1. What really happens to your body afterwards?
Everyone tells you about the post-partum bleed and the fact that you will still have a sizable belly straight after the birth, but no one tells you that you feel like your vagina is going to fall out. It feels like it’s all gonna fall out when you stand up, when you walk and especially when you go to the loo. This makes you want to punch the midwife for telling you to start on your pelvic floor exercises straight after the birth.. and do them multiple times a day, every day… forever. Yes, that’s right, the cost of having a baby is you now have a life sentence of daily bum clenching to ensure your vagina doesn’t fall out. You really don’t want that to happen in Tescos.
A few days after you get home you wake up with rock hard concrete implants and none of your bras fit. This is when your milk comes in and the Pammy Anderson look makes it extremely hard for your baby to latch on and so your engorged boobs hurt like hell. You can’t even show off your newly impressive cleavage because aside from having no nice undies that fit, you have leaking boobs and need to wear maternity bras and breast pads – sexy! Unfortunately this also coincides with the massive crash in hormones in your body post-pregnancy giving you the baby blues and makes you feel like a total big-concrete-titted failure.
On the plus side because you aren’t pregnant anymore you can fit a lot more food in and start having mamalicious size portions. You can also lie on your stomach again, at least for a couple of days until you wake up with those concrete implants… I would say ‘sleep’ on your stomach, but to be honest you won’t be doing much of that for a while…
2. Nothing can prepare you for labour
Labour starts at a random time and place and in different ways for everyone and no amount of ante-natal courses or books can prepare you for how you will feel and how it will pan out for you. Even though the last 9 months had been leading up to this, when my waters broke 2 weeks early I still cried like a big girl because this meant that within the following 24 hours one way or another I would be having A BABY. Ermahgerd!
3. It feels as if you give birth out of your ARSE
From the moment I was having, what I considered to be extremely strong, one-and-a-half minute contractions less than 5 minutes apart (bah, what did I know at only 1 cm dilated… cut to 9 hours and 9 cm later) I felt an incredible amount of what I can only describe as Extreme Rectal Pressure and the strongest urge to push imaginable and this only increased as things progressed. Not like any ordinary urge to poo, or even the most severe constipation I’ve ever experienced but rather an intense and powerful force that made me feel like my arse was going to turn itself inside out whilst simultaneously having an extremely hardcore cramping period pain.
Either, ironically the brunt of the impact of birth isn’t on your front lady parts, or, I have conveniently become a Post-natal Vaginal Amnesiac. I don’t remember actually feeling any pain or stretching in my front lady parts during the birth – AKA ‘the birth canal’. When you’re in labour you completely lose the identity of your va-jay-jay by the way, as it simply becomes ‘the birth canal’ through which your baby needs to make his long awaited journey. Rather than Frontal Lady Part Pain, what I experienced was just a constant and extremely literal pain in the arse, with a 7 pound bony baby knocking at the door. The fact that seemingly my va-jay-jay transformed into ‘the birth canal’ for the birth and then morped back again could well be a clever ploy of Mother Nature if you are indeed ever to have sex again. You certainly don’t want even a meme of the birth left in your lady parts once they resume their prior role of pleasure centre, and you really don’t want to be reminded of something very large and hard coming out whilst something (hopefully) substantial and hard is going in.
4. It never goes according to plan
These days there’s a big emphasis on empowering women and couples to make a birth plan. The NHS midwives encourage this, all the pregnancy week-by-week emails advocate this along with the NCT classes. Realistically it’s great to know what you might expect and what pain relief options there are, and to have discussed it with your birthing partner, but definitely think of it as ‘birth preferences’ and not a ‘birth plan’. You may find that your preference for a natural birth quickly subsides into an appetite for a serious pharmaceutical cocktail binge. With the best will in the world, remember that this birth involves 2 people, one of which has never discussed their plan or preferences with you – your baby.
5. It’s the most amazing thing you will ever do
It may possibly be the most painful, intense, traumatic, tiring and surprisingly long test of endurance you ever go through convincing you that if there is a God then he is definitely a man and a mean bastard at that, but as soon as that baby is finally out the intense contractions suddenly stop and the main part of the pain is over. *Huge sigh of relief. (The likes of post-delivery stitches pale into insignificance and just feel mildly uncomfortable in comparison).
I had a huge burst of adrenaline in the first couple of days after the birth despite 48 hours of no sleep and a ventouse delivery following a harrowing ambulance transfer from the birthing centre to hospital fully dilated whilst pushing all the way (after pushing for a good few hours already may I add). I was totally overcome with how utterly amazing the female body is to go through the rigours of birth and then make such a spectacular recovery. I was also overwhelmed and so grateful for how supportive and wonderful all the midwives and clinical staff were who looked after me, not to mention my husband as my calm and collected birthing partner. I was also bloody proud of myself for going through the hardest thing I’ve experienced in my life and not resorting to violence or swearing. Not even once! Not to mention the end result of your labouring is pricelessly special and endlessly fascinating. You will never tire of gazing at this perfect little person you’ve grown and produced.