Intense. Joyous. Painful. Amazing. Overwhelming. Incredible. Indescribable.
Yes, but what does birth feel like? You're pregnant, maybe a little anxious, and you want to know things. It's not enough to hear the vague catch-all words that people use when they talk about birth. We gotcha covered. We're going to share some real feelings from the physical and emotional sensations that people can experience during birth -- in this case, vaginal birth. Cesarean births are important too and will be covered in a later post.
What Does Vaginal Birth Feel Like?
Contractions - Early labor contractions typically make you pay attention. You should be able to mostly talk and maybe even walk or move through them, but they feel different. While it can vary, early labor contractions typically cause you to feel an all-over hardening of your mid section (which is due to the uterus contracting), along with either lower back pain (usually dull and achy, but sometimes sharp) or lower uterine cramping, or both. These contractions are short-lived (less than a minute) and usually light in strength. They can cause you to feel like it's taking your breath away, or like you need to focus on your breathing until it releases. Once the contraction lets go, you feel mostly very normal/typical.
- Burst of energy
- Intestinal cramping/diarrhea
- Low back pain
- Bodily tension
Contractions - Active labor is where the process begins to ramp up. People usually report feeling contractions more intensely, like a tighter "squeeze" wrapping around your midsection. Contractions feel stronger and they last longer (1-1.5 minutes).
- Less movement during and in between contractions
- Change in breathing patterns
- Desire to avoid laying on back
- Vocalizing/moaning through contractions
- Back pain
- Not hungry
- Dry mouth
Contractions - Transition is often the shortest phase, which is good because the hallmark of contractions during transition is intensity and frequency. They are longer and come closer together. The breaks in between become shorter, which can make the process feel more difficult.
- Difficulty focusing/coping without support
- Feeling like "I can't do this anymore"
- Panicky feelings
- Pressure on your vagina/anus/perineum
- Energized, knowing the end is closer
When it comes time to push, many people report feeling a sense of great relief when they can actually do something with their contractions rather than just endure them. In terms of raw, physical work, pushing is typically the most intense part of labor -- it's hard and exhausting work! Other sensations experienced during pushing include:
- A lot of pressure in the pelvic floor and bottom
- Like you need to poop
- Renewed energy
- Stretching/stinging (during crowning, a short time)
- Discouragement, defeat, impatience
- Complete relief after baby is born
There are quite a few things a person can feel during the immediate postpartum period, in the hours after birth, depending on your experience leading to it. Feelings, physical and emotional, include:
- Pain or tenderness in the perineum, especially if there is stitching
- Shaking, including chattering teeth
- All-over muscle soreness
- Energized (despite being worn out)
- Swelling in feet and ankles
- Swelling in vulva/vagina
What did birth feel like for you? What was the best part? What about the hardest?
TagsBirth Vaginal Birth