Crowning and scared - Mothering Forums
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Birth and Beyond > Crowning and scared
christygen's Avatar christygen 08:01 AM 08-04-2006
Been looking through the posts and havent found one similiar to this and was wanting to know from other moms here what it was like when the baby was actually being pushed through the vagina through the crowning stage? This is one of my worst fears of the birth process. I'm 27 and this will be my first birth. I'm going to be attempting a homebirth. I've asked the midwife this same question and she says all births are different and reassures that everything will be fine. My close friend who birth about a year ago said that the whole birthing process was uncomfortable but that pushing the baby out is what really hurt the most. It just really worries me about something that big coming out of something that small. Hope this wasnt a dumb question. Thanks in advance!

hopefulfaith's Avatar hopefulfaith 08:13 AM 08-04-2006
Hugs, mama! It's totally not a dumb question.

Take comfort in the fact that for many of us, crowning was such a *quick* time - it hurts, but it was over so quickly and this is the part where you get to meet your baby when it's done!

And as for the "something big coming out of something small" part -- remind yourself over and over, starting right now, that this is exactly what your body was designed to do! Your body was made to do this. You will become as big as you need to be to help that baby out!

I was scared of the actual birth process before my son was born last summer - and when you're committed to a natural birth, that's a hard hurdle to overcome. One of the things that helped me was to read positive birth stories over and over and over and over. I read "Spiritual Midwifery" four times during my pregnancy, primarily for the affirmation that birth was such a positive experience, millions of women do it (hey, we're all here, right?), and I was going to get through it, too.

Blessings, mama!
Sagesgirl's Avatar Sagesgirl 08:39 AM 08-04-2006
You know, I remember that it hurt, but I don't remember much beyond that, except that even once she crowned, it took longer to get her out than I'd thought it would. (Watched too much TV, I guess. ) You'll be in "laborland" by then, probably, and not really noticing everything that's going on; at least that was the case for me. I was operating on pure instinct by then.
MamaRabbit's Avatar MamaRabbit 09:04 AM 08-04-2006
During the crowning stage, I just reminded myself, "the baby's almost here!"

It's not actually a big head coming out of a little space either. During pregnancy, your tissues become more stretchy, and once the head comes down to the perineum, the skin stretches like it's supposed to, becoming a big space. Make sense? Yeah it hurts, but a few deep breaths and then it's done.
Megs_BK's Avatar Megs_BK 09:26 AM 08-04-2006
I can only reaffirm what's already been written here. It does hurt. Oh yeah. But by then you know that the light at the end of the tunnel is comin' right for you and you just keep going and then it's over.

I second the hugs, too!
onlyboys's Avatar onlyboys 10:01 AM 08-04-2006
I can't say that I remember feeling the actual pain of crowing. The overwhelming memory is of PRESSURE! There was just intense pressure. It's been like that for all my births.
Artisan's Avatar Artisan 10:03 AM 08-04-2006
I think a lot of women have that momentary fear -- I know I did -- that pushing was going to hurt, and they didn't want to do it. I was afraid of more pain. My MW was really encouraging though, and it helped when she said, "The only way to get out of the pain is to push through it," and "It will hurt for just a minute, but then your baby will be here and it will be over with."

I would also recommend a pregnancy hypnosis class or homestudy course. (Like Hypnobirth or Hypnobabies) They do fear release sessions, and the positive affirmations really help you let go of the fear prior to labor.
Artisan's Avatar Artisan 10:04 AM 08-04-2006
Here is another secret: for a lot of women, pushing feels like you have to poop reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally badly. (Sorry to be crass, but it's the truth. It feels like a bowling ball.) A lot of those same nerve endings are firing. If you have an unmedicated, undirected birth where no one is telling you what to do, pushing will NOT be a choice -- you body will do the work for you.
Faerieshadow's Avatar Faerieshadow 10:07 AM 08-04-2006
Just thought I'd add my experience... the crowning part didn't really hurt me - the pushing stage was so awesome, it was like all my labor pain went away! I had a slight burning sensation when I tore slightly (ds came really fast) but that was the only pain I felt during that time.
thismama's Avatar thismama 10:10 AM 08-04-2006
I was terrified of crowning, but found that it didn't hurt at all. Everything was stretched so wide that it felt kind of numb, and seeing my baby's head coming thru my vagina was so surreal, that she crowned, she was born, and that was it.

I was really freaked about it while I was pg tho.
amyjeans's Avatar amyjeans 10:31 AM 08-04-2006
have you ever heard of the "burning ring of fire"?
that's what occurs at the crowning stage. Your skin stretches (and normally does NOT tear- if the birth is not rushed by anything or anyone). the stretch burns briefly, then numbs so that the birth completes itself.
This of course is a theory- and a good majority of unhindered births occur this way.
I read once the best way to replicate the sensation is to open your mouth as wide as you can, then cup your hands over your cheeks with your fingers inside your mouth and s t r e t c h. You will feel the burn around the rim of your lips and mouth. The sensation subsides eventually because the nerve endings will deaden briefly.
Now think of this- your vaginal opening is very similar to your mouth- very stretchy, elastic, and NO BONES! It will form to whatever comes out.

I am always thankful for this sensation- it means my hard work is over, now I can relax and let the baby come out- it's the end of labor!
Guest*'s Avatar Guest* 11:56 AM 08-04-2006
I was surprised that crowning did not hurt as badly as I'd built it up to be. It hurts, yes, but it was not the most terrible pain. I barely took notice of it. Plus, as others mentioned, when you feel the stretching, you get an adrenalin rush because you know your baby is RIGHT THERE. Just a few more seconds/minutes and you're done! That alone gave me the energy to transcend the pain and continue on (not that I had a choice to stop at that point, but I hope you know what I mean.)
Mama Poot's Avatar Mama Poot 12:01 PM 08-04-2006
For me, crowning was the "OMG its almost over HELL YEAH!" point of my labor. I looked down and could see the baby's head and it gave me such a huge rush and I immediately felt renewed, as I was getting pretty tired. The sensation ( provided you are not medicated, you will feel this ) of the baby actually moving through the birth canal is amazing. I had a little lip of cervix that was being stubborn, and I kept pushing and pushing but I knew I wasn't getting anywhere. finally the lip gave way and I could feel the baby move down. It was VERY obvious what was happening- you will know for sure when it happens to you. Now I will say that before things really started moving along, I was a little scared. But once I could see my baby that fear just evaporated.
sophiamama's Avatar sophiamama 12:09 PM 08-04-2006
I was scared of pushing too, but when I got to that point, I had to push so bad, it actually felt good! My body REALLY wanted to push, it was an overwhelming urge, so being able to give in was a relief. I do remember a LOT of pressure, but not as much pain once I started pushing.
JamieCatheryn's Avatar JamieCatheryn 12:11 PM 08-04-2006
I do remember some pain, well no I don't but I remember saying to the cnm "this hurts!" kind of indignantly between pushes. But I was basically feeling down there keeping track of the progress and it was really cool. It felt like it took a while though it was only 20 minutes. Mostly though, it was just awesome, I was actually touching my baby, he was almost out! Also the pushing style contractions and the new state of mind were such a relief after transition. And yeah it does kinda feel like having a huge poop. I think crowning was my favorite part of the whole thing really.
boscopup's Avatar boscopup 12:15 PM 08-04-2006
I remember the "ring of fire" burning pretty bad, BUT... I was no longer feeling contractions! I was in a hospital (preterm) and was doing directed pushing (which you DON'T want to do). The first push, I was a little scared to push. I did these itty bitty brief pushes, and then the nurse said "No, just do one long push", so I did, and it was very effective and once I actually got the nerve to give that push, it felt alot better. The second push, I wasn't feeling an urge to push at that moment - this is where directed pushing sucks and caused me to tear with a <4 lb baby. My body was not given time to stretch appropriately. But on that push, his head came out. The 3rd push was not a big deal - the body came out pretty quickly and easily once the head was out.

Honestly, while that ring of fire was probably the most painful part of labor for me, it also was one of the easier ones to get through, because my baby was RIGHT THERE and I was about to meet him!!! I think the hardest part to get through was transition contractions, but thankfully, I remembered that when I felt like I couldn't do it anymore, it was almost over, and sure enough... During pushing, I never felt like I couldn't do it... and that says alot.

Since you're having a homebirth, I know you will do GREAT. Pushing is the best part of the birth! And if you're listening to your body, I think you'll have a good experience. YOU CAN DO IT.
Lact-o-Mama's Avatar Lact-o-Mama 12:22 PM 08-04-2006
I had 3 totally natural births and remember vividly that during labor, having to deal with rushes was MUCH harder than the momentary "ring of fire" during crowning.
I agree with Amyjeans and think that her suggestion is possibly the closest duplicate of the actual feeling during crowning.
Keep in mind that during your labour you'll be feeling intense adrenaline rushes that help you to cope with the pain. Your fears are very common, *know* that YOU CAN do this
Also, if I can reccommend something wonderful, read "Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth".....especially her chapter on SPHINCTER LAW, its friggin fantastic and could definately save you from having a slow/failure to progress type of labour ( hoping that your mw wouldn't actually diagnose it that way )

Have Fun & Enjoy Mamma, look forward to the totally awesome post-birth high, its better than any street drug out there !! :
forthebest's Avatar forthebest 12:32 PM 08-04-2006
With my 3rd dc the crowning moment became very surreal as I entered a really calm and euphoric state it was really wierd think I was just more controlled(not in a bad way)about the whole birthing bit, I really did feel like it was very spiritual at the crowning stage, I was doing uc and my then partner actually panicked because I was just squatting there with a very calm attitude.Huh?He probably felt intimidated as he was not 'needed' to interfere.I did not feel the urge to push and I reckon if left to my own choices totally I would not have actually pushed at that stage and just let my baby birth himself. Just a thought on peristalsis that I never got to realise completely. I felt I wanted it to continue for a bit longer but he was wanting to see a baby coming out or summit? I'd loved to have had another dc,totally on my own as I felt I was getting better with the whole process and am far too easily influenced by other's idiocy/fear/impatience/control issues/greed/presence. There is a lot of pressure on our bits woah it can feel pretty frightening all right but I think like pp's have said without the interference,forced pushing etc our bodies cope and boy does it make us stronger.My first dd was in hosp despite my protests and just a complete travesty of pain and misery and forced pushing and 'you're not doing it right' and stitches and drugs....
mary3mama's Avatar mary3mama 12:34 PM 08-04-2006
With my most recent birth -- a VBAC -- the crowning didn't really hurt. I did feel the ring of fire, but it wasn't painful...hard to explain. I felt it and it didn't feel normal, but it wasn't a sense of pain, just one of stretching and burning. But with that 'fire' came a surge of energy and passion and strength. Once I felt that burn, he was born within about 2 minutes.

I'd recommend that you try not to focus on that specific point of delivery...since it is so different for each birth. It is just the culmination of a process.
Mybabymommy's Avatar Mybabymommy 12:35 PM 08-04-2006
Just try to remember that it will stretch exactly as much as you need.

For me, as the baby passed over my Gspot I got such a rush of energy and almost relife that the crowning didn't really hurt. I did feel a burning sensation for a second but that passed very quickly.

Have a happy birth!
tinyshoes's Avatar tinyshoes 01:07 PM 08-04-2006
Originally Posted by christygen
...It just really worries me about something that big coming out of something that small...
Just to reiterate what others have said: it's not that small.

In Ina May Gaskin's guide to childbirth book, she contrasts vaginas with penises. Penises change in size during their day-to-day operations, right? No one starts worrying about it growing big, or will it shrink down, etc, etc....that's what penises do.

Vaginas grow big during birth, and they shrink down again later. They are dynamic.

YES....if your vagina stayed the same size as it is right now today, the day you're not in labor birthing, that WOULD be a small "hole" to push a newborn out of. But it will grow and stretch....that's good!

You'll do great.

It's important to think about all this stuff while pregnant, and to go ahead and ask the questions, voice your concerns, and put those fears to rest, so you can fully enjoy and participate in your birth, without nagging worries or doubts about your body's abilities. This culture is NOT a pro-woman, pro-birth culture....pregnancy is a time to undo some of that brainwashing, y'know?

Happy Birthing!!!
heidi_m's Avatar heidi_m 01:17 PM 08-04-2006
Just a little tidbit about my own experience... I did not feel ANY pain at all during descent, crowning, birth, etc. NONE. Labor hurt like hell and during transition I was sure I was IN hell, but during pushing and birth I literally could not feel anything at all "down there."

My birth was totally unmedicated, so no it was not from an epidural!

I've speculated it was from adrenaline, but I really don't know. As the birth of #3 approaches (my first was c/s) I am surely hoping for a similar experience!
huggerwocky's Avatar huggerwocky 04:56 PM 08-04-2006
I didn't notice the crowning and wouldn't have known if the doctor hadn't told me. I did feel like pooing though, maybe that was it?

What I did feel was when they cut me :
huggerwocky's Avatar huggerwocky 05:02 PM 08-04-2006
Originally Posted by tinyshoes
Just to reiterate what others have said: it's not that small.
people do sexual practises that stretch the vagina as much as a baby's head for pleasure, it is NOT that small!
sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 05:05 PM 08-04-2006
Also remember, it's not a solid 13cm diameter circle going through your normal cervix, it's a compressible 13cm diameter circle going through a stretchy 10cm diameter circle. I've done some sketching with compasses and the relative sizes are quite reassuring.
Seie's Avatar Seie 05:19 PM 08-04-2006
As you can read from all the previous answers it is very different what women feel at this stage. But personally in my case - it felt exactly how I had imagined it would. It hurt like the devil - it hurt so bad that I considered not pushing to avoid it. But the good thing about crowning is that it is the LAST bit. Once you have done it then all the pain is GONE!
What really helped me during crowning was to be rational. Once your baby is crowning there is really no way that you can regret - no way to not do it. At this time you HAVE to go through with it - so you just have to tell yourself that being scared at this point is utterly useless. The only thing that will help you at this point is to remember what you have read - try to relax your body and especially the pelvic muscles, to pant shortly while the head is crowning to allow the skin to stretch. This may hurt - but believe me it wont hurt as much as pushing hard and fast to get it overwith and then tearing from front to behind.

However- my best advice about crowning is - dont give it too much thought at this point. It really is only a few moments - and compared to hours and hours of labor it really isn't worth too much worrying.

Also remember that pain is only a part of what labor and birth is. It is SO much more - it is potentially an amazing experience that will stay with you always. The best you can do to make sure you will get a good birthexperience is to try to stay positive as much as you can.

Good luck.
QueenOfThePride's Avatar QueenOfThePride 05:51 PM 08-04-2006
For me the pitocin contractions were much more painful than the baby actually coming out. I had an epidural, but they turned it off when I was ready to push. And I pushed for so long that the epidural was completely worn off by the time DS crowned. I felt no ring of fire. TMI, but all it felt like was pushing out a hard BM. The contractions that racked my whole body were way worse.
savithny's Avatar savithny 06:40 PM 08-04-2006
With #1 I had a longer pushing stage. I felt the urge to push -- and it really was this awesome, unstoppable urge. Others have used the term "like throwing up, only downwards," and it was. But once those contractions started, nothing hurt. I didn't really feel pressure, either, or the descent. Just these huge waves of the URGE. Never felt the ring of fire, either.

In fact -- I always hesitate to tell people this, but I found it more pleasureable than anything else. As baby descended and put pressure on the whole perineal area, the only sensation I remember was a sort of "thrumming" feeling -- almost like orgasm aftershocks, but more difuse.

Baby #2, however, I almost did not have to push out. I felt a little weird, I think the term midwives use is "grunty?" in the tub, but nothing like the waves of MUST PUSH NOW that I had with #1. And then suddenly my water broke and she crowned *instantly*. THAT time I felt that ring of fire! But it didn't last long, as others have said. I think the first time descent was so slow that I benefitted from endorphins and pressure numbing the area for crowning, but the second time, it all happened too fast for that. And for me, I've had worse burning pain from hemmeroids (though in a different area) or diarreah (again, different area).
christygen's Avatar christygen 10:40 PM 08-04-2006
Ok, lets try this again. I've tried to post a reply 3 times and the power keeps going out. Thanks a bunch for all the replies! Didnt know who to turn to ask this kind of question. I've worried myself sick about the birth, especially as the baby is coming out. I'm just going to trust my body and go with the flow. Guess like one person said here its something I shouldnt worry about right now. Gonna run before the power goes out again. A bunch of hugs here to all of you for answering my question and reassuring me! Thanks!
velcromom's Avatar velcromom 10:58 PM 08-04-2006
I've never given birth vaginally either and this was also a fear of mine. Hanging around here learning ways to prevent tears, repeating my "crowning mantra" from a post someone made here ("babies are squishy, vaginas are stretchy, there is no problem here!" lol) and going back to view the link below are getting me past this fear - I'm way more comfortable with the idea now.
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