If you're a fan of television and movies, it's safe to say that, according to the media's account of labor and delivery, if you're pregnant you're in for the worst experience of your damn life. Watching a childbirth play out on TV or the big screen means watching a woman sweating, screaming, swearing, flat on her back with her legs in the stirrups. The agony appears to be all too much. No wonder so many women are terrified of childbirth. But is it really that bad? Or are there things that actually hurt more than giving birth? I decided to go to the source — women who've actually been through labor and delivery — for the answer.
The first time I gave birth, my baby was a preemie and I was given demerol because I was experiencing a full-blown panic attack. While the labor pains sucked, they weren’t what I’d call unbearable. So when I was pregnant with my rainbow baby, I was pretty confident in believing that labor a second time around wouldn’t be too bad, either. Plus, I’d been reading up on Hypnotherapy and all the other crunchy intervention-free methods of birthing a baby. I had it under control. Everything was going to be fine.
I was 40 weeks and two days pregnant and the contractions began. I admit, they were freaking awful, especially toward the end. It felt like I had no control over my body anymore, and that's a pretty terrifying feeling. So, yes, childbirth was painful, but if I'm being honest, my extremely lengthy recovery was much worse. So yes, there are things that are far worse than labor and delivery, but don't just take my word for it. Here's what a few moms had to say about their experiences:
“I had two C-sections (the second one was super painful because of trauma, adhesions to previous scar, etc.), but having two dry sockets at once was torture. I remember trying to crawl away from the pain!”
“I think C-section (recovery) hurts way more than labor. Including my 13-hour active labor with no interventions.”
“Having a tooth pulled. And I had vaginal, unmedicated childbirth. Regular tooth, no gas, just a crap ton of novocaine.”
“I have had two vaginal births, and one was unmedicated. A sinus headache, basically a migraine, is the worst pain I've ever had to endure. Like, my heart goes out to people that suffer on the regular.”
“Breastfeeding a newborn. The first month is just so painful. Toe-curling cringe every time they latch on.”
“Appendicitis. It was so painful. I had two medicated births. With the first one I tried to go without medication for about eight hours, during which time they had me push for at least a half hour before deciding that I was not in fact fully dilated and that I should stop. Twice.”
“Pinched nerve due to a slipped disc. I passed out from that pain, but not from birthing a 9.5 pound baby with no medications.”
“Shingles. Listeria. A broken femur. I had a failed/toxic epidural with my first and a normal epidural with my daughter — both vaginal, both episiotomies. I had three doses (of the epidural) administered within 34 hours and I went toxic from it. It was a thing. But yeah, improperly administered, repeatedly. My whole left leg was numb but I still felt all of labor.”
“Dislocating my knee hurt worse. I had an epidural with labor though.”
“Complications from my gallbladder removal were more painful than childbirth. I had no pain meds for childbirth. And I've birthed four children.”
“No pain meds in a 17-hour labor that ended in an emergency C-section. My spinal fusion surgery was much worse.”
“I've had two drug-free births and my kidney stone was more painful, but mainly because there's nothing to look forward to at the end. With birth it's ‘pain with a purpose,’ but passing my kidney stone without drugs was simply suffering.”
“To be honest, my period cramps hurt way worse than labor did.”
“Um, the poop after the C-section. Far worse than the surgery. So I was in the hospital for four days because my blood pressure wouldn’t go down and the doctors neglected bowel care, so I hadn’t pooped for five days when I got home. I was in so much pain. I’ve never been constipated before or after. It truly was the worst part of the recovery."
“Not more, but having a kidney stone the size of a pencil eraser was probably on par with labor pain.”
“Passing a large kidney stone and shingles. I got shingles when I was 12 and I'll never forget that pain. I have keloids that run around the right side of my trunk/high waist area from the big purple/black blisters."
“I was contracting from week 14. On bed rest from week 17 to when I gave birth. Gallstones were worse.”
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