1. First off, it’s wonderful and possibly the best moment of your life. I loved giving birth, as you can read about right here, and would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s so totally and completely worth it, no matter what you go through to get there. That first time you hold your little baby after he or she’s out, you’ll understand. Apart from my wedding day, I didn’t know if I’d ever been happier. And it was a close call. So just know that what you go through is worth it. And if you’re positive about it like I was, you might even love it.
2. You might just pee, poop, or throw up while giving birth. It stinks (ha ha, pun NOT intended), but it can happen. But the good news is, it might not! None of those things happened to me. And like anyone, I had been fearing it tremendously. Throwing up usually happens because the epidural can make you feel pretty nauseous (not enough to scare me away from getting it again though!) but my nausea wasn’t any worse than the morning sickness I’d experienced during my first trimester. As you’ll hear a thousand times over, if any of these things should happen to you, don’t worry–doctors have seen it all, and more good news:you might not even know if you do. I had to ask after because I had no idea what was happening down there, (and honestly, it sure felt like something happened) but apparently nothing did. And even more good news: I can almost 100% guarantee you won’t give a crap (ha ha, not funny) if it does happen. You might, like me, even want it to happen. During my labor, the pressure on my rectum (gross word) was so intense that I felt like I was experiencing the worst constipation in my entire life and at the time, I just wanted to feel relieved from that pressure. You just get to the point where you accept that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, and nothing matters but getting that baby out! So, basically, Hakuna Matata. No worries.
3. While in labor and for a while after giving birth, you might shake. Like a lot. I kind of looked like I was freezing to death. Or having a mini-seizure. But I felt fine–I just could not control my arms, hands, or jaw! My teeth chattering was the most annoying thing. It affected my speaking. Everyone kept asking if I was cold, but I wasn’t. I just couldn’t stop. I think I heard someone call these “labor shakes” (makes sense) and other than being really annoying, they aren’t a big deal. If I remember correctly, they’re caused by adrenaline, and are really nothing to worry about. Just anticipate them because a lot of women get them.
4. At first, while pushing, you will probably feel like you CAN’T DO IT. That is how my mom felt, that is how I felt, and I’m positive that is how countless other women felt when they began pushing. It seems impossible. It is impossible. It makes no sense to me that an 8lb 3oz baby came out of such a small place. Even now, three months later, I occasionally find myself wondering how our baby came out of me. You’ll find yourself, as I have, holding your son or daughter on your belly and wondering how he or she possibly could have fit inside you. It makes no logical sense, but somehow it’s possible. It’s a miracle. An infinite number of women have had and will continue to have babies. You can do it. When the doctor got a mirror and I saw how little a circle of my daughter’s head was visible when I was pushing at my very hardest, I thought, She is never coming out. I might have even said it aloud. My doctor thought I might have to go with a C-section, she was so stuck. I didn’t give up, and with the help of forceps, she finally came out–very cone-headed, but perfectly fine. When you are in that moment of despair, keep the thought in the back of your head that youcan do it. You have to. That baby can’t stay in there forever even though it seems like it. And if you end up having a C-section, don’t worry and DON’T feel bad. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your birth experience was less special or less right because you did it differently. That’s what my doctor had to tell me when I was feeling frustrated that I wasn’t going to have the natural, epidural-free birth I wanted. But you know what? Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe I’d have asked that we could try the forceps sooner than four hours…
5. Your baby will look like an alien when he or she comes out. So don’t be freaked out. Some babies are gray, some are purple, some are pink, some are covered in blood, and ALL are soaking wet and not as sweet as you might have pictured. Tenley had the hugest cone-head from being in the birth canal for four hours. I didn’t have time to process it at the time though because they immediately set her down to be measured, washed up, and swaddled. Then, when they did hand her to me, they had put a hat on her head which covered up the worst of it. When I saw her cone-head uncovered later that night, I was worried for her, but it went down significantly by the next day and even more so in the days that followed. At three months, Tenley’s head looks completely normal to me. You, like me, might not think that most just born babies are that pretty to look at, but I am certain that nothing will look more beautiful to you than your own baby.
6. For a while, you will be VERY swollen down there. It is not pretty. In fact, it’s really ugly. My swelling lasted maybe four days, which I think is longer than normal, but I also pushed REALLY HARD for four hours. And that isn’t normal (so don’t worry). But I’ll tell you, the first time I used the bathroom after giving birth–with the help of my nurses because I couldn’t walk by myself–I looked down and was like WOAH. I seriously did not recognize myself. But the nurses assured me that swelling was normal, though mine was worse than most. I don’t want to go into detail, but basically I was kind of really grossed out about how things looked for a few days. Luckily, the nurses encourage you to take lots of hot baths while you’re at the hospital (and when you go home) which really helps. It feels amazing. I took four or five baths and was encouraged to take more while there but I wanted to be with my husband and baby.