yet another thread from Crunchier - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-13-2005, 05:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, so tell me honestly, how much does a natural labor hurt?

I'm no stranger to pain. I've had a few surgeries, and thanks to a very slow pharmacy, got to experience full blown, unmedicated post op pain within hours of surgery every time. I woke up to an annoying sound, and realized it was my own screaming.

I had prostaglandin (which sent me into hard back labor at 2cm) and pitocin with no pain meds(I had demerol, which didn't help, and then wore off). It was a 9.5 on the pain scale after about 5 hrs. (anestheiologist laughed and said he'd hate to see a 10). I'm not sure if I was in transition, or about to go into transition. For the first 12 hrs I had no pain at all, even though cx were 3 minutes apart, pretty much the whole time.

When I tell ppl how much better my labor was before interventions, they always, yeah, but that was early labor, it doesn't count. I think if I'd been left alone I would have stayed in early labor for a long, long time, which would have been fine with me. Transition was short( I had a single dose epi), and then I pushed him out in a matter of minutes. He never dropped until I started pushing, and I only pushed 4 times. i think I'll be one of the women with super long early labor, then Wham! out comes baby.

So, assuming that's the case, how bad does it get?
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Old 09-13-2005, 06:41 AM
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Early labor I would rate a 3. Late labor (no meds) I rate 10 out of 10.
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Old 09-13-2005, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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10 compared to what? cutting off a finger, or serious toe stub? How long does the 10 out of 10 last? does it build gradually from 0 to 3 to 10?
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Old 09-13-2005, 08:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Crunchier
10 compared to what? cutting off a finger, or serious toe stub? How long does the 10 out of 10 last? does it build gradually from 0 to 3 to 10?
Dude, this varies soooo much from woman to woman!!! And pain doesn't have to mean suffering. For me, labor was VERY hard physical work. And achey, REALLY freakin' achey right above my pelvic bone - think menstrual cramps super-mega-amplified. Not something I'd choose to experience every day, but certainly not excruciating. And though everything I read talked about back labor, back labor, back labor... I never had a second of that. So, maybe I'd feel differently if I'd had back labor, but for my "front labor"... At no point was I *ever* at 10/10 on the pain scale!

For me, during pregnancy, there were a few weeks where I had random nerve pain (sciatic?) in my low back/hip that was *far* more intense, breath-taking (in a bad way) and sharp/shooting/really cripplingly painful than any of the continuous super-achey feelings I had during unmedicated contractions, even during transition (no prostaglandin or pit or demerol or IV anything).

Yes, I had a doula who was able to suggest positional changes (pelvic rocks) that I believe were really well-suited to helping shorten/get through the discomfort I was feeling (helped baby's head get down past the pubic bone), and a dh who was very willing to let me basically hang all of my weight on his neck. Was it easy? No. But bearable? Sure! And on the pain scale? Max - I'd say 7/8. It was certainly manageable, esp. with good mental preparation and talented, continuous labor support.

Contractions definitely built gradually for me (noticed I was in labor at 6:30am, 8am I really needed to concentrate on staying relaxed, the drive to the hospital SUCKED, arrived at 12 noon, and I gave birth to dd at 2:40pm that day). Most intense "pain" was like 12-1:30pm (transition), then the pushing contractions started and there was a glorious break between each one, felt really nice to push, not painful - just hard work! Pushed for 45 minutes or 1 hr? Ring of fire - barely noticed it and turns out I got a 2nd degree tear. Being stitched up was more irritating/harder for me to manage than labor. W/ labor, you get in the ZONE... and I hadn't done any hypnobirthing (though we did take a Bradley class).

Anyhoo... just another experience from another mama. There are some moms who are in excruciating pain and feel like they're splitting in two. There are some moms that have ecstatic, pain-free labors. And there's everything in between. I think a lot of it (but NOT all!) is related to your support (good or bad) and where you are in your head (if you've addressed fears or not, if you know your general levels of pain tolerance, what sets you off), etc.

If you haven't read it yet, give Birthing From Within a try - and you don't have to do all of the exercises (but they're really good, even the ones that you might think sound hoakey), but there are some *excellent* questions posed in that book that really allow you to see where you're starting and help you decide where you probably want to head, in terms of your approach to birth.
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Old 09-13-2005, 10:21 AM
 
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I had totally unmedicated (not even a tylenol) labors with 2 of my kids and it hurt more than anything I've ever experienced, but it is also the only time I'v hurt like that for a good reason! I tried to remember that there waas going to be a new baby at the end of it and that when it got almost unbearably painful I was nearing the end. For me movement was key - I really need to get up, walk, try different positions, etc. Everyone is different but at no other time are you in such pain with such a glorious outcome!
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Old 09-13-2005, 10:34 AM
 
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It varies so much from woman to woman that it's really hard to give a definitive answer to this. As a pp said, a lot depends on where you are in your head, and how much support you have (support within yourself, too) to help cope with the pain.

One of my high school friend's mothers used to tell us that childbirth was "orgasmic", but I can assure you I did not feel the joy. I'm using Hypnobabies this time, and I hope it will help me to be more relaxed.
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Old 09-13-2005, 10:49 AM
 
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I had a very similar experience as miziki's. The thing about labor pain compared to, say, having your wisdom teeth extracted, is that labor pain comes and goes. When there's no pain, there's nothing. (At least that was my experience.) Caveat to that: I had back labor, which was excruciating -brought tears to my eyes- IF I was lying or sitting down, often even inbetween contractions. If I knelt, got on all fours, stood, etc., it was very bearable. There were about 10 contractions through my whole labor where I was gripping the countertop or bed or whatever was nearby, forcing myself to stay calm and focused. The rest of them hurt- but just like a mega-super-menstrual cramp, and while it was definitely attention-getting, it wasn't anything I would cry over. Also, for me, the pushing stage was awesome. I didn't hurt at all, it was just hard work. I was drenched with sweat afterwards, but felt fabulous- like a long distance hike or something. Like a pp said, a lot of it is in your head. If you *know* that it's productive pain you're feeling, and you also use the pain to tell you when to change positions or try something different, it's totally manageable. Fear is your enemy. Confidence in your bod is your best friend here. Good luck, mama!
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Old 09-13-2005, 11:16 AM
 
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Well my first birth I had drugs, Stadol and then an epi. I puked during pushing, then I had a long recovery. I felt like I had been hit by a train. I had to push for 1 hr 15mins because I couldn't feel very well and I wasn't pushing as effective as I could have been. I bruised my tailbone because I had to stay in the bed.
So the labor hurt none, but I was laid up for about two weeks or more after that.

This time OH MY! My labor didn't "HURT" until transition and pushing phase. I was walking around the mall laughing and talking to my sister. Then walked the hospital. During transition, about 3-4 contractions, I had to grip the bed and really concentrate on them. It did hurt but not even bad enough to make any noise about it. Then I had to get in the bed, because of his heartrate. But I was at pushing by then. I will say that the pushing contractions hurt like crazy. I would say 10 of 10, but when I pushed the pain went away. All I felt was the burning "ring of fire" sensation as he crowned. That pain, made me push even harder to get him OUT! I only pushed 10 mins. Had a minor tear.

I feel GREAT. I WALKED from my labor/delivery room to my post partum room. Took a shower less than 12 hours after delivery and my body didn't hurt. I never even needed ice or anything for my vagina. In fact I felt so good when i got home from the hospital that I had to MAKE myself take it easy and rest. I did not feel like someone who just had a baby! More than for the labor, I would do it natural again, just because you feel some much better afterwards.

Homeschooling mama to 3 Italian babies. homeschool.gif  Due with #4 on Sept. 28! Planning a rockin' Homebirth. homebirth.jpg

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Old 09-13-2005, 12:51 PM
 
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Really I only had a small window (an hour or so? hard to tell) where the pain was really "PAIN" and not just -ouch that's annoying- BUT I was at home. The more you relax and can go into your own space, the less things hurt, that's just the way the body processes those chemicals.

-Angela
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Old 09-13-2005, 01:36 PM
 
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My labor pains felt like bad menstrual cramps, the only difference is that with my labour, I got a break in between them. The only time it hurt, hurt, was when 1. my midwife was trying to push my little bit of cervical lip back and 2. when Treyden was COMING OUT. The actual crowning was very painful, but it is also fast and once it's done, it's over.

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Old 09-13-2005, 01:43 PM
 
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I really didn't think it was that bad. The great thing about labor pain is that is has a beginning and end, and if you can make it to the end then you get a little break. Pain, like in surgery pain or breaking your leg pain, is constant and much harder to deal with because you never get a chance to rest. I though labor was hard not because it hurt, which it did, but because you are experiencing something like a seizure where you can't get it under control but can only ride with it.

I also think attitude has a lot to do with it. After I read Spiritual Midwifery, I realized that thousands and thousands of women have natural childbirth and these women aren't any different than me. If they can do it, then I could do it and I never thought otherwise.
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Old 09-14-2005, 02:37 AM
 
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My first pregnancy was 6 weeks bedrest (with twins) in and out of the hospital and eventually I had a c-section and that was no picnic, it was something I never wanted to repeat and left me feeling very wary of doctors and intervention. I didn't even think I would have any more kids.
12 years later I was pregnant and scared, terrified of the birth, of having a c-section again. We took a birthing class, Birthing from Within, along with 3 other couples.
At 38 weeks my water broke and I went to the hospital because the baby wasn't moving, but he was fine. They wanted to keep us in the hospital but we left against medical advice. I went through 48+ hours of labor, the first 12 or so not really feeling much. It became more intense, nothing I could sleep through that's for sure. Way worse than menstrual cramps, not even in the same league. When I finally went into the hospital I labored for 6 hours, 2 being back labor. OMG, back labor hurts like a son of a... !! I can't imagine doing that for hours and hours on end. But then I felt such a strong desire to push. And the pains weren't so bad anymore. I pushed the baby out, that didn't hurt at all. I hear for some people that part hurts really bad. I was up and walking only a few hours later. It was beautiful.

I went to my birthing class reunion about a month later and not one of the women there had a "natural" birth, meaning no pain meds or intervention. One woman went on and on about how upset she was she didn't get what she wanted for her birth, meaning to birth at home without meds. I thought she was lucky to not have had a c-section, but I also knew that she had a right to feel disappointed too. She said she just couldn't take the pain.
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Old 09-14-2005, 03:14 AM
 
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I agree that it does seem to be drasticaly different from woman to woman. I haven't experienced back labor either myself. For me, the contractions were like very intense menstrual cramps, then nothing in between. My scale of pain didn't ever go up to 10 until I was pushing (for 2.5 hours), & then it went up to like a 678 out of 10 when he was crowning. :LOL It hurt so bad I was begging someone in my head to run randomly into the room & shoot me. I yelled a lot during his crowning. But you know what? It's so short! I mean really, baby's "crown" for seconds, right? And the very moment he was out- nothing but joy. I'm SO nervous to do it all again (I'm pg with my 3rd) mainly due to the whole crowning-burning-hell part where I feel like my clitorus is being ripped from my body (sorry to be so graphic, but you asked! :LOL ), but I keep reminding myself over & over how very short that moment actually is, & how they levels of joy I will feel immediately afterward will be out of this world. And I agree with whomever mentioned "Spiritual Midwifery", that book gives me magnificent inspiration.

Funny thing, as much as I hurt during my labors, I feared a giant needle going into my spine even more!! :LOL I could never go through with an epidural.

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Old 09-14-2005, 03:46 AM
 
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Labor with dd hurt pretty darn bad after I reached transition. I was having back labor because of her arm being up somewhere around her face or shoulder. Felt like my back was going to split open. I had to have counter pressure even though it didnt do much for the pain. Funny how now I dont even remember it as pain although I know at the time i was telling my mw and husband how much it hurts. It was really hard work. Took a ton of effort. Another thing that made it not seem as bad was that I had no concept of time. Just dealt with each contraction as they came and I was in no pain in between. I was falling asleep during breaks. Just totally out of it. When she finally decided after I had pushed for two hours to start moving down I tore inside. I felt it coming open but I dont think it really hurt. It was more weird and too much stretching to really feel pain I think. When she crowned the burning was the worst. I couldnt have described this better "I feel like my clitorus is being ripped from my body ". But I would do it again in a heartbeat. For me I couldnt handle the pain I experienced at the hospital with ds birth, an induction and in the end a c/s. At home while it was painful it was different and not unbearable.

Hope that makes sense. I am really tired.
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Old 09-14-2005, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thnk you all for sharing with me. I know I asked an almost impossible question, and you all did a fabulous job of answering it.

I feel so much better now. I had back labor, pitocin and demerol which made me lose consciousness and stop breathing between contractions, for hours. To me, I felt like my spine and pelvis were actually separate from the rest of my body. I tried to walk, but I just couldn't support my own weight. Once I got the demerol, I felt like the contractions were constant, and I was only breathing and concious in the middle of them. I was dangerously oxygen deprived, and the pain was unbearable. The worst part was that I couldn't speak, just gasped. I did feel better once the Demerol wore off, but by then I was nearing transition, still having back labor, and the contractions were very close together ( though I thought they were slowing down because i got a few seconds of break).

My single dose epidural had worn off by the time I started pushing-I think it only lasted like 15-30 minutes because I was very close. Pushing didn't hurt at all. The contractions leading up to pushing didn't hurt at all. I had a seciond degree tear, but I totally blame the mean old nurse who contorted me into inhuman positions during crowning. What a B****h. I will always hate her.

Anyway, from what you've all told me, it sounds like I had a pretty worst-case-scenario birth experience, which is what I thought, but I was having doubts that maybe I was just totally underestimating the pain of childbirth. I didn't expect the pain that I had with Ben, but really I was just tyring to get away without the c-section my ob kept telling me was inevitable. A*****e.

I think I can handle this whole birth thing.
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Old 09-14-2005, 12:10 PM
 
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I was induced my firth birth... I was 3cm and 80% effaced already so they just hooked me up to the Pitocin. It built up but then suddenly I was in a lot of pain and it was horrible. It was made even worse by the fact that they wanted me to stay in bed, preferably on my left side. Pushing in the lithomy position was hell and my pelvic floor muscles were sooooo sore.

Second birth... finally started active labor after three weeks of prodromal labor and walking around 4cm and 90% with a bulging bag of waters. Labor was a cinch. Uncomfortable, but I kneeled on the birth ball a lot and then got in the pool. My mom took a picture of me in the pool at 8cm and I smiled for the picture! Most of my pushing was done kneeling in the pool and it too was easy comparative to my first labor.

Going into labor naturally compared to being induced was like night and day in my experience!!!!
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Old 09-14-2005, 02:23 PM
 
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I labored 18 hours with ctx 3 minutes apart with #1, got to 4 - 5 cm, and then had an epidural. While I was pg with #2, I was thinking "On the one hand, I know I can cope with labor for 18 hours with very hard, frequent ctx." Then I would would think "on the other hand, i never experienced transition and late labor." With #2, my ctx again started out 3 minutes apart, I labored around 8 hours at home with hard ctx, went to the hospital and again was only 3 cm dilated. DD was born within 1.5 hours.

I would say that the pain of my later ctx was not more intense than the early ctx; instead, the ctx during transition were just more frequent with almost no break in between. In some ways, I find early labor harder to deal with, because you're worried "what comes next?". By late labor, I was so focused on my mantra (vocalizing the vowel sounds in order -- ah, eh, ee, oh, oo), that I wasn't noticing pain per se, just total intensity.

DD#2 was born in the hospital with close to zero interventions -- no IV, no hospital gown, no drugs of any kind, water broke naturally, etc.

Does that help?

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Old 09-14-2005, 11:44 PM
 
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Hmmmm....well, it's hard for me to say. My labor with DD was VERY fast and once it got going there was no recovery time for me between ctx, so that was hard. I had planned a drug-free birth-which turned out to be a blessing for me because by the time I got to the hospital I was fully effaced and dilated so I couldn't have had pain meds even if I wanted them (and I think that if I'd been planning on a medicated birth, and then couldn't have meds, I would have been all the more afraid). I do remember the back pain being really intense, but had I not been in the car throughout all of transition somebody could have been there to apply some counter pressure and that might have helped.

I will also add, that due to significant complications following the birth, I was given Pitocin multiple times, and that hurt like HECK. After a drug-free birth, it was the pitocin AFTER the fact that I couldn't handle. Even when they shot me up with Demerol first, I still had to tell them to turn off the Pit because I fould the pain unbearable. This was the day of the delivery and again 2 days later, so the pain of labor was still very fresh in my mind, and I know that I thought that the pain from the pit-induced ctx. was much worse.

As a final thought, I found it helpful to remember that pain in labor serves a purpose (it hurts because your body is opening to allow the baby out or because the baby is moving through the birth canal-and that's what you want to happen, so the pain in slightly reassuring). It also helped me to remember that I CAN birth without meds-I found that everyone (even my own Mom who birthed all of her children without meds) kept saying that it was ok if I used meds, or insisted that I'd want meds, or that I'd change my mind once the pain hit or whatever. NOBODY simply said, of course you CAN do this-and of course I could, and I did. Women CAN birth without meds. They will survive the pain (that doesn't mean that they will like it or that they are lesser people if they opt for meds), but they CAN do it.

Wife to my DH Mama to my two girls  hearts.gif'03 and love.gif '06 and my sweet babyboy.gif 3-'10 I am blessed.
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Old 09-15-2005, 12:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by busybusymomma
I was induced my firth birth... I was 3cm and 80% effaced already so they just hooked me up to the Pitocin. It built up but then suddenly I was in a lot of pain and it was horrible. It was made even worse by the fact that they wanted me to stay in bed, preferably on my left side. Pushing in the lithomy position was hell and my pelvic floor muscles were sooooo sore.

Second birth... finally started active labor after three weeks of prodromal labor and walking around 4cm and 90% with a bulging bag of waters. Labor was a cinch. Uncomfortable, but I kneeled on the birth ball a lot and then got in the pool. My mom took a picture of me in the pool at 8cm and I smiled for the picture! Most of my pushing was done kneeling in the pool and it too was easy comparative to my first labor.

Going into labor naturally compared to being induced was like night and day in my experience!!!!
Thanks for sharing this - my 1st birth was very similar. I had been having problems w/ preterm labor for 4 weeks before my dd was born. Then - water broke - no contractions

Now we are ttc #2 and talking about what we do & don't want for the birth this time around. I ended up w/ an epidural about 2 hrs. after they started the pitocin - and I've always felt that I would have been able to manage a "regular" labor. Glad to heare another mama who's BTDT
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Old 09-15-2005, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Michelle, You are so cute! I'm planning on getting that same birthing pool to labor in at home. Did you love it?

Some of your posts brought me near tears. I know I can do this. I'm sure that I can. Even if I have to do it alone. And if I can't, an epidural won't make me a bad person.

I think I just need to give myself permission to do it, and not fear the pain.
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Old 09-15-2005, 06:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CaraboosMama
Thanks for sharing this - my 1st birth was very similar. I had been having problems w/ preterm labor for 4 weeks before my dd was born. Then - water broke - no contractions

Now we are ttc #2 and talking about what we do & don't want for the birth this time around. I ended up w/ an epidural about 2 hrs. after they started the pitocin - and I've always felt that I would have been able to manage a "regular" labor. Glad to heare another mama who's BTDT
Aw, glad I could help Kate! You know, that's how I'd done so many things now... I've had great mommas here and other online communities reminding me that I CAN do it! And I did/do! :LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunchier
Michelle, You are so cute! I'm planning on getting that same birthing pool to labor in at home. Did you love it?

Some of your posts brought me near tears. I know I can do this. I'm sure that I can. Even if I have to do it alone. And if I can't, an epidural won't make me a bad person.

I think I just need to give myself permission to do it, and not fear the pain.
<sniff> Aw, thanks! Just thinking of you in tears makes me . Gotta love these pg hormones! You can do it!!!! And yes, I loved the pool. The bottom has air in it too, so when you kneel you're not kneeling on the surface under the floor (which was tile- ouch!). Dh just aired it up yesterday to check for holes and so we could scrub it. The top section deflated a bit so I'm hoping no holes! Either way, I'll have that pool or one just like it at the ready come May. :LOL
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Old 09-15-2005, 09:23 PM
 
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Every ache and pain is SO heightened with me. You should've seen me when I had to get blood drawn! I HATE needles.
However, with my first, don't get me wrong, it was painful, but it was MUCH better than needle/shot pain. I kept asking my midwife when it was going to get worse. I feared the pain so badly, that it was nowhere close to what I expected. My labor was 5 hours long.
With number two, my labor was 1 1/2 hours and MUCH worse. The contractions came on so suddenly. I felt such pressure to push. Luckily it was over quickly.
It was manageable and I would take it any day over a needle for an epidural!!!
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