What You Really Need to Know About Childbirth (Painfully Honest)

I’m guessing this isn’t the first “Things they don’t tell you about childbirth” type posts that you’ve read. But maybe you haven’t read a list written by a mom who tore so badly with her first baby, that it took three months before she could even sit upright and drive herself anywhere. (Thanks, oldest daughter! I still love you, even though my vagina will never be the same).

First-time pregnant moms – prepare to be triggered. Seasoned moms – I hope you enjoy my dark sense of humour.

Can you think of any other points I’m missing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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1) Your Birth Plan is a Sham

Did your birth coach tell you to write out in loving detail how you’d like your child’s birthing day to go? The purpose of this is to distract you in the weeks leading up to your labour. It gives you a semblance of order and lessens your anxiety for the big day (or night, most likely night).

If you are dead set on it happening just the way you picture, you’ll be disappointed. And beware: the hormonal deluge known as the “Day 2 Baby Blues” will hit you hard enough that you won’t want another thing to add to the list of “things that make you feel uncharacteristically miserable right now.”

Here’s my best tip: Pick a couple of top items that you REALLY want (or need) to see happen. Then let the rest go. Eg: You really want to try for a natural labour. Or you really want certain people to be there (or not be there). And then prepare for it to not work out like you are hoping. For example: With my second labour, I was not planning for my father to watch me give birth on my living room floor. But everyone came through the ordeal and my boy was healthy and happy!

For labouring with BabyThree, there are three main things I’m aiming for:

  1. For grandparents to be able to watch our two other children,
  2. To avoid giving birth on the highway while driving into the city, and
  3. For my baby and me to be alive and healthy when it’s all said and done.

That’s it. Everything else is up in the air and will settle out one way or another.  

2) You’ll only use about two things from that birth bag you pack.

Please don’t make your spouse feel like a pack animal, dragging your mountain of stuff into the hospital or birthing centre. Remember, you have to pack it all up to take back home too. That special essential oil blend, that back massager thingie, or those inspirational books won’t get touched.  

You know what you will want? Your cellphone charger and your favourite lip balm. And you’ll probably forget them at home. Tip: buy backups and go put them in your car right away.

3) You will poop during labour.

There’s no avoiding it: Poop. Number 2. Crap. Shit. Call it what you want, it is going to come out of your body. But don’t worry, the nurse or midwife will just wipe it away without saying a thing. And when you ask afterwards if you pooped, they’ll just say something vague like “Oh not really. Don’t worry about it,” or “It just sometimes happens.” No, it usually happens. You pooped. It’s all part of “bearing down.” Move on.

4) Giving birth hurts, regardless.

Thank you to Nayely for your beautiful home birthing photo! Photographer: Kaity Body, www.kaitybody.com

I have heard from well-meaning women that their labour “really wasn’t as bad as they thought.” Oh, it was. They’ve just forgotten, or they’re lying to make others feel better. Short of supernatural, divine grace, you are going to feel pain during this process regardless of what interventions you choose. But you’ll come through it!

I’ve done two, natural (non-medicated) births. One was about nine hours of labour and delivery, the other only two hours including mild contractions. But they both reached a pain point like nothing else in my life I have ever experienced.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are things that hurt more than giving birth. Like having open heart surgery without general anesthesia. Or getting a limb hacked off with a dull axe.

If you are determined to go through birthing as naturally as possible, I’m here to tell you that you are capable. Because you’re not just birthing a baby, you are transforming into a fierce momma bear!

Thank you to Samantha for the use of your real-life labour photo! Photo Credit: Lisa Perrin (Lisa May Photography)

But if you end up needing an epidural or a c-section, that’s cool too. Praise God we have so many options! It will still be hard, with painful parts. The healing will still take time. But most of all, you’ll still be a badass with a birthing story worth sharing in all its beautiful, savage detail.

5) You’re not done when the baby comes out.

Ahh, you did it! They place your beautiful babe on your chest. He or she is perfect. You’re in love. Then the contractions start up again. What? Oh yea, the placenta. It needs to come out too.

Delivering the placenta can be quite painful if you’re doing it unmedicated. In my case, I bled excessively with my first two labours during this stage, and both times the care providers had to press hard on my abdomen to help with clotting and get the placenta all out. Believe it or not, that hurt even more than my babies coming through. Both times my body went into shock and I thought I was going to die.

But I didn’t die. In fact I’m prepping to do it for the third time.

By the way, don’t be so quick to say goodbye to that bloody, stinking, temporary organ. Benefits of the mother consuming the placenta in the weeks following labour can include: a restoration of iron levels, increase in milk production and a decrease in postpartum depression symptoms. Don’t worry, you won’t need to grind it up into placenta burgers to reap the benefits. Shop around for someone who can professionally wash, dry and encapsulate your placenta for you (aka turn them into a supplement-like pill). Don’t write it off as a weird hippy mom thing! I saw a positive difference with my second child: my body seemed to absorb the iron in the placenta pills much more easily than iron supplements.

6) Save those postpartum panties. They are your new BFF.

The Grandma Ginch. Nanny Knickers. Those stretchy, white, giant panties they give you after delivering are bloody freaking amazing! Keyword “bloody” – because the point of postpartum panties is to save your regular underwear from becoming a mess in the hours or days after giving birth, when you are still wearing heavy pads and your lady parts are a swollen, throbbing, unrecognizable mass that is somehow still attached to your body.  

Even if the nurse calls them “disposable,” keep those gems. Ask for extras. Take them home and wash them. Gently roll them up and place them in a pre-emptive spot in your undies drawer.

They will come in handy on your heaviest period days, or when all the rest of your underwear fail you in the final weeks of a future pregnancy. Plus they make the best deterrent when you’re not in the mood but your spouse is giving you those hungry eyes.  

7) You’ll still be wearing maternity wear after you give birth.

Your body takes time to go back to normal, and in the meantime, those stretchy maternity sweatpants will be the only thing you want anywhere near your sensitive waistline and crotch. It could be days, weeks, or months. Maybe you’ll end up having children close in age and never really stop wearing your maternity clothes for a few years.

Don’t forget to pull out your favourite stretchy maternity leggings for holiday meals!

There is so much more I could add to this list, but let’s stop there. Gotta keep some things a surprise, right?

Do you have some golden nuggets of wisdom to add? Leave a comment below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your fellow mombie friends!

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