I’m sure you’ve all heard a million times that you can’t really understand what it’s like to be a mom until you are one. I do believe that’s true, but there are a TON of things I would have loved to have been given a heads up about. Particularly regarding pregnancy, labor and delivery. I have some great friends who entered the tribe before me, and luckily they weren’t afraid to share the good, the bad, and the ugly when I asked.
The one thing I couldn’t figure out when I was going through it was why no one talks about this stuff. Giving birth is one of the most natural human functions. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to know what to expect during labor and delivery. For the record, this might have been covered in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but I don’t think I got through it.
For all of us who didn’t have the time or desire to read twenty baby books – this one’s for you. The real truth about labor. While it’s different for everyone, here are some of the top things I wish I’d known, uncensored.
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The mucous plug – myth or fact?
It exists, but everyone doesn’t see it fall out. And if it does fall out, you might not go into labor in the next 10 hours. It’s different for everyone and is just another of your body’s signs saying that it’s getting ready.
Googling the mucous plug is graphic, but will help you see what it looks like. A lot of times you might mistake it for discharge.
Your body will “expel” before labor and delivery
This is something I definitely wasn’t aware of. A few weeks before I gave birth one of my friends casually mentioned that she had diarrhea the day she delivered. Then I asked around and found out that almost all my mamma friends had intestinal issues before the big show. Your body is trying to clean itself out, just let it happen.
While I didn’t have diarrhea or even poop more than normal, but I certainly started puking again as soon as I went into labor. I had horrible morning sickness up until about 15 weeks and then started getting sick again the last week or so of my pregnancy (37-39 weeks). The evening I went into labor I hadn’t felt well, and it took throwing up to convince me I wasn’t having Braxton hicks.
I can’t tell you if this was from the pain or just my body’s way of getting everything out – but either way, it wasn’t pleasant. Luckily it only happened twice.
Fun fact – some women vomit throughout their labor. I’ve heard this mainly from people who had morning sickness that never let up.
Labor isn’t always slow
In birth class, they taught us that labor could take over 24 hours for first-time moms and that laboring at home for as long as possible was the best course of action.
I thought that my contractions at 38+6 were braxton hicks. They began around 7 p.m. but didn’t get serious until 10 p.m, when I figured out I was in labor.
We got to the hospital around 1 a.m. after I couldn’t sit still any longer. I had my daughter at 8:39 a.m. the next morning. I’ve also heard people having babies in 2-4 hours. I’ve mainly only heard this about second babies so first-time-mammas shouldn’t freak. However, I wanted to bring it up because it can totally happen.
Contractions are fickle
Only 3-4 hours after I felt the first twinge, my contractions were coming two minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds.
They slowed down once I got to the hospital, only to pick back up again once I got in a room.
Although it turned out that my fast contractions didn’t mean I was fully dilated, it was definitely not something I was expecting. It freaked me out to think that I could possibly be about to give birth in my bathroom.
It also didn’t give me the time to mentally or physically recover as I’d planned. I was planning to ease into labor. I’d planned on getting through a contraction and then getting a few minutes of rest. I assumed I’d be able to get used to the pain before anything got crazy. When it turns out it’s contract for 30 seconds, rest 1 minute, and contract for 30 seconds again – it changes the game.
It takes awhile to get to a delivery room
In the movies you see these pregnant women rushed into the hospital with a faint looking husband pushing a wheelchair screaming for help.
In reality, I walked myself into the ER, they directed us upstairs to labor and delivery and I was in a holding area for over an hour before I got into my delivery room.
One of the first things they did was check to see if I was actually in labor. So many new moms have false alarms, or if you aren’t far enough along in the process to be fully admitted. I walked in at 4 cm dilated so they confirmed I was in active labor, and it still took a while to get things moving.
You may not poop on the table
This is a big one for so many mammas. I titled this “you may not poop” because so many people think that it will definitely happen. Or it’s something they obsess over.
I get it – it’s terrifying to think that you might poop on the table. The good news is that it doesn’t happen to everyone. As far as I know, I came out unscathed. However, if it does happen, they’ll whisk it away so quickly you probably won’t even know it happened.
Labor feels like you have to poop
The entire time I was in labor I kept thinking I had to poop. I was admitted to my hospital room and just sat on the toilet. I kept looking and the only thing coming out was blood. On that note…
There will be LOTS of blood
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t prepared for this. When my water fully broke on the table in the triage area I apologized to the nurse. She said, “honey, that’s the least gross thing that’s going to happen tonight.”
A few minutes later when I got to my room and kept thinking I had to go to the bathroom, I realized why. The leaking (and blood) never stopped once it started.
You can get drugs other than an epidural
This may be something that isn’t a secret, but I’d never heard that there were drugs outside an epidural before I took a birthing class. I really wanted to labor as long as I could without the epidural, and I really hate pain. I was sold.
As soon as I realized I couldn’t even sit in the tub without jumping out of my skin, I asked for the Stadol. It’s a narcotic that the hospital will give you if you’re before a certain point in labor. I actually fell asleep between contractions that were 2-4 minutes apart. It was that good. And I got another cm dilated.
You can have two rounds of the Stadol if you’re not close to delivery
If the first round wears off, get another one! As long as you aren’t close to delivery you can get round two. I got to 7.5 cm dilated and was given the option of one more round of Stadol or I could get the epidural.
The nurses encouraged me and told me I could finish without an epidural. However, I was terrified for the Stadol to wear off when I was in the heart of transition and needed to push. I opted for the epidural instead, but if you’re earlier in labor you can get the second dose of Stadol, and the epidural later.
Labor can feel like your period
Or it can feel like the low cramps in your back. I’d always heard that contractions up front were false alarms, and that the real ones came low in your back. All my contractions were down low and up front – like really horrific period cramps.
While I had a different labor than most, that means it could happen to you too. Don’t dismiss contractions that feel like your period if you’re close to your due date.
You’ve got this. Although every labor and delivery are different, I hope the above information helps dispel any of your concerns or questions about the process and what to expect. Hang in there. Women have been doing this for thousands of years without modern medicine. We’re in a much better place.