Are you wondering about childbirth because you know someone who is giving birth soon? Or are you giving birth soon and questioning what to know about giving birth for the first time? I understand. Now, there are many things I wish I knew before going into labour. I have no doubt that, like me, no matter how well-informed you think you are on childbirth facts, there will be a lot that no one will tell you.
I asked some other lovely moms what they would have liked to know before giving birth. Their answers also of course will be helpful to you if you need labour tips for first time moms. It’s funny how much I can relate to many of these answers! If you’ve gone through labour before, you probably will too.
Things no one tells you about giving birth
The birthing process
1. Stick up for yourself
Ask for what you want, even if it’s little or not planned for. I’ve had three kids, and I gained confidence to do that more and more each time. For example, the first and second time they put a pulse monitor on my right hand, and it annoyed me and got in the way of squeezing my husband’s hand when I was pushing. It was a small thing, and so I didn’t speak up about it until my third child. The third time I did and they put it on my toe (which I never even noticed). The big things I knew to stand up for, but the little things help you have a better experience too.
Don’t listen fully to the nurse line on how far along you are. If you feel like you need to go in, do it. By the time I made it in (10 minute drive) I was at a 7 and fully effaced. By the time I was in a room, they almost didn’t have time to get me an IV before it was time to push. Trust your instincts!
2. Be open-minded
…there is a chance nothing will go as planned. You will have to be patient and gentle with yourself while allowing yourself time to grieve what you planned/expected versus the reality of what actually happened.
Things almost never go exactly according to plan! Some things you may have thought you wanted during your birth you actually won’t care about during the delivery. Keep an open mind and let labor happen as it comes! It’s great to go in with an idea of what you’d like, but a rigid plan is just setting yourself up for failure.
That it almost never goes as planned, but it doesn’t mean it can’t still be that “perfect” birth you had imagined.
You can have a detailed birth plan, but your baby has a plan of their own. Arm yourself with knowledge, but come to labor and delivery with an open mind, so that you are prepared for the many changes that will happen!
3. Research on and prepare for a c-section regardless of the plan
You should research and prepare for a c-section, even if you plan on having a natural birth. It’s not always up to you! And it’s really scary to not have a clue what’s about to happen.
4. OB-GYN rare sightings
This is one of those things I wish I knew before going into labour as well. Due to the fact that I ended up having an emergency C-Section, I did consult quickly with an OB-GYN. It was the first and only time I saw one my entire pregnancy.
I wish someone had told me how little my OBGYN would actually be in the delivery room. People make a big deal about their doctor being on vacation, or only a male doctor being on call, but the nurses were the ones with me until the very end of pushing, when baby was actually about to come out! I actually pushed for almost an hour before my OBGYN was in the room. So if your doctor is off on the day you give birth, it’s not worth stressing over as much as you might have been told!
5. Giving birth could be the hardest physical thing you ever do
I wish someone had told me the truth about how tough childbirth was going to be. As in, think of the hardest thing you’ve ever done and multiply it by 10. And then, I wish they would have said, “It’s tough, but you’re tougher. And you were built to do this hard thing.” This would have given me a much stronger mental game going into it which would have helped with postpartum, and raising kids in general.
6. Pushing is a skill
When I had my first baby, I wish someone had told me that there is a wrong time to push. I started pushing way too early and ended up with a horrible cervical tear that almost cost me my life.
7. Walk, walk, walk
Gravity matters. While in labour make sure you walk as much as you possibly can as it will speed up the length of your labour. When my third child was born in 2016, I made sure the hubby parked further away from the hospital doors and then I kept walking around and when everyone was sitting down waiting to go into the room, I walked and walked around and didn’t sit still. It paid off as compared to the identical labour times of 5 hrs with my first two, he was born shortly after arriving. I remember getting booked in, being checked and being told it was time to push. Shaved off 40% of the length of my labour by doing this.
8. Your give up point is your finish up point
I wish someone had told me that about the time you’re freaking out, absolutely convinced you can’t handle birth, you’re actually in transition and almost ready to push. You’re almost done!
9. Epidural failures
The epidural doesn’t always work like you think it will. Sometimes it won’t numb everything or work at all. You’ll still be able to feel pain. If you don’t get it early, you might not have enough time to let it kick in.
You get nauseous before you’re about to give birth. I had no clue I’d be throwing up!
Breastfeeding and breast milk
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11. Attend a breastfeeding class
Also from Cassie:
I also wish I would have looked up how to breastfeed since I didn’t see lactation right away and by the time they came I already had a massive blister. Read about switching sides and timing or attend a class!
This is another one of those things that I wish I knew before going into labour. If I had to change anything about my first pregnancy experience, it might be that I didn’t realize that breastfeeding does not “come naturally” to everyone. I’d have taken The Ultimate Breastfeeding Masterclass, for example, which is a convenient and thorough online breastfeeding course.
12. Breastfeeding is not physically an option for everyone
That not all women can produce breastmilk after baby comes. I was told on the postpartum floor I had insufficient glandular tissue (lack of milk ducts) and would be unable to produce more than 1/2 an ounce no matter what I did. My son didn’t want formula either so I created my own goat milk formula.
Side effects and recovery
13. Epidural side effects could last longer than you expect
Alecia: I wish someone had told me about the spinal headaches after an epidural and that they can last for weeks
14. Anesthetic allergy
I’m going to add this in myself because it threw me for a complete loop. First of all, I didn’t know it was a thing. I was not aware that one could have an allergy to anesthetics. Of course, it makes sense, but it was not something that I ever considered. I was itching for almost three weeks and was feeling like I was reaching the end of my tether. It suddenly faded away on its own. None of the doctors or health visitors I spoke to about it were able to suggest a reason why it was happening, interestingly. They did not see why it would go on for so long. Strange happenings, I tell you. Definitely one of the things I wish I knew before going into labour.
…you might shake a lot after getting your epidural. I wasn’t prepared for that. It wasn’t painful but it was unnerving at first when I didn’t know that it was a normal side effect.
16. The recovery process might make things different for you
Darcey: I wish someone had told me that nursing may be harder after a C-section and that it can take longer for the milk to come in. I struggled because they were telling me what’s normal after a natural childbirth, so I thought it was me doing something wrong. After doing some research, I realized some of my issues with nursing were a result of my body trying to recover.
17. Needing a C-Section is nothing to be ashamed of
Becky: That you are not a failure if you need a c-section and you don’t need to be embarrassed. I felt so ashamed as if my body had let my baby down.
What did you wish you had known before you gave birth?
If you are giving birth soon, has this taught you anything new? Comment below to share!