Just a heads up: this post is full of brutally honest details. It isn’t sunshines and rainbows and it might even scare you a little. But it’s my personal belief that you should go into something as awesome as childbirth with all the knowledge possible. Okay, read on!
Are you giving birth soon and wondering what the heck to expect? That was me about 9 months ago. I was scared the whole pregnancy, honestly but towards the end (around week 38), I knew it was coming soon and the fear really took over. I don’t do well with pain and am super type-A, so not knowing how painful it would be or when it would happen made me very anxious. Luckily, I have an amazing spouse who always knew what to say to make me feel a little less freaked out.
Enter: labor day! Once contractions started, I actually wasn’t that scared anymore. Here it was, happening: one unknown gone! And I was about to meet my little baby! How could I be scared?
Even after feeling less scared, and knowing we prepared in all ways possible, I still didn’t know exactly how it would go at the hospital. And I think a lot of women feel this way. I see so many birth stories where the specific details aren’t mentioned. Maybe they don’t want to scare other mamas, and I get that, but I know that I wanted to read about these details so that I knew exactly what I was going to experience.
So, I decided to write about some of the pain and scary things I experienced – not to scare you, but to prepare you! If you’re like me and want to know what you’re going to face, then read on! I kept the list short and sweet because I felt these were the most impactful things that I experienced.
1. The Pain
We all know childbirth hurts; this is not a secret. But I didn’t know exactly how much it would hurt. I tried finding information online and found some, but enough. I want to know the nitty gritty! The cold hard truth of it all! Well, I couldn't find it so I went into it not really knowing how painful it would be. Yes, it was painful. But 3 months later and it's pretty hard to remember exactly how painful. I made it through okay and you will too! Also, I will say that I never planned or had any intention of doing a natural birth - I know myself too well!
However, this was only my experience. I've talked to other women who said it really wasn't as bad as they thought and had no problem. To be fair, I have a very low tolerance for pain, so keep that in mind! This is not meant to scare you! I think going into it knowing what to expect not only helps ease your mind, but helps ease the pain as well. I gotta hand it to all you mama's who do it naturally!
2. The Epidural
Number 1 brings me to number 2. The marvelous epidural. Without this, I would not have been able to continue and I mean that honestly. An epidural is medication that goes in the epidural space in your spine; a small needle is inserted in your lower back and it stays there the duration of the birthing process. I’m afraid of needles, but this one didn’t hurt at all. Honestly, the IV hurt more than this. Once that epidural took effect (5-10 minutes after I got it), the rest of my experience was BLISSFUL. And I mean that. I was able to relax, laugh, and just hang out until it was time to push. If you opt for a natural birth more power to you! But I needed it and I wouldn’t blame anyone else who does too!
Oh and one more thing about the epidural: an immediate side effect you may experience is fully body shivers. Within a few minutes my whole body was shaking and my teeth were chattering! The nurse kept asking if I was cold and I had to keep reiterating that "No, please don't cover me! I'm not cold!" Haha. It really wasn't bad, just super odd and when I say uncontrollable I really mean uncontrollable.
In movies and TV, pushing always takes like 20 minutes. And, for some real people, it might. But pushing takes an average of 90 minutes. Pushing for me took 3.5 hours. BUT it actually flew by! I didn’t realize that much time had gone by, which is nice. And because I was medicated, it didn’t hurt. It was frustrating however. Nobody tells you that you need to know HOW to push. Luckily, my doctor spent about 30 minutes coaching me on how to push from the right area – otherwise you’re just wasting energy! Who knew right?!
4. Pushing continued…
I felt this needed it’s own bullet point because it’s not about where to push or how long it will take. But how it FELT. I’m going totally candid here…but it truly feels like you have to take the biggest poop of your life and it won’t come out. I think we all know what it feels like to be horribly constipated, right? Now multiply that by a hundred! That’s exactly how it feels to try to push out a baby and this is not something I knew going into it.
I’m a relatively shy person, especially when it comes to my body. Before giving birth I had it set in my mind that Peter would NOT look “down there”. However, within minutes of being checked into labor and delivery, my clothes were off without a care in the world. Why? Because I was in so much pain and wanted to get the medication as soon as possible and knew that I needed to be in a gown and in the bed for that to happen. My modesty went out the window so quickly that even I was shocked. Peter ended up holding one of my legs while pushing, so he definitely saw everything. And you know what? I don’t care at all! In the moment, you certainly have other things to think about and after the fact, it didn’t even matter that he saw everything.
6. The Doctor
I don’t know about ya’ll, but I saw the doctor very briefly during labor. It’s really the nurse and nurse aides who are constantly there, checking on you, and generally being saints. That’s not to say the doctor doesn’t do anything, but movies make it seem like it’s all on the doc. Not only that, but my actual doctor (who I saw during my pregnancy) was not on call so I didn’t see him. If you go in expecting to see a familiar face, you may be disappointed. It just doesn’t work that way. In the end, my doctor was the one who pulled the baby out, but other than that, the nurses took care of me most of the time.
These are the things that really stood out to me about giving birth. It was generally a wonderful experience (once I had the epidural…), but I went in completely clueless.