We all know that childbirth is painful and laborious, but few women have been moved to document every tremor, ache and emotional quirk of the process.

Until now, that is, thanks to a thread entitled "What does childbirth feel like?" on the question-and-answer site Quora. The post has captured the imagination of women around the world, prompting many to document the pain, anguish, anxiety and joy that having a baby brings. Some posts have been viewed 100,000 times, others are so graphic they can barely be read aloud - but all are a starkly honest account of what childbirth really entails.

Unsurprisingly, agony is a common theme with one mother, Jane Graham from Derby, likening the sensation to wasabi. She says, "The pain of contractions burns like wasabi, but also like wasabi, it clears immediately."

Another anonymous commenter writes: "Your hips literally feel like they are being yanked off of you to each side. You've nearly forgotten about the fact that your tummy is as tight as a cannonball's surface, because the baby is so low that you're a human wishbone."


Mother-of-one, Mira Zaslove, says: "My whole body ached. I felt the most intense pain of my life. I was overcome with despair. I felt like I was dying.... Felt like I had just run two marathons, being chased by wild animals."

She describes the hospital experience as "a lot like being at an airport waiting for my flight to take off. I was stuck in uncomfortable chairs, eating mediocre food, and feeling antsy."

Animal references abound. Engineer Laura Thomson explains, "Each contraction was suddenly like being kicked by a horse just at the top of my tailbone. The whole experience was very primal, not driven by the usual rational part of my brain that writes code and so on, but by instinct and survival."

Another new mum, Tracy Lasseter, describes the "undeniable urge to push. It's the weirdest feeling, but you can't hold back any longer. Your body knows what to do, even if you don't."

Some provide an hour-by-hour break down of giving birth including episiotomies, C-sections, vomiting and husbands having to leave the room.

Jane Chin, whose post has been viewed more than 7,000 times, says the pain was so bad she couldn't stand up, sit down or breathe. Post epidural, she was more philosophical: "I would describe it as what it must be like to "use the force" and trust that whatever my mind was willing the muscles that I couldn't feel to "do", those muscles will somehow obey its command."

Once the baby arrives, few fail to succumb to overwhelming feelings of ecstasy. Chin describes it simply: "The baby comes out and they plop it on you, so you can cry at it while it cries back at you"

Another recalled the "amazing, insane, sunshine-after-a-storm" moment "so much so that you barely feel the rest of what's going on with you. It's a combination of numbness and bliss."

Others gave expectant mums a glimmer of hope by claiming their kidney biopsy was far more painful than having a child.