Labour & Childbirth – Can We Ever Really Be Prepared?
As Mamas to be, we try our best to prepare ourselves. We read all of the books, attend the classes, but still, there areas many little surprises along the way. Having been through the whole experience 4 times now, there are several things that I only wish that I had known before giving birth. Read on and I shall tell you all of the things that I only wish that someone had told me.
Leading Up To The Birth, People Will Drive You Mad
As discussed in my Things Not To Say To A Pregnant Woman post, the closer to the birth you get, the more that “public property syndrome” will kick in. Every person, young or old, that you come into contact with, will suddenly have an opinion and a question about the upcoming event. People will message you daily asking if you have had the baby yet, as if you might have had the baby in secret. You will be so very fed up and done with being pregnant and, although most of these comments will be well meaning, they will drive you nuts. I don’t think I was prepared for how irate the I would become in those last few weeks especially.
The Things That Your Worry About Before Hand REALLY Do Not Matter
Worried about embarrassing things happening during childbirth? Saying something mortifying? Having every man and his dog inspective your lady bits? Doing a poo? I think we all worry about these things, but I’ll tell you a secret – you just won’t care. All of these things that you think will matter to you will be things that you couldn’t cafe less about once it all kicks off. Some of the points below may explain why this is.
Labour Will Not Start With Hollywood Level Drama
We’ve all seen the films; the ending lady’s water breaks and she immediately starts screaming. In reality, this will not happen. Labour pains often begin independently of waters going, and start as nothing more than a nagging period pain. Of course, how quickly they escalate can vary from woman to woman, but to go from feeling entirely normal to wanting to scream the place down seems highly unlikely.
Your Water Breaking Might Just Be A Trickle
Or it could be a huge freaking flood. I had the latter, 4 times over. Each time my waters went during labour and it was like an enormous water balloon exploding in my pants. The second time I was in labour, they even made me walk up to labour ward dripping amniotic fluid all along the corridor. Nice. All I can say, is pack spare clothes to change into mid labour incase this happens to you.
The Natural Reaction To Pain Is The Opposite To What You Need To Do
The natural reaction to pain is to tense up and squeeze everything as hard as you can (your husband’s hand perhaps, or his neck if he gets too close). I can remember when in labour with the boys, writhing up the bed, just trying to escape from my own body. With the girls, however, I discovered hypnobirthing (which you can read all about here in my “Rainbow Breathing – A Quick Guide To Hypno Birthing” post). Once I embraced this hypnobirthing, I had much easier labours with far less pain that I managed much better. My husband could barely feel when I was having contractions with number 4 as I was coping so well, even though I was entirely unmedicated. Look into hypnobirthing, even if you are planning to use medication, trust me, read the post, thank me later.
If You Think You Cannot Go On, You Are Nearly There
Commit this to memory, if there is one thing that you take away from this today, let it be this;
There will come a time during labour where you think to yourself (or, more likely sob to anyone who will listen) “I just can’t do this any more”. It’s ok, you will in fact be able to carry on, but feeling like this means that you will have reached the “transition” phase. It is the part of labour where the baby is about to make it’s appearance. During my first 2 births, I reached this point and genuinely believed that I would not be able to squeeze my tiny human out of me. I was done. By baby number 4, I was ready. I had etched it on a port it note in my brain “You will reach that point, it means you’re nearly there”. When I actually reached that point of the labour, a very softly spoken consultant was in the process of telling me that the baby was not going to make an appearance for quite some time. I knew that she was wrong, because I knew that I could not possibly go on for much longer. I knew it was nearly time. I didn’t tell her this of course, I was too busy hypnobirthing to argue with her (again, see how to breathe rainbows and hypnobirth). I was holding my baby less than 20 minutes later.
It’s Going To Feel Like The Baby Is Coming Out Of Your Bottom
This is something that the midwife said to me while I was pushing out my first baby, and I will admit, she was right. It feels like the baby is coming our of your bum.
And It’s Going To Feel Like Your Who-Ha Is On Fire
There’s no getting away from this one sorry, when the baby’s head is coming out, it feels like someone has taken a blow torch to your lady bits. They don’t mention that bit.
You Won’t Really Remember It All Properly – Until Next Time You Are In Labour
After frightening you silly with my last few things that I feel you should know, I bring you good news – you will not remember it all. Well, not properly anyway. Our bodies have this amazing way of protecting us for the brutal reality of the memories of childbirth (probably so that we are not terrified to have sex again and continue to populate the earth). You will remember it, but not in a way you would remember anything else that happens in your life. It’s like telling the stories of a drunken night out, or a dream you had or even a film you saw. The extreme hormones whizzing around your body during childbirth suppress the reality of the memories.
The memories are suppressed, that is, until you are back in labour with baby number 2/3/4 or more. When I was in labour with number 3, I turned to my husband and said “Hey, my teeth are chattering, I totally forgot that they do that when I am in labour!”. I only remembered saying this because he reminded me afterwards. Just saying.
So the good news is that although the process of giving birth is not the most fun thing that you will do in your life, the memories of it all will fade almost as soon as you hold your precious and brand new tiny human in your arms for the first time.
Here is what some other amazing Mamas wish that they had known before giving birth to their babies.
Lianne – Mum of Archie (4) & Frankie (3) With my 1st baby, I wish I had known how to push properly ! I spent so much time pushing the wrong way and wasting energy.
Ayse – Mum of Pops (3) & expecting #2 I wish I knew that I could have asked to have someone take a picture of me with my baby when she was born. I was put under general anaesthetic and feel like I missed out massively. A picture would have made the world of difference to me.
Alice – Mum of Jude (12) Elsa (9) & Emmeline (2) That labour can be an unpredictable beast! I wanted an all natural water birth with my first pregnancy and ended up having to be induced following a day of rubbish contractions. Elsa’s birth, I wanted every drug under the sun but had no time for anything! Be open minded with regards to your birth plan.
Emma-Louise, Mum of Cameron, (7) Carly (5) & Benjamin (16 months) To trust your own body during labour. Every single birth I have known when I needed to push, only to be told by the midwife that I couldn’t possibly be ready. I now know I go from 5-10cm within minutes, and if I were to ever have another baby, I would I would have the strength to trust myself. Also, I wish I had slept more in the first few days after having my youngest. I did too much, and then my husband was back at work and I suddenly had 3 kids to look after alone and no time for sleep!
Kelly Allen I wish I’d known about ‘the burning ring of fire’ because that was quite a shocker!
Kate Evans – Mum of 3, ages 6, 5 & 17 months That sometimes, however much you wish it so, it might not pan out how you expect. Also, don’t stress about your birth plan because it’ll more than likely go straight out of the window anyway.
Gemma – Mum of Izzie (7), Ollie (5) & Mason (2) That when they break your waters, it is the weirdest feeling – plus mine kept leaking out everytime I moved – so strange!
Nicola – Mum of O (4) & R (2) That I’d have to stay with my feet up in stirrups for ages after labour while they stitched me up. By then, all I really wanted to do was move my bits out of view. Enough now people!
Kate That I was actually strong enough to do it as like many I guess I spent 9 months stressing whether I would do it or not.
SJ Graham No one told me how uncomfortable the car journey to the hospital would be whilst in labour. I knew that labour would be painful obviously, but not the extra layer of awful that traffic and a bumpy ride would add, not to mention getting in and out of the car!!
Nicky – Mum of 3 I suffered from HG through my last pregnancy (No.3). I was in and out of hospital from day 4 of conception, then sadly on top of that a cord prolapse red light birth. I was so poorly from both this and PTS that I really struggled to bond with my little man. It was the strangest feeling looking at him after the birth and feeling such distance. But in time the bond grows so don’t panic if you feel the same.
Victoria – Mum of 2 I think I wish I’d known that so often things don’t go to plan.
Helen That you will feel amazing – like a superhero – and that you will get the greatest rush of adrenaline you’ve ever had when it’s all over.
That it will be the most empowering, enjoyable, memorable, amazing experience of your life and you will want to do it again and again.