Pregnancy and childbirth are both momentous events in a woman’s life. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she has a lot of questions about what it will be like giving birth. In fact, a lot of times, we wonder about what it’s like going through childbirth before we even get pregnant. There’s a lot we want to know, and thankfully, there are tons of pregnancy books and websites to answer our questions.
We want to know how bad labor hurts… How our bodies will change… How tired and exhausted we’re going to be, but it’s hard to get a straight answer. Pregnancy symptoms, labor, and delivery all differ from woman to woman. (And even from pregnancy to pregnancy.) Some women sail through pregnancy with zero morning sickness or complaints. Others are miserable the whole time.
Some women liken the pain of contractions to menstrual cramps; others say it was the worst pain they’ve ever endured. Women who were originally not planning on having an epidural change their minds and pick pain relief. Other mamas feel relieved when it comes time to push because they’re finally in control of what their body can do – and they just want to do it! And for most mamas, all that pain is worth it once they get to hold their baby in their arms.
Sometimes, no book or website can give us the nitty gritty information that we really want. It helps to have female friends or family members to talk to about getting pregnant, getting through the pregnancy, and giving birth, but some questions might be hard to ask
20 Will I Have Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness varies from woman to woman. In fact, it can even vary from one woman’s pregnancy to the next. And unfortunately, morning sickness is a misnomer… Some unfortunate women have to deal with it all day long, not just in the morning. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as many as 85% of expecting women experience some degree of morning sickness during pregnancy.
There’s no real guaranteed cure for morning sickness that works for everyone, so you may have to try different strategies to see what works best for you. If you find that you get really nauseous first thing in the morning, it might not be a bad idea to keep crackers on your nightstand. Some women swear by eating a little something before they even get out of bed in the morning; it’s thought that having an empty stomach can give you that sick feeling. Other women rely on ginger candies and they even make special candies and pregnancy pops to help soothe queasy bellies. You can even try wearing special seasickness wrist bands that use acupressure to relieve nausea.
19 What Are The Grossest Pregnancy Symptoms That I'll Have To Deal With?
Some ladies might get lucky and end up with a gorgeous complexion and thicker, fuller hair. However, even though pregnancy is beautiful… it can also be really gross.
The same pregnancy hormones that slow your digestive system down and can cause constipation can also cause gas, bloating, heartburn, and other digestive issues. Passing gas and burping is normal for everybody; it just seems like pregnant women do it more often.
Some women may find that they’re running to the bathroom constantly because they have to pee all the time. A lot of women can experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy; it’s not uncommon. If you notice it’s happening to you, try to take bathroom breaks every hour or two so your bladder doesn’t get too full, and wear pads or pantiliners to catch any accidents. And don’t forget those Kegel exercises!
On the other hand, some women have to worry about constipation. All of those pregnancy hormones slow your digestive system down to allow more nutrients to be absorbed and passed on to the baby. It doesn’t help that your growing baby will soon start crowding all of your organs, making it hard to process even little meals.
18 How Many Times Do I Have To Give Blood?
If you don’t like going to the doctor and you get squeamish around needles, you better get used to it. You’ll be peeing in a cup at just about every doctor’s appointment, and you’ll likely have your blood drawn a couple times during your pregnancy as well.
Your early prenatal appointment(s) may include a physical exam, Pap smear, cervical cultures, and possibly even an ultrasound if there is question about how far along you are. Your doctor may also request an ultrasound if you are experiencing any bleeding or cramping.
Throughout your pregnancy, your doctor may order several lab tests, which may include:
Protein and sugar levels in the urineRh FactorBlood typeScreening for rubella and varicella as well as vaccines if necessaryCystic Fibrosis screenTay Sach’s screenHIV test
Your doctor may also want to talk with you about NIPT – noninvasive prenatal testing. These tests can predict Down syndrome and other trisomies during your first trimester, as early as 10 weeks along. If you test positive for a condition, or have a high-risk pregnancy, your doctor may suggest CVS or amniocentesis as well. These tests can be used to check for any of several hundred genetic conditions, as well as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
17 Do I Have To Worry About A Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, up to 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. A lot of times, miscarriages happen before a woman misses a menstrual period or even realizes she is pregnant. Of women who have confirmed a pregnancy, as many as 15-25% may end in a miscarriage.
You may have a higher risk of miscarrying if you are over the age of 35, have certain conditions such as diabetes or thyroid problems, or if you have had a history of previous miscarriages. Controlling any illnesses or managing any health issues before you get pregnant may lead to a healthier pregnancy.
It’s important to see your doctor regularly during pregnancy to monitor your baby’s growth and development. If you experience any of the following miscarraige symptoms during your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to call your doctor right away:
Abnormal bleedingSevere cramping and abdominal painBack painWeaknessFever
16 Can I Still Do It While I'm Pregnant?
There’s no reason why you can’t have sex when you’re pregnant. Certain hormonal changes may even put you in the mood and make you feel a little friskier than usual. Although it can get a little more challenging later on in your pregnancy, if your pregnancy is normal and healthy, your doctor will probably say it’s okay to keep on doing what you’re doing, even up until your due date!
Sex during pregnancy is safe and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. You don’t have to worry about it doing any harm to your baby or causing a miscarriage.
However, some hormonal changes may lower your sexual desire. Your emotions may put a damper on your libido as well; you have a lot on your mind and might be worried about all the changes that lie ahead of you. In addition, as you go through your pregnancy, weight gain, back aches, and other symptoms may lower your desire for sex.
15 What Does IT Feel Like While Pregnant?
Sex when you’re pregnant doesn’t feel any different than it normally does. And you definitely don’t have to worry about your baby feeling anything – or seeing anything – in the womb. He or she is very well cushioned in amniotic fluid and is on the other side of your cervix. In other words, nothing is going to be poking your baby.
If you’re worried about how you look, don’t. Chances are, your partner will love your pregnant body - with those growing breasts and wide hips. A lot of women may feel a little more uninhibited and comfortable with their bodies during their pregnancy. Rather than worried about every dimple or flaw, they learn to embrace their new body and are happy with their curves.
The only thing that might get in the way is the size of your belly. It can make the missionary position difficult and uncomfortable, so it might be time to get creative. Give other positions a whirl and have a little fun.
14 Will My Tatas Get Huge?
Breast tenderness is one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms, usually starting around 4 to 6 weeks and lasting through the first trimester. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause increased blood flow and changes to the breast tissue. These changes can make your breasts feel swollen, sore, tingly, and extra-sensitive. Some women may compare it to the soreness they feel in their breasts right before their period.
Around 6 to 8 weeks, you may notice that your breasts are starting to get bigger. They’ll grow throughout your pregnancy, and you might even go up a cup size or two, especially if it’s your first baby. As your breasts grow and the skin stretches, you may feel itchy and notice that stretch marks are beginning to appear.
To help combat the soreness, it’s a good idea to ditch the underwires you’re used to and buy a few decent, supportive bras to last you throughout your pregnancy. You might even want to start checking out nursing bras. Take the time to visit a maternity shop and get properly fitted for a bra.
13 Will I Get Stretch Marks?
Whether or not you get stretch marks depends on a few different factors. Stretch marks happen when your body grows faster than your skin can keep up. The elastic tissues just under the skin break down, resulting in stretch marks. During the 9 months of pregnancy, you probably put on between 25-30 pounds. But it’s not just how much you gain, it’s how quickly you pack on those pregnancy pounds. Putting on weight too fast may leave stretch marks on your belly and breasts – the two places that grow the most during pregnancy. Some women may also experience stretch marks on their thighs, hips, and buttocks.
If you have light complexion, your stretch marks may appear pinkish. If you have darker skin, your stretch marks may appear lighter than your skin tone. Stretch marks may also be genetic. In other words, if your mom has them, you might get them, too.
12 What Does It Feel Like When The Water Breaks?
Forget what you’ve seen in the movies. When your water breaks, it’s probably not going to be like the dramatic scenes where a pregnant woman clutches her belly, yells, and a bunch of water splashes at her feet.
In reality, your water (the amniotic fluid) doesn't break in a large gush at your feet. It will more likely be a slower, gradual seeping flow. It’s more like you are continuously peeing yourself in a long slow trickle.
And, only a few moms-to-be have their water break before labor begins. Most of the time, your water will break just before the second stage of labor (the pushing stage), when you will be almost fully dilated.
If and when your water does break, you might not even be having contractions yet. However, once your water breaks, your baby can be more vulnerable to infection via your vagina, so, within 24 hours of your water breaking, if you haven’t gone into labor, your doctor will most probably give you something to induce labor.
11 How Bad Does Childbirth Hurt?
This is one of those questions that’s really hard to answer. Some women can power through a drug-free birth and say that it’s not bad at all. Other women will say it’s the worst pain of their lives. Some women will say the contractions were awful and that it was a relief to push and get things moving. Some people will say that the contractions weren’t that bad, but that the “Ring of Fire” was horrific. Other women will say that they skipped all the pain and had a blissfully pain-free delivery thanks to an epidural; others will tell you that just getting the epidural hurt like crazy.
Put it this way... It's probably not going to be a walk in the park. It all depends on your threshold for pain and how you handle the stress of delivery. A lot of prenatal yoga teachers will tell you that if you’re afraid of the pain, you’ll want to hold your breath and your whole body will tense up. If your muscles tense, that makes it hard for them to do what they’re supposed to do – which is work together and contract to ease your baby out into the world.
10 Does Getting An Epidural Hurt?
Many women have strong opinions on whether or not to go for an unmedicated birth vs. receiving pain management. It’s a personal decision, and one that every woman should discuss with her doctor before the big day arrives. It’s up to you to make that call; there’s no shame in going pain-free for delivery!
But even if you are already leaning towards having an epidural, (or have already made your mind made that you’re getting the drugs!) the thought of the procedure – which involves sticking a large needle into the fluid around your spinal cord – can be a little intimidating. Some women are just as afraid of the pain of an epidural as they are of childbirth. The thought of someone sticking a giant needle near your spine sounds terrifying, but for many women, it’s not really painful. Many women think the temporary pinch and slight pressure is well worth it if it spares them all the pain of labor and delivery.
9 What Does A C-Section Feel Like?
Thankfully, you shouldn’t feel much during a C-section. You will be completely numb. A surgical drape will be placed in front of you. (Some hospitals may use a drape with a clear window so that you can see the moment your baby is born.) The doctor will conduct a test to make sure you can’t feel anything before beginning the surgery. The doctor will make an incision in your abdomen and then another incision in your uterus. While you won’t feel the incisions, you may feel some tugging as the doctor works to get the baby out. You might even feel a sucking sensation as the baby is pulled free. After the baby and placenta are delivered, the doctor will stitch up your uterus and then your abdomen. The procedure for stitching varies; some doctors may use stitches that dissolve on their own; some may even use surgical glue.
The recovery from a C-section can be a lot longer than the recovery from a vaginal delivery. A C-section is major abdominal surgery. It’s important to take it easy after your surgery. Listen to your doctor’s advice. You’ll probably be told not to lift anything heavier than your baby for awhile and to be careful going up and down stairs.
8 Will I Tear?
When it comes time to push, it’s important to listen to the directions of your doctor or nurses. Although you might think pushing with all your might during will speed things up, it helps to relax during this phase to help prevent tearing or lessen the chances of needing an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a surgical cut in the perineum (the area of the skin between the vagina and the rectum) which can help make the baby’s entrance go a little more smoothly.
There are some techniques that are thought to prevent or minimize the chances of tearing during childbirth. Massaging the perineum may help the skin stretch a little more without tearing. Different birthing positions may also make it less likely to tear or need an episiotomy.
As painful as it may be, the stretching sensation known as “the ring of fire” is brief and usually only lasts a few minutes. Once that feeling passes, the major part of labor is actually over. The baby’s head is out, and then the rest of the baby’s body will follow.
7 Do You Really Go #2 On The Delivery Table?
Yes, some women poo on the table during childbirth. And if you do, you won’t even be the first woman giving birth THAT DAY to do it. The nurses and doctors won’t care. They won’t be grossed out. Labor and delivery nurses have seen it all before and will probably have you all cleaned up before you even realize what happened. And you’ve got all kinds of other stuff going on, so if (and/or when) you poo, you won’t have a clue.
The reason why this happens is that your baby is taking up a lot of space in your abdomen and pressing on all of your organs, including your intestines. While you’re trying to push that baby out, you’re also using a lot of the same muscles that you would use when going number two, so you push out a poo, too. Yeah, it might seem kind of gross, but it’s completely normal and it’s the last thing you need to be stressing about minutes before your child is born!
6 Does It Hurt Going To The Bathroom Afterwards?
Most doctors and nurses will suggest using a sitz bath to help soothe pain and discomfort after delivery. Most hospitals will send new moms home with a kit. With the kit, you place a shallow basin over the toilet seat rim, fill it with warm water, and sit on it so that your vulva and perineum are submerged. The warm water increases blood flow, which helps heal and repair damaged tissues in the area. It’s a good idea to pour warm water over your genitals when you go to the bathroom to lessen any stinging that you might feel. It can also feel soothing if you have itchy stitches from tearing during delivery. It’s best to pat or dab yourself dry, and not wipe.
Many women complain of being constipated after delivery. It could have something to do with pain medication they received, lack of eating during labor, or simply a slow digestive system. If that’s the case, going to the bathroom can be a pain – literally. It’s not a bad idea to ask your doctor about taking a stool softener, upping your fiber intake, and increase the amount of liquids that you drink. That should make it a little easier – and a little less painful.
5 What If I Can't Nurse?
Breastfeeding can be one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences of motherhood, but it can also be frustrating, hard work. Some women may worry about whether or not their baby is getting enough milk. (If your baby is making wet diapers and is gaining weight, he’s probably just fine!)
Some babies may have trouble latching correctly, which can affect how much milk they get. It can also affect you – if the baby isn’t latching correctly, you could end up with sore, cracked nipples, which will make the breastfeeding experience really painful.
To soothe sore, irritated nipples, try using a pure lanolin-based nipple cream that is safe for nursing babies. You might even want to switch to pumping for awhile until your nipples are healed. If you’re really concerned about your baby’s latch or have other breastfeeding questions, you may want to schedule a visit with a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant will watch your baby nurse and will give you suggestions for different breastfeeding holds and positions.
4 What Will My Periods Be Like Afterwards?
Lots of moms-to-be consider pregnancy to be a 9-month-long break from “that time of the month.” For many women, going all that time without a period is one of the most welcome side effects of being pregnant… but, unfortunately, Aunt Flo’s going to come back sooner or later.
And for some women, she comes back with a vengeance. When Aunt Flo returns, she can bring awful cramps and other miserable PMS symptoms with her. On the other hand, for some lucky women, Aunt Flo’s side effects seem to ease up a little, and some new moms report easier periods than before they were pregnant.
If a woman is exclusively breastfeeding, she might get a longer break from her period than moms that are pumping, supplementing, or exclusively bottle feeding. But this all depends on the woman. Even if she’s breastfeeding, there’s still a possibility that a woman’s menstrual cycle could start back up again!
3 What Does IT Feel Like Afterwards?
It might hurt. Some women, some doctors, even, may liken sex after childbirth to losing your virginity all over again. Some women find that it hurts way more than that. Some women may say that childbirth itself wasn’t as bad as the first time they had sex again after the baby was born.
And of course, you’ll also be tired and you will have a ton of things on your mind. And you just might not feel like it. You’ll probably think about your baby a lot. Your household may have gone from two people to three, and you might think of yourselves as a family now, but it’s important to remember that even though you’re now someone’s parents, you’re still a couple. That means you need to make time for each other – as a couple. That’s what got you to this point in the first place.
The important thing to remember is to be patient. Both you and your partner need to remember that. Maybe you’re both ready and eager to hop back in the sack, and that’s great. But if you’re not, that’s okay, too. A lot has been going on with your body for the past nine months and then some, so it can take awhile to get your head back in the game.
2 How Tired Am I Going To Be?
Everyone talks about how exhausting it is to be a new mom. The idea of “mombiehood” has been popularized on mom blogs, in memes, and in GIFs. Of course you’re going to be tired. For one thing, your body has just done the hardest work it’s ever had to do – that’s why it’s called labor.
And yes, after the baby arrives, it’s understandable that you’ll be tired for awhile. You’ll be nursing or feeding the baby every few hours. Maybe you’ll be pumping. And if you have other kids, you’ll still be caring for them. And you’ll still have laundry to do and friends and family visiting. And although newborn babies sleep through most of the day, you’ll probably still be holding, snuggling, rocking, and walking your little one.
Everyone will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, and at times, that might seem impossible. Do your best to rest and relax when you’ve can. Rely on your partner, friends, and family members to help you out if you need a break.
1 What Do I Do With This Brand New Baby?!
With your first baby, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with concern for the wellbeing of your baby. And you’ll probably be worried about whether or not you’re doing things right. Am I holding him right? How do you do this swaddle thing again? When do I need to feed him next? Should I wake him up to feed him or just let him sleep? What did the nurse in the hospital say?!
Even if you’ve done a ton of babysitting, read all the pregnancy books, and attended multiple parenting classes, there’s still really no way to fully prepare for what it feels like to leave the hospital with your little one. It can be daunting to come home and be on your own with your little bundle of joy.
It helps to have friends or family there to visit (in stages, so you’re not overwhelmed with a ton of guests at once!) and help out. But don’t worry, mama… You’ve got this!