General Question

MaybeBaby's avatar

Truly, how horrible is it to go through pregnancy and give birth?

Asked by MaybeBaby (28points) July 21st, 2009 from iPhone

We are at the point in our marriage where we are thinking about having children. I do want kids, but the thought of what it pregnancy does to a woman’s body really deters me. Not to mention the birth itself. The movies that I’ve seen make me wish I was a man.

How horrible is it? Every part of it. Please do not spare me the details.

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48 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I don’t know what’s worse… the physical pain and suffering, or the likelihood that in 20 years that same bundle of joy is going to blame the person who birthed them for all their problems.
Probably the latter

BBSDTfamily's avatar

It is horrible, but not unbearable. Women delivered babies without any medical assistance for years.

My advice? If the thought of what having a child does to your body deters you from wanting a child, wait a few more years until you can have a totally unselfish approach to having children.

Facade's avatar

Reluctantly follows to hear of others’ stories…

Hambayuti's avatar

Having children is waaay worth all the pain. Plus, there are ways to lessen the pain when giving birth. You can talk to your OB-Gyne about this.

kheredia's avatar

I don’t have any children myself but I’ve heard that in the end, its all worth it. Also, you might want to check your family history. If your mom or your sisters had a difficult pregnancy, there’s a good chance you might too. If not, then everything will probably run smoothly.

I also agree with @BBSDTfamily, don’t rush into it if you’re not ready.

augustlan's avatar

It’s different for everyone. I’ve known women who really blossomed during pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of it. Some of those women had great labor/deliveries and some had a hell of a time with that part. I had really terrible pregnancies, but really easy labor/deliveries. In every case – no matter whether it was a breeze or a nightmare – holding that newborn baby made everything worthwhile.

skfinkel's avatar

I loved being pregnant—it felt so right for me. Birth was amazing, it hurt but I felt like I could do anything after having given birth. And, needless to say, having children is so worth it.

However, there are plenty of children you can adopt, if you prefer not to have a baby of your own.

Just make sure that you have what it takes to raise a child.

Jeruba's avatar

It’s not horrible at all. There are difficult parts, painful parts, but not horrible. That’s just not a way of seeing it.

But I agree that if it’s your good looks at stake, you’re better off forgetting about it for a while.

peyton_farquhar's avatar

If your biggest concern about having children is the physical toll the pregnancy has on your body perhaps now is not the time to have children.

YARNLADY's avatar

My sister used to have terrible periods, with cramps and a lot of pain, every month. Then when she started having babies (she gave birth a total of five times) she just popped them out in about an hour without any problem what-so-ever, and she told me in the whole nine months she felt sluggish and tired, and that’s all.

Mine wasn’t like that. It was like having the flu for nine months, and then very bad, bad cramps for about six hours.

Supacase's avatar

I loved being pregnant, even during the first trimester when I was sick all day every day and the end of the third trimester when I had to choose between sitting up straight and breathing.

Unfortunately, I watched the movies – and sobbed. They totally freaked me out and, if I had it to do all over again, I would not have watched them. They did not give me much information beyond what I could learn from books, doctors or other mothers, but they did cause a great deal of anxiety.

Very, very short version: Labor was, hands down, the most painful thing I have ever endured. They told me it would be like “really bad menstrual cramps.” My ass. Cramps and contractions are in different galaxies. I loved the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural, even though it was about 5cm late, probably more than I loved my husband at that moment. Delivery was fascinating and strange and so very wonderful.

I would do it 100 times over to get my little girl. When they say you just don’t know until you’re a mom, it’s true. There is no point even trying to put it in to words.

To be honest, your body will be different. It might be a little, it might be a lot, it might not even be worse than it was before, but it will be different. One very important thing to remember is that it is different for every woman. What was hard for me might be easy for you; what was easy for me might be hard for you… and there is no way of knowing until you’re right in the middle of it.

sandystrachan's avatar

Child birth is amazing , the time before the birth is a great time you always have an excuse for not doing something .
I must add i am the male in the relationship and my comment may be one sided
If you want to know how childbirth is like and imagine what its like look here

Zendo's avatar

I understand that passing gall stones is similar to the pain of birthing babies. They even put stone patients in maternity wards in most hospitals. And often an ultrasound device is used to spot the offending rock.

JLeslie's avatar

The girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy is a funny but informative book about pregnancy. Are you worried about being sick during pregnancy? Or, the pain associated with childbirth, Or, health problems that might develop? What is your fear?

cyndyh's avatar

For me pregnancy was not so bad. There was a while when I had to eat tiny meals all day instead of normal sized meals. This cut down on the morning sickness. I wanted to walk a lot so I often waddled around malls. (I was pregnant during the summer in Tucson, so walking indoors was preferred.) At the end it was hard to sleep in any position at all and I got cranky while sleep deprived.

The first time around the labor itself was pretty bad while I was in it, but I recovered quickly. The second time around was a lot easier because I kept trying to steel myself for the worst, and it didn’t come. I was almost shocked when they told me it was time to push because I thought it was going to get a lot worse first.

If you have an IV and an episiotomy those will bother you longer than anything else. I had a knot in my hand from the IV that bothered me for months.

I think if you have any doubts at all you should wait. But if the toll it takes on your body is your concern, think of this. You’re going to get older anyway. You’re body is going to change anyway. Do you want to have kids? Because eventually you can have a broken down body and have kids or you can just have a broken down body. That’s the cheery thought for the day. :^>

Walshy's avatar

Dear god, people are so soft these days… Don’t be a wuss for christ sake. If you want / and are able to fall pregnant then having your own child is truly out of this world. If pregnancy was so horrific then no woman would have more than 1!!


MissAusten's avatar

You could interview thousands of women about childbirth, hear every unpleasant detail, and then go through something very different from what you’ve heard. No two women have the same pregnancy and delivery. Even a woman who has more than one child has different experiences. I have three kids, and each pregnancy and delivery was unique.

Of course childbirth is painful. Pregnancy, if uncomplicated, isn’t all that bad. I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy, but not for any good reason. I guess I don’t like being uncomfortable! And maternity clothes suck. As for the delivery, it is painful. I had an epidural with my third, and it was aaaawwwwesooooome!! Even the first two (one of my boys weighed over nine pounds), weren’t as horrible as in the movies. There was no screaming, sobbing, crying, or drama. Not even from my husband! The best part of labor and delivery is that once the baby is born, it stops. It’s the most indescribable moment on so many levels.

My advice to you would be to not worry about suffering through pregnancy and labor. You have no way of knowing what your experience will be like, and will have enough to stress over without adding to it. I hated how other women would tell me all the details of their difficult deliveries, purposely trying to scare me. What I went through was nothing like that (OK, that second one was kind of awful, but it was quick!). Pregnancy and labor are temporary. Once it’s over, you have a new little person to love and care for. It’s worth it.

dynamicduo's avatar

Sorry to break this to you, but your body is going to go downhill anyway, it’s just a matter of time. So you can either choose to have children and take some body damage then and there, or choose to not birth children and have your body go down a gradual decline regardless.

Honestly, the trade-off of stretch marks and a few painful hours of birthing (and some fraction of 9 months of discomfort) is well worth creating a new life with the person you love. Plus, hospitals can give you an epidural to help with the birthing pain.

And if you think birthing is difficult, just you wait till they become teenagers… gah.

basp's avatar

If you are worried about your body image, you are not ready to be a mother.

mebell's avatar

I have an almost 7 year old daughter who is the single best thing that ever happened to me. Unfortunately she was an unplanned baby and as I was only 19 I was terrified. Being pregnant was an amazing experience. I was a bit freaked out when she started moving in my tummy but then most new experiences are frightening! When I went into labour there was a woman in the final stages of her labour in the next room to me. I really thought she was being tortured, the screams were so loud! I was terrified having listened to her! As my labour progressed I kept thinking when does it get really bad! It didn’t and after 28 hours of crampy feelings my perfect daughter was given to me. It really doesn’t matter how many movies you watch or how many people give you advice, nothing prepares you for that surge of love and admiration you feel for your baby. One piece of advice I will give you is, when you become pregnant book yourself in for a reki massage once a month. I did this and I am convinced it helped me cope with labour and ensured my baby stayed calm throughout the whole thing. If I have any more kids (and I hope I do) I would do the reki thing again. Hope this helps and best of luck.

SuperMouse's avatar

I second the suggestion for The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy.

I have given birth three times. Personally, I had very easy pregnancies, the most weight I gained was 27 pounds (with my first) and I never had morning sickness. My deliveries were each completely different, they all hurt, but two were hard and one was incredibly easy.

For me it was the aftermath that was hardest. The hemerhoid pain after pushing for two and half hours was excruciating. My youngest was delivered via c-section and recovery from the surgery was tough. Top all this off with the need to be at the beck and call of a brand new baby 24/7 and it makes for a pretty challenging experience.

My kids are now 10, 9, and 7 and I would go through it all again, twenty times over, to be a mom to these kids. The point is, yes it hurts, yes it messes with your body, yes it is challenging to be a parent, but in the end, the love you feel for those children and the amazing gift they are makes every second of it worthwhile.

Sarcasm's avatar

Where are all of these replies like “If you are worried about your body image, you are not ready to be a mother.” “But I agree that if it’s your good looks at stake, you’re better off forgetting about it for a while.” coming from?

I read OP’s “the thought of what it pregnancy does to a woman’s body really deters me.” sentence and thought she meant the hormones, the pain, sleep deprivation, so on and so forth, not that she wouldn’t be purdy any mores.
Am I just super-naive?

SuperMouse's avatar

@Sarcasm I can’t get into the questioner’s mind, but I can tell you that all the things you mention were on my mind when I got pregnant. I was also worried that I would never lose the weight and my body would never be the same again. My guess is that anyone who says they aren’t worried about those types of things isn’t being completely honest.

Supacase's avatar

@mebell That lady scaring the crap out of you was probably me.

Sorry about that

MaybeBaby's avatar

How about vitamin deficiency, diabetes, bone loss? I know I’m going to age anyway, but it seems like pregnancy will speed it up.

A friend of mine told me to come on this site. She said I’d get great answers but also people’s unsolicited opinions. I never said I was worried about my looks.

SuperMouse's avatar

@MaybeBaby if you are considering getting pregnant at this point, you might want to start taking pre-natal vitamins. You can get them by prescription or over the counter. Starting now is a good way to avoid a vitamin deficiency. Gestational diabetes is of course an issue but if you closely monitor your nutrition, take good care of yourself, and get good pre-natal care even if it does rear its ugly head it is treatable. I have a friend who had gestational diabetes with her pregnancies, after she gave birth it went away and it hasn’t come back. I was in great shape before I got pregnant and because I worked out regularly I was able to keep that up the whole time, I think that probably helped stave off some of the things you mentioned.

If it makes you feel any better there is science that says being pregnant before you mid-30’s can actually lower your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as can breast feeding a baby. Those are both positive side-effects to having a baby.

You will probably be pleasantly surprised at how well your body can bounce back from giving birth. I have regular physicals and I can say that I am as healthy now as I was before my children were born. Having a baby is probably the scariest thing I have ever done. Ever. But I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

JLeslie's avatar

Don’t let these people tell you not to have a baby because you are afraid of pregnancy or birth. It is a scary proposition. I think the more you know, the better you will feel. Watch some birthing movies, talk to your girlfriends and relatives who have done it.

I’m wondering how old are you? If you are young and have not had to go to the doctor much it might seem even scarier.

From talking to friends, this is not scientific at all, just my girlfriends, it sems the ones who were healthier before prenancy had easier labor and delivery. Also, my friends and I are in our 40’s now, and I can tell you that age took its toll about the same on all of us whether we had a baby or not. We all gained some weight in our 30’s that we want to take off, it is true that most of the women who had babies lost some breast fullness, but some still have a great rack-ha! There are things that can go wrong during pregnancy for sure, again being infromed will help you notice signs and address things early if necessary hopefully making whatever problem might occur minor without any lasting effects.

casheroo's avatar

Not even the excrutiating pain of labor compares to actual parenting. Parenting is the most difficult part, you don’t realize that when your cervix is dilating though ;)

My first pregnancy sucked. I was in pain, didn’t want to do anything but eat, and the lack of exercise took a toll on me. I had a long, hard labor…painful recovery because of tailbone and hip pain…it’s been two years and no, I can’t recall the pain exactly, but I do know it was extremely painful.
People wouldn’t keep having kids if it was so traumatic. I know women with 4th degree tears that go on to have more babies….
I read “Pregnancy Sucks” while pregnant. Hysterical, and very informative.

TinkBandit's avatar

just wondering REALLY no bs how easy is it to get pregnant?
i have heard everything, but really want to know. A real answer past all the media induced dont have babies answers.

cak's avatar

I had rough pregnancies; however, it was so worth it! They were not physically painful, I just had complications. I loved being pregnant, my body didn’t. Feeling the baby move, feeling hiccups (yes, they can have hiccups!), just knowing that you have a baby growing – it’s amazing.

I had c-sections for both – due to the complications. Great drugs, great care and yes, a somewhat painful recovery, but it wasn’t horrible. In fact, the foot surgery I’ve had was more painful than the c-sections.

Don’t get swept up in the movie hype….it’s a movie. They make everything look either easier or harder than it really is!

JLeslie's avatar

@TinkBandit count back 14 days from you coming period. So if you have a 26 day cycle, that will be day 12 from day one of the start of your menstruation. Have sex the night of 11 and day 12 also, always worked for me. So if you are 28 days that is sex day 13 and 14. You should notice an increase in egg-white like discharge on the fertile days of your cycle, and if you are paying attention you might feel the ovulation on your side. The next month most likely on the other side. You can use ovulation kits also. Also, better not to have the woman on top, because the ejaculate falls out. Use gravity, after sex lay on your back and elevate you feet a little for at least 20 minutes before you get up. I know alot of people who got pregnant within three month sof really trying.

Judi's avatar

With the exception of my child who was induced, I forgot about the pain within a month of giving birth.
What it did to my body was fixed and even better when I had a mommy makeover

Aethelwine's avatar

I enjoyed being pregnant. It’s an amazing feeling when you feel your baby kick for the first time. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. The worst part of pregnancy for me was the morning (all day) sickness during the first trimester and the lack of sleep during the third trimester. It is quite difficult to get comfortable when you are so large and are used to sleeping on your belly. You also need to pee a lot.

My first delivery was a c-section due to prolonged labor. I actually enjoyed the extra days in the hospital. With the help from the nurses I was able to get more rest than I would have if I had been home so soon after a vaginal delivery. My second and third deliveries were vaginal, though my third was a bit scary. We had to make a quick decision to use a vacuum or c-section. We chose the vacuum and everything turned out fine.

Just because you have children doesn’t mean that you can’t get your body back into shape. After the birth of my second child I was in the best shape of my life. In fact, I was in better shape than I was before my first child.

Pregnancy and child birth can be difficult, but it is soon forgotten once you hold that little baby in your arms. I’m 38 and would do it again if we had the money. Sadly we don’t.:(

basp's avatar

The hormones, pain, and lack of sleep certainly do change the body image during and after pregnancy. To think otherwise simply indicates you have never been pregnant or bore a child.

Judi's avatar

My daughter’s have both at times screamed, “AUGGGG!!!!! I’m turning into my mother!!! Of course I love that!

Sarcasm's avatar

@basp I don’t think otherwise.
But the naivete comment was- “am I naive for thinking that the woman is worried about the hormones, pain, etc MORE than how her looks change?”

cyndyh's avatar

@Sarcasm : No, that’s not naive, I think it depends a lot on the woman. But I still think if your big concern is hormones, pain, etc. then maybe you should wait to have kids.

Facade's avatar

You guys are such troopers :)

basp's avatar

Perhaps I mis understood. Sorry.

ubersiren's avatar

Everyone’s experience is different. I’ve had friends whose biggest problem was gaining ten lbs. and friends who were on bed rest for months and had gestational diabetes. My pregnancy was fun even with the few minor problems I had, but I had a horrible c-section and recovery (resulting in a very difficult introduction to motherhood). I’ve mentioned it before on here, and I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse, but I wish everyone to fight for a vaginal birth if you want one. That’s all I’ll say about it.

MissAusten's avatar

@ubersiren Not to continue beating the dead horse, but I think what you said brings up a good point. Maybe instead of focusing on the perceived horrors of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, women should try to focus on educating themselves, being firm with their doctors and nurses when it comes to personal decisions and choices, and learning all they can about when medical intervention is necessary vs. when it is convenient.

It’s impossible to predict how any one woman will feel during pregnancy and delivery, but it is possible to learn your options and rights.

casheroo's avatar

@ubersiren Very true about the vaginal birth. My husband asked me where I want to give birth (as in which hospital since I have different insurance this time) and I told him “As long as I get my vaginal and private room, I’m good!” I hated the hospital I gave birth at, so pushy for a c-section…I don’t want to endure that crap again.

cyndyh's avatar

I have a couple of things to say on the education note. Years ago when I went through pregnancy there were tons of books on the pregnancy itself and not so much on the follow through for the health of the mother or for newborn care with the exception of breastfeeding. I’m hoping this is better nowadays. I’d just say to educate yourself on recovering and on newborn care as much as you do about the pregnancy itself.

Also, a woman isn’t bad for taking the epidural. Even if you think you’ll do without it, educate yourself on it so that if the time comes you can make an informed decision and not feel like you’re freaking at the last minute to find out about it. Personally, it was worth it for me.

bea2345's avatar

I enjoyed my pregnancy. My health was good throughout, and, except for the last three months when I was always sleepy (that is normal), I was bursting with energy. The unpleasant part was the recovery after C-section: I was over 40, obese, and considered a high risk pregnancy. As for afterwards, that is up to you. My niece has just had a second child, and she has shed the excess poundage in less than 2 months (the fact is that she works out daily, and has done so since childhood) and looks absolutely gorgeous. Of course there is discomfort and some pain, but my mothers and aunts – between them they had some 50 children or thereabouts – mostly claim that once the baby is in your arms, you tend to forget that part, especially if you were prepared for it beforehand.

ubersiren's avatar

@casheroo : Good for you! The last thing you want when you’re in labor is to have everyone telling you the opposite of what you know is best for yourself and your baby. I have left my pushy, cold, impersonal, too-busy-to-give-a-crap doctor and am now seeing an award-winning midwife. I am determined for this time to be different. I know there’s still a chance for another c-section, but at least she’s supportive of me. She’s already won me over in one visit.

@MissAusten and @cyndyh : While I think education about pregnancy, childbirth, and child care have improved, I wish it was a little more empowering. Like you said, I just don’t think all your options are properly laid out for you. I remember in the 2 day class my husband and I took, I think about 5 minutes was spent on c-sections and some other things I experienced weren’t even covered.

cyndyh's avatar

@ubersiren : That’s sad to hear. I was hoping things had improved in the last 23–25 years.

Empowering would be great. I’ve known doctors who try to tell you what to do instead of giving you choices and educating you about options, but I’ve also known other people who want to push their choices on you. If you end up with a midwife who’s trying to tell you you don’t need an episiotomy, epidural, c-section, or whatever and it’s not based on anything but her woman-power feel-good brand of goddess talk—just be careful. I’m all about informed choices, but I’m not into being guilted into more pain that I have to deal with because some femmier-than-thou chick thinks it makes me more connected with my womanhood. I’m connected plenty with my womanhood. Thank you very much.

Ok, I know it comes off like a rant. I’m just saying that whichever way you choose to go with whichever issues you have regarding pregnancy and delievery, just make sure you get to make your own decision. (That’s the general “you” and not the specific.)

I really had hoped these things would improve before my daughter goes through all this.

MagsRags's avatar

Interesting perspectives about different types of pregnancy care providers and how they approach labor and birth. I’m a quasi-retired Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). I say sort of retired because after 27 years of being on call for days at a time, and delivering more than a thousand babies, I transitioned into full time OB/GYN office work as a nurse practitioner. I’ve worked in every kind of birth setting – tertiary care center, community hospital, free-standing birthcenter and at home.

Anyway, yeah, pregnancy, labor and birth are different for every woman, and even every pregnancy. It helps if you go into it with an open mind, become as informed as possible, and keep reminding yourself that women have been giving birth for thousands of years, that your body knows how to do this, and that most (maybe all) of what you’re experiencing is normal, or at least in the range of normal. And that it’s OK to ask if you’re not sure.

BUT. It’s also really important to make choose a well trained/educated care provider who is philosophically compatible with your own approach to health care. And if that person has partners who might be on call when you are giving birth, it’s important to know that too.

Some women are most comfortable with the old fashioned father-style doc who is friendly and caring, but doesn’t share a lot of information or decision making – that woman’s eyes glaze over when I start talking about the pros and cons of continuous electronic fetal monitoring for labor for example at a prenatal visit – she just wants me to tell her what’s going to happen, not why or “maybe this, maybe that”. Some women come in knowing they want an epidural for labor, and I’m fine with that as long as I know she’s heard about both pros and cons. Other women are hoping for “natural” (unmedicated) labor and birth. Philosophically, that’s my preference too, but I still want her to educate herself about pros and cons of epidurals, and to know that in rare cases, I have encouraged a woman in prolonged difficult labor to try an epidural in hopes of getting enough relaxation to progress and get a vaginal birth instead of a C section.

There are also women come in with a ten page birth plan with items like “no episiotomy under any circumstances” and ” don’t cut the cord until it stops pulsating” and I have to explain that those are my favorite ways to work too, but sometimes circumstances change suddenly, and if the baby’s heartbeat tanks, I might have to make a last minute decision to get the baby born by cutting an episiotomy, and I’ll have a few seconds to tell them what I’m doing and why, but I won’t have time for a discussion. We will be able to debrief about it afterward. I’m going to keep her preferences in mind, and honor them as much as I can, while giving her the best advice I have and keeping safety as a priority. If she doesn’t feel she can trust me to do that, then she might be more comfortable with a direct entry midwife and a home birth.

For women who prefer home birth with a direct entry midwife, I would just encourage you to ask good questions when you interview about complications and labor transfer rates and about what kind of experience (and equipment) they have for emergencies. There are wonderful DEMs out there with great judgement and experience,and there others who have the best of intentions but don’t transfer to the hospital unless it’s a trainwreck.

Darwin's avatar

how horrible is it to go through pregnancy and give birth?

Nowhere near as bad as going through pregnancy and then miscarrying. The physical pain disappears quickly, but the emotional pain stays on for years.

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