Carrying on with my Mama Stories Blogger Takeover – today’s post was written by Kirsty of Life With Boys blog. She lives in Scotland with her two boys – Jordan, her partner and gorgeous baby boy Harrison who was born in October 2016. She blogs all things baby and parenting. We first got chatting via Twitter when we were both pregnant – it’s been lovely as I’m a few months behind, I’ve learned so much by following her journey. I really enjoyed this post as labour can be so unknown, daunting and scary to most, but Kirsty’s birth story was positive and an inspiration. Here are 6 things they don’t tell you about labour….
The prospect of labour for a first time mum is terrifying – heck, the prospect of labour for an anytime mum is terrifying. It’s unpredictable, it’s painful, it’s messy, but it’s necessary and the outcome more often than not is life changing. I hated being pregnant and couldn’t wait to be ‘normal’ again, but even in the run up to labour I would have gladly extended my pregnancy for that little bit longer just to silence my anxiety at the prospect of giving birth. I spent weeks, months even researching birth plans, watching labour videos, reading the stories of others, and I can hand on heart say none of them prepared me for giving birth to my son. I had an amazing labour, my pain was sustainable throughout and I was in and out in hours – but there are still a few thing’s I wish I’d known before I went in…
1. Labour Doesn’t Have To Be Like A Scene From Carrie
I had this extreme expectation of what child birth would look like – all based on unrealistic television, not that I was aware. I had this expectation of stirrups, scalpels, a good few medical professionals in the room, but I had none that. There was absolutely nothing clinical about my labour room – other than the monitor for the babies heart rate, my birthing room could have been mistaken for a budget premier inn with an odd choice of bed. There were no doctors, no nurses, just myself, my birthing partners and my midwife who sat comfortably in an armchair to my side the entire time. This all contributed to how positive an experience I had, but it doesn’t mean it was any less of a surprise. Any expectation I had of childbirth ending in blood, guts and the remnants of mummy’s insides, for want of a better term was squashed when I delivered a completely spotless baby. He barely had so much as a mark on him – never mind my expected massacre scene from Carrie.
2. Gas and Air Doesn’t Always Work For You
I had no proper birth plan; I had simply resided myself to having an epidural, and with that in mind I was content with how my labour would play out. Little did I know that I would arrive at the hospital at 9cm dilated and have my request for the epidural laughed at, instead I was offered Gas and Air. My initial try using it sent my eyes rolling into the back of my head and I felt like I was on a four day bender, my second left the contents of my stomach on Jordan’s shoes, and with that, I gave up. I never expected pain relief not to be an option, no one ever told me that could happen. Whenever I think of going to hospital, I think of the doctors being able to take pain away instantly – gritting my teeth never quite crossed my mind.
3. Everyone Reacts Differently to Pain
I coped fine – I either just had a really good labour, or a really good pain tolerance, but either way, I got through labour fine. I didn’t get my epidural, and I didn’t need it. I never knew that could actually be the case. I’d always assumed it HAS to be extremely painful and I would be screaming no matter what experience I had – not the case though. It won’t always be the way it appears on One Born Every Minute, every woman is different and your not guaranteed to have to feel like your ripping in half. For some, labour is an extremely difficult experience, everyone’s body reacts differently, I was just lucky, but I wish I’d had it in my head that maybe it would be like that. I near enough gave myself a complex worrying about labour – when I needn’t have bothered. Also, it has to happen anyway. Whether its a positive or negative experience, the outcome is still the same, your life is changed forever, and in no way could that ever be negative. Pain is temporary.
4. Dignity Doesn’t Exist
I knew this to an extent, I mean, how much dignity can you really have whilst pushing a watermelon out of your vagina in a room full of medical professionals. Even for me, without the room full of professionals, dignity is gone. What I didn’t expect though, was how little you notice, or care. The midwives have seen this all before, hundreds of thousands of times. Every little worry you had before, about shaving your noon, fake tanning your legs, whether your dressing gown matches your nighty… they all go out of the window. The entirety of my hospital experience as spent half starkers, internal exam after internal exam, chances are I probably shat myself without noticing (they don’t tell you whether you do or not – I was somewhat disappointed, my curiosity gets the better of me), and at no point did it even cross my mind to be embarrassed, or self conscious. You have bigger fish to fry at that point.
5. The Midwives Don’t Always Know Best
I phoned the hospital three times before I turned up. The first time I was told to phone back when foetal movement was reduced or the pain was unbearable. The second time, I was told if I was talking during contractions then I wasn’t in established labour and to phone back later. Again I was completely dismissed as she couldn’t fathom me having two contractions whilst talking away to her. The third time, I didn’t give them a choice to reply, I simply said I was heading up. When I arrived, my midwife gave me a paracetamol and left me in a room for 35 minutes before finally giving me an internal examination – at which point she found I was almost 9cm dilated. After I gave birth, the midwife joked that in the elusive 35 minutes where she had left me initially she was at the front desk telling them she’d give me a quick once over and get me sent home – I didn’t look like I was in pain, fine, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t in labour. It’s better to trust your own body than your midwives opinion, you know best.
6. You Can’t Induce Labour
Oh the irony of this point. I spent 3 and a half weeks bouncing on a birthing ball, stuffing pineapple down my face, eating curries until my eyes watered and drowning my insides in raspberry leaf tea. It doesn’t work. Everyone told me this. I should have just accepted it. Labour happens when it happens, as annoying as that is, I wish I’d accepted it and I would have saved myself £150 worth of Indian curries and a hell of a lot of time spent on the toilet.
I had a fair few unrealistic expectations, and I got proved wrong on most of them. I wish I’d realised going in that every labour is completely different, and there is absolutely no way to prepare yourself for it. No matter how many blogs you read, vlogs you watch or people you talk to, nothing will ever prepare you for the whirlwind that is childbirth. Regardless of the labour you have, it’s worth it anyway, no matter how it happens, we’d do it all in a heartbeat again for the sake of our children.
Thanks Kirsty for the fab guest post!
Oh dignity most definitely does not exist! Someone said to me “hang up your dignity on the way into the labour ward and pick it up on the way back out”.
This was such a great read. I too am terrified of the labour period, even with hypnobirthing, and its nice to know sometimes it can be a pleasant surprise!
I’m a few months behind you Lyndsay, due in July, and I have been absolutely loving your pregnancy posts and nursery planning etc! It is so helpful and so nice to know someone else’s honest thoughts on things, I have a feeling friends sometimes sugar coat it! 🙂 Hope you and Violet are enjoying being back home xx