Do painful menstrual cramps = painful labor? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 12:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a Bradley instructor and one of my students is really concerned
about the correlation between painful cramps and painful labor.

Forgive my ignorance, but I thought menstrual cramps were related
to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and had nothing to do with the uterus.

Please help. My student tells me that her cramps are "debilitating" and often render her unable to work. She is very scared. Is there any connection between painful menstrual cramps and painful labor?

Thank you in advance for any advice!

warmly,
Mary
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#2 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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Actually, for years I suffered from dysmenorrhea (sp?), which translates into unexplained painful periods. I'm talking DEMEROL didn't touch them. One time the ER tried Nubain (I was vomiting from the pain and in danger of dehydration), and that actually worked for a while, but then I had an allergic reaction to it, just about the time I was really comfortable...

But I digress. I have, out of my mother's six sisters, three Aunts who also had those types of period.

Of my forty cousins and those three Aunts, those of us who had the terrible awful, horrible periods actually seemed to have the EASIEST labors. To the point where my aunt finished a hand of Euchre sitting up cross legged in bed with no drugs when the baby started to crown, and I had a homebirth midwife leave my house an hour and a half before I had my second because I was OBVIOUSLY too comfortable to be in active labor. Doesn't mean that I didn't work hard to relax and let my body do it's job...but I firmly believe that knowing the physiology of what my body was doing was a fantastic help to my ability to relax and let my body do it's job of having a baby!

AFter my first birth, at a baby shower for another cousin, my Euchre playing Aunt and I got into a discussion with some other female family members...and we came to the conclusion that with periods, the pain is CONSTANT and can be neverending for days. With contractions the pain comes slowly, peaks, and then goes away slowly, for my kind of painful period, there was no position, nothing really that I could DO to get comfortable. It was completely opposite with labor, you can move around, dance, sway, rock...you can feel the baby moving down and through you, and that is definately an impetus to relax and work with the labor--there is an END point to work toward, and you CAN do some work to get there more comfortably, generally by being more upright and active...and for us that kind of pain was nothing NOTHING compared to our painful periods. We think that the painful periods kind of "desensitized" us from the pain of labor, if that makes sense.

So, tell her that there is definately hope.

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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#3 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 01:03 AM
 
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I dont feel there is any relation at all
But every labor is different, all 3 of mine were way different, there is no way to predict how painful a labor or birth will be

Lisa~Was Aspiring Midwife~Now-AAMI Midwifery Student #2020~Mama to Zackery 3/29/96, Drake 9/22/01, and Selina 10/26/03...and here was the link to my new blog
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#4 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 01:55 AM
 
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I've always had rather painful period cramps, to the point where some cycles I would just curl up in a ball and cry because it hurt so very much. I just figured I was weak.

Well, my labor, induced with misoprostal, was a piece of cake. It was hard work staying focused, but afterwards I commented to my husband that contractions were WAY nicer than period cramping! Like courtenay_e said, period cramps are constant and to me just feel... aweful. Like a clamp or a knife twisting. My labor contractions were totally different. They came in waves, and it was like a tightening, not a dagger. I honestly didn't think I was in "real" labor until right before I hit transition, because it didn't hurt badly enough.

I know every labor is different and there are no guarantees. But bad period pain does NOT mean a painful, horrible labor.

Natalie, mama to Katherine (5/22/10), missing Devin (stillborn 3/6/08)
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#5 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 08:51 AM
 
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I agree with the pp's...I had those horrible debilitating cramps as a teen, but did not have bad labors at all (tho yes, I did work to stay relaxed during labor). For me, after I had my second baby (only one cycle between the 2 babies), I never had those horrible menstrual cramps again. I was seldom 'comfortable' during my period, but it seemed that giving birth had somehow changed things in my body--and there is a long way between being generally uncomfortable and being in awful pain from cramps.
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#6 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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No, the labor is not harder, but from what I've seen the moms who have a history of painful menstrual cramps are able to handle their labors more easily because they have experience. There was a study done a few years ago looking at the pressure inside the uterus during menstrual cramps and found it comparable to contractions at certain times during labor. Women who have painful periods have a long history of coping mechanisms to prepare them for labor.
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#7 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 12:03 PM
 
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You ladies have no idea how much hope you're giving me. I've suffered for the past four years with completely debilitating menstrual pain. It just...happened one day...and never went away. I had always had cramps as a teenager, but this pain came out of nowhere. My doctor thinks I have endometriosis, but I do not want a lap to confirm diagnosis. I just...do the best I can coping.

I used to worry that if this is normal, then I will surely die during labor. I've learned how to better cope with the pain since then, so I no longer think I will die from contractions, but I am very, very hopeful since reading these comments. So thank you.

Sprat , Certified Professional Midwife, loved very much by Sprig , the most open-minded, loving, gentle man in the world, little Sprout and now someone new! on begins with .
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#8 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 12:46 PM
 
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I do not think there is a correlation. I used to have bad cramps and had very manageable labors. However, I recently read about cramps being small contractions of the uterus. Maybe a midwife on this board can confirm that.

Victoria, natural childbirth educator and certified labor doula
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#9 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 01:36 PM
 
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Yes that's true, and I alluded to a study about it in a similar post. I will see if I can find a citation.
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#10 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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I'm having trouble locating the actual study, but I've found a reference to the results: intrauterine pressure generated with some menstrual cramps have been measured as high as 300 mm Hg; a uterine contraction during labor only gets as high as about 80 mm Hg.
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#11 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 02:27 PM
 
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Before my son I had really bad menstraul cramps....the kind that make you bed bound. They were so bad I used to get hot flashes with them on the verge of vomitting. The first period I got, I was nearly sent to the hospital by ambulance because of the pain and the condition I was left in in the back of the classroom - no one knew what was wrong with me....I woke up later to find out I had started my period (I was 11) and they have been like that since.....

When I went into labour with my son - I could feel externally my tummy tightening, but not any pain internally. I got to 6cm and was still feeling NOTHING - and then I had a section (long story ).... Soooooo...... I think having bad menstraul cramps is actually better when it comes to labour and the pain. I personally think it was this that caused me to not feel my contractions that far along. I feel I will be able to handle my next labour pretty well because of this - am hoping for an HBAC!...

My friend was the same with her menstraul cramp. She had her son - he was back to back. Back to back is supposed to be pretty painful right?...Well she said she actually enjoyed it as it wasnt any worse than her menstraul cramps which she was used to!

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#12 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much.
My student is seriously frightened and you all gave me such powerful, personal information that will surely soothe her fears.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Warmly,
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#13 of 20 Old 07-25-2008, 05:54 PM
 
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I'll just chime in and say I am another one who suffered terribly from painful menstrual cramps. When I was pregnant and planning to birth naturally, my mom said I would never be able to do it because I was such a baby when I had menstrual cramps. : I told my mom, menstrual cramps were continuous, for 3 days without a break from the pain, plus, there was no reward after suffering them. Labor is so different; the contractions are painful, yes, but they last one minute or however long and then the pain stops and then starts again. You get regular breaks from the pain. Plus! You get a beautiful baby after all your hard work and pain.

I had all 3 of my babies naturally/ no pain medication and while there was certainly pain, it didn't upset me nearly as much as my menstrual pain did.
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#14 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 01:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nashvillemidwife View Post
I'm having trouble locating the actual study, but I've found a reference to the results: intrauterine pressure generated with some menstrual cramps have been measured as high as 300 mm Hg; a uterine contraction during labor only gets as high as about 80 mm Hg.
That is so SO interesting! Makes sense, though, it really does.

Mama to two awesome kids. Wife to a wonderful, attached, loving husband. I love my job-- I'm a Midwife, Doula and Childbirth Educator, Classes forming now!

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#15 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 02:18 AM
 
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"My doctor thinks I have endometriosis, but I do not want a lap to confirm diagnosis. I just...do the best I can coping."

With the right surgeon who knows what he/she is doing (a pro at treating chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis), your lap would be for both dx AND to remove all of the endo that is possible to remove (which is almost always the vast majority of it if done correctly). You would wake up from the lap and feel better. With diet and lifestyle changes, too, (adding in acupuncture/chiropractic/whatever works for you), you could stay pain free for years and have a much better quality of life.

There are treatments for endo that work and work well. Surgery w/the right surgeon can be an enormous help.

I've had 2 laps and many years pain free. The surgery allowed me to move forward and make those necessary lifestyle changes. Heck, when I woke up from surgery, I already felt better than I'd felt in over 6-7 yrs!

hths

mrsfru

(and adding--I had a placental abruption in my first pregnancy and was in labor for probably all day and didn't even know it. I wasn't feeling the contractions at all. It only started to really hurt after the abruption and my water broke. I could cope fine w/the pain, severe as it was. The menstrual cramps I used to have though brought me to my knees and to passing out cold. Huge difference. Those cramps scare me to death, but the labor pains, not so much!)
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#16 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 04:45 PM
 
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With my first labor, which I went into thinking "well, I'll see how it goes, I'd like to do it drug free...."

... I kept waiting for my contractions to get as bad as my worst period cramps. Just as they got *close* - my water broke, the urge to push hit, and the contractions became pretty much painless waves of "throwdown."

Pretty much the same with my second, except they didn't even get as bad as they did the first time because I stayed in the water longer.

I have a friend who had a similar experience (except, well, her baby was coming breech with a prolapsed cord at 30 weeks, so she wound up with a section - but she said she got to 7 cms before they noticed she was dilating (in the hospital) because she kept thinking "this couldn't be labor, it doesn't hurt enough."

My cramps hadn't even been all that bad prior to pregnancy - they were at their worst in my teens and early 20s. The day ibuprofen was available OTC was a happy, happy day for me.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#17 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 05:47 PM
 
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Transition is the only part that gets bad. I feel my cramps all in my back, and keep having back labors though.
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#18 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel's Kitty View Post
Transition is the only part that gets bad. I feel my cramps all in my back, and keep having back labors though.
Me too! Both times. I didn't feel *anything* in my belly - the midwife would put her hand on my belly and say "Oh, you're having a contraction," and then a few seconds later I'd feel a pain in my back. But my back labor wasn't anything liek the horror stories about back labor that I've heard from other people - it wasn't constant, it was uncomfortable, but not tortuous. And while DS (#1) was posterior, his sister wasnt'.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#19 of 20 Old 07-26-2008, 07:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geeweemama View Post
I'm a Bradley instructor and one of my students is really concerned
about the correlation between painful cramps and painful labor.

Forgive my ignorance, but I thought menstrual cramps were related
to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and had nothing to do with the uterus.

Please help. My student tells me that her cramps are "debilitating" and often render her unable to work. She is very scared. Is there any connection between painful menstrual cramps and painful labor?

Thank you in advance for any advice!

warmly,
Mary
NO.

I have always been relatively cramp free and I had a miserable labor that left me thinking all the women who told me it wasn't so bad were horrible liars. : I also had a blissful morning sickness free pregnancy. Go figger.

My SIL was sick as a dog through both of her pregnancies and practically coughed twice and had babies magically fall out after extremely short labors. I think she has fairly bad cramps every month too.

Everyone is different and nobody can prepare you for what your labor is going to be like no matter what they tell you theirs was like, imo.

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#20 of 20 Old 03-08-2014, 11:51 PM
 
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Very late to reply to this - but just slowly going into menopause, having a period every 5-6 months, I was thinking that I will definitely NOT miss my period. I have always had really painful periods, cramping so much that my toes would curl. On top of that, I can't take any ibuprofen, aspirin, NSAIDS - so was stuck with acetimenophen (?) and that did nothing for my pain. I had no problems getting pregnant - number 1 was born in 6 hours, number 2 in 1.5 hrs! I can remember that with my second, I already had some pains days before the birth, finding it hard to walk, my pelvic bones would hurt. An examination revealed I was already slightly dilated. I had a homebirth and when the midwife arrived I was fully dilated and gave birth half an hour after her arrival! So maybe it's a myth that painful periods may mean easier labor, but I do believe that it prepares you better for labor. Although both my labors were short too... One of my friends never had much period pain, I think she found it hard to believe my pains were real - but she had two pretty tough births... Somehow I find comfort that at least I got some easy births out of it! :-)

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