No matter how much people read about childbirth and delivery, no matter how often they talk about it with their doctors, as well as with their moms and friends, when the D-day comes, they will still encounter some things that will surprise them. They can prepare themselves for experiencing a lot of pain, but labor will finish in a matter of hours, leaving them wondering how it all even happened.
Moms might think that they know everything about getting an epidural, for example, but then they see a catheter come into play to collect pee. Or they may think that they're ready to see their newborn for the first time, but then they notice that they have bluish, wrinkled skin and an alien-shaped head and they kinda freak out. And the surprises aren't over even after the baby is born...
The point is, to save the trouble, moms should keep in mind one simple thing: Be prepared for everything and don't feel embarrassed about anything. After all, childbirth is a natural process and many other things that happen in the time surrounding are also normal.
So since women can't ever prepare too much for labor and the first day with the baby, let's see what else can happen during this special time of life!
First, let's look at labor itself:
20 Pain Is Unpredictable
So here's what really happens during labor.
For starters, keep in mind that it's impossible to predict how your labor is going to be, even if you have the best doctor in the world who told you everything about it. If your friend or sister has just had a baby and told you exactly how it felt, even if you gave birth to a baby in the past, it doesn't mean you're going to feel the same way.
Perhaps, you had a very painful, long and difficult delivery with your first baby, but the second one can turn out to be a piece of cake (or vice versa). You can anticipate anything you want, but things will always happen the way they are supposed to.
19 Nurses Can Get Casual
Childbirth is a one-of-a-kind experience. Well, for you it is, but for your nurses, it's an everyday thing, so they see it all through a very different lens. While checking on you, they can have casual conversations, discussing what they had for lunch or how the liked the last episode of their favorite show.
When this is happening, you might feel weird. You'll be like, "Hey, people, I'm making a brand new human being here, why are you talking about burgers?!!" But, before you overreact, think about three other things. First, this chitchat will probably distract you from the pain. Second, if the nurses are joking around, they feel comfortable with each other and with their job. And third, it all means that you're doing fine and the staff doesn't have to freak out over you.
18 Episiotomy (Or Tearing) Is Possible
Two kinds of situations can happen to your nether regions during childbirth. You can have tearing of tissues down there or, as an alternative option, you can let your doctor do an episiotomy, i.e. run their scalpel down to your rectum, while your baby is trying to make their way out of your uterus.
I know, it sounds extremely painful and you might think that no one is crazy enough to agree to an episiotomy. But sometimes you just have to do it and afterward, you have to know how to help your lady parts heal. Be ready for uncomfortable swelling, sitting on ice packs, and washing yourself clean using water from a peri bottle after going to the loo for up to 6 weeks after delivery.
17 Losing The Mucus Plug (It Can Happen During Labor, Too)
More often the mucus plug will be pushed out before labor (sometimes, it's an indicator that the labor has started), but some women experience it during labor.
Here's what Mary F., a mom from The Bump, shares about how she lost her mucus plug when she had already been admitted to the hospital. "I was induced, and my doctor checked me after a dose of Cervidil," she recalls. "When she pulled her hand out, my mucus plug was hanging from her finger. The nurse finally said, 'You've got a dangler!'"
Besides, keep in mind that plugs come in different sizes. It can be very small discharge, or it can be bigger than you think.
16 Going Number 1
While pushing your baby out, you'll probably pee more than you know. It happens, because during contractions your baby will be creating a huge amount of pressure on your bladder (and also just because you'll be pushing like crazy).
Besides, the process of childbirth will make your pelvic floor muscles stretch out, thus making you lose bladder control. So in the process or at the end of it, you can notice that your bedding is soaking wet with your urine. But you probably won't care at this point. After everything you've been through, nothing can embarrass you. And for the hospital staff, it's an everyday thing, so they won't care, too.
15 And Going Number 2, As Well
Few doctors warn their pregnant patients that their hospital bed will turn into a "toilet" during delivery, because they won't only pee, but also poop there.
According to Jane Martin, MD, an OB with Midtown Ob/Gyn who practices at Rose Medical Center in Denver, it's not only normal, but it's even good when you do it. "When you poop when you push, it means you’re using the right muscles," she says on The Bump. "When you're pushing from elsewhere, it's not as effective."
And since it's a routine thing for the medical personnel to see a woman in labor going number 2, they don't give a hoot about it. Neither should you.
14 Feeling Nauseated
During labor and delivery, you can expect to feel nauseated and you might even vomit a little bit (or more than a little bit). According to Jane Martin, MD, "It's just a stimulus response to the baby moving quickly through the birth canal" and it can also happen as a result of your BP fluctuations.
So it's a normal thing and again it's nothing to be ashamed of. Your medical team has seen worse, believe me. So don't be shy and ask them to keep something close by that you can use to throw up and, to reduce the risk of vomiting, don't eat anything and make peace with ice chips before it's all over.
13 Epidurals Mean Catheters
You should know that an epidural isn't just a tiny little injection you ask your nurse to do during labor and then forget about everything. In fact, an epidural means you have to keep up with a few extra things.
For starters, you'll get it with a liter of fluid, so that it doesn't affect your BP and your baby's heart rate. And secondly, you'll also get a catheter that will keep your urine during childbirth, because you won't only be unable to get up and go to the restroom, but also your nerves will become too numb and it will make you lose bladder control for the time being.
12 You Might Start Disliking Your Partner
Since you're going to be under a lot of stress during labor, be prepared that you can become annoyed even by the tiniest little things. One of these things is the behavior of your partner, which you might consider inappropriate for whatever reason.
You can feel like your hubby doesn't do anything to make things better and only does everything to make things worse. Like, how dare he mention that he's tired or hungry? So he thinks it's painful, when I squeeze his arm? And why am I doing all the work here anyway?
But remember that all these thoughts appear because of pain and stress. As soon as it's all over and you hold your baby in your arms, you'll get back to your normal self.
11 You'll Deliver More Than Your Baby
After your baby is born, there's one more thing that has to go through your nether regions – it's the placenta.
Like with all other things about labor, it's impossible to predict how this stage will go. Will it just separate from your uterus on its own? Maybe. Or will it need some encouragement from the medical staff? Perhaps. This encouragement can also be different. Sometimes, simple massage is enough to expel the placenta. But if it's still retained in your body, brace yourself, because a nurse will have to go in to get it. They will use their hand to reach in and up into your cervix to pull it out.
And now, let's look at the first day with baby:
10 Your Baby Will Look Differently Than You Think
And now let's talk about what's happening during the first day with the baby.
If you've only seen the photos of cute and clean angel-like newborns with pink skin, you're going to be surprised to see yours when they're just born. Your baby will be covered in slime and other fluids from the inside of your body. You might also notice that they will have a yucky substance resembling cottage cheese all over their body. This substance is called vernix and it was there to protect your baby's skin in the womb. Besides, at first, your newborn will have bluish skin that will get the nice pink color only a while after.
9 You Might Freak Out Over Your Baby's Head
Okay, so you're done marveling at how your little one looks just after they're born and then you freak out again because you notice how weird their head is. It's pointed and it makes it look like an alien's head.
But instead of worrying, you should better thank Mother Nature for making babies point-headed in the womb. Your baby's head isn't only pointed, but also soft and it doesn't harden until months after they're born. Now imagine, what if it was round and hard right away? How much more painful the childbirth would be? I bet, in this case, no one on Earth would ever want to procreate!
8 This Thing Called Meconium...
Meconium is the first bowel movement of your baby. It has a greenish black color, and it's very thick and sticky. It doesn't contain any breastmilk or formula, because it usually comes out of your baby before you get the chance to feed them for the first time. According to Parents, meconium consists of shed skin cells, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, water, and lanugo (the fine, soft hair covering your baby's body).
Most often, the baby will pass meconium soon after they're born, but in some cases, they'll do it while still in the birth canal. If it happens, the doctor will want to check your newborn to make sure it didn't get into their respiratory tract.
7 You Can't Imagine How Busy Your Little One Will Be
The first day of your baby's life will be more action-packed than you can imagine. They will do so many things for the first time, from taking in their first breath and having a first sponge bath, to eating your milk or formula. They will get their first shot and first antibiotic that will protect their eyes from infections. What's more, they will have to go through a huge number of tests and measurements. And they will also sleep during most part of the day, because, just like you, your baby has been through a lot and they need a lot of rest to recover and start learning to live in this huge, weird world.
6 Learning The Results Of All The Tests (And There Are Many)
Some of the things your baby will have to go through are Apgar and Ballard tests. The Apgar score will assess your little one's health, vital signs, and responsiveness. For that, the doctor will check their heart rate, breathing, color, activity and muscle tone, and grimace reflex response. The test is done twice – at 1 minute and then again at 5 minutes after birth. Meanwhile, Ballard scores check if your baby's length and head and chest circumference are normal for their gestational age.
Besides, your newborn's vitals will be verified and they will also be screened for jaundice and some other ailments. All these tests are important and after they're done, you should learn their results to ensure that your little one is doing fine.
5 Meeting The Hardships Of Breastfeeding
If you plan to breastfeed, it's usually advised to start as soon as possible. It's ideal if you nurse your baby for the first time during the first hour after they are born. But in many cases, it's not as easy as it seems.
In fact, it might take some time for your milk to come. As per Breastfeeding Support, "Mothers usually notice their milk coming in two to three days after the birth ... In a quarter of all mothers, milk can take longer than three days to come in, sometimes taking up to five days." So don't worry if it doesn't come right after delivery and talk to the lactation consultant, if you have concerns about it.
4 Going Number 1 Will Have Some More Surprises For You
It's not uncommon to lose bladder control not only during labor, but also after delivery. After all, your pelvic floor muscles got stretched out a lot and it will take some time for them to get back to normal. Meanwhile, you should be ready for some leaks or... well, just read a story from Krystal D., a mom from The Bump.
"After I gave birth, the nurses told me to hit the call button when I had to pee and they'd help me," she recalls. "They came in and stood me up—I was still numb from the epidural—and I heard all this fluid hitting the floor. I was peeing all over the place!"
3 Had A C-Section? Then Difficulties Aren't Over
Some people think that C-section is easier than natural birth because you don't feel the pains of labor. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, there will be no pain or tearing, but still, a C-section is a major surgery that entails multiple risks and has an additional toll on the mother.
After having a C-section, you'll need a lot more rest. The medical staff will want to observe your condition more closely and they will even want you to stay in the hospital longer than if you had a natural birth. Besides, you'll also have a scar on your belly that will hurt for some time.
So try to get as much rest and sleep as you can after the surgery and ask your partner for support whenever needed.
2 How Extreme The Emotions Will Be
You'll be dealing with all the stress and pain you've been through, which can make you more emotional and tearful than ever. At some point, you'll become surprised that you can cry over so many different things – exhaustion after all the hours of pushing, tenderness while holding your baby in your arms, excitement due to realizing that you've just brought a new living being into this world... you name it.
And expect your partner to also be emotional on this special day. Yes, he wasn't pushing a baby out of his body, but he was there for you, listening to your cries and supporting you in the best way he could. And he's also over-the-moon now because he's just become a dad!
1 How Many People Will Want To See You
It's very likely that all your friends and relatives will want to see you and your newborn right after they're born. Of course, it's normal that they're interested, but you don't really have to turn your hospital room into a gathering place full of people congratulating you and cooing on your little one. They will actually have plenty of time to do it when you're back home with the baby and aren't as exhausted.
So keep the first day as simple as possible. Let only your closest people (such as your mom, best friend, and older kid) visit you so that you can spend more quiet bonding time with your baby and, well, get some sleep.
Sources: What to Expect, The Bump, Momtastic, First Cry Parenting, Scary Mommy, Kids Health, Parents, Breastfeeding Support.