12+ Things No One Told me about Childbirth
Labor is one of the most intense and transformative experiences a person can go through. Whether you're a first-time parent or a seasoned veteran, every labor and delivery is unique and unpredictable. While there's no way to fully prepare for what lies ahead, there are certain things that can make the process a little easier. As someone who has been through labor myself, I wish I had known some key things beforehand that would have made the experience less daunting. In this blog post, I'll be sharing some of the things I wish I knew about childbirth, from practical tips to emotional advice, to help anyone who may be facing this exciting and challenging journey.
You can do this
Labor is both an incredibly special and incredibly scary experience. I remember whenever someone would say to me ‘You can do this, your body was made for this’ I used to recoil in frustration. Now, however, I understand the profound truth behind that statement. Just like how your heart was specifically designed to pump blood around your body, your uterus was specifically designed to give birth. You may not be aware of all the detailed mechanics behind it, but trust in the power of your body and the strength of your spirit. You may be scared, but remember that it was made for this and, as such, it will get you through this.
Fear Stops Labor
Childbirth is an incredible event that can bring about a range of emotions. While these emotions may be positive for some, for others, fear can be an overpowering emotion that can affect labor. Fear is an instinctive response, and if you're feeling scared about childbirth, it's important to discuss it with your partner and midwife. When you are scared, adrenaline pumps through your body which stops your delivery process. This is because humans are designed in a way to ensure we only have our children in a safe environment. When we are scared, our body thinks we are not in a safe environment and labor will halt. Understanding your fears and having a support system can help create a safe environment for you and your baby during delivery. Don't let your fears stop you from having a positive childbirth experience.
Giving birth is a special and unique experience and even if you have spent months writing a birth plan, it is important to remember that the birth can take a direction of its own. Consider your birth plan as birth preference and be prepared to deviate from it as necessary. I learned this the hard way as I had to be induced in the hospital for my first baby as it was found to be in a breech position at 41 weeks of pregnancy.
For my second baby, I wrote in my birth plan that I wanted to deliver my baby on my knees or in a squatting position so I didn’t have to push against gravity like I would when giving birth laying down. However, once I lay in that bed in the hospital, I no longer wanted to move and get into a different position so I had my baby lying down. I entered the hospital with 8cm dilation so the baby was in my arms about an hour later.
Some things don’t go as planned because of medical necessity, other things do go as your birth plant because you no longer want them. Prepare to be flexible.
It Takes as long as it Takes
Labor can be a wild ride. It may be quick but it could also take a couple of days. Just because your family all had incredibly long deliveries doesn’t mean yours have to be as well. And just because your family all had very fast deliveries yours will be as well. It is not something hereditary.
My mom had me about 6 weeks early and she had my sister about 4 weeks early while I had both my babies after over 41 weeks of pregnancy. Everyone is different.
You may not see your Doctor
Giving birth is a beautiful, incredible experience that is special and unique to each woman. I have experienced this firsthand, with two drastically different births. For my first, I had a team of doctors, midwives, and nurses surrounding me and closely monitoring me, as it was a breech birth with lots of risks. This meant that an OBGYN was present with me from 8cm dilation until my birth. However, my second birth went incredibly smoothly, with no need for any medical intervention, so the OBGYN was not present. Instead, the midwives and nurses took care of me and although there was a doctor on call just in case, I never saw them. It was an incredible moment of strength and understanding of my body that I will never forget.
Don’t worry about pooping. As soon as you enter the last stage of labor all dignity goes out the window. Your contractions are heavy and all you care about is the fact that you have to push your baby out. You may feel like pooping constantly as your baby's head is pushing against your rectum. Not only that, you will be using the same muscles for pooping as you do for pushing your baby out. If you end up pooping during the delivery, your nurses will clean it before you will notice and won’t even tell because what is the point of making you feel awkward when you are busy doing more important things like having a baby.
However, don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re uncomfortable with male nurses or students being present, as it is your labor and your decision to make. Communicate your wishes to your doctor, midwife, or hospital staff in advance so your experience is as special and comfortable as it can be.
The Pushing Phase doesn’t Hurt
Labor can be a daunting experience - the contractions can feel unbearable! But for me, the pushing phase provided a welcome reprieve from the pain. After struggling with contractions, there's a strange relief that you can finally take action instead of just dealing with pain. Pushing doesn't still isn’t a fun experience but it wasn’t painful to me. I experienced a burning feeling which explains why they call it the ring of fire. Childbirth may be hard, but it's an amazing testament to the strength and power of mothers everywhere!
You give birth twice
Not only do you give birth to your baby, but then you also deliver the placenta afterward. It may feel a bit strange, but with your baby in your arms, you can push out the placenta with no pain or discomfort.
Question your doctor
When it comes to labor, it's important to remember that it's your body and it's your choice. If you're unsure about whether or not a medical intervention is necessary, don't hesitate to ask your doctor for an explanation. Once you understand the risks and benefits, you can make an informed decision for yourself. I faced this dilemma myself when deciding on an epidural for my first baby—even though control freak tendencies made me hesitant, I maintained control by opting for a different kind of painkiller. No matter what your decision is, it's important to have the information you need to make it safely and comfortably.
Induction cause more painful contractions
For those expecting a baby, the labor process can be one of the most daunting parts of the journey. With the advances of modern medicine, induction is now being used to speed up the labor process. However, although induction involves supplementing you with synthetic oxytocin-the natural hormone your body produces at the end of pregnancy - to induce childbirth, it also comes with its own set of potential side effects. Things such as more painful contractions and risks to your baby should be taken into consideration before opting to use induction.
In my personal experience, I have been both induced and given a natural delivery. Induction was necessary for my first child as the baby was in breech, but I can attest to the more painful contractions that I experienced. On the other hand, my second delivery was completely natural, with noticeably less pain.
If you are facing the decision of whether or not to induce labor, it is important to understand all the risks and benefits involved. So make sure to thoroughly discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before making a decision.
Eat and drink during labor.
Enduring childbirth can be incredibly difficult, and it can take a toll on both body and mind. Fortunately, you can bolster your energy levels and sustain your physical and mental strength throughout labor by eating and drinking. After all, labor is like a marathon, so you need to make sure you're adequately nourished to make it to the finish line. Smart snacking and hydration can help you stay strong and focused during the process, and they can even play a role in increasing your comfort levels. Don't neglect to fuel your body during this important endeavor – it's worth it to help ensure a successful birth!
Have someone take photos or videos of everything regarding the delivery of your baby. Yes, really everything. It is up to you when you will look at the footage if you want to look at all but at least when you have the photos and videos you have the option to. When you are going through it, it may feel like it is taking forever, however, it is only a short amount of time from a bigger perspective and you may want to look back on it at some point. When you have to footage you give yourself the option to do so.
Childbirth is without a doubt one of the most transformational and rewarding experiences of life, but it’s also one of the most physically and emotionally challenging. Through this article, we have discussed 12+ nuances that no one had properly informed me about before giving birth. Although the physical and emotional changes can be tough to overcome, the wonders of childbirth make it all worthwhile. As American writer Nora Ephron said, "Having a baby is like getting to have a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body.”
Childbirth is a wonderful, transformative experience. I hope that this article has provided enough insight to prepare you for your journey. Remember to trust yourself and your decisions and take the necessary steps to make sure that you and your baby are safe and healthy. Now it’s your turn to share your story and the things that you wish someone had told you about childbirth.