Ah, childbirth! It’s beautiful. It’s magical. It’s like a rainbow unicorn gliding down a glitter slide on a cloud of pink and blue cotton candy. Um, wait. No. No, its not.
Okay, have a baby is pretty awesome. You’ve been carrying the kiddo inside of you from the time that she was only a few cells wide. She grew, and grew, and grew. And, now she’s about the size of a mini watermelon. Or, in some cases, a regular-sized one (ouch!). You’ve been waiting three impossibly long trimesters just to push her out, and now the day is here. Yay! Well, maybe not so much “Yay!” and more a little bit of, “Wouldn’t it be rad if the baby was just magically here, and I didn’t have to go through all of the pushing, stretching and delivery stuff?”
Obviously. No woman is super-excited about the pain of L&D. It’s just something we have to suffer through to get to the amazing part. The baby, that is. If you consider yourself one of “the faint of heart” the push the baby out pain factor of childbirth may make you squirm. More likely, it will make your skin turn some sort of ghoulish shade of green, your palms start sweating and your heart rate speed up.
Of course, and unfortunately, the pain isn’t the only thing that will get to those squeamish mamas during childbirth. So, what are the other reasons why childbirth is not for the faint of heart? We’ve got them for you! Knowing them may help you to prep for what’s to come, but it won’t make them go away. Sorry. It’s all part of becoming a mommy.
15 There’s Blood
Childbirth wasn’t made for chic jammies, light colors or anything that you ever want to wear again. When it comes down to it, delivery is a bit more Texas Chainsaw Massacre than it is The Notebook. In other words, it’s more blood and gore than it is beautiful like Ryan Gosling’s face.
You get a period every month. Right? Well, that’s your uterine lining coming out. Not the stuff you need, but the blood and tissue and builds up in preparation for pregnancy. When you finally do conceive, that lining stays. Hey, the baby isn’t the only thing that needs to come out. The lining, the placenta and everything else needs to pass through your hoo-ha. Yeah, it’s a bit of a horror show. If you’re squeamish about blood, this part of childbirth may make you feel faint. Don’t stress. You’ll get through it. And, the bleeding won’t last forever.
14 It Hurts, Down There
Your lady parts don’t have a monopoly on childbirth pain. Yes, they’ll hurt. Come on, you’re pushing another human being out through them. , pain or stress of delivery.
You can pretty much count on everything hurting. This isn’t supposed to scare you. It’s just a fact. The bad news is that you’ll hurt everywhere from your uterus to your vag – and, you might not even be able to pinpoint where that pain is coming from. The good news is that there are plenty of pain management options.
From breathing techniques and meditation to a lower body numbing epidural, soon-to-be mamas have choices. If you’re the squeamish, kind of faint of heart type of person, the ‘down there’ pain may make you freak out. At least, the thought of it might. That’s okay. Most women are scared of the pain that childbirth has to offer. You’ll get through it. And, a year from now you won’t even remember just how crazy-bad it was.
13 Plenty Of Pressure
It’s not the pain that will send the squeamish running out of the L&D room. It’s also the pressure. You already know about the pain. That’s what absolutely everyone talks about. But, the pressure is a little less well known.
If you’re not sure what “pressure” during labor really means or how it will feel, think of the last time you were completely constipated (but really, really, really had to poop). The pressure isn’t exactly a cramping feeling, and it’s usually not in the front of your pelvic region. More likely, you’re going to feel it in your rectum. Yeah, that’s right – your rectum.
Here’s the kicker about labor-related pressure, it kind of feels worse after an epidural. Why? Well, the pain goes away. That’s for sure. But, the epidural won’t knock out the pressure. So, that’s all you’re left with. This may mean that you notice it even more than you would have if you had some pain too.
12 The Mucus Plug
Ugh! Really? Yes, we need to talk about the mucus plug. Chances are that if you notice the not so pleasant plug fall out, it’s going to happen before you’re actually in the labor and delivery room.
The mucus plug blocks the cervical opening during pregnancy. It helps to prevent all kinds of icky bacteria from getting into your uterus. So, when you’re ready to have the baby, the plug really isn’t necessary anymore.
Passing the plug doesn’t necessarily signal labor. But, it does mean that your cervix is dilating. You could be in labor within hours, or it could take days. Some women pass their plug, and then need weeks more before they’re ready for labor. If you’re easily grossed-out, the mucus plug is definitely not going to sit well with you. It’s stringy, possibly tinted with blood and is – well, mucousy. You may also have some extra discharge with the plug. If the discharge is copious or bloody, call the doc right away. It’s possible you have a problem with the placenta, such as a placental abruption or placenta previa.
11 Push Poop Happens
Pushing knows no boundaries. And, your body doesn’t understand the difference between pushing a baby out and pushing last night’s dinner out. Okay, so it does. But, the pressure of pushing can lead to a stray poop or two. Yuck!
If you’re a member of the faint of heart club, even thinking about the fact that you might pass more than a baby out of your body during delivery isn’t the best idea ever. Of course, if the thought of push pooping terrifies you, actually seeing yourself do it may just mortify you.
There’s nothing to really worry about here. The OB isn’t going to jump back and cream, “OMG! She Pooped! Look at it!” All of the medical staff (from the doctor to the nurse’s assistant) know that a code brown can happen, and they really don’t care. No one is judging you, and someone will help you to clean up. Really. It will be alright.
10 The Placenta
It’s the alien organ thing that’s going to come out after the baby. For the last nine months it’s been keeping your growing kiddo alive. It gives your baby the nutrients and oxygen that she needs and takes away her waste products.
The placenta attaches itself to the wall of your uterus and to the baby in the umbilical area. The umbilical cord tethers baby to it.
Okay, so the placenta is 100% essential. It’s what keeps your baby alive. But, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s totally disgusting to look at. Seriously. It’s beautiful, in the way it gives life. And, it’s ugly – in the way it looks.
If just the thought of the placenta freaks you out, you probably won’t want to look. Of course, you probably also won’t want to eat it, drink it or in any other way ingest it. Oh yes, that’s a real thing. Professional placenta encapuslators can make the organ into a health-packed pill or help you to whip it up into a post-delivery smoothie. And those, aren’t for the squeamish.
9 When The Water Breaks
It’s Niagara Falls, and it’s coming out from between your legs. Your water just broke, and you’re soaked. Eww! That feeling – it’s just not fun. Some women feel a total gush coming from their hoo-ha area. And, that makes the already squeamish squirm even more.
After all, who likes feeling like they just peed their pants? No one, that’s who. The warm rush of fluid can turn your tummy and make you want to quickly shower it off.
But, not every woman experiences gushing when her water breaks. Some just have a slight trickle. Even so, something (anything) leaking out of you can make you feel kind of icky. It’s okay. Whether you gush, trickle or something in between happens, all you need to do is clean yourself off, change your clothes and get to laboring. Um, maybe it’s not that easy. But, you won’t stay covered in amniotic fluid forever.
8 The Possibility Of Puke
What comes out of your body during childbirth? Well, there’s the baby. Of course. Then, there’s the amniotic fluid. And, apparently poop – sometimes, at least. Oh, there’s blood, some various mucousy goo and your placenta.
Along with all of these squirm-worthy things (except for the baby, the baby is totally awesome), you may also vomit. It happens.
Some women just feel a bit nauseous. But, others end up in full-on throw-up mode. The more into the labor you get, and the more intense the contractions get, the more you might feel like puking. If the idea of puking while contracting makes you want to run and hide, you aren’t alone. It’s certainly not one of the parts of labor that many women want to spotlight. It’s not pretty. It’s not cute. And, it’s not something that feels good. But, puke happens. Hey, it will give you the chance to get acquainted with cleaning yourself up after being vomited on – which your child will do more often than you could ever imagine.
7 An Episiotomy
It’s a surgical cut. So, big deal. Doctor’s make teeny tiny incisions all the time. You got a weird mole removed one time and didn’t freak over the scalpel.
But, this one is completely different. It’s a surgical cut on your hoo-ha. Yikes! Just thinking about it may turn your stomach, make you clench up and give you the shivers.
If an episiotomy is so anxiety-provoking, why would the doctor ever even suggest it? Well, some docs don’t think tearing is the right way to go. They prefer to control the situation, and they do so with a scalpel.
Before the OB starts cutting, they’ll talk to you about the episiotomy. This is something that you can discuss well before you ever enter the delivery room. Get the facts from your medical pro, do some thinking and add your decision to the birth plan. Oh, and don’t forget – you’ll probably need stitches too!
6 Ripping And Tearing
So, the episiotomy was a big ol’ no. You’re just not into the doc cutting you down there and feel like it’s not very natural. Well, it’s not. But, the faint of heart may also find what happens naturally a bit squirm-worthy. Um, more than a bit.
Think about how big a baby is. A newborn isn’t exactly ginormous. But, a newborn also isn’t teeny tiny. And, you need to get that baby from inside of you out – through something small enough that a light-flow tampon can clog. Whoa!
Yes, your vag stretches. Some pregnancy pros advocate for using some EVOO (that’s extra virgin olive oil) or a similar product to soften the area before the big birth day. Even if you prep for the stretch, you can still rip and tear. Here’s where the cringes really start to happen – between 53 and 79 percent of deliveries involve some sort of tear or cut, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Some women only tear a little bit. That’s no big deal. No freaking out here. But, others have much more intense experiences.
There are different degrees of tearing. First-degree tears are fairly minor. Yes, they may require stitches. But, not many. Second-degree tears can run into the anus. Yep, anus. Third- and fourth-degree tears don’t just involve the anus. These can involve tearing of the anal sphincter muscle or the lining of the anus. These require more medical handiwork than just a stitch or two. But, they often heal well with proper medical intervention.
5 Baby’s Weird Head
Aww, that beautiful little baby you saw on your fave TV show sure was adorable. She looked like a little cherub, complete with a perfectly pumpkin-shaped head. Right? After all, aren’t babies born looking like their ready for their first magazine cover? Their all beautiful. Um, maybe. But, some are a little misshapen – in a completely normal way.
Unless you’re having a C-section, chances are that your baby’s head is going to give you the willies. Why? Think about your birth canal. As your baby pushes through it, her head is getting kind of squished. So, when she comes out she may look more like a football than a fabulous model child.
Even though a somewhat misshapen alien head is completely normal for a newborn, it can freak mom out – especially if she isn’t expecting it. Don’t run away crying just yet. Unless the doctor suspects that there’s a serious problem, your baby’s head will bounce back in no time at all.
4 Getting An Epidural
Epidurals are kind of awesome. You’re not a Viking mama and have no intention of feeling the pain of labor. That’s totally okay. Every women experiences childbirth in her own way. Instead of opting for drugs that may make you groggy and enter your baby’s system, an epidural lets you stay completely alert. That is, if you aren’t suddenly feeling amazing enough to take a nap.
But, the faint of heart may not be all about this pain med option. Why not? Mostly, because of how it’s given. You’re not just swallowing a pill or getting an IV in your arm. You’re getting a needle, and then a catheter, inserted into your back. Ouch! When it’s in, it’s in. The anesthesiologist can top it off over the course of your labor. But, the pro doesn’t need to give you the big needle again. Even so, some women feel a bit fluttery (or downright fainty) when the doc comes at them with the cath.
3 Going Natural
Sorry, but going natural is not for the faint of heart. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Even the most squeamish, squirm-prone and scared mamas have made the decision to go without meds – and stuck with it. But, if your pain tolerance is a 0 out of 10, you might not be a candidate.
Some women really, really want a completely natural labor and delivery. An unmediated childbirth is majorly important to them. If you wince when you get your annual flu shot or think you need an x-ray at the urgent care clinic every time you stub your toe, your pain tolerance might not be at a birth-level. At least, not without some help.
Let’s say you’re medication isn’t anywhere near your birth plan. But, the pain of childbirth is making you stress. Or, at least, the thought of it. There are options. Talk to your medical professional to find out what choices you have. Maybe meditation will fix your medication quandary. Or, maybe you’ll need to find another alternative.
2 The Marathon Of Labor
If you’re on a feature film time-scale, it would seem like labor takes all of four or five minutes. There’s some sweating, some pushing and pop – the baby slides right on out. Yay! Whoa, no. That is not how it happens.
Labor isn’t a quick “let’s get it done” activity. It’s a major ordeal. Think about the word “labor.” When people do “labor” they’re working hard. That means you’re working, and working and working some more. And, it may go on for hours.
Oh, wait. Maybe not just a few hours. It could be an entire day, or more. The faint of heart may not find the stamina they need to make it through without stressing or wanting to give up. Okay, so that also covers the not so faint of heart. It’s completely normal for the mam-to-be to feel like throwing in the towel. But, the baby still needs to come out. That’s when you pick yourself up and push forward. Literally.
1 Pushing, Pushing And More Pushing
The contractions aren’t fun. No they are not. But, they aren’t the only reason why some women squirm when they think about labor and delivery. Even though contraction are far from easy to deal with, pushing is a showstopper. Seriously.
Okay, so this is your second, third or fourth baby. Chances are that pushing isn’t a huge deal. Yes, you’ll have to push. But, it may be shorter than your first time around. If this is your first time in the L&D room, pushing may take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. Keep in mind, this isn’t the rule. Some first-time mamas may push the baby out in mere minutes. But, you shouldn’t expect it.
Pushing is hard work. Maybe even the hardest work that you’ve ever done. Your legs are pushed up in those weirdo stir-up thingies and you’re totally exposed. You’re just trying to get a breath in, and you’re focusing on getting the baby out. It’s far from easy. So far from easy. Even so, you’ll power through it. You’ll be exhausted, sore and drenched in sweat at the end of it. But, isn’t that how you feel after a good spinning class too?