Before having our first baby, we attended all the requisite childbirth classes which are filled with information. Now that I have had my third baby, I’ve come across a few truths that no one told me about giving birth. These “truths” are based on my birth experiences and stories from friends and family:
1. Things will not go the way you have planned. I was told by my doctors (and many internet searches) to create a birth plan. In my experience, all plans go out the window and you do whatever you need to do to get your baby into this world safely.
2. A C-section is a definite possibility. The majority of family and friends that I polled for this article ended up having a C-section. This is still childbirth! Please refer to the first point … do whatever you need to do to get your baby into this world safely.
3. You might not be able to get the epidural you are hoping for. My second baby came so fast that there was no time for an epidural. The advantages to this? No IV, no catheter, plus bragging rights that I had him “naturally.”
4. Most birthing videos are horrifying. Don’t be fooled. You do not have to be fully naked with 13 people in the room while giving birth!
5. Going to the bathroom during labor is not something you have to worry about. May I repeat myself? This is something that you do not have to worry about! This was the No. 1 fear of many women in my childbirth classes. If it happens, you probably won’t even know about it. (I have no idea if this happened during any of my deliveries.) Again, do not worry about this, there are much bigger fish to fry!
6. YOU CAN DO THIS. There are many fear mongers out there that talk about the horrors of childbirth. I’ve learned to keep repeating throughout labor and delivery, “I can do this, my body was made to do this.” This mantra will help get you through the pain, because it is the truth.
7. You will feel so much love. There are no classes, websites or magazine articles (this one included) that can put into words the immense amount of love that you will feel for this tiny person you’ve just brought into the world. It is unreal.
8. It is OK to have the nurses take your baby to the nursery so that you can get some sleep while at the hospital. (Just have them wake you up when it is time to breastfeed if this is your desire.) With my first son, I did this and felt like a terrible mom right out of the gate. But between labor and delivery and visiting friends and family, you will be exhausted. Rest while you can. You don’t want to get home from the hospital and have a meltdown out of exhaustion.
9. Take as many things home from the hospital as possible. Seriously. Be sure to take with you any extras that are laying around. I am not telling you to steal, but take with you any surplus of personal supplies for you and baby. This includes feminine products, the bulb syringe and thermometer used on your baby, and leftover diapers. I even took the plastic tub they used to give the baby a bath. It all definitely comes in handy!
10. Hair loss. Now, this comes in the weeks after birth and maybe that is a separate story. But no one told me about post-natal hair loss and it was a total shock. The amount of hair I lost in the first few months after each child was incredible. It was everywhere! Eventually it stopped falling out, but now I had all those baby hairs to grow back. Ugh!
I hope, at the very least, that what I have shared with you helps to ease some fears that you might have – but remember, everyone’s journey is different and amazing!
Megan Shaffer is a freelance writer and mother of three.