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What Labor Feels Like

Is This What Labor Really Feels Like?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post about what labor really feels like.


One of the most agonizing aspects of being pregnant is wondering what labor will feel like. When I was pregnant with my first child, I'd often lay awake at night, wondering how it was all going down. Would I be able to handle it?

Related: Are pregnant women being bullied into C-sections?

It's one of those life-changing events that you have to experience to understand. I've had six births and no two labors were alike. Our BabyCenter Community is talking about this very same topic, Is it as bad as everyone says? Here are a few opinions from our members:

kirstenk86 said: "It was horrible and I wanted to die." Tell us how you really feel, kirstenk86.
BabyMine1104 said: "It's the hardest work you'll ever do, perhaps the most painful, but 100% worth it!"
abrigham said: "If birth was so traumatizing and near-death horrible we'd all only have one kid and we'd die out as a species…have confidence in yourself and your ability."
LittleLucy2 said: "Labor is hard work. But you can do it."

As a woman about to give birth, encouragement and pats on the back were great, but I wanted to know the truth. Give me the 411. Give me the real deal—the cold hard truth. I wanted to know what this whole thing actually felt like.

Early labor feels a lot like menstrual cramps.
To me, early labor felt like it was that time of the month. Achy legs, achy back and menstrual cramps. Not enough to cry out in pain, but just enough to make me uncomfortable and crabby. I recall being really grouchy in early labor—it was as if I was royally pissed off that a child was making its way down my birth canal.

Keep reading for one mama's thoughts on labor.

What active labor feels like.
The only way I can adequately describe active labor is something like a vise grip squeezing your hips. An intense, breathtaking sensation that makes one feel as though their reproductive organs are being crushed beyond recognition. It comes in waves, and in between contractions you can feel as normal as one can feel with a baby practically dangling from your lady bits. I talked, laughed, cried, prayed and laughed again during active labor. But during a contraction, it hurts and demands your full attention.

Pushing the baby out.
In my experience, I hated to be told when to push. I liked to breath through it and wait for my body to decide when it was time. When your baby is ready to be born, it's such a rush of emotion—excitement, relief, fear and pain. Anyone who has pushed a head out of their vagina knows what the "ring of fire" is. Ouch.

But it's brief and then suddenly, you have a beautiful new creature in your arms. And they have this tendency to make you forgot all the pain you were just in. Babies have a funny way of doing that.

In your opinion, what did labor feel like? Is it as bad as everyone says it is?

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