Giving birth. If you are a mother, it is the most beautiful moment of your life. Carrying around a little baby for months is hard (understatement!), and by the end you’re desperate to finally meet them. Some ladies have very quick labours (I was very lucky), some ladies are in labour for DAYS! Before I went into labour, I spent hours upon hours looking at blog posts and forums telling me what to expect and what might happen. But these are the 10 things I really wish I knew before giving birth!
1. It takes a long time
For most people, the entire labour is quite slow, with a sometimes quick bout of pushing. You don’t enter established labour until you are fully dilated at 10cm, so you can have literally days of contractions before the show really starts! I was induced at 11:50pm on Tuesday, my contractions didn’t start until 6pm Wednesday, I entered established labour at 00:05am Thursday, and she was born at 00:35am. So my actual labour time was 30 mins! But the contractions for me felt like they lasted forever. I was extremely lucky to have such a quick labour but I know a lot of other ladies who weren’t so lucky!
2. Pushing is the easy part
‘How can something so big come out of something so small?!’ Was probably my most asked question during pregnancy! To think that your cervix can dilate to a massive 10cm is beyond me, but that’s the beauty of birth. Your body surprises you in so many ways. The biggest surprise for me throughout labour was how easy pushing was compared to contractions!
I was a quiet birther, no blood curdling screams coming from me. The contractions for me were horrendous, but I only had gas and air. If I were to give birth again, I wouldn’t have any pain relief as I found gas and air so horrible. I genuinely couldn’t remember my labour for about a month after as during the birth, gas and air made me feel completley out of it! Pushing for me was easy as your body takes over and pushes for you. I didn’t find it painful, I just wanted the contractions over!
3. You’ll need to repeatedly tell the midwives when you’re in a lot of pain if you don’t show it
This is a personal one for me, but I’ve also spoken to a few ladies with the same stories so I thought I’d add it incase it applies to you! I’m a very self conscious person so I always knew that I wouldn’t be screaming, but I didn’t realise how well I could manage pain. I was GBS positive (another post coming soon!) so it was extremely important for me to get antibiotics for 4 hours during labour to help protect baby A, this is administered through an IV in your hand.
As soon as my contractions started I was repeatedly told I wasn’t ready for them yet. As my contractions got worse and I told the midwives, no one believed me! They just said “you’re not in enough pain yet, you’ve got hours to go”. This happened so many times until I demanded they examine me, being a diva sometimes is necessary! When they finally examined me and realised they could feel her head and I was in fact fully dilated, I was rather swiftly taken down to the delivery suite and gave birth 30 mins later. So if you also don’t show pain very well, be extremely persistent! I know a midwife who has delivered babies in the pre labour suite purely because women are brushed off and not believed to be ready when they really are!
4. You may really dislike your midwife
Following on from the last point, you might really not like your midwife! I was very grateful that the same lady that kept fobbing me off was not the same lady that delivered baby A. She looked after me for most of my labour contraction wise and knew I didn’t like her, but the lady who actually delivered baby A was perfect. She was absolutely lovely and made me feel so at ease throughout the whole process. If I had kept the same lady, I definitley would have asked for a new midwife. No tee no shade!
5. Being active during contractions is less painful than laying in bed
As I mentioned previously, contractions for me were the worst part of labour. It was impossible to get comfy, and when mine got to the pushing stage, my body was involuntarily throwing itself to the side every time I had a contraction. For some bizarre reason, the bed on the labour ward had no sides?! So my poor partner had to act as a human barrier between me and the floor! But during early labour, contractions are best managed by moving I found. I tried a birthing ball, a warm bath and all the different positions to help, but for me walking around the ward eased them the best. They still hurt like a mother, but I could manage them easier while on my feet.
6. Your worries of ‘how do I look? Let me do my hair quickly’ will be a distant memory
Through my pregnancy I always had this idea in my head that I would give birth pretty! Hair done, makeup done, nails done, picture perfect for the first after birth photo. Oh what a fool I was! Yes, some people do make this a priority, but that’s extreme vanity in my opinion now. By the time I was taking my after birth photo, my hair was a sweaty mess and my fringe pushed back, I didn’t bother with makeup that day whatsoever and I had bitten my nails so much during labour that my nail varnish was pretty much gone. But my after birth photo is my favourite.
You see these picture perfect photos of women in birth with curled hair and winged eyeliner, but at the end of the day, no one cares! And you certainly won’t when you have something the size of a watermelon coming out of your body!
7. You will have second thoughts in labour
Now this one sounds awful, but its true ladies! So don’t feel bad! While you’re giving birth to your soon to be bundle of joy, you will really question whether you actually want to. Only because of the pain for most women, but if it’s not, that’s okay too. As soon as they come out, hopefully your mind will completley change.
8. Things can go wrong very quickly
The sad truth about labour, is that it doesn’t always go to plan. Some ladies are lucky and have a straightforward labour, while some ladies really don’t. My heart goes out to anyone who gives birth and leaves the hospital without their baby. I’m an emotional wreck at the best of the times so I’ll leave it there or this post will go on for hours, but if this has happened to you in the past, I’m sending lots and lots of love your way.
The scariest part during my labour was the midwife telling me ‘baby is getting very tired now so we really need to get her out’. My labour didn’t go wrong as such, but my delivery had some urgency to it as the cord was wrapped around her neck and she had meconium aspiration – which means she had swallowed meconium (baby’s first poop! I am disgusted to have that word on my blog, I apologise!). As soon as she was born she had a mini hoover type thing put in her mouth for a few seconds and it got rid of it straight away, so thankfully we had no issues after birth.
9. You will more than likely need stitches
Ah, stitches. The most traumatic part of my labour! The most bizarre feeling of a completley numb foof, and being able to feel someone sewing it up. I couldn’t even begin to describe this feeling, so if you’ve had it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear and needed internal and external stitches. They caused me absolutely no bother or pain after they were in, but actually being stitched up was the weirdest experience I have ever had. I went into labour thinking I’d only have them if I needed to be cut, oh how naive!
10. You may still have a baby bump for some time after
Ending on an important note, this is something that should be widely recognised and understood. Now, I was extremely lucky that as soon as baby A was born, my bump instantly went. But as I found out during delivery, most of my bump (minus baby, obviously!) was fluid. I healthily lost 2 stone during pregnancy, so I was smaller after birth than I was before! And I was not welcome in my after birth suite as I was walking in in my vest top and pj bottoms with a flat-ish tummy, while most of the other new mum’s still looked 9 months pregnant. I felt awful, but I couldn’t help it!
Some women still have baby bumps a few months after birth, if not longer. This isn’t an indication of their diet or lack of exercise and I genuinely feel for the ladies who suffer from this as the comments they get are awful, and the media portrayal of flat tummy ‘celeb’ new mum’s is to blame. So if you are due to give birth, try and remember that you might still have a bump for anything from a few days to a month or two. And if you do, it’s okay and perfectly normal!
I didn’t realise this post would be so long, so if you made it this far, thank you! Is there anything you wish you knew before giving birth? Let me know in the comments!