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With my first baby, I had a scheduled C-Section so I never experienced labor and delivery. My second child, I was able to have a successful VBAC. I quickly learned that there are a lot of things that no one tells you about labor and delivery. There is the painful, the awkward, and the flat out embarrassing aspects that people just don’t talk about. In fact, before I was in active labor, I had no clue what labor even was supposed to feel like. These are the things I wish that people had told me about labor.
The Things No One Tells You About Labor and Delivery
What Labor Feels Like
So we all know it hurts, agreed? But I had no clue what to even expect! All anyone would tell me was “you will know”. Well, while that may be true, I still wanted at least some sort of idea about labor and delivery and what I would be experiencing. Well, I am here to tell you that labor, for me, felt like 1000 knives being systematically stabbed into my back at the same time. I had terrible back labor, so it was not pleasant. Contractions were extremely strong and I could feel my stomach tightening each time. When the contraction was over, there was a feeling of relief. Mine were coming every five minutes, and getting closer together. I can’t say this will be the same for everyone, but at least now you know what you might be able to expect.
The Start of Labor
I literally had no idea what to expect when it came to labor and delivery. I remember not being able to sleep at night. Then I kept feeling like I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t go. At one point I was talking to my sister, and she told me that I was most likely at the start of active labor! Apparently, that “have to go” feeling is one of the signs. So yes, being in labor feels like you have to poop, extremely badly but just can’t go. If no one would have told me this, I really would have had no clue.
Even the name makes me cringe. I would get these sharp shooting pains. They would come and go and I had no idea why. When I asked my doctor, she said it is commonly referred to as lightning crotch. It is common prior to labor and can be a sign of the baby getting into position and your body preparing for dilatation.
Your Mucus Plug
I had heard all about women losing their mucus plug and then labor starting. When I was pregnant, I learned this isn’t always the case. You can lose your mucus plug early, and it can grow back! I did not lose mine until I was already 4 CM and in active labor. It is gross, and it will probably freak you out. The “plug” looks like a giant snot bugger and there will likely be blood, hence “bloody show”. I was in the hospital, a little freaked out by the blood. Thankfully the nurses were able to explain things to me better.
Breaking Your Water
I always imagined this giant rush of water, and then hurrying to the hospital. For most women though, this isn’t the case. When I was in labor with my son, I was about 5 CM along and the doctor had to break my water for me. From what I was told, a large majority of women do not get that cinematic water breaking moment we all have seen in the movies. So just because your water hasn’t broke, does not mean you aren’t in labor.
Dying of Heat Stroke
So dying of heat stoke may be a little dramatic, but I did not realize how HOT you feel when in labor. Hospitals are typically cold, but when you are in labor you will be begging them for ice to cool you down. Don’t panic, it is totally normal to feel like you are sitting in a sauna.
Ahhh, the almighty epidural. Sweet relief from the pain of labor. For me personally, it worked pretty great. Initially, it did make me sick. Like sick to the point that I actually threw up, but that went away rather quickly. I was able to take a nap for a while, but when I woke up I could feel on one side again. I had slept on my side, and all of the medication was on one side of my body. Great. Once it was time to push, my drip had run out and I was regaining feeling once again. I could feel the pressure (totally normal), as well as the contractions.
Who Are All Of These People?
I had my husband and sister in law in the room with me, along with a plethora of hospital staff. At one point I remember wondering who all of these people were. In a way, it felt like I was on some strange reality show about women birthing. There were nurses for me, one at each leg, a pediatric nurse, the doctor, and a few other nurses that I am not sure about.
The idea of pushing was foreign to me. As a former C-section mom all I had to do was lay still and get surgery, those doctors did the hard part. Now it was my turn. I learned quickly that you push when you feel your contraction, and let up when it stops. I was told to “push like you have to poop” by one of the nurses. My knees pushed up to my chest,don’t breathe and just push with all your mite!
Sweet Relief….Sort Of
Then you get it, that final moment when you feel the pressure alleviate and hear that first cry. It really is a magical feeling, but as soon as you think it is over you realize you have to deliver the placenta. Now, this isn’t as bad as delivering the baby, but it still is uncomfortable.
Did You Rip?
I spent my first moments cuddling my messy newborn while the doctor proceeded to sew up my nether regions. Thankfully, the epidural was still somewhat in effect but it was not the most pleasant of experiences. The tiny innocent human on my chest did make everything seem completely worth it though.
NOW You Are Cold!
After delivery, it is highly likely that you will start to shiver. No longer dying of heat stroke, you are now in a frozen tundra. Even if you don’t FEEL cold, your body will start to uncontrollably shake. This happens after a C-section as well, so it is not exclusive to a vaginal birth.
The worst is over. You have your sweet bundle of joy and it is off to your room to recover for a few days. Honestly, I think the worst part was AFTER the labor and delivery. You will end up in a mommy diaper for a while due to the loss of blood. It will be like all of the periods that you missed during those 9 months put together. Also, the contractions don’t completely end. Your uterus will continue to contract while it goes back to its normal size. Nurses will come in and push on your stomach, and yes that hurts! If you are breastfeeding, that will stimulate further contractions AND your nipples might feel like they are going to fall off (I promise this gets MUCH better). Oh, and did I mention the hemorrhoids? From all of that pushing and straining, these little guys might just pop up to say hello! Don’t worry, the hospital will give you tucks pads and some ointment to make it all feel better. Your nether regions will probably feel like a war zone, and that is okay. Use this time to recover and take it as easy as you can.
In the end, it is worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Personally, I would take the labor and delivery over a c-section any day. While parts of it kind of were terrible, my C-section recovery was much worse. Keep in mind that every woman’s labor and deliver will be different. It is useless trying to compare yourself to other women, so just don’t do it. Listen to your body and go with the flow. If you want an epidural, get it with no guilt. Don’t want one? Then don’t let anyone pressure you into it. Hopefully this can help out some of you first time mothers who want to know what to expect. Best thing I can say, is to expect the unexpected and do what feels right!