Birth mothers are part of a special club. Women who have delivered children into the world are the only ones who know what it’s like to push through the pain or withstand major surgery. They are the only ones who know the intimate details that go into pregnancy and delivery. They are also the ones who know what it's like in that miraculous moment when they see their baby for the first time.
Yet, for a good portion of history, women kept relatively quiet about the experience. At a certain point, medical professionals started knocking them out, so they didn't even meet their baby until it was all over.
Today, things are very different. Women keep journals about pregnancy, share their hopes, dreams, and fears with friends and family on social media, and work hard to be part of every detail of the birthing process. People even write birthing plans before the big day, so doctors know exactly how they envision it.
Still, however, out of fear or embarrassment, women keep a lot of stuff to themselves. Anyone who has ever been pregnant will admit that she experienced something that was unexpected, surreal, scary, or all of the above.
Since society is becoming no holds barred when it comes to privacy, it's time women start shouting from the rooftops all the stuff that's been left out of the conversations regarding pregnancy and labor and delivery. It is time they tell each other every last detail - the good, the bad, the ugly without fear of judgment. After all, they have an obligation to the sisterhood of birth mothers.
Without further ado, here are 15 real-deal mom-to-mom confessions about pregnancy:
15 Push It Real Good
Pushing - when baby is ready to make his or her debut - is one of the parts of delivery that causes first-time pregnant women some stress and concern. There's no doubt that it can be a real challenge. They don't call it labor for nothing. It's exhausting, uncomfortable, and can feel like it's never going to end sometimes.
But the idea that it's this impossible obstacle, like nothing any woman has experienced before is a myth. If women have gone to the bathroom (and, of course, they have), then they already know what it will feel like and how to push, says Jacqui Blue, filmmaker of Starseed Pictures' documentary, Beautiful Births.
"The actual act of pushing and giving birth feels like taking the biggest poop of your life, out of the wrong hole," she adds. "I think people don't like to talk about it because it's gross and taboo. I mean, who wants to talk about taking a poop? Or compare having your baby to taking a giant dump? But it's true and I wish someone had told me that to help take the fear out of childbirth."
14 Pregnancy Doesn't Always Go As Planned
Many people take pregnancy for granted. They believe it's the work of Mother Nature, and they assume everything will turn out alright. This naivety leads people to ask prying questions, such as when are you going to try and get pregnant before it actually happens.
The fact is that some women experience miscarriages, stillbirths, or complications that make pregnancy less joyous and more scary.
"I was scared to tell anyone because I was afraid of another miscarriage and having to go through the process with everyone all over again. My fears were realized in another way, despite having a perfectly healthy pregnancy," says December Fields-Bryant, writer of the Terrestrials blog, whose son is nearly 1 year old.
"Instead, many people around me reflected my fears, sometimes in ways that were upsetting such as a family member commenting on the likelihood of miscarriage or complication. Other times it was friends being overly cautious around me, worried that I was in a fragile state that could suddenly cause harm and death to my baby despite my being fully open and aware about my limitations. This constant wariness of others kept me on edge through the pregnancy, and I often wished I hadn't told anyone until necessary, until I was huge, I mean."
The lesson is to be more sensitive and recognize that pregnancy isn't like a wedding. It's not necessarily constant celebration. Mom's worries often begin before the seed is even planted. And, in the end, she isn't always blessed with a baby to hold in her arms.
13 The Myth That Pregnancy Is A Party
People talk about the pregnancy glow and beauty of the belly. Women have fought hard to get people to understand that pregnancy isn't a disease and so - unless put on bed rest by their doctor - they can pretty much go about their everyday lives. Somehow, however, this has gotten people thinking that it's like some sort of vacation.
As anyone who has ever been pregnant will admit, it's not. In fact, it's not even close. For some women, it can be torturous. Some women experience nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy or in a strong wave in the first trimester. There's painful constipation in some cases. Really, a slew of symptoms that include back pain, Braxton Hicks contractions, swelling and the list goes on, make life uncomfortable.
The severe mood swings and hormonal changes can bring on depression or at least bouts of crying and sadness. "These changes are not as talked about because there is a societal picture of a pregnant woman who should be overjoyed 100 percent of the pregnancy and 'have it all together,'" says Stephanie J. Wong, licensed clinical psychologist in San Mateo, Calif. "However, continuing your day-to-day (e.g., going to work), while feeling exhausted, nauseous, hungry, and in physical pain may take a toll on anyone."
12 The Pregnancy Diet
Who hasn't heard the idea that pregnant women are eating for two? Many people believe that pregnant women can eat whatever they want and not worry about their waistline. Actually, that's not at all true. For starters, women tend to have aversions to foods - even dishes they once loved - during pregnancy. Then, there are restrictions on what women can eat because it could harm the baby.
Foods, such as cold cuts and fish with mercury in it, are off limits. Alcohol and tobacco are, of course, harmful to the fetus. And women actually have to count calories and keep their weight gain in check during the nine months because too much weight could lead to complications.
"Eating an excess amount of sweets may put you at risk for gestational diabetes," warns Wong. "Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes requires that you take readings of your sugar levels, which entails pricking your fingers for blood samples. Also, you will have to maintain a stricter diet than prior to diagnosis."
11 Pregnancy Can Be A Downer
Not to be a party pooper, but there are downsides and challenges that come with being pregnant. One thing people rarely mention is how blue moms-to-be sometimes feel. The rapidly changing hormones can cause mood swings. Sometimes, depression surfaces in a profound ways. While many have begun conversations about postpartum depression in recent years, most still believe that pregnancy is a universally joyous time.
"I'm a new mom to a 7 month old (Yay!) but what I really wish I had known about pregnancy is: I felt miserable, physically and emotionally, throughout most of my pregnancy," says Jacqueline Ryan, account executive of Full Division Support at Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR.
"I never wanted to do anything. I was angry and frustrated non stop. It was such a relief to find out that all those feelings lifted. While I doubt I'll ever feel completely like my 'old self' again, I at least feel the drive and motivation to get out of the house and participate in life."
Some people aren't as lucky, and the sadness sticks around. Pregnant or postpartum women who are still feeling sadness or seem detached from their baby should get professional help.
At least one in 10 women experiences bouts of depression during pregnancy, according to BabyCenter. Women who have experienced previous miscarriages, abuse, or are enduring other stresses, such as relationship or financial troubles, are more vulnerable. The signs of depression, such as fatigue and trouble sleeping, are sometimes dismissed because they are common among healthy pregnant women.
BabyCenter advises women to pay attention if these signs are joined by sadness and a sense of hopelessness. Anxiety can also be an issue for pregnant women, and it can and should be treated. So, reach out to the professionals if you think you need help.
10 Mom Is The One Who's Gonna Need Diapers
Wetting one's pants is part of the norm for many pregnant women. Bladder control gets lost at a certain point. A woman will laugh, and she'd wet her pants. She'll cry, and she'd wet her pants. She'll make a sudden move, and she'd wet her pants. But urine isn't the only issue. Pregnant women experience a particularly strong, raw-egg-like discharge.
Sometimes, they'll feel it falling down their thigh. It's one of the many reasons that pregnancy brings on the need to turn in thongs for granny panties. "It drove me crazy. I would go through a few pairs of underwear a day until one of my friends said, 'Why don't you wear a panty liner?' God, sometimes I am a true blond," writes actress Jenny McCarthy in Belly Laughs (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 10th anniversary edition 2014).
"It didn't take the annoyance away. I swear that [stuff] can burn holes in your underwear if you let it."
9 Fear Factor
People fear the unknown. Until one has gone through childbirth, she can't possibly know exactly what it's going to be like. Even after reading every description that has been written or watching every movie ever made on the subject, a woman can't possibly predict the experience of her own body and baby. As a result, some women sit in fear of D-Day (Delivery Day).
"I was terrified of giving birth and if the baby would be okay and if I would be okay," says Denielle Kennett, CEO of It Takes a Village, which makes bundle gift boxes for newborns. "I think I spent more time worrying about pointless stuff than I did eating!"
Educating one's self about pregnancy and delivery can help alleviate some anxiety. Other factors are getting support from family and friends (particularly one's partner or spouse) and learning techniques to handle the stress and pain of contractions. Of course, women should expect to feel some apprehension, which is perfectly natural, when labor begins.
8 Rebel With A Cause
There are lots of rules that come with being pregnant. There are rules about what you can and can't eat and what kinds of activities you can do. Lots of moms on forums across the Internet, including Reddit and others, have discussed breaking the rules. Some eat what they're not supposed to (maybe even a lot of it). Some even sip wine on occasion.
Some go on a ride at an amusement park that advised against participating pregnant women. And the list goes on. The point is that these women give into temptation or feel as though the rules are too strict and confining. In the end, women can get away with breaking a rule here or there, but must recognize when there is a risk that could contribute to a problem with the baby.
Of course, these confessions demonstrated calculated risks. They are not the sort of thing that would automatically result in harm to the fetus. In the end, everyone has to determine her limits and ideas about what is acceptable and what is not. She should consult her doctor if she's unsure about something. Still, this is proof that even mom breaks the rules.
7 Lookin' for Some Lovin'
Much of the time a pregnant woman's hankering for sugar means she wants chocolate. Sometimes, however, she's looking for sex. That's right. It's a little known fact that many women experience increased sex drives during pregnancy. Indeed, some of them are taking to the Internet to share their stories.
One woman on Salon asked whether she should cheat on her husband with a fellow pregnant girlfriend, who had been coming onto her, because she was insatiable. Another woman asked for help because she was "freaking out" about how much she wanted sex after getting pregnant.
"During pregnancy, your breasts are getting bigger and more sensitive (and what translates to pain in some women may actually feel pleasurable in lucky you)," according to What To Expect. "Your vulva is becoming engorged from extra blood flow and even more sensitive, which could lead to more enjoyable pregnancy sex."
While these desires might be inconvenient, pregnant women and their partners just might be rejoicing over this confession. Wink. Wink.
6 Hunger Games
Just as pregnant women have aversions to food, they have cravings. Many women online have talked about how they would sneak items that weren't the healthiest, such as candy or fast food. One woman admitted to eating almost an entire pizza in one sitting, which forced her husband and in-laws to buy another one for themselves.
Despite vomiting and nausea (sometimes throughout all 9 months of pregnancy), most women describe intense hunger at different points in their pregnancy. McCarthy hilariously recounts an incident at a restaurant, where she was nearly ready to kill for bread. She was, of course, joking, but there was some truth to it.
"The first trimester is an odd combination of feeling ravenous and nauseated, all at the same time (what fun!)," according to BabyCenter. "The second trimester usually brings welcome relief from morning sickness, but it can also be a time of insatiable hunger. You have a growing life inside you that needs nutrients to create bone, muscle, and other tissues."
The challenge for pregnant women is to eat well-balanced meals, healthy foods, and the right amount of calories. It's not easy.
5 Inconvenient Truth about Breastfeeding
In recent years, a verbal war has broken out about whether to breastfeed or feed babies formula. While formula was a universally accepted form of feeding 30 years ago, times have changed. Now, many moms are encouraged to give breastfeeding a try from that very first day of baby's life. Some women feel pressured to do it.
There is no question that breastfeeding is an optimal option for most (as long as they are physically able to supply healthy milk). But the process, which is time consuming and can be challenging, is difficult and uncomfortable for some moms, who feel guilt about not doing things the natural, preferred way.
"I resented breastfeeding my twins. I stuck it out for nine months because I could hardly deny my boys the health benefits," according to a writer for Fit Pregnancy. "But forget intimacy and bonding. To me, nursing was a 25-hour-a-week time suck (so to speak). And pumping--in the car, at my desk, on the grimy floor of the Houston airport bathroom--was no delight, either."
The fact is that in the United States, many moms work outside the home and don't have the best support systems to breastfeed well into the first year as medical professionals advise. Yet, people tend to judge. In fact, pregnancy is the first glimpse into the judgments made about mothers. Mothers should get used to it from the start, and do their part to end the vicious cycle by refraining from judging others.
4 Woes Of The Second Time Around
Second-time pregnant women find they can't enjoy their pregnancy in the way they did the first time. Of course, they usually have another child, who demands their attention. Many women commiserate about the differences between pregnancies (and their disappointments about them).
In addition, many moms and dads express concern during the second pregnancy about whether they will love their next baby as much as the first. It came up in that same Fit Pregnancy article and in conversations between parents on TV and on the playground.
There's enough love to go around. What most experts will tell parents is that they will love each child in a different way because each will have different needs and demands on them. But, in the end, they will love them both and should not worry about the limitations of the heart, which don't really exist.
3 Everything Is Going to Come Out of Mom
No one likes to talk about feces. It's dirty, gross, and a topic of conversation usually reserved for 6 year old boys. But many pregnant women quickly learn that labor often brings with it excrement. Many women have expressed fearing this part of labor more than pushing or pain. Embarrassment can be intense.
Unfortunately, there's not much anyone can do about it. The good news is that hormones often help cause women to release feces in the final stages of labor, which means there's less of a chance that it will come out while one is pushing, according to Parents.
Still, it happens. When pushing, women are using the same muscles they use when having a bowel movement, which is why it feels similar to it. In addition, baby is helping the feces move out.
"When you're in labor, you have extra pressure on your colon and rectum from the weight of the baby moving through the birth canal," according to Parents. "Think of your colon as a tube of toothpaste. Baby squeezes out any poop left in the lower part of the tube as he or she exits."
2 People Might Be Mean To Mom
One woman had a fellow mom call her a joker card toward the end of her pregnancy. Another's mother-in-law referred to her as being the size of a house at her baby shower. There are always people, who won't get up on the bus or train to let moms-to-be (or the elderly for that matter) sit down.
Of course, there is always one or two co-workers, who complain that the pregnant woman in the office is lazy or takes too many bathroom breaks, which has come up in BabyCenter's online forums. The cruelty or insensitivity of people is shocking, really.
Most of the time people pamper pregnant women and revere them for the sacrifices they are making to have a baby. But that's not always the case. Some resent them, and others are just plain mean or plain oblivious. Many women don't know about this other side of pregnancy until they find themselves as the butt of the joke or someone else's lack of empathy. Mom needs to just power through and ignore the haters.
1 The Struggle Is Real
Mom may be the happiest, most loving mother in the world. But she is going to feel like she's losing a bit of herself from the very moment she learns about the bean growing inside her. Suddenly, her every move is about this other being, too.
She has to give up certain foods she likes, certain behaviors, and certain parts of her lifestyle, some of which she may never get back. Sometimes, this happens so quickly that she doesn't realize exactly what she is giving up until she gets a chance to reflect. That reflection is jarring.
Even though she may adore motherhood and all the time she gets to spend with her child, she will miss some aspects of the woman she used to be and the life she used to have. And that's perfectly all right. It's alright to recognize this, and it's all right to be sad for herself every now and then. It doesn't make her a lesser mom. It just makes her human.