For anyone who is about to give birth for the first time there is a huge mystery awaiting them. That is childbirth. This article is for every first-time mom out there who is nervous about that big moment. The moment they have to get this baby out of them. It is even for every mom out there who is about to do it again and needs a little refresher course.
It is probably the most intimidating things that a woman will ever face in her life, especially if she has never done it before. What makes it even more huge is when a woman has no clue what to expect. Moms who have given birth before are still concerned but they have some idea of what is in store for them. First-time moms can be stunned as they think of all the what-ifs that could happen.
A big problem is a lot of what we think happens is based on what we see on TV and the movies, and this is not a good idea. Hollywood is not a trustworthy source of information when it comes to anything. That is why this article is here. We are going to go over the 20 basic things every woman needs to know before she goes into labour.
20 Water Breaks in a trickle, not a gush
One of the biggest misconceptions about childbirth revolves around a woman’s water breaking. We are definitely going to blame Hollywood for this one. Many women believe that when (and if) their water breaks that it will happen in one big gush. That she will feel a pop, and then a whole lot of liquid is going to come pouring out.
This could not be further than what actually happens. I recently gave birth, and with this birth my water broke. It was 100% more like a trickle than a gush of fluid. It is most often a slow trickle over time than a large gush which usually leads a lot of woman to believe they have just peed themselves.
19 It Also Breaks More Than Once
If you are lucky enough to be one of those women who experience their water breaking, then there is something else you should know. You will have to pull out the feminine hygiene products again. The reason you are going to want to wear some protection downstairs is because you will not stop leaking.
The ‘water’ (really, it is amniotic fluid and not water) will not all come out at once. It is more likely going to be a slow trickle as you go about your day or head to the hospital. When the water breaks it is more likely a small tear, allowing a small amount of fluid to come out at a time. Also, the baby’s head may be blocking the exit, so fluid will only come out when the baby moves just that little bit.
18 A Doctor May Break Your Water
With all this talk about a woman’s water breaking it is important to note that this doesn’t happen for everyone. A surprisingly small number of pregnant women have their water break on its own and this can be a problem. A woman can be in labour with her sac completely intact, but that baby is not going anywhere until that is broken. It is also harder to progress through labour without having your water broken.
If your water refuses to break on its own, or you are being induced for medical reasons, chances are the doctor is going to break your water for you. They do this with a little medical hook, and they will tell you that it shouldn’t hurt and that it should just be a bit uncomfortable.
17 You Have Time
Another thing that the movies tell us is that once your water breaks, it is go time! That as soon as you feel that trickle of fluid you need to rush out and get to the hospital as fast as you can. Throw all caution to the wind and speed through those red lights. This is not true. While a baby needs to be born within a certain time frame of the water breaking due to the risk of infection, you have time.
It could be hours, or even a full day before you start feeling contractions once your water has broken. It is a good idea to check in with your doctor or hospital once the water has broken, but chances are you have time to relax before you head out.
16 Water Broken Means Work Is Done
Don’t let the title of this fool you, once the water breaks the work is actually just beginning. That is the work of childbirth though, any and everything else needs to stop. This is when mom needs to relax, and nothing should be done to disturb that.
This means that there is not even a moment where mom and her partner can be intimate. There is no ‘one last time’ as there is an increased risk of infection. The baby no longer has the amniotic sac there to protect them from bacteria from the outside world. It is time to just relax and wait for that moment when it is time to head out the door.
15 The Worst Part is the contractions
If you ask women who have given birth what the hardest part of labour was for them, chances are they are going to say contractions. Contractions are usually what indicates the start of labour for most women, and if their water has broken they can take some time to show up. The best way to describe what a contraction feels like is to imagine the worst menstrual cramps mixed with gas pains you have ever felt.
Contractions come every few minutes and can last a while and as a woman progresses the contractions will get worse and last longer. Contractions may be painful, but they serve a good purpose. Every time a woman has a contraction her cervix is opening, and the baby is making its way down the birth canal.
14 Epidural Explained
If the thought of contractions frightens you than there is always the lovely epidural. For women who are opting for pain medication, an epidural is the most commonly used pain medication during childbirth. The problem is, women who have never experienced an epidural can be just as scared of this process as they are of childbirth.
The good news is that you will be in so much pain when the time comes that you will happily allow them to administer a needle into your spine. Most doctors will numb your back first before inserting the needle that they will then feed a catheter through. This catheter will administer the medicine that will soon take away those contractions. The best thing is once the epidural has kicked in you will finally be able to get some rest before the hard work of pushing comes.
13 Pushing leads to things other than a baby
The act of pushing a baby out can be very intimidating and most women are worried they won’t know when to push or even how to push a baby out. The good news is that biology has prepared every single woman how to give birth. Your body will take over without you even realizing. Once you reach the goal of 10cm dilation it will be time to push.
You will know it is time to push because you will start to feel like you have to go to the bathroom. You will get an urge to go number 2, and that is how you know it is time to push. When it comes to how you push, it is pretty much the same. You will push that baby out with the exact same muscles that you use to go to the bathroom. This is why some women end up going on the delivery table, but again, that is OK!
12 Your doctor probably won't deliver the baby
No matter how much you love your doctor, chances are they will not be the one who delivers your baby. A lot of women don’t realize this and are shocked and saddened when they hear that their baby will be delivered by someone else. It makes sense, you spend 9-months getting to know your doctor and you have built up a rapport with them, so it is only normal you would want them to deliver your baby.
Most OB’s work on an on-call team at the hospital, and there is no guarantee that your doctor will be the one on-call when you go into labour. You could be faced with one of their partners. The good news is, when the time comes to get that baby out you will not care who helps you, you will just want someone to help.
11 Prepare for the downstairs Snip
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a baby is a pretty big item to come out of a small opening. The cervix does dilate to allow the baby to pass through but there is one more exit point that the baby must pass through. Sometimes, especially if this is your first baby, mom has the potential to tear down there.
This is not normally a big deal, and mom will end up with some stitches which can make recovery a bit rough. Sometimes, if mom does not tear but the doctor feels like the baby needs just a little bit more room they may perform a small surgical cut to allow the baby just a little bit more room to come out.
10 Vacuums Aren't Just For Cleaning
Some babies come out of the birthing canal fairly easy, like they have done it before. All they need is some pushes from mom and they slide right out. Other babies need a little help to come out, and thanks to modern medicine there are a lot of tools at the doctor’s disposal to give them a little bit of help. There are some risks attached to these items, but they are fairly safe, and the doctor will discuss everything with you.
Sometimes, a vacuum will be used to help guide your baby out of the womb. This is a small device that the doctor can place on the baby’s head to help “pull” them out of the mom. It does not hurt the baby.
9 Coneheads Do Exist
While the vacuum won’t really hurt your baby, they may come out looking a little different. Babies who are born using a vacuum tend to have a bit of a conehead when they are born. That is because newborns skulls are not fused together yet, to allow for their head to pass through the birth canal. This can cause a lot of fear in parents.
Parents will often wonder if their head will stay that way. My sister was born using a vacuum and my dad’s first thought was wondering if she was always going to look like that. Don’t dread, their heads do not stay that shape and they will go back to a more normal shape very soon.
8 Delivering More Than Just A Baby
There is a big misconception about childbirth and that is that most women think that once their baby is born, the work is done. Once they have made that final push and the baby is crying that they can now relax and enjoy their new little bundle of joy. Sadly, this is not true. Birth is not over once the baby is out, and in fact you have only just completed stage 2 out of 3.
Mom will still need to deliver the placenta. This is nothing like delivering a baby so there really is nothing to fear here. Sometimes, the placenta will come out on its own and mom will hardly notice due to the cute little baby on her chest. Sometimes, mom will have to give a little push to help the placenta come out, and in rare cases mom will have to get an injection to help her expel the after birth.
7 There Will Be Stitches …
We spoke earlier about the probability of a mom tearing, or being cut, during labour. If this happens, and it probably will, mom will require some stitches to help her heal. The amount of stitches will depend on the severity of the tear. Some women require very little stitches, while others have a lot. Stitches can make recovery more difficult and mom is bound to be sore.
The good news is, if you have received pain medication than you won’t feel yourself tearing and you also won’t feel the stitches being put in. The stitches usually dissolve on their own, so you won’t need an extra trip to the doctor to have them removed.
6 … And red stuff
Unfortunately, women are very familiar with bleeding from the southern region, thanks to our menstrual cycle. If a woman is pregnant and about to give birth, she is expecting them to be blood during the healing, but she may be unprepared for exactly how much. There will be a lot of blood, but that is OK, and it is supposed to happen.
Giving birth is pretty rough on the body, and when the baby, placenta and all the after birth comes out it leaves wounds inside mom that you can’t see. When you can’t see them, it is easy to pretend they are not there. This is why a woman bleeds a lot, and the bleeding can last for 6-8 weeks after birth, though most women do not bleed that long.
5 The Mommy Diaper!
When you have given birth, all fashion sense goes out the window. Even if you were someone who took how you looked very seriously, I promise you will not care when you are birthing your child or immediately after. The hospital is going to provide you with some special underwear after you give birth and they are going to look like the ugliest things you have ever seen but they are worth it.
These mesh underwear, or mommy diapers, are excellent for women who have just given birth. They are going to help absorb all the blood and discharge and they are going to help hold everything together. It is a much better option than ruining all your designer underwear at home.
4 For How Long?
Like we have said numerous times, childbirth is difficult both on mom and her body. There is bound to be recovery time. The length of recovery time mom will actually need will depend on the type of birth she had and if there were any complications. A natural delivery tends to not take as long to heal from as a C-section, though every woman and birth is different.
The general rule of thumb is 6-8 weeks. After a natural delivery, you will have a post partum check up at your 6-week mark. This is to ensure that everything has healed as it should and to discuss what comes next, such as birth control. It is really important to take it easy until you have this check-up, the risk of infection is very high, and you don’t want to do anything that could delay your recovery.
3 A Squirt Bottle Is Your New Best Friend
See this little bottle here? This is called a peri bottle and it is about to become your best friend after you give birth. The hospital will give you one, but it is always a good idea to stock up on extras to have waiting for you. Place one in every bathroom in your house and store one in the diaper bag, it is worth it.
It goes without saying that your nether regions will be rough and sore after giving birth, and you do not want to be wiping anything when it is that sore, especially if you tore. The peri bottle is a specifically designed bottle that allows mom to squirt water upwards to help her clean herself after she goes to the bathroom. This is an incredible invention, and you may find yourself cuddling it more than your husband.
2 You Will Not Go Home In Your Own Undies
A lot of women pack a hospital bag for when they are going to the hospital to deliver their baby. They pack everything they think they will need in this bag, including extra underwear. This may not be a good idea because chances are you will not be going home in your own underwear. You will be going home in that lovely hospital mesh underwear we talked about earlier.
They may not be the most comfortable things, but you will be glad. They will help hold everything together while you make your journey home. Underwear is not cheap, so let’s not waste any by wearing them when we don’t have too.
1 You WILL Block It All Out!
A lot of women who are scared of childbirth tell themselves that it can’t be too bad because if it was no one would have more than one child. This is only half-true. Childbirth is hard, long and painful and when you are in the middle of it you will tell yourself that you will never do it again. However, this does pass.
Most women at about 3-months post partum have completely blocked out their labour. They remember it and they know that it hurt, and it was hard, but they can’t really recall a lot of the specifics. This is why women have more than one child. It is the biological way of ensuring the population continues to grow, it forces us to block it all out. Well played biology!