*The following article contains accounts from my own labor and delivery experience. Please keep in mind that each and every woman experiences childbirth differently and each situation is unique. This is my experience.*
Before I had my daughter, I was a newly expectant mother without a clue. I had horrible fears and dreaded the day I went into labor. This was simply due to the fact that I was uneducated.
People told me all the time, “don’t Google it” or “don’t research childbirth, it will only get you worked up.” Mommas let me tell you that is bologna.
In fact, I am a person who finds solace in learning. The more I know and understand something the calmer and more put together I feel.
Let me start off by saying the first thing I wish I knew before I went into labor was how not scary and not horrifying it actually was. I will say, I did not have a C-Section and I did receive an epidural, so that helped with pain management, but as far as your fears go, let them roll off your shoulder and know that you can do this Momma.
Our bodies were made for this and when it’s time, your body will kick into high gear and step up to the plate to accomplish the miracle it was designed for. Keep yourself educated and the worries will melt away with these tips for labor and delivery.
#1. The Baby Can Come At Any Time – Be Ready
First things first, Be ready. What I found in my research was that most people will tell you, as a first-time mom, plan on delivering past your due date.
I can’t tell you how many times I saw this plastered all over the Internet. Unfortunately, I followed that advice and to my horror, I went into labor early and had barely packed anything.
My advice would be to pack a hospital bag and have it ready by the door around 35-36 weeks. If that seems early to you, believe me, it’s not. I went into labor at 38 weeks as a first-time mom.
If I would have had my bag packed at the recommended 35-week mark, I wouldn’t have had to send my husband home to pack while I was alone at the hospital in active labor, for the first time ever. Luckily we lived close, so I wasn’t alone for very long.
Mommas, please take this advice. Pack a bag around 35-36 weeks and set that worry aside. I promise it’s the last thing you want to worry about when you’re in labor.
If you’re not sure what to pack, check out my printable hospital bag checklist for mom, dad, & baby here.
#2. The Epidural Experience
This was my most dreaded fear of labor and delivery. I kid you not the thought of a giant needle inside me, would keep me up at night, but I know myself well enough to know I cannot withstand the act of childbirth without an epidural.
I was in a catch 22. I had my mind set on getting an epidural, although one of my greatest fears is needles. It’s so bad, I can’t even watch my husband get a flu shot, for fear of passing out.
But good news! The epidural was the easiest part of labor. I’m telling you, it was so quick and painless, I couldn’t believe it. I wish I had known just how easy and painless this part would be because it would have saved me many sleepless nights.
Mommas, if you are considering an epidural, or better yet, have your mind set on getting one, please let remove this worry from your mind and just enjoy pregnancy.
I cannot stress enough just how terrified I was for this part, but if I can do it, being as frightened of needles as I am, literally anyone can do it. Plus, I’m all about the pain management it provides.
Once that baby was in, my labor was a piece of cake! I’m honestly more scared now of missing my chance to get an epidural because it was that great!
When To ask for the Epidural
Another tip for the epidural, if you choose to have one, is to ask as soon as you get into the delivery room. Regardless of how dilated you are, or how uncomfortable you are, ask right away.
This is because hospitals can get very busy. For example, when I was admitted to have my daughter, there were only two rooms left, I almost had to be transferred to a different hospital.
So that being said, the anesthesiologist can take a minute to even get to your room, and once they get to your room they have to set up and prep. It can be a very lengthy process.
Knowing this, helped me when I had Hayvn because when I got into the room and before I was even undressed or in a hospital gown, I asked for my epidural.
I was only dilated to a 4 and hadn’t felt any contractions but good thing I asked when I did because it took them about an hour to get the epidural administered to me and by that point I was already dilated to a 5.5.
I was one of those people that seriously contemplated adoption solely because I was that terrified to give birth. If you haven’t noticed I’m a very anxious person and have a tendency to psyche myself out. So when it came to childbirth, you bet I was a total head case.
Looking back on my experience now, I wish I had known just how not horrifying birth would be. I seriously had the best childbirth experience and a big thanks goes to my nurses and my amazing doctor.
Aside from the amazing staff though, my labor and delivery experience was still nothing like I thought it would be. Thanks to Hollywood and those traumatizing birth videos they force you to watch in health class, we all picture childbirth as this horrific bloody scene filled with frantic hospital staff and a screaming mother wailing in pain.
Of all the tips for labor and delivery that I can offer, this is by the far the most crucial. It’s not that bad.
I’ll be the first to tell you, giving birth, at least in my experience was actually silent. It was the last thing I expected. When it came time to push, I was so focused on bearing down and getting the baby out, I don’t think I could have screamed even if I wanted to.
In fact, I was shocked at how silent I was. I focused on my breathing and pictured what my new baby would look like when I finally got to meet her. If I had known just how serene and silent that experience would have been, I would have had a lot less anxiety going into it.
Thanks to the epidural, I didn’t feel an ounce of pain. I will say, every woman is different, this was my experience, if you had a different labor and delivery from mine, I would love to hear about it.
I am in no way discounting anyone’s childbirth experience and I am not in any way falsifying the experience of labor and delivery. Please be kind and keep in mind this is told from my perspective:)
#4. Pressure Not Pain
Having an epidural is clearly different from experiencing natural childbirth. Since I have only had one child and have only experienced a medicated childbirth, I will be solely talking about that particular experience.
When you’re pregnant it isn’t uncommon for a new mom to wonder what the labor and delivery experience will be like. When I pictured having an epidural, I pictured being completely numb from the waist down and not being able to feel a single thing.
In some ways I was right and in some ways I was wrong.
When I had Hayvn I was shocked to learn that the epidural does not take away the full experience of actually pushing the baby out. During my 38 minutes of pushing, I never felt an ounce of pain, but what I did feel was an immense amount of pressure.
Now, don’t let this scare you. This was actually a good thing. By feeling the pressure and being able to feel my baby descending I was able to work with my body and help push the baby out.
The best part is that you can feel the pressure release and you know you’ve done it. Your little one is here, ready to meet you.
#5. You May Get Sick – And you’ll Be Okay With It
Something I never expected was the side effects of the epidural and contractions. I guess it’s hard to imagine something you’ve never been through, but I really just thought the epidural would solve all of my problems with pain and any other negative symptom of labor and delivery.
I was shocked to find just how nauseous my contractions mixed with the medication from the epidural made me. So, I did get sick and vomit multiple times during my labor and delivery experience. Oddly enough, vomiting wasn’t nearly as awful as it had been prior to this experience.
The reason for this was because the epidural had mace it so I couldn’t feel my stomach muscles. Meaning when I went to vomit, the contracting of my stomach didn’t bother me at all.
In fact, the vomiting was almost a release and helped me feel a little better, as gross as it was. So just know that you may vomit, but also know that it won’t be as terrible as vomiting normally is.
#6. Things Might get A Little Chilly
Along with nausea and vomiting, don’t be alarmed if things start to get a little chilly and you start to shiver. Known as the “epi-shakes” I got these big time!
Haha, it’s nothing to be concerned about, just a side effect of the medicine taking place. I will say though, I have never felt so cold in my life!
It was pretty comical to see a big pregnant lady piled high with mounds of hospital blankets, only to throw them off every 15 minutes when the hot flashes would kick in due to a contraction.
I should add that this only happens to about 20% of women and it’s due to the hormone levels. So depending on your body and hormone levels, you are likely to bot even experience this side effect, but if you do, just know it’s no cause for concern, just laugh it off, it will all be over soon!
And in my opinion, the pain management of the medicine is totally worth some goosebumps and shivers!
#7. There Is A Chance Of #2 (If You Know What I Mean)
Oh yes, glorious isn’t it? As if having everyone and their brother walk in and out of a room where you’re up on a platform, legs spread apart, bearing all, isn’t bad enough, throw pooping into the mix and all hopes of dignity are lost.
So yes this one is true. I had read about this before but I didn’t want to believe it. Ladies, there is a chance you may poop on the delivery table. The good news is, you most likely won’t care and if you don’t ask, you will never even know!
Once I had my daughter, I asked my husband and all the nurses if I had pooped on the table, but just before I went into labor I had told them all not to tell me. So, they all told me I didn’t but the truth is, I will never actually know if they were lying to me. Honestly, it’s better that way.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think I would have cared at that moment though. With everything going on in the delivery room, nothing matter besides you, your partner, and your baby. So, if this is a worry of yours, I’m telling you to let this one go.
A. Your doctor has most likely been through this many many times and definitely won’t care
B. They remove it so quickly, the chances of anyone besides your doctor seeing it are slim to none
C. It is typical for the body to relieve itself prior to labor, meaning you are cleaned out, so chances of that happening are not as likely
#8. You Will Still Look Pregnant
The last thing I wish I knew before childbirth was how I would look after having my baby. As silly as this sounds, I was genuinely shocked to find that I would still look pregnant even after having my baby.
Now that I’ve gone through labor and delivery, it seems like a no-brainer, but I was very surprised when I couldn’t wear my pre-pregnancy jeans home from the hospital.
Now call me naive, but I had thought that the baby was the only thing taking up space in my tummy, so to see that I still looked 6 months pregnant I was stunned.
In order to prepare your mind for this, you must first understand what happens to your insides when you are pregnant. Click here to learn more about diastasis recti.
The reason I’m telling you this is so you can prep yourselves on realistic body image. For some mommas out there, they love their post-partum body and I admire that so much!
But for me, and many other women out there, I struggled severely with body image issues. I wasn’t ready for this aspect of post delivery. If I had knows what to expect, it may have been easier to cope. I eventually came to love and adore my postpartum body, and I am even in the best shape I’ve ever been in throughout my entire life.
So, for those mommas who struggle with body image, I am here to tell you, you will lose the weight and you will love your body regardless. You just performed a miracle and your body just provided you with the most magical gift anyone could ever ask for.
By knowing what to expect from your body post delivery, you can better understand how to love and appreciate it. You are a warrior momma!
For those first-time mommas out there, who like me, have no clue what to expect in the delivery room. Let these tips for labor and delivery put your fears to rest.
All of these tips include things I feared most when anticipating childbirth. Now, having gone through it, I look back and there was really nothing to be scared of.
As women, our bodies were made for this, it’s what we are designed to do. Enjoy those last few moments of pregnancy while carrying your baby and sleep easy knowing you have nothing to fear.
Veteran mommas, I would love to hear from you! Tell me your birth stories in the comments below. Any new mommas reading this, I would love to hear from you as well.
Did you find these tips helpful? Let me know of any fears you have that I didn’t cover on this list in the comments below, and I will be happy to put your mind at ease:)