Even before I got pregnant, I was obsessed with watching reality shows about women giving birth. Seeing women progress from various stages of labour, to pushing out a live baby, never failed to fascinate me! It didn’t take long before I knew all about the several centimetres a woman can be dilated, what is too small, what is too much for any epidural to be administered, or what is considered ideal to start pushing. I knew all these things…and when I was pregnant, my fascination with such shows only deepened! Unfortunately (or fortunately, if I’m to be honest), I knew from very early on that I would be having a c-section. Even though I was sad about not having to go through all the crying and moaning, I was also a little bit relieved.
So, imagine how I felt when I happened on an article in Cosmopolitan, a few months ago, with a fantastic article about what childbirth is really like! And it really blew my mind! I had a chat with some of my friends who had natural childbirths, and they all affirmed the stories. I was so captivated that I knew I just had to share some of what I learnt:
1. Water breaking is anything but ceremonious
I think I blame Hollywood for this one. We have all been conditioned to a woman’s water breaking to be something like a quick and sudden burst of water, often leaving the woman standing in a pool of water. Well, from what I’m told, it is more like a slower, gradual flow, that almost feels like one is weeing uncontrollably. As if that isn’t enough, this said water could be trickling all day!! But guess what! Just because your water has broken doesn’t mean the baby is almost here. It could still be hours before contractions start, and your cervix starts dilating! Now, isn’t that just peachy! But word of caution, once this water ‘breaks’, even if it is the slow and steady trickle, you have to submit yourself to your doctor, as this means that the amniotic fluid protecting the body isn’t there, and it could be more prone to getting an infection.
2. Contractions are actually worse than actually pushing out the baby
Okay, this didn’t surprise me too much. Even though I had an elective c-section, I did experience some mild contractions, and trust me when I say they weren’t any fun at all! For many women, contractions are the deepest circle of hell! Apparently, they could start like regular cramps, which could make you think they aren’t all that bad…until they morph into what feels like your uterus being ripped out of your body. BUT, if you are one of those super women who decide not to get an epidural (like, who does that?!), then the pushing might just be the worst thing!
3. A lot of women actually do a ‘number two’
Loose translation (pun intended), this means to poo, take dump. Now, that doesn’t sound at all romantic, does it! From what I read, you’ll know it’s time to start pushing because the weight of the baby pushing down on your nether regions, your anus included, will make you feel increasingly more uncomfortable. Alas, no matter how much you beg, you will not be allowed a toilet break. And if you get an epidural or spinal block, you might be so numb that you don’t feel yourself actually let it rip…literally.
4. You might almost definitely get an episiotomy!
This happens when your doctor cuts your perineum, the skin between your labia and anus, to help the baby out. It sounds far worse than it is, so if you are pregnant, it is not advisable to Google this, as the shock of it all might just kill you. A lot of women who get epidurals don’t even feel their episiotomy. And by the time it happens, you don’t really care. All you want is to have the baby out as soon as possible!
5. They might even vacuum your baby out
Especially in cases of distress, like when the baby’s heart rate starts to drop, or in cases of pre-eclampsia, a vacuum is often used to suction the baby out. Once this happens, the baby usually comes out quick and fast. The down side is that there is sometimes a bit of a cone head situation…but fear not, as it’s usually just temporary!
6. You have to deliver the placenta after the baby
I used to think all the work was done, once the baby was out. But it turns out that’s not the case. My Mom tells me how a nurse in the theatre congratulated her after she delivered me…only for another to counter “Why are you congratulating her, when she hasn’t even delivered the placenta??!!” You can just imagine that!! The good news is that it is usually a way quicker process that birthing the baby. The bad news is that, once it is out, especially if you had an episiotomy, there might be stitching involved. You might even have to wear a mummy nappy too, i.e. a sanitary pad tucked into your underwear to provide relief, and deal with any bleeding. You might also have your period for a stretch period of 6 weeks after that. Good times!
7. You will forget all these a few months after
I have heard that you forget the pain the minute you hold your baby, but I’m glad this one was more realistic, and gave the timeline as months. Even though oh, some of my friends say they remember, clear as day, the excruciating pain from their childbirth 8, 9, 10 years go. But anyway, the general belief is that childbirth is like a weirdly realistic dream that you can’t really remember. What you remains is the baby you love so much! Contractions and mummy nappies are temporary…but this baby is forever!
Good luck, ladies!