What having a baby REALLY feels like


When I was in my third trimester, the burning question on my mind was, “How will I know when I’m in labor? What will it feel like?” Now I know every labor, like every baby, is unique. But here’s the insider’s perspective on what childbirth felt like for four real moms.


“The shifting sensations are hard to navigate— you’re sweating like crazy and then you’re freezing cold. I remember desperately wanting to stand up, even though the doctors wanted me to lie back. It felt a little scary that my body was doing things I didn’t understand.”

— Joannie Fischer, mom to Noah and Zach

Head crowning

“ My doctor had me touch the baby’s head because she wanted to give me incentive to push. It felt slimy and weird. I actually withdrew my hand. It was just too many sensations happening at once for me.”

— Danielle Dopman, mom  to Isabella and Sofia


“ When they pulled him out, it was like a big woosh feeling. Kind of like if you tipped a kiddie pool over and it was emptying. Only I was the kiddie pool. It wasn’t painful, but it really took my breath away.”

— Jane Gaffney, mom to Kian

Water breaking

“ I went to look at the Christmas tree in the living room and liquid started running down my leg—a steady stream like I was peeing myself. We went to the hospital and I sat down as we were admitted, and all of a sudden the floodgates opened. I was gushing all over the chair. ‘Is this OK?’ I asked the nurse, and she said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it’ ”

— Jane Gaffney 


“ I didn’t even know I was in labor at first. It just felt like someone was putting heat on my back—it would get really hot and then cool down again. I was talking to my sister-in-law who has three kids, and I happened to mention it to her, and she said, ‘You’d better get some rest, because you’re having back labor.’ She was right.”

 — Danielle Dopman 

“ The contractions felt like a vise closing tighter and tighter on my abdomen. It would squeeze closed and then I’d have a second to breathe because it would loosen, but then it’d close again. I was wriggling in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position.”

— Louisa Cohen Glad, mom to Raimi

“ After my water broke, I started feeling the contractions but they didn’t hurt. They were like mild menstrual cramps, except I’d get really shivery and breathless every time.”

 — Jane Gaffney 

If your little one has already arrived, weigh in and let unsuspecting moms-to-be  know what sensations are coming their way! What did labor and delivery feel like for you? Sound off in the comments below. 



  1. With my first baby I was 20 years old and he was premature (32 weeks). I went to the bathroom and I found blood in my panty, we ran to the hospital I was having preeclamsia, the tried to hold the baby in my body but alter 2 days of not having good blood presure they infuse me to labor. After 1 day of medications I just got 6 cm and I did feel any contraction. They keep me with a monitor and they told me when the contractions were happening but I did not feel a thing. From one moment to other I felt the need of pushing and they found out that I had 10 cm and in less than 4 minutes my baby was born. He stayed in the incubator for 2 weeks. Now he is almost 17 years old and it was a unique experience.

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