Fear of Unknown Labor Pain!

Updated on October 08, 2010
K.V. asks from Umatilla, OR
24 answers

I need some insight from those of you who have experienced a VBAC!

I am expecting my 3rd child at the end of Jan. When I was preparing to have my first child, I was adamant that I wanted everything to happen as naturally as possible and was TERRIFIED of a C-Section. Then due to a rare and scary emergancy, my son had to be taken by a vertical C-Section (because of speed) in order to save his life. This happened before I ever experienced painful contractions. Then when my daughter was born, we did a scheduled C-Section thinking we didn't have a choice because of some misinformation Now that we are expecting our 3rd, we have a doctor that is very supportive and encouraging of us having a VBAC. I find this refreshing!!!!! But at the same time I am now Terrified of the unknown pain of giving natural childbirth. So much of me wants to do a VBAC and kind of get back to what I had originally wanted when having my kids, but now that things have changed, so have my fears.

I would love to hear personal experiences. I need to know if I'm making the right decision.


What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Portland on

You have gotten enough labor stories and lots of great input so I wanted to just add that when my girlfriend went for her VBAC she almost "trained" for it. Not in an extreme way but she attended prenatal yoga classes, took prenatal swim classes, ate well, etc. I know it would be hard with two kids, but I know she really felt that it helped. Personally, I feel the yoga breathing that I practiced before both my births are what pulled me through. Hiring a Dula if you can afford one is also a wonderful suggestion.

Best of luck to you!

More Answers



answers from Sacramento on

I can't speak to natural childbirth (I'm sure others will chime in there with feedback) since I had an epidural, but wanted to reassure you that contractions aren't that horrible. I'd describe them as really bad menstrual cramps. I had more pain after having two wisdom teeth pulled. The good thing is that they last for just a short time and then you get a break. So, even if you find them awful, it's not a constant thing like you'd get after surgery or having a bad injury.

Best of luck to you! Hope everything goes smoothly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My first son I was in labor for 10 hours, had an epidural, which didn't fully work, it was very painful, but bearable - eventually after 3 hours of pushing they realized he was posterior and I had an emergency c section - with my second I was scheduled for a c section, but I went into labor a day early, I had only 3 hours of labor, and no drugs as there was not time - she was born 30 mins after I reach the hospital - so I have had one totally intervention filled birth and one totally natural birth. my first was 8lb 9 and my second 7 lb 10, so both good sized babies.
labor pain feels like a muscle spasm - if you have ever had one of those, or a muscle cramp - like you get in the backs of your legs sometimes, only it's over a larger area, the actual pushing stage doesn
t seem to hurt as much because you are adding your effort to the contractions.
what surprised me the most was how immediately I bounced back after the natural delivery - I got up out of bed straight afterwards - no pain at all, I felt great, there was NO recovery period, I was out on the lawn tractor mowing within a week - contrasting to my c section where I was laid in bed for the first week, hobbling most of the second and third, and finally feeling better after about 6.
VBAC girl!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It's akin to diarrhea. Same OMG... gotta go now, same kind of breaks between spasms... but MUCH cooler end result.

PLUS, unlike with diarrhea, you can actually get an epidural.

I didn't plan on one, but there was a major goof and a nurse on her way towards retirement (on loan from another hospital) spiked me with pitocin. Pitocin made the whole thing hurt about a gazillion times as much, and halted my labor in transition... as in I got stuck in transition... so they gave me an epi, and I caught a nap for a few hours until the pitocin wore off. Yes. Caught a NAP. Then the pitocin wore off, I woke up, transitioned, and had my kiddo.

10 lbs, no rips, tearing, or episiotomy. Just perineal massage during the birth, and push/back off push some more till it felt tight/ back off. ((Sigh... again with the poop paralell)) Just like having a giant BM. You don't just push as hard as you can, you kind of ease it out.

You'll be fine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Enid on

my labor was aweful. i was induced and it felt like one big long contraction, i didnt get a break at all. they gave me some pain meds and we found out the hard way i was allergic to them. then i had an idiot for an anesthesiologist, i dont remember much after the medicine, i remember i couldnt breathe very well, i remember them talking about needing to do an ultra sound real quick, then the next thing i know i hear a big long beeeeep. we had lost the babys heart beat on the internal monitor. they moved me into surgery and i had an emergency c-section.most of all that was a blurr, i do remember the first time i saw my little man, (i was barely coherent from medicine) and i said hes got my nose lol. As long as you have a healthy baby- thats all that matters. i would take a horendous labor like that any day just to know someone i love very much is healthy and safe. i wanted a VBAC with my second one and my doctor advised me against it... he said they werent ment for everyone. i envy you for having the choice to have one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I also had my first with an emergency c-section, but I went through labor and pushing before that. I wanted it all natural, so I took a Hypnobabies course. It the moment, it was definitely uncomfortable, but if I could do a VBAC safely, I would do it in a heartbeat, and again, no drugs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My first labor and delivery was drug-free and attended by my wonderful midwife. I didn't have a VBAC, but I think it is totally AWESOME that you are planning one! Kudos to your doc for supporting you. Anyway, labor can be intense if you are not prepared for it. Have you taken childbirth classes? Even though you have two other children, I would recommend taking some sort of class. You and your husband will learn ways to help keep you as relaxed as possible. I took a Bradley Method class and learned some great tools to help with labor. The pain is manageable if you use some of the things learned in class. I'm pregnant with my second and will have another drug-free delivery at the same birth center where I delivered my son. This time I'm planning on a water birth. I was able to labor in the tub the first time and it really helped me cope with the contractions. So I'm assuming it will also help with the actual delivery. You are making the right decision. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain...when I had both of my kids, I planned to have no pain intervention - but also said (and made it VERY clear to my husband and my doctor/nurse) that if I said even once that wanted an epidural, that I wanted an epidural! With both my son and my daughter I experienced very managable pain - of course, this was my experience...may not be yours - I think that you should go ahead, there are always things that can be done to relieve some of your pain...and then, you might not even need it...in any event, the pain that I did have escaped my memory as soon as my children were born!



answers from Seattle on

Hi -

I had my twins via c-section, then my third with VBAC. I was wanting so much to do things the "natural" way, but I too was fearful of the pain. I had some contractions with the twins (which is why I ended up in the hospital with them for 5 weeks) but those were nothing compared to the contractions I had with my 3rd.

Anyway, yes, it is very painful but it is so worth it. It was an experience I am so happy I got to have. Now, to be honest, I did go for an epidural and I was completely glad to have that when I finally got it, but I still was able to feel my son being born. Something I never thought I'd want to do was to touch my son's head as he came out and when I did, it brought me to tears realizing I did it - I was giving birth to a new baby and doing it "naturally" (I only put that in quotes because I did have the epidural). I was fearful I wasn't going to be able to and we'd have to do a c-section anyway.

I completely encourage you to try a VBAC. yes, it was painful, but I think it was definitely worth it.


answers from Sharon on

On December 5th I was leaking fluids and went to the hospital when i got to the hospital they just said it was urine. and then on the 10th of december i went to my ob dr and she asked me if i had an concerns i said yes i have been leaking fluids for 5 days so she took cultures and she said she was signing papers for inducion. so i went up stair and they had me hooked up to the pitocin and by 2 pm in the after noon they broke my water cuz pitocin wasnt doing anything for me. I was having terrible contractions in my back and i was up and down so they gave me a dose of pain reliever and then a few hours later they put me on the epidural and my sugar jumped up and i was having a hard time breathing and now granit i did have anything to eat sense 8 am and by 7:30pm i didnt feel anything. so they got me in position to deliver my son by 7:45pm and they had to tell me when to push because i didnt have any feeling and i asked my nurse if they were garenteing me to have my son by 8pm and at exactly 8pm my son was born. on december 10 and he weighed 7lbs 0oz's and with all his measurements he was being weighed in at 41 weeks and if i would of waited til after christmas the baby would of been to big for me to deliver naturally they would of had to take him c-section
I wish the best of luck to you
S. & my son Joshua



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have not had a VBAC. I had O. vaginal birth with an epidural. The pain is pretty bad before the epidural. (Not to scare you.) I'd say make a tentative plan but go into that plan knowing you can BE flexible if you feel you need meds to get through it. And let your doctor know what you might and might not like.
I was very, very sick when I went into labor in fact I coughed so much that night at home, that my water broke and √iola! I was in instant labor. I had bad chest cold/nasal congestion for weeks before.
I had a pretty bad birth experience--couldn't breathe through my nose at all, was vomiting as I was pushing (my poor husband!), epidural turned too high so couldn't feel the contractions at all, pushed for several hours until the vacuum extractor was used in the end.
My point is it may not be what you are picturing in your mind (it certainly wasn't in my case! LOL) but the end result is all worth it--as you already know, twice! Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Both my kids were unmedicated l&d and while it might seem a bit scary to think about, it's exactly what your body is built for.

I don't know if you're making the right decision. That's a decision to make with your husband and with input from your doctor.

Two things that helped me were:
1. water. While in labor, it helps make contractions a bit easier to get through.

2. I just kept reminding myself that the only way my kids were going to be born was through my pushing them out. Worked both times! :)



answers from Portland on

Hi K,
Congrats on your decision to have a VBA2C!! You are truly an empowered an informed woman! VBAC's are, by far, the safer and healthier choice for you and baby!
I would suggest avoiding induction like the plague. Pitocin and artificial prostiglandins will not only make your VBAC more dangerous but more painful as well. The contractions that your body produces naturally will NEVER be more than you can handle because they are your contractions, not medically manufactured ones.
Have you considered hiring a doula? Doulas can be godsends to hospital births because they help filter out all the negative things that come from the hospital birth to help you focus and relax. Being focused and relaxed are crucial to having a positive birth experience.
The most important thing to remember is that your body was made to do this. Find what makes you fell calm, safe, and comfortable and bring that with you to your birth. Laboring and birthing in water is so helpful that women refer to it as the "midwife's epidural". Vocalizing through the contractions also helps because it gives you something to do. Look into hypnobirthing and take a course in it if you can. Many women who do hypnobirths swear that their births were painless. True story!
Don't let the fear of pain ruin your birth experience. Birth can be incredible, amazing, and empowering. I have never heard of a woman dying from the pain of childbirth but I do know of women who have had orgasmic births!
Throw away those "What to Expect" books and buy pregnancy books that are encouraging and believe in the power of birthing women. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, and Birthing from Within are all better choices.
And, on a personal note, I have given birth to three babies, two of them at home so I know that, not only is it possible to achieve natural childbirth, but I will say that my home births were the most awesome experiences of my life! I would do it again tomorrow...


P.S. You can message me if you have any questions or would like some more links to some good, positive information.



answers from Portland on

I know it is unpopular to get a c-section, however since you have had two you could have complications with a VBAC. I don't think there is anything wrong with getting another C-section.

I have had a baby both ways. My last was a c-section. I would have another c-section because I would worry about trying to have a vbac too much so it would not be worth it to me.

I think it is fine to try for a Vbac but there are real safety reasons why many doctors prefer another c-section

I don't need angry responses to this. I am free to have my opinion just as the all natural group is free to have their opinion.

ideally i do think natural is the way to go.

however I must add that I threw up NONSTOP through the whole process of vaginal childbirth and it dragged on for quite some time, it made the whole thing very very miserable. I did like the recovery time which is much quicker from an natural childbirth but the c-section was wonderful in that the baby came and I was happy and relaxed and ready for her without all the trauma.



answers from Seattle on

The first time I got induced and the labour came on fast and hard and it was horrible and yes, painful, but then I called for an epidural and all was well. It was about as painful as my most painful period (I get bad ones occasionally when I'm throwing up and unable to stand, walk, talk, etc., for an hour or so). The second time I asked that they not break my water straight away and laboured for hours without any pain whatsoever. Then they broke my water and as the labour intensified, I got an epidural (I was having twins and so was not going to do two naturally!) but it never got really painful. This time they turned the epidural down so that I could feel when to push, which was great. Both times I was incredibly lucky as they were very uneventful...



answers from Seattle on

I had a vbac with my second and I used Ruth napperstat? sp cd for affirmations on giving birth. It is an amazing cd and I listened to it for a few weeks before going into natural labor. I also swam in the ocean and did a fear releasing ritual where I thought of all of the fears I had and really felt them and then released them into the ocean. Than I swam around and let my body do the movements of birth and I imagined the baby just flowing out of me. When it came time for contractions I knew what was happening and why and how. I had the practice skills for getting the baby out safely and sweetly. I had a great labor nurse who was with me the whole time , my husband, this aromatherapy called rapid relief (wonderful) and a tub at the end when I just wanted to soothe and relax. You can do it. it is beautiful and wonderful.
The pain is a do-able pain. Seriously, get the cd. and the aromatherapy. LOL D



answers from Portland on

K, I'll tell you what I wished people had told me: hard core labor pains are a lot like really bad bad cramps. I've always had to take pain medication for monthly cramps (that or stay in bed three days a month). I felt really comforted to find that the sensation was familiar, even if it was stronger than the version I'd experienced before.

Also, I had an epidural and loved it (felt plenty, but was okay with the level of pain that I felt). Know what is right for you. If it is a completely natural birth, go for it! If it's an epidural, know that lots of women have had and loved them. I felt like I could be more of a participant in my labor and delivery once the edge was taken off the pain, but that was what was right for me. Good luck!



answers from Austin on

I have had 2 VBAC's

My first son was OP and got stuck so they took him by c-sec. I did my research made my decisions and got a doula went all natural for my second two.

I read the Dr Sears birth book and it was great. All I can say is that to me my intense labor sort of felt like really bad diarrhea cramps. There was cramps and pressure but when I got to push it was much better. Compared to pitocin, my c-section infection and nipple pain when nursing it wasn't that bad.

Just do your research, talk to people that can be positive and had a great birth experience. I have both of mine journaled by my doula I can send you if you are interested and feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. Try not to be scared (easier said than done). Sure labor isn't comfortable but it is what you were made to do and too much anxiety or fear can make a big difference.

My first doctor told me my son being OP didn't have anything to do with me not being able to deliver him and she didn't think I would succeed in a VBAC 50% chance. I found a Dr that was supportive and she thought I had a great shot (80%). All 3 of my children were the same size, same size head yadda yadda yadda. My first was backwards so his head never molded, my second one was all natural with a few tears and my third was all natural with no tears.




answers from Medford on

Hi K.,

I haven't read the other responses, but here are my experiences. I am also pregnant with my 3rd (due in November). I delivered my first two naturally, at a hospital.

My first was 12 days late and my water broke the night before I was going to be induced. I had a 20 hour labor with 3 hours of pushing and a vacuum assist at the end because I was so tired. I delivered a healthy 8lb 7oz boy.

With my second my doctor recommended inducing him at 39 weeks because he was getting very big, and since my body was already preparing (effacing and dialating a little) I went for it. With a little pitocin I delivered a healthy 9lb 3oz boy in about 5 hours with maybe 10 min of pushing.

I was very scared of having a c-section, and against taking any drugs, but now my advice would be that if labor (or pushing) is taking a long time and they recommend some pitocin - TAKE IT. It helps keep your contractions strong and regular and makes the whole process quicker, which is much easier on your body.

Near the end the contractions are very painful, and I always throw up during "transition". But just when you think you can't take it anymore it is almost over. And when you get to start pushing it actually feels kind of good, like a relief (not that it doesn't still hurt some too). As soon as my babies were delivered I felt great, like a runners high. Recovery was quick even though I ended up with stitches both times. I think after my second one I went to the store alone with both boys after 3 or 4 days.

One other thing about early labor, it can seem like it is taking forever to dialate, and then you could go a few cm in no time at all. It isn't evenly spread out, like 1cm an hour, so don't get discouraged.

Good luck!!!



answers from Seattle on

I LOVE giving birth naturally. Yes, I can say it and mean it. I've had three wonderful experiences. You should understand what happens in the natural process; learn about it and know what to expect, then work through the fear. During labor, being able to relax through the contractions and work WITH your body is key. If you are afraid your body will actually produce different hormones, your contractions will work differently, and your labor will be prolonged. Fear makes you tense up and fight what's happening, causing more pain. When you relax your entire body and let the uterus (a giant muscle in labor) do it's job, labor is less painful and because everything is working efficiently, it is shorter. Being able to move about is so important too. So check with your doctor on that. I definitely recommend Bradley type birth classes. VBAC is definitely safe, you've probably done some real research there already. No need to be afraid, just learn about it and work on relaxation, etc.



answers from Spokane on

I've read all the answers below, but here's my take:

I've had 2 boys, both 8lb, and induced both times, once with pitocin (8hrs labor, 45 min pushing) and once with the vaginal pill.(20 hours labor, 4 pushes). Both times I had an epidural.

My plan was to be flexible and only ask for an epidural if I thought I needed one. When I was given pitocin with my first from friends I learned to ask for an epidural at the same time. So happy I did. Pitocin really kicked the contractions into high gear (they were bearable up until that point, but unproductive). Before the epidural, about 1 hour, they were 2 min long with about 20 seconds in between. Very little time for rest. Once the epidural kicked in I actually enjoyed myself. By the time I pushed I could faintly feel the contractions with minimal pain.

I think the epidural was right for me because it relaxed the whole situation, took away the anxiety and allowed me to enjoy childbirth without the pain, throwing up, anger, etc. I was mentally present and really happy that I couldn't feel the stitches (tore a lot both times).

That being said, knowing I had to be induced the second time (positive screening, my age, etc. didn't want me to go past due date) I opted for the epidural early on.

Frankly, I don't believe childbirth has to be painfull and full of sacrifice - there's a lifetime of mommyhood for that. Why not relax and be present?

I had a wonderful doctor, hospital, nursing staff and anesthesiologist. I enjoyed the hours with my husband during labor - we had time to talk, dream, wonder, spend time together. The pre-epidural hours were painfull with him feeling helpless. Once the epidural came, we enjoyed each other waiting to meet the little men.

Sorry for the rambling answer, but I don't think there is enough support for women that want to have an epidural. So many are quick to tell you natural is the way to go, drugs are bad. You can't help but feel like you are a bad mom if you want an epidural.

Lastly, I think an epidural is easier and less stressful for the baby because you are relaxed.

Congratualtions! Whatever you choose will be what's right for you, just had to throw out a non-judgmental vote for epidurals.


answers from San Francisco on

Hi K.
I had a natural birth with my son,just had gas .I'll start with the great positives.
Straight away I felt great,full of energy.A half an hour after he was born I was in the shower.
The first few cm dialiating were fine,just like waves of bad period cramps.
The last few can be quite intense.Try not to panic,during this time,I know easier said than done.I had about 20 mins of panic and started thinking of an epidural but it passed.Breathe breathe breathe.Try to stay quite,easier then you think.This keeps the atmosphere calm and conserves energy.Let your mind go.I had a mad experience where my mind went back to childhood and for a few minutes I thought I was around five talking to my sister.I didnt lie in the bed,stand up or go on all fours as much as possible.Its amazing how the body knows when it is time to push,you just know.
At this time into bed and if possible put one foot against your hubby/partners chest and one on the midwife(mine didnt mind).It gives support for pushing.
NB.When pushing,push as if you are pushing out a poo and NOT from your vagina.Best advise I ever got.This helps to prevent stitches,I got none.You will feel the babys head at your vagina and also feel pressure from your anus.Alot of women think they have to push from the vagina as they think they will poo and thats why stitches result.
What I did when I went into labour was to make sure that I did a poo before I went down to the labour ward.This gave me peace of mind when pushing.
I say go for natural labour if you can,its so worth it.I so don't regret it.
Best of luck
Sending you lots of strength



answers from Portland on


I had an attempted VBAC and I congratulate you for researching. I had full labor with both of my kids and the VBAC was no more painful than the first. I can tell you this regarding the pain - keep in mind it will end. That helped me focus and delay the epidural on my second child. You also have the option of controlled pain management whether it be through medicated or non-medicated methods. If you focus on the end result and not the actual pain it really helps. Congratulations and good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

For me natural birth was:


Yes there was pain. But, seriously, after I had my second (no drugs) I was already thinking about doing it again before I left the hospital. I tell you what the thought of having a second after my not so perfect (epidural/pitocin) first birth took a few months!

I think the key is being able to focus on one contraction at a time. Each contraction in itself is very doable. You have to just focus on what you are doing, and not think about what is coming next. That really helped me on #3. Focus, breath, repeat.

Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions