As you have properly heard already, childbirth is going to be painful. For some the pains are minor and resemble menstrual cramps, while for others the pains are excruciating. For some the pains go over in a breeze and for others again it lasts several days. It might be surprising that labor can differ so much from woman to woman, but that is the case. You will first find out where on the spectrum you are once you go into labor, there is no way of knowing beforehand.
Why does it hurt?
So why these pains? You would have thought that your body would have been perfectly adapted to accommodate childbirth at this point. The pain is mainly coming from your uterus. The uterus is a muscular organ, which contracts strongly to push out your baby, these contractions is what causes the main part of labor pain. How much the contractions hurts depends on a big array of factors; the strength of you contractions (which are at its maximum during labor), if you get Pitocin (a synthetic version of oxytocin), which increases the strength of your contractions, then there is the size of your baby and how it is positioned in you pelvis; if its faces up or down or if it is in breech position, when going in to labor and last of cause the duration of labor.
The contractions will be felt in you abdomen, and sometimes in the complete torso and pelvic area. Aside from the pain from muscle tightening there might by a sensation of pressure on you back, bladder, bowels and perineum, which kind of multiply the pain from the contractions.
When you are experiencing pain, no matter the intensity, how to handle the pain is different for everyone. Everyone have a point at which pain becomes unbearable, this is called the pain threshold. Both the genetics of your body and your life experiences play a role in where your threshold is. Pain is a lot about perception, and if you have been told bad labor-stories and have a lot of fear and anxiety about giving birth, your threshold can become lowered and you will be more prone to succumb to the pain.
If you know that you are a person of low pain tolerance, you should consider finding birth help. One of the things which help the best against painful labor is social support and studies shows that women who get support from a midwife or doula uses less pain medication, have less cesareans and an overall higher happiness about their birth experience.
If pains are still too high, you should consider the options of pain relief from medication. You should consult with your doctor about your options in case you need it. It is better to have that cleared up before being in the situation, where you might not think completely clear and end up doing something you regret.
As a last word to you, congratulations with your little miracle and good luck with going through labor.