Pregnancy is a joyful experience — a miracle that ends with the birth of a baby. Many women can't wait for it to happen, so they can be a part of the life-changing event. But it's not all sunshine and roses. In fact, pregnancy can be downright painful, and that is before the agonizing experience of childbirth.
Women's bodies go through a lot to grow and birth a baby. Things start out sore and end up unbearable. From the sore tatas to the toes on her swollen feet, every body part goes through the ringer during the nine months of pregnancy. Some pains are sharp and others are long-term aches. And some of them happen more in the heart than in the physical body. For some, it's a miracle that they can get through it.
The baby brings on belly aches and back pain, heartburn and headaches — and even some pain in unexpected places. By the end, a woman will know what it will be like to wake up every morning in pain and never find relief — not even when it's time to go back to bed at night.
Here are 15 ways pregnancy can be the most painful experience of a woman's life.
15 Burn, Baby, Burn
Ever feel like your chest is on fire? Many women never experience the true anguish of heartburn until they become pregnant. For some, the pain rears its ugly even before the pink line shows up on the pregnancy test.
Pregnancy messes with a woman's digestion, and that can have very painful results in more ways than one. The acids can get all stirred up from the beginning, and they may not slow down until after the baby is out. Things only get worse as the baby grows, and the stomach shifts into a less desirable position.
The heartburn can get worse at night, so much so that some women have to try sleep sitting up. Diet can make a difference, but there's no way to get rid of it for some. It's one of the most painful experiences of pregnancy.
14 Tatas Ache With Rage
Another of the very first pains of pregnancy can be felt far north of where the baby is growing. It's a familiar ache that happens for many women every time their period comes around, but it can feel very different when there is a baby on board. It's the soreness that makes a woman's breasts feel like they are boulders weighing down her body.
The pain can be dull but never-ending. The breasts grow larger for many, as they prepare for the job of making milk. They can feel tingly and achy and even the strongest bra can do little to ease the tension and pain.
The soreness can let up a bit in the second trimester, but it can return the closer to the baby's birth. And we won't even get into how much they will hurt once breastfeeding begins. Talk about painful — the pain of pregnancy is just the beginning.
13 Farting That Can Blow The Roof Off
We've already mentioned the digestion problems that can come with pregnancy that can lead to heartburn. But it can also slow things down and cause some problems that can come out either end. We're referring to gas, which can create incredible bloat and finally bring relief when a mom-to-be either starts burping or farting. Before the sounds come out, though, the gas can cause all kinds of tension and really hurt.
Both burping and farting aren't exactly lady-like, so some women try to hold them in. That's when the real pain sets in. The gas can build up so much that it can feel like a stabbing, sharp pain in the gut. More than one mom-to-be has ended up rushing to the emergency room thinking that she is in labor only to find out that it is actually gas. That can be embarrassing as much as it is painful. So better out than in, as Shrek would say.
12 Round Ligament Pain
Sometime in the second trimester, when the baby belly is stretching and growing, many women will feel a stabbing pain that can leave them wondering what is happening and will their baby be OK.
The pain is usually on one side and it can be just north of the pelvic area. It's caused by the stretching of ligaments that hold the uterus in place. Those stretchy pieces of tissue are just getting warmed up to the task of keeping the baby belly in place, yet the pain can be the worst in that stage and get better later on.
The pains can be sharpest when a woman shifts position, such as getting out of bed or rolling over, and they can cause a woman to double over in agony. It's just another joy of pregnancy that can make it the most painful experience ever.
11 Back Feels Like A Train Ran Into It
Putting a big old belly full of baby on a woman can make her sore in more spot than one. It can take a strong back to heft that weight, and most of the time that means a mom-to-be ends up with sore one.
Back pain is very common in pregnancy, but that doesn't mean it isn't terrible. It can start even when the baby is the size of a pea and not much of a burden because of all the other changes that occur in the body. It gets worse as the baby grows, and the third trimester can be a nightmare, making it hard to get comfortable even in bed.
Sometimes labor can manifest itself in the back, which can be hard for some moms who have already succumbed to the realities of constant back aches in pregnancy. They may not know that the end is nearing, but when the pain ebbs and flows every few minutes, it may be a countdown to some relief, finally.
10 Charlie Horses That Make You Squeal
The pains can come and go in unexpected places on the body. For one, things can get interesting in the legs, especially in the middle of the night. Leg cramps are a strange but incredibly painful pregnancy symptom that can start in the second or third trimester, coming on when a woman least expects it.
In fact, they can wake a mom-to-be up in the middle of the night with excruciating pain — the charlie horse of death that can leave her hopping around the bedroom wondering how she can get the stabbing sensation to stop.
Leg cramps can be a sign of dehydration, which can happen more quickly in pregnant women. The water — and more important, the nutrients — need to be restored to get relief. A few sports drinks and bananas during the day may stave off one of the most painful parts of pregnancy.
9 Fat Man Sitting On Your Pelvis
Ever wonder why a pregnant woman waddles? The answer is easy — because it hurts to walk any other way. The good thing is it doesn't last for much of pregnancy, mostly because the baby is resting higher in the abdomen. But as the baby grows, it takes up more and more room and puts more pressure on the pelvis. When the baby is sitting squarely on the bones that attach to the legs. Each step can be torture, and sometimes a mom can't bear the thought of walking anywhere.
The pelvic pain can be atrocious throughout the pregnancy, but it'll definitely get worse in the third trimester. Once the baby drops, getting closer to the delivery, it can be a big problem to even get to the bathroom. Walking becomes a painful experience, and pretty soon the waddle will be the only thing that gets a mom-to-be from one place to another.
8 Belly Aches
We've mentioned several pains that can come to a woman's middle during pregnancy, including round ligament pain and gas pain, but there are other more times when the belly can ache. First, there can be pain with implantation. Usually, it feels a lot like menstrual cramps, and it comes about the same time as a period is expected, so some women can shrug it off. But it does hurt.
Then there are sharper pains that can happen at strange moments. They could just be the aches of pregnancy, but if they persist, it's important for a woman to go see a doctor as soon as possible. Belly pains could be caused from ectopic pregnancy, which needs to be treated immediately or a woman could lose a fallopian tube or worse. It could also be a sign of miscarriage or preterm labor.
Urinary tract infections affect about 10 percent of pregnant women, but they are very treatable. More seriously, it could be appendicitis or gall stones, which could require surgery. That's why a doctor's advice is so important — because pregnancy if the most painful experience any way, but it could get even worse.
7 Rhoids That Will Terrify You
Those digestive issues we mentioned earlier can cause another painful issue for pregnant women. Many moms-to-be don't want to talk about it, but they may be a victim of hemorrhoids, swollen blood vessels in the rear end. They may actually come out a bit, but they are painful whether they are in or out.
The swelling happens because of the increase in blood flow and overall swelling that happens in pregnancy, and constipation, which is common, can make things a whole lot worse. Hemorrhoids itch, although most women try their hardest not to scratch in public. They also bleed. Most of all, they hurt. Ice packs and soaking in warm water can help, but sometimes that doesn't stop the pain. And they can even get worse with labor and delivery.
It's worth talking to a doctor because this pain is one of the worst ones that can happen in pregnancy.
6 Tooth Pain
Believe it or not, many women deal with pregnancy like they deal with a tooth ache. In fact, for some, tooth pain is a direct result of their pregnancy, and they have to deal with it sometimes for months thanks to the old bun in the oven. It can start with bleeding gums in the first trimester, and get worse from there.
Somehow — OK, we know how; it has to do with hormones and blood and all the crazy stuff happening in the body during pregnancy — teeth often pick this time in a woman's life to go from bad to worse. And there is little that moms-to-be can do because they can't take pain relievers or get treatment. (Actually, it's OK to have treatment at a certain point in pregnancy, but it is dangerous to do that before a doctor gives the OK.)
Maybe the tooth pain crops up to distract you from all the other terrible pains that come up in pregnancy, but instead it just adds on to make it the most painful experience ever.
5 Braxton Hicks Fake Out
Every pregnant woman knows to expect some pain when the baby is born, but many are amazed to learn that they could actually experience pains for months before delivery.
Braxton Hicks are known as practice contractions, but they don't actually do anything but hurt. They can come on suddenly and strong and give a mom-to-be a good scare, or they can linger for weeks with several small scale fits an hour.
Contractions come on when a woman is dehydrated, so if a woman starts to feel the pains, she should get something to drink then lie down and rest. If they go away — or at least don't get worse — then they were probably Braxton Hicks, and all is fine. But it can be hard to tell what is the real thing, so if a mom-to-be wonders if she is experiencing premature, she should get help right away. In that case, those pains could be a warning that saves a life.
4 Emotional Exhaustion
The pain that a mom-to-be experiences during pregnancy isn't all physical. She can also go through quite a bit emotionally as well. The hormones that rage during pregnancy can cause physical and emotional highs and lows. Women can struggle with everything from anger to sadness, and while most women have heard of postpartum depression, many don't realize that they can go through dark days during the pregnancy as well.
The anxiety and depression that can accompany pregnancy can be debilitating for some women, who also feel guilt that they are not feeling the excitement that they expected to feel during this time in their lives. Instead of daydreaming about the beautiful moment they meet their baby, they can feel despondent over bills and life changes. It's proof that pregnancy is the most painful time in a woman's life in many more ways than expected.
3 Pounding Headaches
The pains of pregnancy can go to every part of the body, and that includes the one at the top. Yes, that means headaches can be a major pain for nine whole months. Most commonly, women can get tension headaches, and it can be even worse during pregnancy, especially at a time when anxiety is high and women have to carry their posture differently to account for a big belly and huge boobs.
Women can also go through an incredible crash in caffeine when they change their diet in the first trimester, and that can cause a throbbing pain in the head. An increase in blood volume can also affect women, especially those who have migraines. Sleeping becomes harder, so exhaustion headaches can happen, and even hunger can set one off.
Sometimes things get better during the second trimester, but headaches can drive a woman to bed at any point during nine months. And to add on to it, pregnant women have to face the most painful experience of their life without the ability to pop a few Advil. There are some drugs that are safer than others, but all have their drawbacks, so talk to a doctor.
2 10 Centrimeters
To get a baby out of his or her mother's womb, the body has to go through a megaload of changes in a short time. Whether it takes 72 hours or 72 minutes, the labor pains have a big job to accomplish in a much shorter window than the nine months of pregnancy. That's why the pain threshold gets magnified.
There are three stages to labor. The first is known as early labor, and this is the part that takes the longest. It is the point before the cervix reaches four centimeters. Because the cervix is thick and just beginning to thin and open up, it can take days to accomplish this task. Sometimes contractions can help the process along, but some women don't even notice until they reach the active labor phase, when the cervix dilated to 7 centimeters. There is definitely some terrible pain that comes in a steady rhythm every five minutes, gradually getting sooner. But the real pain doesn't happen until transition, the last stage to reach 10 centimeters, where the pain almost never ceases and it's so bad that some women think they will die.
But wait — that's just the first stage of childbirth. Next comes the delivery.
1 Get Ouuuuuut!
Just imagine going through the worst pain of your life, feeling like your body is being betrayed by its own muscles and getting the beating of its life. You get about a 30-second break before you are wrenched in pain again. And now you have to take control of that muscle and push with all your might to get the baby out. Oh, and while that is going on, the skin around your private areas is going to rip.
During delivery, some women actually feel relief when they are pushing, but that might only be temporary. Some moms-to-be make quick business of it, but others can be stuck in the pushing phase for hours.
Even if a woman has chosen an epidural or is going through a C-section, delivery is a strange sensation that has implications that will hurt in the days, weeks and even months after the baby's birth. But that is a whole other tale. For now, we think we have proven that pregnancy is the most painful experience ever.
Sources: American Pregnancy, Parents, Baby Center