Just how bad does labor really hurt?

September 07, 2011 12:00 AM by

Everyone says it's the most painful thing you'll ever experience, but millions of women do it every day. Just how bad is labor, really? We're here to give it to you straight – and reassure you that just like your own mother, grandmother and great-grandmother did, you'll get through this just fine.

Most women compare their labor pains to menstrual cramps – and there's a good reason for that. Both sensations are the feeling of your uterus tightening and shifting. While labor pains are more intense than regular period pains, the feeling is a familiar one – which can be comforting to many pregnant women.

Another reason you needn't worry about the pain of labor? You'll get a break. Contractions come every few minutes – in between, you can rest and breathe easy.

If you're really concerned that you won't be able to handle the pain of labor, there are plenty of medications available to help ease your discomfort. You can even request an epidural once you're properly dilated, which will numb you from the waist down. Many women choose to go natural, however – and they report that they're so focused on the baby they'll soon be holding that the pain fades into the background. 

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