Some women are so afraid of childbirth that this is the reason they claim to not want to have children. Then there are those who take it as a necessary hardship on the path to having their very own baby.
But let’s not forget another set – the one I am quite happily a part of – the women who are actually excited and happy to go through the experience of bringing a little human into this weird, wild world.
To be fair, I have done it twice already at this point in my life. But I can say to you honestly that I was excited to experience the whole thing before I had ever yet done it. Plus, once I had done it for the first time, I immediately knew that I wanted to do it again.
Not everyone has what they would describe as a positive experience – that is for sure.
Like all things in life, there are probably going to be “good” parts and “bad” parts, and in the end, it will all likely be about how a mom perceives things to have gone during labor and birth.
No matter where you stand as you anticipate (or simply wonder about) having a baby, educate yourself and prepare by scrolling through 15 things a mom needs to be willing to do in order to handle childbirth.
15 Drop A Deuce With Company
Going poop in front of someone is not necessarily a given — and it won’t necessarily happen during the pushing phase right there on the delivery table as you might have heard about before.
But in my experience, going number 2 during labor is just sort of par for the course.
Some women get diarrhea at the onset of labor, while others find themselves doing multiple types of, um, pushing at once, so that they’re wiping up midway through a contraction (not fun).
With my second baby, my labor went so darn fast that I found myself entering the pushing phase at home while in the bathroom with my husband. He said to let him know if I wanted some privacy, and I replied, “DON’T LEAVE!”
So I’m just saying that, whether it’s while surrounded my medical staff or just at home coping through contractions with your partner, it’s entirely possible you’ll need to go poo in front of someone for the first time in a long, long time.
14 Go Animal Style
For my first labor, I was interested in natural childbirth (without the use of drugs or medical interventions) but didn’t research it all that much. For my second go-round, I wanted to be really prepared, so I did quite a bit of reading, and one thing that really stuck with me from Cynthia Gabriel’s Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds was something to the effect of how helpful it can be to cope with the pain of labor and childbirth to just let stuff out. I took this to heart, and made whatever noises my body naturally wanted me to make: grunting, moaning, yelling.
When I arrived at the hospital, the staff could tell from the noises I was making that I was indeed far enough along that they better get me admitted – and quickly.
That’s why I would say that (especially if you hope to achieve a natural birth), you might wanna be prepared to make some very animalistic noises in front of plenty of people.
13 Face Great Pain
So some women report that childbirth was indeed the worst pain they had ever yet experienced in life. And I guess this makes perfect sense. By the time a woman has her first child, she hasn’t necessarily undergone any injury or experience that would cause her great bodily pain.
Therefore you might want to be prepared for this possibility.
Childbirth might be one of the more or even the most painful thing you’ve ever gone through.
You’ll very well need to face this.
That’s why women take classes, read books, do exercises, learn hypnosis, and more in order to prepare for coping with it.
I will say, though, as many others have before me, that this is pain with a purpose, so it might not be experienced quite like other pain, such as that which comes from being injured. It’s a whole different ballgame.
12 Brave The Unknown
So many big, exciting things in life can’t really be planned according to any exact science, I’ve found. Consider falling in love, being intimate for the first time, going off to college, and so on and so forth.
You might have some idea of what you hope or think such big life experiences will be like, but in the end, it will be what it will be, and you quite often have to learn to do what you can to achieve the outcome you desire and otherwise, well, go with the flow! (Did I just change anyone out there’s life? Pretty philosophical, huh?)
In all seriousness, as a mom to two little ones so far, I’d say this is perhaps the most important thing I have to say about childbirth (and clearly, I have a LOT to say): You have to be able to face the complete and total unknown bravely. You just don’t ever know exactly how it will go.
Maybe you’ll need a C-section. Perhaps the baby will be born at home when you hoped to make it to the hospital. Any and all sorts of possibilities are out there, and rolling with things can only help you.
11 Lose Her Lunch
Yes, vomiting is not uncommonly a part of pregnancy. (Self.com reports that something like 85 percent of women have morning sickness, while like 60 - 70 percent actually throw up.)
But did you know that it’s also common to throw up during labor?
It can also tend to happen right beforehand or at the onset of labor, along with other flu-like symptoms,
such as diarrhea (as included at Babies.SutterHealth.org and experienced by yours truly).
Some people really don’t like or even fear throwing up (Community.BabyCenter.com and Forums.TheBump.com both include discussion on this lovely subject).
Because many women choose to be around their partner and then in a hospital setting or at least surrounded by some amount of helpers while in labor and giving birth, it’s not unlikely that they’ll end up heaving with an audience.
10 Look Haggard As Heck
So on social media, it’s common to see that first picture of a newborn, cradled lovingly in the new mom’s arms, with everyone looking relaxed and happy.
In reality, a mom will be seen by hospital staff and her partner (at the very least) looking exhausted, sweaty, and all sorts of disheveled.
Labor is very, very hard physical work, and I’m just saying that it’s common to look not exactly as “put together” (during the course of labor and afterward) as you normally would, of course. And who cares?
My guess is that you certainly will not in the moment. From the excitement of labor beginning to the moment you meet your little one, things like hair and makeup likely won’t seem to matter much.
A posed picture can happen later, if that’s something that’s important to you.
9 Be A Patient Patient
On TV, isn’t it the old cliché that a gal’s water breaks, the couple grabs their bags, and it’s a quick scramble just to make it to the hospital in time?
I would guess that this is because sitcoms have about 20 minutes, usually, to convey an entire story or two, not the 17 hours that first-time moms often average from the start of labor to the birth of the baby (according to VeryWellFamily.com).
Of course, each woman’s labor goes differently, and there’s a wide range of numbers when it comes to time spent in labor.
But what I’m getting at here is that if you thought you had to be patient to get to week 40 (or so) of pregnancy, brace yourself, because childbirth itself can take great patience, as well.
For first time moms, especially, contractions may be mild and spaced far apart for many hours, and the more intense stuff won’t come until later.
8 Trust Her Body
There’s a lot of worry, planning, and preparation that can be put into preparing for childbirth. This seems perfectly natural, as it is something so big and important and so very unlike anything else we experience in life (at least in some ways).
But I’d say that in the end, one of the very most important things a mom will have to do is to, quite simply, trust her own body.
She might find herself, if she allows herself, assuming new positions she never thought she’d find comfortable or useful. She might make noises she never knew she had within her. Perhaps most importantly, she might be able to hang onto a sense that this is something her body was made to do, and that it will all work out in the end.
7 Tear Down There
There is certainly no need to obsess over this issue, but I would also say that it can’t hurt to be prepared for the reality that something like 90 percent of women experience tearing during childbirth, according to RCOG.ork.uk.
I think my knowledge of the subject facing the birth of my first child was limited to the fact that of the few people I knew pretty well who had given birth, at least one had experienced a tear.
The focus tends to be on preparing to cope with the pain of contractions, and hopefully also being ready to then care for a newborn afterward.
But why not also be prepared with knowledge, so that it’s not so scary when and if it happens?
Being ready to experience at least some pretty extreme soreness down there and perhaps some degree of tearing can only make your expectations more realistic and your experience less scary / confusing, right?
6 Hit The Wall
Quite a common experience during childbirth – and this is based on the reading I’ve done but mainly on my own experiences and the childbirth classes I’ve taken – is to come to a point at which you do not want to or do not think that you can go on.
Your midwife may very well see this as a good thing – as a signal that the pushing stage is near and that you’re about to meet your new baby.
Maybe it’s because you’ve been going for so long (or even what feels like so long already). Maybe it’s because you’re completely exhausted, or because you already feel like you’ve given your all and have nothing left to give.
But if you know that this might happen and you’re prepared to sort of “hit the wall,” maybe it will make it easier to dig down even deeper or accept help / encouragement from your support team and just keep going.
5 Face Her Fears
Have you ever met a first-time mom who has absolutely no fear about the birth of her child?
Looking back, I may have been just about as close to this as you can get, but even I surely had feelings of anxiety and extreme anticipation about how I’d manage to keep calm and cope with the pain – and especially about how I’d know, for example, when to head into the hospital and things like that.
That’s why I say that an important factor when discussing childbirth is that a woman must be prepared to face her fears, and to do it bravely.
While some of us are mostly excited to get to do the whole baby-having thing, there’s a whole range, to be sure, with some people even having extreme fear or phobias about giving birth (as I believe I also read in Gabriel’s Natural Hospital Birth).
4 Deal With Extended Discomfort
It can be easy to worry about how in the world you’ll be able to cope with those excruciatingly painful contractions you’ve heard so much about. And surely preparing for this reality can only help you.
But what I think is a more interesting nuance to consider is that childbirth can require you to be mildly to very, well, uncomfortable for a really long time.
It’s not all super painful, necessarily. It’s not all screaming and panting and intensity.
But it does feel quite different, probably, from other things you’ve been through before.
There may very well be stomach upset, being too hot or too cold, and being tired and sore. There are muscle cramps and frustrations and nervousness.
And I’d say this is really what a mom will need to be able to deal with to some degree, for however long her labor lasts.
3 Express Herself Honestly
As I’ve already mentioned reading in Natural Hospital Birth and using for guidance during my own childbirth experience, it can be really helpful during labor to just let out your feelings.
When a woman is holding back or holding something in, it might slow or stall her labor or even just make things more uncomfortable for her than they really need to be.
Believe me – I’ve tried it.
When I was walking the hospital halls trying to make sure I was progressing enough to be admitted without leaving and coming back again, making as little sound as possible, it was one of the more challenging and painful experiences of my life (with my first baby).
When I was yelling, moaning, and grunting into a quiet parking lot, the hospital elevator, and while leaning on the counter once I reached Labor & Delivery, I felt empowered and like I was effectively coping with the pain.
I took it so far as to comment on how I felt about what that nurse said, how scared I currently felt, and what a great job I thought I’d done afterward.
To cope with the pain of labor – even if you choose to use medical pain-relieving measures – I’d say you need to be ready to let out your true feelings.
2 Tackle A Phenomenal Physical Challenge
Sometimes I think that more of the focus on preparing for childbirth should be on staying physically ready and strong.
The thing is, I know after giving birth to two children so far that it is hard physical work.
I had to rock and dance and sway through the contractions. There’s a whole world of hard work just in that, and that’s before the pushing part.
Pushing can sometimes take extreme focus and immense effort – and it happens at the end of labor, when you’ve already been through so much.
You have to be strong! Being fit can only help. Whether this affects when you choose to get pregnant or the shape you try to stay in during pregnancy, know that labor and childbirth are physically hard stuff to be tackled.
1 Potty With People
Whether you’re dealing with your first real-deal contractions at home or in triage hoping to be admitted to the hospital so you can give birth there, peeing in front of others, and possibly not even into a toilet, may very well be a reality of childbirth for you, as it has been for so many others before you.
And letting urine out of the bladder is reportedly a good thing to do, as a full bladder can even slow down contractions, prolonging labor (according to MCHT.NHS.uk as well as other childbirth books and site – although NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov says one study found that full bladder “does not affect the course of normal established labor”).
Basically, you’ll very likely need to urinate during the stages of labor during which you’d rather not or cannot be alone.
My opinion, based on my two labor experiences so far, is that concerns about such things will likely not be what’s currently on your mind. Probably more like coping with contractions and getting that baby born.