I’m sure all mothers who have given birth would remember very clearly how labour was for them. Even those who opted for pain relief would have had a small introduction and preview to labour pains.
So … I decided to ask some mums about their labour experiences, hoping to shine some light on what labour really feels like.
Signs of Labour
If the mention of labour pain hasn’t sent you running in the other direction yet, let’s talk about some signs that tell you that labour is underway. But if and when in doubt about what is happening to your body, contact your OBGYN anyway.
The usual main signs of labour starting, are strong and regular contractions. You may also get a “show”; a mucus-like discharge that could sometimes be tinted with a bit of blood. This happens when the plug of mucus from your cervix comes away. Do not be alarmed. Just inform your doctor, and he or she can advise you on when you can make that trip to the hospital.
Other signs that labour is starting include backaches, menstrual-like cramps and an urge to go to the toilet, which is caused by your baby’s head pressing on your bowel. The most dramatic sign is, of course, your water breaking (rupture of the membranes).
Mums share: What labour pain really feels like
For my first pregnancy, it felt like the worst case of diarrhoea, except I wasn’t pooping. It also was the l0ngest “diarrhoea” experience ever.
Generally, you may feel the uterus tightening. Those strong contractions come in surges and help to push the baby into position and then out into the world. You may feel the muscles around the uterus harden and contract. Chan Li Xiann shared that her tummy was as hard as a stone and that it felt like her baby was going to burst out.
Another mum, Tracy Chan said, “(I was) Howling like a banshee and had an uncomfortable backache every time I experienced surges.”
Contractions can also feel like gas pain. Or even strong pressure. Mum, Kher Chia described it as having diarrhoea pain from tummy to buttock with increased intensity liken to a washing machine spinning non-stop.
Bet none of us felt like Yuki Nishitzawa who created her own spins doing the tootsie roll during labour!
Labour could also feel like a constant pain in your back, like what I experienced my second time around. If your baby is facing up when entering the birth canal, the pressure from his or her skull on the nerves of your back could lead to some incredible pain.
I was walking around like a mad woman in my room, at 3 am in the morning, because I wasn’t able to sit or lie down. Even when they strapped me up to monitor my contractions, I think they couldn’t accurately detect them as the contractions and the pain was mostly focused in my back.
And boy will it change in intensity. It starts off far apart and gradually gets closer and closer, longer and stronger.
“3 years ago I went into labour without any pain killer. I was tired and sleepy as well. I was sweating in cold sweat, struggling on the bed with every contraction and cursing at my husband. But (I) still managed to nap between surges. It was really crazy and I felt so high with the pain. Gonna experience this again in 3 months time!!” shared Bee Lian, who is currently in her second trimester.
Lilian Ho said,“I thought I would cry after all the pain… You know, (like) that movie thing? No. I just felt like swearing.”
Hiccups can happen
Nothing really prepares us for what could happen in the labour ward. You just have to deal with whatever life throws you.
Mom Ren Dixon shared about her rare experience during her second pregnancy. The epidural she took only numbed the left side of her body, while the right side was subjected to the full pain of labour.
“It was the strangest sensation ever. My whole right side would cramp up in unspeakable pain and then…nothing on my left. (It) Still made me mad enough to curse the nurses and doctor for the error until the baby came out.“
Let’s do it again
Suffice to say, after all the pain, screaming and cursing, mums would go through the miracle of birth and bring life into this world all over again. That feeling of holding your baby, after patiently waiting to meet him or her for 9 long months, is indescribable. No matter how great the pain, one look into those eyes, and all is right with the world again.. Well… Until they start stitching you! *cringe*
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