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What moms think it really feels like to give birth

For years, people have been trying to explain what labor is like to people who will never go through it. Men have hooked themselves up trying to experience it, and women have dangled the experience over the heads of misbehaving offspring. One recent study even claims that giving birth is as hard on a woman’s body as running a marathon.

If you’ve ever hit the magical six weeks postpartum mark with an air of excited expectancy only to still feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, you’re not alone. Researchers at the University of Michigan can back up your assertion that labor is not effing around.

The study showed that women sustained similar injuries in labor as serious athletes who have run a marathon — a full quarter of the women participating suffered stress fractures, while 41 percent had muscle tears.

Reading the news, we couldn’t help but wonder: What else is labor like, if not slamming your feet down on hard pavement for hours in an event that is named after the first person to ever run 26.2 miles before falling down dead at the end of it?

So we asked.

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When SheKnows spoke to real moms about what they would compare labor to, they didn’t use words half as gentle as the phrase “like a marathon” to describe their ordeals. Warning: If you’re an expectant mother frantically Googling for a little comfort, you may want to avert your eyes.

One mom who labored for almost a full day before being rushed in for an emergency C-section described it as an alien autopsy, and even that was one of the less graphic descriptions of pushing a small human from a much smaller orifice.

Mom Lacey summed up her labor experience eloquently enough, saying it was “something like putting a chainsaw and torch in my vagina and then getting this screaming pooping thing in return.”

Melissa illustrated the surreality of the peanut gallery, saying that she would best compare it to “being ripped in half in increments while your partner and strangers smile and cheer for you. Then amnesia. Until you have to poop or sit down.”

That wasn’t the first reference to poo or butts (we’ll get to that in a second), and Monica gave words to a sensation so few of us can aptly articulate, saying that labor was like “a bowling ball repeatedly slamming on my butt from the inside.”

Carissa, on the other hand, opted for a short and sweet anecdote, proclaiming that the experience was akin to “being a test chamber for a small bomb.”

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Then there was a whole slew of moms who likened the experience to something having to do with severe gastrointestinal distress.

For her part, Emma fondly remembers her labor as “Taking a really hard, large shit when you have a hemorrhoid the size of a golf ball that gives you period cramps so painful you’re begging someone to stick a giant needle in your spine. Yeah, that basically sums it up.”


Bryanne had a slightly abashed air when she proclaimed her labor experience: “This is terrible but I always tell my husband and sons that it’s like the cramps from the worst diarrhea anyone could ever have, with the added bonus of your flesh ripping apart. It seems to elicit an appropriate look of horror.”

Well done, Bryanne.

Katie agrees with the poo angle, saying that it was like “having acute gastroenteritis while on acid. Then it all stops and this baby is in your hands.”

Jamie honed in on the most poignant feeling you’ll get while experiencing the miracle of birth, saying only that it was very much like “pooping for the first time… in years.”

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Of course, everyone’s experience will vary, and assuming you’ve suffered from some type of labor amnesia, you can always rely on an onlooker’s perspective of the joyous occasion. We had one dad, Alex, weigh in with what childbirth felt like from his purview, saying that he would best liken the experience to “slowly crushing my hand in a well-moisturized vice.”

Well, at least it was soft and supple, Alex.

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