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What I wished I’d known about labour and birth


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Every mum will have their own birth story or tips they’ll share with you; from where they were when they went into labour to the magical moment their precious little bundle entered the world. But there’s often a few crucial facts that seem to get left out of the equation. Facts that most mums to be would actually prefer to know rather than be shocked on the day!

Speaking from personal experience, here are a few snippets of information I wish I’d have known about labour and birth before having my first baby:

1: You may be in labour for days

For some reason, most films and TV programmes show women suddenly crippling over in pain, waters breaking in a huge splosh on the floor, screaming they need to push and half an hour later, ta-da! Baby is born. For a rare few, this might be true, but for the majority of women, labour can last many hours. On average, for first time mums who are in active labour, it lasts 8-12 hours, but it’s not uncommon to have 24-48 hour labours – every woman is different. Also, for many, your waters don’t break until you’re actually delivering the baby or in advanced labour and it’s usually more of a trickle than a gallon of water hitting the ground!

2: Different positions

This is a hot topic for me, but ladies, don’t feel you have to lay on your back, legs akimbo, screaming with a team of cheerleaders around you to give birth. Unless you need to be monitored (and even then, you can go on your side or all fours) or require medical intervention, then laying on your back as you labour or give birth really isn’t the best position – and if you want a calm and quiet experience, you can. Let gravity do some of the hard work and try out different positions that YOU feel best in. water birth

3: When you need to push, you NEED to push

It’s the strangest feeling, but when you’re ready to push, wild horses can’t stop you. It’s like your body has been possessed and you’ll want to smack anyone that tells you not to push.

4: The world’s biggest poo!

Your baby is moving down the birth canal and squashing all your insides as it does. Giving birth feels like you’re having the world’s biggest poo, like the baby is actually coming out of your bum! Also, the chances are you will poo as you’re giving birth. It’s something most of us wouldn’t be shouting across the table in Starbucks as we share our birth experience, but it happens, so don’t worry!

5: The world’s biggest period!

You’ve enjoyed 9 months with no Aunty Flo, but now it catches up with you. I’d seen babies being born on the TV and knew there was blood and fluids, but no-one said I’d have the mother of all periods lasting anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks afterwards, whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or C-section!

6: Wear black

‘I’ve bought you a lovely new towel and PJs to take to hospital to wear after you’ve had baby’ my mum said as she handed me a white Chanel towel and lovely pair of silk, cream and light blue PJs. ‘Oo great, thanks!’ I said as I naively packed them in my hospital bag. Then after giving birth and realising my bits n bobs resembled crime scene, I wondered if my mum had somehow confused ‘giving birth’ with ‘going to a health spa’? Luckily, I had a pair of black tracky bottoms with me. Ladies, PACK BLACK!

7: Sanitary pads from the 1980’s

While we’re on the topic, remember to pack your own sanitary towels in your hospital bag or prepare to be issued with giant white bricks of cotton wool. With what your delicate area has just gone through, you want something as comfy, secure and absorbent as possible down there.

8: ‘Push again? I’ve just had my baby?’

Why does no-one tell you about delivering the placenta? After giving birth, it’s nothing particularly painful (in comparison) but it’s nice to know something else needs to come out after you think it’s all over.what will i need for a home birth

9: That first wee

My first daughter was born and an hour or so later I nipped to the loo for a wee. OUCH! Imagine vinegar on an open wound? I stifled a scream as it felt like someone had put a blow torch on my under-carriage. It was only after, one of the midwives said ‘Oo love, slap a load of Vaseline on to create a barrier, else it will smart a bit’! Could no-one have warned me beforehand? Better still, bath your bits in the tub and if needed, have a wee in the tub or shower (obviously once you’re finished!)

10: Kicked by a horse

Luckily I didn’t need stiches with any of mine, but although I was expecting to have rather sore bits, I wasn’t expecting to feel like I’d been kicked up the bum by a horse! Yes, your bits are tender, but your backside feels like it’s taken the bigger beating.

11: Tea and Toast from Heaven

After you’ve had baby, you’ll be offered some food and drink (usually tea and toast) after. It is without doubt, the nicest tea and toast you’ll ever have, so enjoy!

12: Transferred to a ward

Everyone has a different experience, some great, some not so, but depending on your hospital, be prepared to be transferred onto a ward with other women and babies after you’ve given birth. Personally, I couldn’t wait to get home and was able to leave the labour ward within a few hours. Although my hospital doesn’t send dad’s away when visiting hours are over, many hospitals do, leaving mums feeling alone and vulnerable as they’re left in a room with strangers and their babies. Ask your midwife or hospital what their procedures are so you and your partner are prepared.

13: The slow drive home…

That first car journey from hospital to home will probably be the slowest and scariest of your life. You’ll be guarding your new born like a lioness over her cub, screaming at your partner or whoever is driving to slow down and be careful, even if there’s a line of traffic cursing you for driving at 15mph!

ten baby care tipsI could probably go on for longer, but I’ll stop for now. Feel free to add your own ‘I wish I’d known’ stories! I’m expecting baby number 3 shortly and have found that labour and birth shouldn’t be made into a scary thing. It can and should be a wonderful experience, it just helps to know some of the less glamorous things to expect before they come as a shock!




One Response to “What I wished I’d known about labour and birth”

  1. Amanda

    These are all so true! Also I had no idea what my post-labour tummy would look like! I was shocked when I went for that first shower and looked in the mirror. Soft and floppy don’t even come close! Worth it tho. X


About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

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