You know labour wasn’t how I imagined it. You know when you think you know how something is going to be and constantly convince yourself that that’s how it’s gonna be, that no other way will be that way, well labour wasn’t like that, it was different, very different. Wait, don’t log off just yet, hear me out.
I have, for years been 100% adamant I wasn’t going to nor would I ever want to have kids, but there’s always been a slight ‘if it happens, it happens‘ way about me should the unknown of a mini me be thrown into the equation. See, I’ve always been pretty darn good at looking after other people’s kids, whether it be babysitting, being the bestest Aunty in the world (🙌🏻), entertaining friend’s kids or being the clown that children could find entertaining, but being a mum myself I couldn’t see it, it just wasn’t written in the stars for me. That’s what I thought anyway. Besides anyone who wants to have kids have to go through labour, and who on this planet honestly wants to push a baby out of their foo foo, have it scream it’s lungs out 24/7, banish you from sleep and a life that you’re used to and be stuck with it forever, like forever and ever and ever.
So when we found out about Emily, we were shocked but we were excited, nervous, scared, you name it, we felt it and so the journey began growing our little munchkin before getting ready to meet her in 7 months. The thing I was most scared about, not the being a Mum thing or moving to Ramsgate thing, it was the whole labour thing. It’s a super big deal. So many women have shared their stories of their individual feelings and experiences and 90% of the time it hasn’t been pleasant. Plus anyone who’s seen ‘One Born Every Minute‘ will know it’s not a walk in the park. Thanks to Mum I had to stop worrying about it because it had to be done whether I liked it or not and there was 7 months to go and let’s be honest here for a second, until that moment came, there was seriously absolutely no point in worrying about it till my contractions started.
Honestly by the time it came round after a pretty crappy pregnancy, I was so keen on just getting her out I didn’t care how she came out I just wanted her out and in my arms. It sounds crazy but my expectations of labour was totally different to what actually happened. Due to having obstetric cholestasis I didn’t have a birth plan in place as all my options of a midwife led unit, water birth etc was completely out of the question, so I was stuck with the labour ward, in the hospital with a lot of other stressed out women screaming for their little ones to get out with minimal pain. My expectations of the labour ward and birth was different to reality. I had, thanks to years of movie and TV watching assumed labour would be a lot more dramatic. I didn’t know what to expect apart from what I heard and be scared into believing. The reality though was different and I’m glad I’ve been through it now to reassure every woman out there that really it’s not as bad as you may think. In all honestly there is no amount of reading of books or researching on the internet or speaking to others that are going to prepare you for what happens in actual labour. Every woman is different and every woman will tell you a different story and different event that happened whilst in labour that will probably scare the shit out of you and beat down that confidence of yours into pulp, but you should know that first off you are in the best hands in the world. Hopefully these points can take your stress notch down a key.
Labour is nothing like it is in the movies
In the movies, the leading lady is normally faffing around having a laugh with her friends then all of a sudden her water breaks, a big splash of water and she shrieks in delight and merrily runs to the hospital ready for the next step. It doesn’t happen like that at all. Your water can break at any moment during labour, right up to the moment little one is about to show face. On and off for weeks on end it can feel like you’re going into labour and really it’s just false contractions, so don’t be fooled and don’t be disappointed. Sometimes your body really is just playing tricks on you.
Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore made labour look super intense with lots of people running around them in blind panic trying and spectacularly failing at keeping the whole magical event under wraps. Whilst she’s screaming her head off, Hugh Grant being Hugh Grant is pretty pathetic in keeping his partner calm in the situation. You’d think she was giving birth to an alien not their baby. Jennifer Aniston’s character ‘Rachel’ in Friends birth is a little more realistic (right up to Ross’ hand reaction), a little less faffing, a bit more reality. I’m not saying labour is a walk in the park, it is hard work but it’s not torture.
Water breaking differs for everyone
In reality everyone’s different and only one in 10 women at term experience their water breaking before any other signs of labour, including contractions. Mine happened exactly 14 hours and 25 minutes after I was induced. I know because how ingrained all the times were for me. Those 24 hours was such a big day for me I remember every detail. Surprising really seeing as I hadn’t slept for a week beforehand!
Contractions are a weird feeling
At first my contractions didn’t hurt but as time went by they got very intense and painful. It is an odd feeling.
You’ll probably throw up
It’s not unusual. As soon as my water broke and contractions started to get intense I threw up. From then on I only managed water and Lucozade sports drinks. I didn’t eat again for about 12 hours.
The labour rooms in the labour ward of NHS hospitals are way smaller than I thought
I always thought that the labour rooms in the wards would be bigger. I didn’t for the life of me think they would be that small. They’re not all like that but I didn’t think the room I’d be in would only be big enough for my mum, Sam and a midwife, a heart monitor, the bed I was on, 1 chair and a birthing ball. It was small, pretty cramped, claustrophobic even, probably how Emily felt in her last weeks inside. Everyone was so close to me and too close to certain areas and all I had was a blanket covering my below out of sight of mum and Sam. That was a weird feeling.
In every movie going, the pregnant lady is flat on her back, legs in stirrups, partner holding onto her hand whilst she screams her head off with sweat pouring down her face. Most of the latter is true but lying on your back is pretty much a no no. You’re told to find a position that feels comfortable as lying on your back can make your pregnancy longer. You’re actively encouraged by your midwife to write up a birthing plan from the moment you hear you’re expecting and even though 9 times out of 10 you don’t follow it on the day, you will be told to try and stick to what’s comfortable for you and your baby. Although the whole experience is pretty uncomfortable anyway, why make it worse?
You most certainly will do a poo during labour
This was by far one of the things that actually, funnily enough scared me the most about labour. Not the fact that Sam would see me in physical pain or the fact I was going to demonstrate a scene from a horror movie but the fact I could possible shit in front of him. Thankfully a wall was between us (my mum was in the next room too) whilst a midwife held my hand and I poo’d. I was mortified but whatever way I tried to avoid it it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. And ladies your doctors and midwives have seen a lot worse. So what’s a little poo between friends?
You’ll grit your teeth way more than you’ll scream
In truth I spent most of my time falling asleep between contractions then trying to squeeze the hell out of Sam’s hand (with little impact, I’m no Incredible Hulk). I spent a lot of the time gritting my teeth than screaming. Funny that. I thought I’d be shouting a lot, calling Sam names and swearing like a trooper, but I didn’t.
You will be tired
When your contractions start it doesn’t always mean birth is around the corner, it can take minutes, hours or even days for that to happen (what?! It’s true). Your body will go through a number of strengths and it is very physically demanding on your body. Don’t feel bad for being tired. I fell asleep between contractions right up to 45 minutes before Emily came into the world.
You will cry
Expect plenty of emotions because once you see your little one, an explosion of tears surface and you can’t stop it. And don’t worry about it mucking up your face, everyone in that room has seen it all, tears and a puffy face is the least of your concern.
You will be insanely hungry after birth
As soon as Emily came into this world, she was cleaned up, weighed, handed to Sam whilst I was stitched up and wheeled into the next room. Emily was then put on me and she fed. Whilst she fed I was craving a pint of tea and a big bar of galaxy. That’s all I wanted. Even after than I wanted to eat.
I won’t lie ladies, labour it was hard work. But you should know your body is an amazing machine and can do so much pushed to great lengths and can cope with all types of extreme pain, but you know your body and you’ll be surprised at how incredible it can work to deliver your child. Most of the worries and the nerves is all in your mind. Not once did I turn to Sam and call him names, cursed the day he was born or screamed that I hated him for ‘doing this to me,’ it was all a lot of tireless pushing, hand grabbing and eyes connecting until Emily entered the world.
So don’t worry about what other people say. The only people you should worry about is you and your baby. Your partner is there to support you, massage your back, get you tea or water on demand. But in the end, through all the blood, sweat and tears, it’s so damn worth it when you see what you’ve created and homed for those 9 months lying in your arms.