I voted more, but I hesitate to quantify it as "painful." Yes, it hurt. A LOT. But it was not "pain" in the sense of being like a broken leg or a punch in the face. It was more like the most intense sensations ever. Okay, I know this sounds fruity, but bear with me. I was definitely unprepared for how INTENSE it was going to be, and how HARD I would have to work. Does that make sense? And I'm not trying to rephrase it to make it sound all hippy-dippy and cutesy. That's honestly how it felt.
I knew in advance that the best way to deal with it would be to just surrender myself over to it, but I didn't know just how much I would have to do that. Labor is like being strapped to a rocket and getting shot into space at a thousand miles an hour.The weight of the atmosphere is crushing you, nd the wind is blowing so hard against you, but there's nothing you can do about it because you're strapped to that rocket. You just go along for the ride and wait till you land. There's no point in fighting it.
Now when the baby actually came out, I had no pain at all because I was in the pool. I didn't feel comfortable in it during labor, so I probably would have hurt a lot less had I been in the water more. But I had no ring of fire, no nothing. I didn't feel myself tear. I broke my tailbone and didn't even feel THAT until afterwards. Hell, I even stood up in the pool with the baby half hanging out of me because his shoulders got stuck, and I didn't feel that either. I guess it might have been because I was so thrilled to be in that moment that the last thing on my mind was how much it hurt.
Looking back, the feeling of a natural birth was so incredible and amazing, but for a few days afterwards I was just utterly flabbergasted at how overwhelming it had been. I couldn't believe I'd survived something that intense. So yes, for me, it was much more "painful" than I'd anticipated. But it was totally worth it, and I'll gladly do it again next time.