

 

Pushing/crowning...?  It felt like trying to crap out a watermelon.  Sorry for the crude description, but really there's no other way to say it that even comes close.  Some women say they feel relief when they can push, but for me it just hurt.  Like the worst-ever bowel movement.  It *is* a bearable type of pain, because you can feel your body accomplishing something with each push/contraction, but I can honestly say it's the worst pain (I say pain, but it's a lot of pressure, too) I've ever experienced.  And I remember feeling like baby was just stuck between contractions, which was disconcerting.  But again, once it's over, it's over.  When the baby comes out, there's immediate relief.  You may be sore and tender "down there" for a while after, though.

post #8 of 22

That is true about the crapping out a watermelon.  I have never felt relief during pushing either.  When I had back labor, I really wanted counter pressure on my back.  I ended up bruising my spine from making DH push so hard on my back.

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Wow! Thanks, everyone. This is really helpful. With any luck, soon I will have my own experience to compare to.

post #10 of 22

this is really helpful for a first timer like me.  I had an IUD a few years back and the menstrual cramps were horrible.  I have heard form other women who had a painful experience with an IUD and have also given birth that they are similar.  Some have said the IUD was worse.  So, that's what I'm comparing it to.  Anyway, good luck to all of you!  We are strong, and our bodies know instinctively what to do, regardless of the pain.  plus, the combo of not being pregnant anymore and finally getting to meet my baby girl will make it all worth it!!!!

post #11 of 22

I have no recollection of belly pain with any of my labours, for me it was ALL back. Big big big crampy horrible back pain for like a minute at a time. In between I am totally fine. I can sleep, I can joke around, I feel great. And every time in the very early hours I am most aware of achey thighs and back like a period starting.

 

I was most surprised by transition. i expected to feel overwhelmed, be mean or weepy, feel up against the wall, but I had none of that. I get to 10 cm and I get a break and kind of wake up and the whole energy changes and then I know it will be pushing time soon.

 

Pushing for me is completely primal. It is beyond control. My entire being just NEEDS to bear down and push. It feels fantastic to go with the instinct. That said my longest pushing was 15 mins, so it might be less of a relief if it lasted hours. Thank goodness for little headed babies!

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemomma View Post

Pushing for me is completely primal. It is beyond control. My entire being just NEEDS to bear down and push. It feels fantastic to go with the instinct. That said my longest pushing was 15 mins, so it might be less of a relief if it lasted hours. Thank goodness for little headed babies!

 

I've only had the urge to push with one of mine (my biggest baby, incidentally), and am SO hoping to have it again this time.  It made pushing feel....good?   Not 'good' like a foot massage or anything, but it was definitely a relief- powerful and productive and, yeah, I guess kinda good.  

post #13 of 22

It's fun reading everyone descriptions and many of them seem very similar to mine.  I only experienced back labor which just felt like intense pressure in my lower back.  I never had one twinge or tightening in my stomach at all.  In my head it didn't seem to make sense that these types of contractions would be productive in moving the baby down, but when I showed up at the hospital not sure, I was already about 8 cm dialated.  I also had a very strong, uncontrollable urge to push...I compared it almost to dry heaving before throwing up.  Gross, I know.  I only pushed through two contractions but I'm pretty sure that my body would have pushed the baby out completely on it's own without any active pushing from me.  Kind of caught me off guard.  It will be interesting to see what my experience will be this time around!  Due date is two weeks from today!

post #14 of 22

I was just reading Ina May's giude last night and she was saying her sister, I think, had told her that her periods were so bad that labor pains really weren't that big of a deal for her. 

 

For me it is painful, especially those last few hours. My last birth was almost four years ago and I have that blessed forgetfulness of it but my bh now feel like I've been punched in the gut or am being squeezed by a python. Not exactly painful but very uncomfortable.

post #15 of 22

Both my babies had completely different feelings. With my first, the sensation started in my sides are wrapped around the front for each wave of pressure.  For my recent birth, it started at the bottom of my belly and I thought it was abdominal muscle ache until I realized the ache was coming every five minutes. I also was expecting the second time to feel like the first time, so I didn't recognize the labor earlier.  I used hypnobabies for both births, so the feelings I had were just like pressure until pushing.   I have read about this concept of 'breathing baby down' but both times I've had to push exactly like I'm having the biggest BM ever.  I also did not like/enjoy pushing, but feeling baby move down is quite a powerful incentive. 

post #16 of 22

My very first push ever was like one of those heaving pushes Iowa described.  My body just did it all on it's own and I had no idea it was going to happen.  It is kind of involuntary...like vomiting out your vagina...haha now there is a great mental image.  Birth is just glorious. :)  Not all my pushes were that way though, eventually I had to make them happen (although looking back I feel like I shouldn't have since I pushed for over 2 hours, I probably could have taken a break)

post #17 of 22

These descriptions are kind of scaring me..... And I've done this before!  I had an epi though. 

 

crap.gif

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belia View Post

These descriptions are kind of scaring me..... And I've done this before!  I had an epi though. 

 

crap.gif

Don't be scared! You only have to get through one at a time, and really, you're a strong woman and you can do anything for one minute. So just breathe your way through that minute, be grateful for the rest in between, and know that each of those cycles brings your baby closer. That's my mantra...I can do anything for a minute.

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by onemomma View Post

Don't be scared! You only have to get through one at a time, and really, you're a strong woman and you can do anything for one minute. So just breathe your way through that minute, be grateful for the rest in between, and know that each of those cycles brings your baby closer. That's my mantra...I can do anything for a minute.

 

 

You know, that's a really good way of looking at it.  I think reading all of the descriptions of all the different stages of labor all at once is what made me start to feel so overwhelmed.  Like, OMG, in a matter of weeks I'm going to be in, like, 24 hours of varying stages of physical misery.  help.gif

 

But it doesn't all happen at once, does it?  Just a minute at a time.

 

 

My first labor was induced with Pitocin due to PROM, and I made it through 11 hours of Pit contractions with no pain relief, so I really don't have any frame of reference for an unmedicated labor or how things might happen or feel if they unfold on their own.  "Rest in between?" Yeah I don't remember much of that.

post #20 of 22

I’ve been debating for a few days about sharing what labor felt like to me, because it’s not typical. But I decided to share, because some of you might experience something similar, and I really wish that I had known this before having my first. I was completely prepared to deal with the type of labor that everyone has been describing, but it’s not what I got. And the reason it was so lousy was because of poor positioning, despite doing everything on spinning babies, chiro care, and everything else possible. Some of us just have bad birth luck I guess. But my resulting babies are beyond awesome, and totally worth it all.

 

My contractions felt like a foot cramp in the front, and it came on very fast and furious, not at all like a wave. At the same time, my tailbone felt like it was being smashed by a sledgehammer, repeatedly. My contractions lasted for 3 minutes from the start, with multiple (3-4) peaks (so much for a minute at a time). And I never had more than 30 seconds in between. I never felt fine between contractions. The entire time it felt like someone was inflating a giant balloon between my hips, which was agony, and made my hips shake uncontrollably. I was also vomiting and shaking non-stop. The only time I’d heard of a labor like this, it was precipitous, so the only thing that got me through the first 8 hours of this was thinking that I will be pushing soon. Eventually, I became severely dehydrated and exhausted, and my midwife checked me and I had made no progress, and was still 5. I felt completely defeated, because I’d always heard that when you really know from the bottom of your heart you cannot do it much longer, you’re in transition. But that wasn’t true for me. My midwife told me that she thought we needed to transfer to the hospital for IV fluids, and that this was truly a birth that an epidural would help, because otherwise there was no way I’d have the energy to push the baby out. The pattern was just too ferocious. So that’s what I did. I ended up staying at 5-6 for 20 hours total. And as soon as the epidural took effect, I cried the entire rest of my labor, because I thought my body failed me. I was depressed for months about it. When the same pattern happened to me a second time, I handled it better, and have made peace with the way my body labors.

 

Again, I just wanted to share in case any of you find yourself in this type of labor. We natural birth types always like to say that birth is 90% psychological, but we can’t forget about the other 10%. There are so many factors in birth we can’t control. I went into that birth 100% against getting any type of pain relief, and I had such a hard time dealing with it. I think had I known the full range of misery that could happen, perhaps I would have gone in with a more flexible attitude about it and saved myself a lot of grief. And I can tell you, 7 years later, I forgive my body, and I love that “baby” so much! Good luck to you all! Whatever happens, you’ll get through it!

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