One of the two biggest questions I had while I was pregnant was what do contractions feel like and the other was what does it feel like to give birth? My only birth experience was what I saw on TV which was for a woman to have her water break unexpectedly and she’s rushed to the hospital while panting heavily. She is screaming and sometimes her partner is too, possibly because she is squeezing their hand too tight. Everybody’s childbirth experience varies and it can also vary from child to child. This is simply my experience when I gave birth to my daughter Margaux.
For starters, yes, it really does hurt that bad. You may want to read my article about what contractions feel like first as contractions were definitely part of the experience.
With Margaux, I had a vaginal birth without the use of any pain management. I wasn’t opposed to getting an epidural. By the time I left the house to go to the hospital, I had decided that I would ask for an epidural because my contractions were so intense. However, I progressed so quickly that I never even got to see the anesthesiologist.
Another thing to note is that I was extremely active before and during my pregnancy. I’m a group exercise instructor and taught BodyStep, a full body aerobic class. I typically taught 2-3 times a week but I would often sub for others and would teach up to 6 times a week. I believe this definitely had an impact on my experience.
The actual details of my water breaking are a little unclear. It did not break before I started experiencing contractions. It actually broke just before I delivered and it was a gush of water while I was in the hospital bed. I’m not sure if my water broke on its own or if the doctor broke it. It felt like it happened on its own since it happened when my body decided it was time to push.
I was never told to push but rather my body told me to push. As I was constantly inquiring about the status of the epidural, it felt like I needed to pass a bowel movement that was stuck but it happened suddenly and without warning.
I do believe my physical activity leading up to childbirth played a role in that pushing was extremely efficient. Nothing that I’m aware of happened on the first push. My water broke on the second push. And my baby came on the third push. All of this took about two minutes.
Delivery of Baby and Placenta
Because my labor and delivery happened extremely fast, delivering my baby probably felt quite different compared to another person’s experience. Typically, it would take some time from seeing the head to the delivery of the entire baby. For me, it only took one second as it felt like my body shot the baby out and the doctor immediately put her own my chest. My husband said that he almost passed out because he was not expecting the baby to come that fast. The intensity of the contractions immediately decreased after Margaux arrived. I still had to deliver the placenta but it was nothing compared to delivering a baby. I believe having your baby on top of you was a nice distraction from the remaining things that needed to happen.
One of the down sides to having a very fast labor is that everything felt like a whirlwind. I thought I would have been emotional finally getting to see my first-born child but I wasn’t. The feeling of relief from the intense contractions dominated any emotions that I may have had if I had the opportunity to truly be in the moment.
Tearing was a major concern of mine before giving birth but it actually wasn’t so bad. Another downside to having a rapid labor is that women tend to tear more. I had a third-degree tear but honestly, I couldn’t actually feel my body tearing and would not have known had my doctor not told me. I was given pain medication in my IV in order to get stitched up since I was not able to have an epidural. It was quite uncomfortable getting stitched up and it took longer than it did to push but it was still nothing compared to the pain of contractions. Taking ibuprofen and using a small squirt bottle so that you don’t wipe after going to the bathroom made tearing much easier to manage.
What did ti feel like for you to give birth? Let me know in the comments below.