I'm not sure there are very many first time pregnant women who aren't concerned and inquisitive about labour. Actually, strike that. I'm not sure there are very many ladies or women (and even men!) who want kids who aren't concerned about pregnancy and the process of childbearing.
From the point I got pregnant half of my conversations with mothers and other pregnant persons revolved around pregnancy.
Little wonder that at my surprise baby shower, 90% of the conversation turned to labour and birth stories. And oh did we hear all sorts. From those who swore not to shed a tear at all, to those who feigned being in labour to get their husbands attention. Those who planned to look very glamorous in the delivery room and those who begged for a 5inch pain relief needle to be stuck into their spine.
I wasn't immune to all this curiosity. My 1st - 3rd Trimester had gone very well. But would labour be something different? I seem to be at that age where a lot of my friends and acquaintances - in real life and social media are having babies for the first time.
So I decided to feed my curiosity even more and hear their labour stories as I approached my due date - what they wish they knew, the unexpected bits of pregnancy and labour as well as the best bits - because surely there must be a good.
Daughter born February 2017, USA
I didn't go into labor on my own. I was supposed to be induced at 39weeks but I told the doctor to give it another week to see if I'll get into labor but I didn’t. I was 40 weeks and 6 days when I checked into the hospital. I wasn't dilated at all so every few hours, they insert this pill in your vagina to dilate your cervix. The most I got to was 2cm. So by the time I got to 2cm, they administered the pitocin. And labor came with full force. To be honest, the tablet insertion was my least favorite thing. It’s very uncomfortable. Very.
I didn't have any specific plan for pain management but when the pain became unbearable I asked for the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. I felt nothing after that. I was very relaxed. The first time he administered it, I was still feeling pain on one side so they called him back and he did a bypass which covered everywhere. After I was induced, things progressed pretty smoothly. I got dilated to about 8.5cm and started pushing. I was pushing and not much was happening. She was head down alright but face up.
So I had an episiotomy. For many reasons, the face up situation, she was big plus it's mostly routine for new moms. With an epidural, you don't feel anything anyway so it's fine. And she came at 2:53pm that Monday. I was induced around 8/9am
I wish I knew my hair would fall out, about three months after birth. I wouldn't have put any pressure on my hair at all. Maybe I would have indulged in more protein treatment. So yeah, please pamper your hair. I also wish I knew I'd stand the risk of getting a hemorrhoid It was the most painful part recovering. The pressure of pushing and all. The swollen vein in your rectum. Ouch! I couldn't sit for about 2 weeks. I just laid on my side
I didn't expect that I couldn't have water. Just ice chips. From 7pm Sunday when I checked into the hospital till after the delivery. No water. For a foodie like me, that was tough! No food no water. The IV will keep you technically. It's just that eating is psychological so if your mouth isn't moving. After I gave birth, I ate EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING
The best bit superficial you may think, was pregnancy body. I felt so glorious. The curves were amazing. Everything was curvy and full and thick. I think the anticipation was also nice. Waiting 9/10 months to see a little human. Also wondering what they look like. Our prenatal appointments were an occasion. Watching her do bicycle kicks...oh gosh! It was amazing. Now I want to be pregnant all over again!
Son born October 2017, UK
I actually went into labour the day before my due date, when I had just about given up on anticipating baby's arrival. I spent weeks 37-40 of my pregnancy at my wit's end with impatience, scouring the Internet for ways to make myself go into labour! In the end I'm sure what induced me was when Kachee announced her own pregnancy to me in a conversation about whether I'd gone into labour yet! What are the chances?! Midwife later told me that the excitement hormone oxytocin was probably what triggered it. So thanks Kachee, hehe!
Labour itself was excruciating. I went from 2-8cm dilation within an hour, which no one believed and consequently sent me home in between, the pushing took nearly 4 hours and the contractions were out-of-this-world painful. At one point I was ready to give up, but found some hidden resolve at the last hurdle. I even decided to forego all pain relief. PS. Gas and air is a sham, it simply didn't work on me!
I wish I knew that gas and air is a sham and should not be considered as pain relief! It simply didn't work for me.There's such a huge jump in risk between that and the next 'step' up, pethidine or an epidural, that most first time mums seemingly go for gas and air for fear of harming their baby, but if I'd known from the beginning I would have chosen an epidural. The pain has traumatised me! That said however, I am incredibly proud of myself for getting through it, so it's not all bad. Plus, I have my beautiful boy at the end of it all and would do it all over again if I had to.
I didn't expect to experience so many pregnant symptoms! I think I must have had them all. Walking became a nightmare as I had pelvic girdle pain, and already really bad sciatica in my left leg. By the time I was referred to physio it was week 39, so great timing! I planned to go on leave around week 36 or so to give myself a month to potter around and prepare, but ended up finishing work around week 30. And labour itself - I didn't get to use anything in my hospital bag! I had packed playing cards, biscuits, a book, slippers, a dressing gown... I ended up using none of those due to the pain of contractions taking over. In fact during labour all I wanted to do was fight my husband and tell him how he was responsible for what was happening to me, poor guy. Just so you know, the minute our baby arrived I reverted back to my usual happy self!
The best bit without a doubt the best part of it all was holding my baby for the very first time and having his little eyes look up at me. I said "hello baby!" and I could've sworn that he recognised my voice, and then the same with my husband's. I have a mental snapshot of that moment which plays vividly in my head, and it is one thing I will always remember. Despite how painful it was, childbirth is an incredible feat of life, the best thing about my pregnancy journey was that it gave me a deep respect for all mothers, especially my own. Personally, as a mother, I now feel like life has permanently gotten better and would never wish to go back to life before it, no matter how long and restless the nights. The miracle of life is a joyous gift.
Son born May 2017, USA
I’d gone for my prenatal appointment on May 5th 2017 (which was a Friday) which was my supposed EDD (Expected Date of Delivery). While the doctor was conducting the regular checks, she asked me if I was feeling anything as per contractions and I said no.
Next thing I know, she’s stripping my cervix – I died and resurrected from the pain! According to her, the cervix stripping was supposed to tell my brain to start the labour process and she sent me home with the assurance that I won’t be pregnant by Monday of the next week.
Fast forward to Saturday night, say about some minutes past 10 pm, I was talking with my husband on the phone (we were in different locations at the time); all of a sudden I started feeling labour contractions. I timed them and they were 3-5 minutes apart meaning I was already in active labour….woah! I told my husband what was happening, put the finishing touches to my hospital bag, woke my Uncle and off we went to the hospital.
I got checked into the hospital – some hours after checking in and riding out the contraction waves, I felt the need to sleep so I requested for pain relief to be administered so I could get some sleep. Hours after this, it was time to ‘push’ (‘Bear down as though you want to poop and keep that pressure going for 30 seconds when I say’). The 'push’ phase (or as I like to think of it, the ultimate 'see finish' phase’) is so messy…gosh! So many fluids coming out of the body all at once but you really don’t care because you have one goal and one goal only – push the baby out! Anyways, after a couple of push sessions, my baby was delivered.
I wish I knew that we could tear from the top of our lady parts during labour as I had previously thought that tears only occur around the lower end /perineum area.
I didn’t expect the metallic taste in my mouth during the first few months of pregnancy as I had no idea that that was one of the discomforts that pregnant women sometimes face. I also didn’t expect to love being pregnant as much as I did.
The best bit was honestly all of it - every part of my pregnancy was awesome – from finding out I was pregnant to watching my bump grow from being a secret to being in everybody’s face. Being pregnant was easy and I was truly thankful for that.
Son born August 2017, UK
My pain threshold is high. I walked in to be induced, and the midwife was surprised that I couldn't feel anything. "You're 3 cm dilated", she said. I didn't feel anything, and when I'm in pain, i just stare and go blank. I don't say a word. But I told them that once i started throwing up, I'd reached my pain threshold. So once that happened, they put me on the epidural - by which time I was already 6cm dilated.
I somewhat regret this "super woman" approach - my husband had it too easy! I should have pretended and screamed the hell out. He was eating a three course meal in my labour room and now he downplays the entire experience. I almost feel like a traitor to all women.
The best bit was not being sick. And well, I may sound vain, but the fact that my appetite did not increase - this was a huge fear.
I wish I knew that not everyone's boobs grew so huge! I got several maternity and nursing bras - thanks to the lady at the lingerie store, who convinced me to buy larger sizes even after taking my measurements! I'm still kind of mad at her.
I didn't expect the recovery process. I did not recover well. I had to deal with granulation tissues. I had stitches down there and it didn't heal well. I had to get it treated a few times with silver nitrate. It hurt - Seating, walking, sleeping was horrible. It was so hard to deal with - particularly after a fantastic pregnancy and labour.
How exciting yes?!
Guess you can never really tell how it'd go. I can see a bit of my story is almost all responses. Now I really need to get to typing up my own story - essentially just waiting on the husband to fill in the gaps - he remembers it much more than I do, it seems.
Mommas, share your experience! Others, share your thoughts. Let's hear.
pS: Interesting how everyone here had a vaginal delivery. Let's ditch calling this "normal" delivery. A C-section is normal too.