Giving birth. The thought of it is terrifying. My view was it was always best to be informed, so I’d asked a lot of people about their birth stories. Here are the 5 things I think every pregnant woman should know about giving birth, but no one tells you in advance.
5 things no one tells you about giving birth
1. Your waters breaking isn’t necessarily a single event. In films, waters breaking is inevitably depicted as a sudden gush and that’s it, waters have broken. End of. Not in my experience. My waters broke in a gush and then continued to trickle until I gave birth over 2 days later. Its was quite a shock. Who knew they replenish?! I used up half a packet of maternity sanitary towels before I’d even given birth. Top tip: buy more than one pack!
2. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Doctors and midwives tend to be risk averse in my experience and want you to go down a certain path. If you don’t want a particular intervention, feel free to say no or ask for more time. In my case, my waters broke before contractions started. The hospital would have preferred I was admitted to hospital and induced 24 hours later because of a small risk of infection. I didn’t feel that was necessary and thought that induction had risks too, so I said no, I’d wait and see if I went into labour naturally. You have to weight up the risk yourself and don’t be afraid to disagree with the medical team. Some good advice I was given was to ask ‘what would happen if we did nothing?’. Sometimes doing nothing is a good option that isn’t really considered.
3. Pushing isn’t the worst bit. To be fair, a friend had told me this but I didn’t believe her. She’d told me contractions are worse. She was right in my experience. The pushing part was my big fear before birth. How could I possibly push a baby out without it ripping me in two? Yes, it did hurt, but not in a terrible way. It stings, but it’s brief. The pain of pushing was a sign it was coming to an end and I found that a massive relief.
4. ‘Birth plan’ is a ridiculous term. There’s a lot of focus on writing your birth plan. I think it should be called ‘birth preferences’. It’s definitely worth thinking about what you’d like, but birth doesn’t follow a plan and you need to be flexible in case circumstances change. I really wanted to give birth in the birth centre, not the labour ward, but on the day I wasn’t allowed because I’d become higher risk by my waters breaking. This panicked me a bit, and I think if I’d entertained the idea earlier I might have been more relaxed.
5. It doesn’t have to be a horror story. Although things didn’t go quite to plan, my birth wasn’t as horrendous as I expected. I managed with just gas and air. People love to share a horror story and scare the life out of pregnant women. Not all births are terrible.