Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.

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92 Responses to “Which is more painful? Childbirth vs. Getting kicked in the nuts”

  1. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    “being 16 weeks pregnant”

    Congrats! :-D

  2. reverendjeffy says:

    I loved the video, but is debating the relative pain of child birth vs. testicle smashing a thing now? I’m feeling kind of deprived because I’ve never been involved in that type of discussion.

    • xzzy says:

      No, but trying to decide whether women feel more pain than men or vice versa has always been a thing. Mythbusters did an episode on it, for example.

      If I remember right Mythbusters claimed that women “win” but as this video suggests, it’s impossible to decisively quantify because of all the variables.

    • Cluisanna says:

      Yes, it is a thing, I’ve witnessed this argument quite often on the internet. I can kind of understand the appeal to engage in it – it makes me incredibly angry to hear men claim with absolute certainty that childbirth is obviously less painful, since it conveniently leaves out that no matter what is more painful, millions of women have died and continue to die in childbirth (I’m sure there are men who have died from a kick to the testicles, but not a lot.) I guess there are some men who just have this weird urge to ‘dominate’ women as a whole, even in stupid arguments like these.

      • themope says:

        On the other hand, I had a teacher in high school who maintained that men “couldn’t handle” the pain of childbirth if they experienced it. When I pressed her for how she knew this and what exactly she meant by not being able to handle it (would the men die from the pain?) she became angry and just kept repeating that men couldn’t handle it. Maybe she just had this weird urge to “dominate” male students in her life. 

        • Cluisanna says:

           Or maybe she had been taught her entire life that men are superior to women in every way and was simply holding on to the single thing she thought her group was ‘better’ in.

  3. peregrinus says:

    Well then.  You don’t get nitrox for a kick in the nuts.  Or sympathy.  Or, usually, preparedness.  Jus’ sayin’.  Can’t really sit on the fence on this one (that hurts too).

    • knoxblox says:

      If you want a vision of pain, imagine a boot stamping on a human testicle — forever.

    • elusis says:

       And the ball-kick lasts how long?

      • peregrinus says:

         An absolute eternity.

        On balance, without a doubt, I’m handing the win to the giving birth.  It would be ungentlemanly to do otherwise, especially from my informed position of having presided a-z at the birth of my beautiful kids.

  4. cavalrysword says:

    It is pretty simple.

    A year or so after giving birth, many women say “I want to have another child.”

    NO MAN ever says “I want to get kicked in the nuts again.”

    I rest my case.

    • Hegelian says:

       That only proves humans are programed with an irrational desire for children at almost any cost… :-)

    • Angela Meyerhoff says:

      While I agree with you, I will say that the outcome of giving birth does outweigh the pain, which is something you can’t say about getting kicked in the nuts and which is certainly a motivating factor if a woman wants another child at some point. It’s easy to ignore any pains during pregnancy, labor, and after delivery when you’ve got a cute, lovable, tiny human being to show for it.

      Also, to Maggie, congrats!

      • Glen Able says:

        Yes, this makes sense.  So to make for a fair comparison, we should kick some guys in the balls and then reward them with something of equivalent value to a baby.  Perhaps a really nice high-end gaming PC?  Then we can check in a couple of years if they’re willing to go through it again.  SCIENCE!

    • retchdog says:

      I had the same reaction when I read that women who have had severe migraine and childbirth report that the migraine was more painful. At face value, this means that some men (e.g. me) do experience something as bad as childbirth.

      However, the reward of a baby would outweigh a lot, both for psychological and purely hormonal reasons. (Recently, my migraines have had quasi-mystical experiences associated to them. They still suck though.)

      • elusis says:

         I’ve heard a similar comparison between kidney stones and childbirth.  Having been through 3 episodes of kidney stones in 4 weeks at one point, I guess… I’m prepared???

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      NO MAN ever says “I want to get kicked in the nuts again.”

      You don’t explore the internet much, do you?

      • cavalrysword says:

        I’m not sure if you are suggesting we don’t view the same kinds of porn, or if you are volunteering to take part in a sort of “punt, pass & kick” competition.

        But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know the answer.  8)

    • Martijn says:

      That’s for two reasons: firstly and most importantly: being kicked in the nuts doesn’t gain you anything. You don’t get to experience the miracle of bringing a new life into the world by getting kicked in the nuts.

      Secondly, men are wussies. Women can endure terrible things. It’s a good thing women get to do the childbirth thing, because if we had to do it, we’d have been extinct a long time ago.

    • Cluisanna says:

      Really? I know this is a joke, but it’s an absolutely dreadful one (especially because I have seen this argument used in all seriousness). So, just to spell it out one more time: False. Equivalency. If men could have a child by getting kicked in the testicles, including the hormonal rush and happiness, I’m pretty sure more of them would be up for it.

  5. Kenny Cross says:

    Well having been kicked in the nuts more than several times either during fights or “recreational activities” I can tell you first hand it’s more the surprise than the actual pain that startles you. Of course being drunk and in the middle of a beat down you don’t feel much until the next day, and there are worst pains to worry about. During recreational activities it’s a nice sharp sting but over before you catch your breath.

    How is this even a debate? Stupid. Kick me in the balls 10 times any day over giving birth.

    Now I’ve heard passing a stone for a man can be a good comparison for the pain of childbirth. A few of my friends have gone through this. But a quick sharp tingly kick to the balls…might be called entertaining: giving birth…no thanks I’ll leave that to the ladies.

  6. Having witnessed a childbirth and also having been hit in the nuts before in my life, I can say I would take the nut punch any day. 

  7. tavie says:

    Getting kicked in the nuts doesn’t often last for 30 hours…

    • SumAnon says:

      Nor demand the active participation (aka controlled contractions) of the recipient.

    • cavalrysword says:

      And childbirth doesn’t last for decades, but I bet there are more than a few people here who have mothers than carry on and on and on about it.  Mine didn’t, but I’ve heard other people’s moms do this.  Kind of a weird way of blaming the kid for being born.  I never understood the point.  Guilt?

  8. tavie says:

    Also: MAZEL TOV!

  9. blueelm says:

    Depends doesn’t it? Isn’t pretty much all pain relative and subjective? Childbirth almost killed my mom and went on for two days… and since she’s allergic to the meds it just went on and on and on. By the time I was born she was unconscious and they just took me off since it looked like I wasn’t going to make it anyway. 

    So… it depends. All I can say is if I had nuts, I’d rather get kicked in them weekly than ever *get* pregnant. And frankly, the cost of my birth control feels strikingly nut-kicking to me.

    • SumAnon says:

      My mother and I are both very resistant to nerve-blocking pain killers. I run the risk of Novocaine unexpectedly wearing off whenever I have dental surgery. My mother came out of her nerve blockers during my birth …. my Cesarian section birth.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Do you have Ehlers-Danlos, by any chance? Resistance to the ‘caines is quite common. I have to get a shot 45 minutes before the dentist starts any work and then again when he’s ready to begin.

        • SumAnon says:

          I don’t think so, but I haven’t been tested for anything.

          From what I understand, aby nerve blocker can wear off, epidurals included. Basically, analgesics work and anesthesias don’t.

        • Rachael Hoffman-Dachelet says:

          Really?  I have Ehlers-Danlos, and I have problems with various drugs wearing off early, but I thought that was because I’m a red-head.  My dentist makes fun of me because I need about 3 times as much novocaine and laughing gas as anyone else she sees.  

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            It’s a well known ED symptom. In fact, it’s how I was diagnosed.

          • cavalrysword says:

            Boy, did I misread that!  Wrong abbreviation for ED.  Seen to many viagra/cialis commercials, I guess.

            Although it is much funnier when read that way.  So I thought I share the laugh.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Me: What did you name her?
      New mother: We considered Youtoremommyslabia, but went with Madeleine instead.

  10. ldobe says:

    Being of the male sex I can corroborate that a strike to the testicles indeed is very painful. But I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s as bad as cbildbirth.

    A much more fair comparison is between kidney stones and childbirth, since kidney stones happen in both men and women. My dad once developed a kidney stone, and he claims it’s the worst pain he’s ever experienced. Some doctors consider the pain of kidney stones and childbirth to be fairly equivalent in intensity. So I’m going to assume that roughing the balls is not as painful as childbirth. The best way the two sexes can compare sex specific pain is to find pain they have in common to use as a standard ruler.

    • TombKing says:

      I will concur kideny stones fucking suck majorly. The only thing that made the pain actually go away was the morphine I got in the ER. The Vicodin after the fact didn’t do much, it still hurt enough I had to stop every now and then and just breathe. It did take the edge off for the most part let me sleep which was good. I think the antinausea drug was the biggest relief cause the pain + vomiting before I got to the ER was just pure misery

      • chaopoiesis says:

        Pretty much the identical experience from gallstones – my case nurse said the experience is comparable to childbirth.

      • ldobe says:

        Yeah, I was 14 when my dad got his stone, and I’d never seen him cry before.  It was surreal, and pretty scary.  He’s a plenty sensitive guy, he just doesn’t cry.  Especially not for pain types of things.  He’s been an industrial and commercial electrician for 30 years, and I’ve seen him with crushed and broken fingers, punctures from wires, the odd once or twice a breaker got turned on when he was working on a circuit, but the kidney stone was the only time I feared he might really be hurt.  Everything else he seemed to shrug off as no big deal.

      • elusis says:

         On kidney stone bout #2, the morphine didn’t touch it.  When they gave me Dilauid, my only coherent thought (which took about five minutes to form) was “oh. Now I understand recreational opioid use.”)  Before the Dilaudid, I was The Moaning Person in the ER (there’s always one.)

    • Ashley Yakeley says:

      Word on the net is that kidney stones are worse.

  11. Congrats, Maggie!! I am so excited for your pregnancy and hope it’s a happy and healthy time for you.

  12. anon0mouse says:

    If being really, really constipated is any indication of pain, then childbirth is worse than a nut-shot.

  13. welcomeabored says:

    A woman going through childbirth is expecting to do so and has options, like a spinal block.  A kick to the nuts is almost always a traumatic and unpleasant surprise – no options.  A woman has the bond with her child to help heal her mind from the pain of the experience.  A man has the knowledge he ‘survived’ and fear he may have to survive again?

    • welcomeabored says:

      The worst pain I’ve ever experienced of a lasting nature (since I don’t have nuts nor have I had children) was chemo created constipation, passing rock-hard stool through a chemo inflamed intestinal tract.  Specifically, it was due to the drug they give patients to keep them from becoming severely dehydrated from vomiting and/or diarrhea.  Don’t know where that measures on the ‘dol’ scale, but I screamed till I was hoarse.

      I should say something merciful, like ‘I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy’, but really, it’s precisely the demented sort of thing I would wish on them.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I occasionally get quite bad cramps when I’m having an inflammatory episode. I’d take renal and biliary colic together (and I’ve had both) as a less painful alternative.

  14. Mark Davis says:

    Having experienced them both, a kick in the nuts <> nutpunch, from which it’s likely true that labor >> nutpunch.

  15. Paul Renault says:

    Worse than both: 
    When the novocaine wasn’t working because of poor circulation from an infected molar, my dentist told his assistant: ”It looks like we’re going to have to freeze the tooth from the inside.”
    He then looked at me, became very serious, and said: “This…is going to hurt”.

    /Compare and contrast with when your dentist says “This will only hurt a little..”
    //Actually, I have it on good authority that difficult vasectomies are pretty painful, and for weeks.
    ///Getting kicked in the nuts can make you sterile.  It’s pretty serious.

  16. bcsizemo says:

    Well being a guy I can’t speak about giving birth and it’s been a long time since I’ve been kicked in the testicles, either way I’d say whatever pain makes you pass out is probably coming close to the top.  For me that was a bout of food poisoning last fall, where I passed out twice from the abdominal cramping while sitting on the toilet.  And no I didn’t ruin a bathroom or anything like that.

    During the situation I thought to myself, if Aliens came out of your stomach rather than your chest this is probably what it would feel like.  Next thing I know I’m being jolted awake by more pain and the cold linoleum floor on my cheek….

    • knoxblox says:

       Take it from someone who experienced appendicitis at least 4 times in 3 years, due to misdiagnosis in the ER. Severe abdominal cramps hurts like a sonofabitch.

      Good thing my pain tolerance was high, because I had to ride a scooter to the ER across town for the correct diagnosis on the 4th time, 3 days into the episode.

  17. cavalrysword says:

    We could take a survey among people who have done both.

    (No, that wasn’t a serious suggestion.  I’m trying to be as ludicrous as the question.)

  18. apoxia says:

    Congratulations Maggie ! :)

  19. big ryan says:

    unless were talking about kicking a mans balls so hard that medical attention is needed i doubt that they are equals just because of the traumatic nature of most child births

    that being said i think many women DO NOT understand the pain associated with even a light kick in the balls.  my wife accidentally kicked me awhile back (we were roughhousing) and she got to see me in tears and cold sweats for a good 20 minutes, having your genitals kicked sucks.

  20. schadenfreudisch says:

    congrats!

  21. Kludgegrrl says:

    1) Congrats Maggie!!

    2) While getting hit in the nuts obviously hurts like a Mo%^$Fu&^*er I gotta say that childbirth has got to be more painful.  I had natural childbirth, no complications, relatively fast (3 hours) and it put a whole new meaning to the question “on a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain are you feeling?”  It’s an 11. 

    I couldn’t even localize the pain — all I could feel was pain.  All I could think was “FUCK I”M IN PAIN!!!!!!”  And, actually, it was probably more like, “FUCK!!  PAIN!!!  FUCK!!!  PAIN!!”

    And, yes, I believe that kidney stones are more painful — one of the nurses made the claim and all I can say is that I feel very sorry for people with kidney stones.

    The big difference, however, between labour and or getting kicked in the nuts, is that you do get a baby out of it and it is finite.  And once the baby comes out, the pain stops.  And that does make a big difference.  If I were to want another kid, I’d opt for natural childbirth, even though I know how unbelievably painful it is. 

     

  22. peregrinus says:

    Actually, as a measure of the discomfort – every woman I’ve known who on number 1 opted for ‘pain regulation free’ birth, did not voluntarily opt for same on subsequents.

    Some mind, had no option, as the kids occasionally come steaming out like an iron horse.  Bless, they’re keen.

  23. Jean Dunk says:

    Childbirth lasts for A VERY LONG TIME! Contractions and Crowning and Tearing OH My! I remember seeing the video of men being hooked up to a contraction simulator and them not lasting very long. When I was giving birth and my epidural wasn’t doing it’s job I was begging for horse tranquilizers. I was having muscle spasms at the same time.. I felt like if someone had taken a chainsaw and cut my leg off It would have been less painful. But it’s also the best day of your life once that baby comes out!

  24. I very nearly lost a hand because it was holding the nitrous oxide nozzle and I was ten milliseconds too slow in getting it to my wife when a contraction started. The resulting damage to the hand was worse than getting kicked in the nuts (speaking from experience) so I reckon the pain  of childbirth is worse than both.

  25. HairySammoth says:

    When I was a kid, I had an unpleasant medical thing happen to me a couple of times, one of which was mostly untreated with painkillers because they didn’t manage to diagnose it properly and thought I was faking to get off school (I had an MRI the second time round and they were suitably mortified with the results ; although I still don’t remember exactly what they said it was in the end. Something awful and mechanical in the groin/pelvis region).

    Anyway, the (mother of two) doctor said the pain I experienced was entirely comparable to childbirth. The first one certainly felt almost… halicinogenically painful to me at the time, and lasted a couple of days.

    I have also been soundly punted in the nuts, not the mention the time a foolhardy attempt to tightrope walk along an iron bar in my pyjamas and slippers ended in pretty much the only way it could.

    While it is, for now, impossible to directly compare the two, I can at least cconfidenly state that getting kicked in the nards is not even remotely in the same pain universe as an alleged childbirth analogue. A kick in the balls is like a shockingly bright, iron-tasting firecracker going off in your guts. The childbirth analogue was like becoming another person.

    • ldobe says:

      Something awful and mechanical in the groin/pelvis region

      Testicular torsion perhaps?  Just a very speculative conjecture.

      Yeah, I watched Venture Bros.

    • cavalrysword says:

      “halicinogenically painful”
      What a truly marvelous description!   SWIPE!!!

  26. dragonfrog says:

    If you believe the “ecstatic childbirth” aka “orgasmic childbirth” proponents, the most common reason childbirth is painful is because we’ve got a medical establishment that systematically forces women to do everything in the most painful possible way, and then tries to counter the problem with painkillers and local anaesthetic, which only make it harder for them to tell when they’re pushing too hard, etc., leading to more damage and more pain.

    I can only relate my own wife’s told me after our own daughter’s birth (at home, midwife-attended, no painkillers):  ”Hell, that wasn’t half as bad as grad school”

    Over 24 hours after giving birth, she finally took an ibuprofen because her wrists were sore from resting her weight on her hands and knees.

  27. joelogs says:

    Congratulations, Maggie!

    EDIT: Also, childbirth is way worse. If I get kicked downstairs, I don’t tear muscles and bleed and cramp for the next several weeks.

  28. Simon Champion says:

    Childbirth is a walk in the park. The real pain comes when they reach puberty.

    ps Congrats Maggie, hope it goes well!

  29. MissCellania says:

    Congratulations, Maggie!

    I once asked my mother which was most painful: childbirth, a spinal tap, or a root canal. I’ve had none of those and she’s had them all. She thought a minute and said, “I don’t know- I was unconscious for all of them!”

  30. BunnyShank says:

    Congratulations!
    Coming from the standpoint that one, birth has the advantage of your body being designed for it, the pain although very intense, is informative, even grounding in childbirth. It has a context. You get to make it yours and your body is your friend in that, and the lessons resonate with you all through your life, separate from the experience of being a parent. I’m all for the modern miracle of drugs, but I happened to have a natural childbirth, and decided to hypnotize myself for a big spiritual whoopdedoo, as long as I was going to do it. I don’t think nuts are designed to be punched, so, its senseless pain, and would make me really pissed off.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      …birth has the advantage of your body being designed for it…

      That has no basis in science. Our giant heads give us an evolutionary advantage, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we are really ill-adapted for childbirth, with a high maternal mortality rate without medical intervention.

  31. chgoliz says:

    1. Congratulations, Maggie!  I’m glad you feel it’s OK to reveal.  That’s a good sign.

    2.  Many years ago, I read about the Huichol Indians and a ritual involving tying up the husband’s scrotum and giving the reins to his laboring wife.  A quick google brings up the same art piece several times over and not a lot of scholarly corroboration.  Still, it seems to be not entirely a hoax.

    3. About 12 years before giving birth for the first time, I had some issue that was never diagnosed or treated (no insurance and a menial job, so the way I was treated in the ER was effectively malpractice) but was probably an ovarian cyst blowing up.  I spent about 24 hours virtually unable to breathe or move from the pain.  At the time, one of the nurses said “now that you’ve been through this, childbirth will be easy”.  I wouldn’t go that far, but I will agree with others who have pointed out that there is a huge psychological difference between going through a very painful situation that you know is almost certain to result in a wonderful outcome (live baby) and going through one that is obviously medically NOT GOOD and the best you can hope for is that you don’t have any permanent damage.

    4. @ peregrinus – for the record, I chose no pain relief every time, despite the fact that the first time I had to be induced due to a car accident (someone pulled out of a driveway, crossed 3 lanes at a right angle to the road, and T-boned into my car, and since I was going slowly the seat belt took 100% of the force).  Pitocin is torture, plain and simple, and in addition the baby was transverse and reverse-facing with her hand caught under her chin and thus her elbow sticking straight out.  Don’t ask.  Really, don’t ask.  But the pain management drugs negatively affect labor in many ways that can be bad for the baby (and mom) so it was worth laboring without them.  Being able to walk and get into the right position so that your body is working with the contractions instead of against them is just too important.  Pregnant women in the US are taught to fear and feel helpless, and it becomes prophetic.  The reality is, billions of women have given birth, and there is greater access to sanitary conditions and medical help these days, so women really shouldn’t go into labor thinking “I’m going to die from the pain”.5. The best news I’ve heard all day, Maggie.  So happy for you!  (Yes, it was worth saying twice.)

  32. It was an interesting video, but only someone who has never experienced childbirth (being born doesn’t count ;) could have possibly come up with the conclusion.

  33. ajcarr says:

    A pity it doesn’t compare childbirth to testicular torsion, where the testicle rotates in the scrotal sac, leading to the vas deferens becoming entwined with the blood vessels suppling the testicle, shutting off the blood supply; one side of your scrotum swells up to the size of a large apple and you are in continual excruciating pain for a day or two (or more). Been there, done that, now a semi-eunuch. Can’t say that I recommend the experience.

  34. HarveyBoing says:

    I would agree that the question isn’t one that can be reliably answered. I would say that all else being equal, the average person’s experience of childbirth is likely less painful than the average person’s experience of being kicked in the testicles. But there are so many different factors. The perception of pain is highly subjective, and individuals have such varied exposure to outside influences, I find it hard to believe the comparison is valid.

    Not that there aren’t women who will state unequivocally that childbirth is far more painful than any other pain anyone could experience.

    What I will do is share my own perspective: my wife, relatively petite, has safely and comfortably birthed three children (including one over 10lbs). She prepared by practicing yoga (she’d never done yoga before she was pregnant), and by learning the techniques promoted by proponents of “Hypno-Birthing”.

    Some women say “I could do that again” after a year or more. She said it literally minutes after giving birth for the first time.

    (If you look up “Hypno-Birthing” — which I wouldn’t really call “hypnosis” per se — a lot of it involves touchy-feely, New-Age-y kinds of concepts. My wife and I don’t really buy into a lot that, but the relaxation techniques were very real and highly valuable).

    I have experienced the relationship between stress and pain myself, including a bout in the dentist’s chair during a filling. Even after a large dose of anesthetic, I was still feeling a lot of pain. By paying closer attention to what I was feeling over a few minutes, I finally realized that I was inducing the pain myself, by allowing the stress to cause me to tighten my jaw muscles so much, it created intense pain that no amount of numbness in my face would suppress.

    I got the dentist to take his tools away, closed my mouth, and spent a few minutes focusing on relaxing my muscles and my whole body. After that, the rest of the procedure was perfectly fine.

    Our key take-aways:
    * Childbirth definitely does not have to be painful
    * Claims that societal exposure to over-dramatization of childbirth increases pain or at least the perception of it, are very likely true to at least some extent
    * Likewise, hospital interventions such as encouraging the mother to arrive early (hospitals are usually not very comfortable places to labor), administering pain medication (subdural) too early (which slows labor and can lead to over-tiring and the need for pitocin), and of course pitocin to induce or accelerate labor, all can contribute to pain
    * Relaxation is key. The body “knows” how to deliver a child; the most important thing a woman can do is relax and follow the lead of what’s happening to her physiologically

    Not every woman can have a pain-free delivery. Childbirth has lots of different ways to go wrong, and any of those can be associated with increased pain. But the large majority of childbirths involve no complications at all, and given sufficient preparation and relaxation, a comfortable childbirth should be the norm.

    I encourage you and any other woman who is expecting to spend a lot of time focusing on learning and practicing techniques for relaxation. It doesn’t have to be Hypno-Birthing or yoga…there are lots of variations on the basic idea of meditation.

    And while I know it’s hard, most importantly: don’t worry, and don’t fixate on a fear of pain. That’s the surest way to create precisely the anxiety that will prevent you from being pain-free during childbirth.

  35. tamgoddess says:

    Way, WAY too many stories about difficult births for a pregnant woman to read! Look, Maggie, I went through an induced labor with no painkillers for 30 hours. I’m not all that tough. I managed, but it was a real challenge. Next birth was 2.5 days, but I had the baby at home. MUCH easier, even with the length of the labor. They call it labor because it’s hard work, not because it’s so terribly painful. It can be, but mostly it’s like really intense cramps, and we make a big deal about it, but it’s really not. You can do this. Probably a better comparison is someone who has run a marathon and hit “the wall” and has also given birth. Totally, 100% doable. Don’t listen to the fear mongering. I am sure getting hit in the balls is much worse, if briefer. But it is paradoxically much funnier. Sorry, guys.

    And of _course_ we are made for it. What kind of nonsense are you spewing, Antinous? Please. 

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      And of _course_ we are made for it. What kind of nonsense are you spewing, Antinous? Please.

      We are not made for anything, unless you’re advocating intelligent design. Humans have an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous birth process compared to comparable animals. The greater intelligence associated with a larger cranium balances it out evolutionarily. What do you think the maternal mortality rate was before C-sections? What do you think the maternal mortality rate is now in countries with no perinatal care?

    • schmaltastic says:

       We are definitely not “made” for giving birth. If we are made for anything, its for walking upright and having preposterously ginormous heads, both of which interfere drastically and dramatically with our birth, which is why we are born premature compared to all other mammals. There’s really nothing like it in the animal kingdom. If we were made for giving birth with our narrow hips and ginormous heads, we would have been marsupials. And we are effectively pouchless marsupials with our various slings and baby bjorns toting our disastrously premature babies since time immemorial. This is all an argument against any intelligence in our design.  We’re remarkably and unbelievably good at a lot of things, but birth is one of the things we completely and hopelessly suck at compared to everybody else.

  36. Rachael Hoffman-Dachelet says:

    Congratulations Maggie!  Don’t worry too much about the labor.  Yeah, it can hurt, my first labor was 31 hours, but I did okay.  I ended up having interthecal morphine, like an epidural, but a one shot deal, no catheter in the spine.  I could still walk/stand/etc.  It wasn’t fun, but I was pretty out of it from the being tired.  I went on to have two more kids, and would happily have a few more if I could convince my husband.  I have gone completely un-medicated too, and that was fine.  It’s mostly just really really hard work.  Trust your body, whatever you end up doing is the right way for you.  I promise afterwards you won’t even think about it hurting, you will have other things on your mind.

  37. NelC says:

    Well, I’ve had a tennis ball to the balls, and I’ve had kidney stones and pleuresy, and the blow to the testicles was at least over relatively quickly. It’s my understanding that kidney stones are more comparable to giving birth in terms of pain, though you don’t get that sweet, sweet oxytocin when you’ve emitted a kidney stone.

  38. wazmo says:

    Being a male and having being victimized by a kick to the ol’ balls, that pales in comparison to a myelogram where the injection site did not seal up, necessitating a blood patch.

     

  39. allenels says:

    Is this really a question? The two types of “pain” are not comparable in any way.

  40. Humbabella says:

    I have never given birth, nor have I ever been kicked in the nuts.  My concept of the pain of each is based on observation rather than experience.  It is my observation that men who are kicked in the nuts may crumple, cry, and/or vomit as a result of the pain – so that’s pretty bad.  It is my observation that women actually giving birth appear to be fighting so hard that, were it not for an instinctual imperative taking over, they would likely give up and die rather than continuing – so that’s pretty bad too.

    I’d probably give the win to giving birth.  I honestly think that if you injected painkillers right into the spine of a man who was getting kicked he would probably be okay – with birth even that is not enough.

  41. ChickieD says:

    Maggie – I am so happy for you. 

    I am reading these comments thinking, “a 16 week along her pregnancy lady is reading these comments.” So, I feel a need to jump in here.

    Nut kicking is something that tends to happen when a man is unprepared. There’s a surprise factor.

    Childbirth is not like that and so unlike most any other pain you have experienced. It is not the pain of falling ill, or being kicked off guards, or chronic pain. It is intense but also purposeful and expected.

    In a similar way that sex can be painful if it is against a person’s will while it is pleasurable if she is willing, the pain of childbirth can be worse if you are in an uncomfortable environment, and less if you are in a place you feel safe and nurtured.

    Hospital rooms are not the most inviting places; make sure you visit the hospital and view the birthing room beforehand to make sure you can labor there. Ask women who have been at their hospital their experience of it – usually there are a lot of interruptions by nurses.  That’s why a doula is nice; she can protect you so you can go into a focused state without people constantly interfering. Keep walking as long as possible and refuse the monitor; they can monitor the baby’s heart rate with a fetal stethoscope – the printout is for the lawyers should something go wrong, not your baby’s health.

    If you can surround yourself with people who support you through birth, like a great doula, you can lesson the experience of pain.

    I think drugs are fine if you prefer and a healthy baby is more important than a beautiful birthing experience. Both together are of course ideal, but rare. 

    I spent a lot of time worrying about the labor, which while longish was short compared to the time I spent with an infant. I wish I’d spent more time reading about nursing and caring for very small babies and less time worrying about getting through childbirth. When giving birth you will not be alone but as a new mother, you may not have help available.

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