Skip to Content

Labor and Delivery: What No One Tells You

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 painful, awkward, and 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.


What you need to know about labor and delivery

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.

Lightning Crotch

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.

Losing 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 broken, does not mean you aren’t in labor.

Dying of Heat Stroke

So dying of heatstroke maybe 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.

The Epidural

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.

Everything You Need To Know About Delivery

Labor | Delivery | Pregnancy

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 heatstroke, 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 vaginal birth.

Hospital Recovery

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 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 easily 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 delivery 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. The best thing I can say is to expect the unexpected and do what feels right!



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Expecting Mothers Should Consider These Factors To Stay Healthy — The Coffee Mom

Monday 16th of November 2020

[…] prenatal classes will increase your knowledge about what to know about labour and delivery. It will help increase your confidence in childbirth and calm any fears […]


Thursday 6th of September 2018

Excellent post! I can relate to some of your experiences and I felt like I pretty much went through labor with you! Great details and it's a good insight to some real labor experiences. I'll be sharing this!


Saturday 10th of February 2018

I don’t have any kids, but I’m studying to be a nurse-midwife. I love reading birth stories from different mothers. Every woman needs different support during labor, and it’s so great to hear how everyone works through pain and challenges. From all-natural warrior-mommas who breathe through/move trhough the pain to kick-ass mommas who choose c-sections for any reason. It’s all valid, and it’s all beautiful.


Saturday 23rd of September 2017

I just recently recovered from my completely natural birth and I would like to start by encouraging anyone who may be reading my comment to do so. No dis to women who do choose to take the epidural because it is a pain like no other but, It is a necessary pain that will feel like nothing when you’re finally holding that baby on your chest. My labor started in my back days before and I had no idea it was labor ! It felt like intense kidney pain because my son was slightly transverse and what a surprise , I was back laboring. It was like a dull aching cramp and then started to feel like someone was stabbing me…

Now they tell you to get active, which is not an easy thing to do when you’re in labor but do it. My son was sunny side up and slightly transverse when I went in to labor and the activity I forced myself in to turned him completely in to optimal position. I was lucky enough to have access to a yoga swing at my birth center and for me, completely squatting/lunging in to my more intense contractions was amazing. It felt like I was combatting them, while distracting myself for that 90 seconds to put my mind somewhere else..

when I was finally in active labor I got into the tub but contractions felt as if all of your muscles were tightening to implode your body while at the same time your hips were being physically pulled apart. Honestly I had to have my doula and partner both use all their strength to apply counter pressure for every contraction I had for a little over 6 hours.

It really does take a village so make sure you have a dedicated team.

Also , no one told me when my water broke it would be this large slightly bloody gush and when I say gush.. it was like someone threw a bucket of water on the wall (I was in a laying position). They also don’t tell you that when your water breaks your contractions become more intense because your baby no longer has that cussion. It felt like my babies head was grinding my pelvic bone apart.

When I finally was ready to push, my midwife coached me through everything. work with your contractions. When you feel like you need to just push with all your might and hurry up and get it over with…. DONT. Allow that baby to slowly stretch the skin in between contractions. I know it sounds awful but this makes for less tearing and an easier birth recovery. Less hemorrhoids. Less stitches!

Also don’t be discouraged if you poo most women do.

I know all of this sounds treacherous and people are probably like .. why would I want to experience that naturally but, here’s why..

For first time moms like myself, or even first time vaginal births, the pain can be very discouraging but, your body was designed to handle the pain and when you have that little mushy thing laying on your chest I promise all the pain melts away. I only felt slightly bruised directly after my delivery and my son was 8 pounds 5 oz so not exactly a wee little guy .


Saturday 23rd of September 2017

Thank you for sharing your experience. I love hearing other labor stories. Ever woman goes through something so different, it really is amazing. With my first being a c section, I had no idea what to expect but reading other's birth stories helped a lot, even if my labor wasn't the same as pretty much any of them :)

Induce Labor Naturally: 8 Old Wive's Tales Put to the Test — The Coffee Mom

Tuesday 8th of August 2017

[…] on labor at home. I tried so many of them because I just wanted my little man out. Finally, I did go into labor on my own. See my full VBAC story click here. I do accredited some of the wives tales for helping […]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.