8 Things That Hurt More Than Childbirth

There is one thing that almost every pregnant woman believes—childbirth is the worst pain you could ever feel. You don’t have to look too far to find out why. For example, reality television shows about labor and birth are quick to highlight images of women in labor writhing in pain.

However, there are things that women who have experienced both say can hurt more than giving birth. Keep in mind that everyone experiences situations differently, so what might be more painful for one person may not be for another. It is also important to note that when talking about a negative birth experience, pain is not the leading factor for women.


Broken Bones

Woman in labor in hospital bed
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Breaking a bone sounds painful, though obviously not all broken bones are the same. Some are serious and require large casts for long periods of time, and some might involve surgery and placing hardware like pins and screws into your body.

One bone could hurt more than another because of the location of the break or the type of break. Also, consider how often you use the area that is broken. For example, a broken rib might ache every time you take a breath, whereas a small finger fracture might be fairly well stabilized and not as painful once it's in a splint or cast.

Some broken bones can mean weeks or months of treatment. Typically, even a really long labor is rarely longer than a day.


Migraine Headaches

Migraine headache

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Migraine headaches are huge sources of pain for some. This is not your typical headache where you pop an over-the-counter pain pill and continue about your day. Some people who have migraine headaches wind up losing hours or days to debilitating symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visual disturbances

Many people with migraines wind up taking prescription pain medication to both prevent and treat these symptoms.


Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form in your urinary tract and have to be passed. This means that the stone, either whole or broken into bits, will need to come out—usually through the bladder, but potentially through surgery. Symptoms of kidney stones can include:

  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Back pain
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

A woman's body is not designed to birth kidney stones, but it is designed to birth a baby.



Gall Stones

Gallstones are small stones in the gallbladder that can cause quite a bit of pain. While there are pain medications and nutritional guidelines to help manage these, gallstones can plague you for a long time or come in waves of attacks. These attacks frequently include symptoms like:

  • Unremitting pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Fever

While some gallbladder attacks can be dealt with by simply prescribing pain medication and a new diet, after a while, there may be a need for surgery to remove the gallbladder itself.


Bladder Infections and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Woman in pain on toilet
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Bladder infections and urinary tract infections can cause a lot of pain, including:

  • Burning
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Back pain or lower abdomen and sides
  • Blood in urine
  • Fever

These infections are not a picnic, and sometimes just being pregnant can increase your chances of getting a bladder infection.


Root Canals

Root Canal
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Many people want to compare the pain of childbirth with the pain of dental work. A root canal requires skilled work by a specialist. A hole is drilled inside the tooth and the nerve underneath the tooth is removed from the root. A filling is used to fill the tooth back up, but the pain stops because the nerve has been removed.

While the intense pain does stop once the root is removed, there is residual soreness. The aftermath of the root canal can affect your daily activities for a couple of days and require pain medication.



Photo © Chris Ryan/Getty Images

Surgery is something that is obviously painful for most people. Though some surgeries are more involved than others, they frequently involve cutting tissue, muscles, or organs, or moving internal structures to get to the part of the body that requires surgery.

Think about a heart surgery that requires the sternum to be cracked and removed to just get to the heart. You can imagine that the pain from this would last for weeks and maybe months, often requiring therapy to help manage.

Surgeries that involve the use of laparoscopy are less painful than surgeries where a larger incision is made. While both have elements of pain, some may last longer depending on the type of surgery, the location of the incision or surgery, and the health of the individual.


Induced Labor

A man helps a woman through labor
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It would be remiss not to mention that induced labor is a source of pain that can be potentially worse than your standard spontaneous labor. This is because your body is quickly thrown into labor using medicine, rather than through a slow build up.

Other means may be required to mitigate the risks of the induction method used. These interventions can add to the pain, either because of the actual procedure, restrictive movement or by inducing fear, which can increase the pain. Talk to your practitioner and choose interventions that can alleviate these side effects.

Methods for Coping With Labor

The good news is that there are a lot of ways to cope with pain during labor. There are methods that involve using:

There aren’t any wrong or right choices, just personal ones.

A Word From Verywell

The next time you find yourself thinking that childbirth is the most painful thing you can go through, stop and try to retrain your brain. Tell yourself that the pain experienced in labor is only temporary, typically does not last for days, and is intermittent.

Remind yourself that you learned more pain-fighting techniques during childbirth class than there exist for broken bones, that labor is more predictable than a gallstone or kidney stone, and that the outcome is usually much happier.

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Article Sources
  • Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

  • Henriksen L, Grimsrud E, Schei B, Lukasse M; Bidens Study Group. Factors Related to a Negative Birth Experience - A Mixed Methods Study. Midwifery. 2017 May 8;51:33-39. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2017.05.004. [Epub ahead of print]

  • Kidney Stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.