Having my first son 8 years ago I was completely clueless about what to expect. I spoke to friends and family as well as going to my local NCT classes. This was great to understand the different stages of labour and all the pain relief options. It wasn’t until I actually went through labour that I really understood this. I discovered a few things that no one really had mentioned.
First on all check your dignity at the door, I was quite modest before I had Will. Having an examination by a doctor or removing my clothes left me quite embarrassed. Oh how this changed when I was in labour. I couldn’t have cared less if I’d have walked around the hospital naked. You will have numerous people examining you sometimes with a large RAC torch aimed at your lady bits. No I’m not joking it was an RAC torch. Labour rooms are really hot as well so stripping off is one of the only ways to keep cool.
Plans and Good Intentions
It’s a good idea to have a birth plan and make sure your birthing partner know what your wishes are. Don’t hold onto these plans too dearly though. Labour is completely unpredictable and often best made plans go out the window when baby has other ideas of how things will happen. Go into labour with an open mind and try and be adaptable if you can be. If at any time you have any concerns then make sure that you talk to your midwife and are comfortable with what is happening.
Needing the toilet
It’s really important to use the toilet regularly during labour as having an empty bladder and bowel will help when it come to pushing. You’ll find you need to time toilet breaks in between contractions as most delivery rooms don’t have an ensuite. This means leaving covering up, leaving the room and making it back between contractions.
This is just plain weird and there will be a point where you think ‘this baby is just not coming out’. Before hand I worried I wouldn’t know when I was meant to push, in retrospect this was a silly concern of mine. During labour your body just takes over and the urge to push is something you can’t help but go along with. It is a very strange sensation and yes you may well poo whilst pushing but it’s nothing midwives haven’t dealt with before.
Delivering the placenta
At this point you will hopefully be cuddling your baby and may have had an injection to help deliver the placenta. This was a little bit of a blur to me as I was so happy to be cuddling the baby that I wasn’t concentrating on this stage of labour. The midwife was pushing on my stomach and pulling the cord to remove the placenta, it wasn’t really painful, it was just a strange tugging sensation and was over with quite quickly.
I was under the impression that stitches were not the norm before I had kids. After 3 labours I have had 3 lots of stitches and most of my friends have had to have stitches as well. I can laugh about this now but when I had Will a junior doctor tried to do my stitches and actually gave up complaining he ‘didn’t know which bit went where’ before marching out of the room and sending in a midwife to do it. That’s definitely not what I or my husband wanted to hear! It all turned out fine in the end I’m happy to say.
Stitches aren’t pleasant but they do need to be done to avoid complications later on. I used the gas and air during the stitches, especially when they put in the local anaesthetic as it stings. After that it feels like a someone is tugging as the stitches go in. There was a tiny area that the local anaesthetic wouldn’t work and I used the gas and air whilst that was being stitched.
Ummm the bit after stitches…
The one thing no one told me was that after they are finished stitching they need to check your rectum and they will insert a finger to make sure it’s OK. Not a pleasant experience but it’s over with quickly.
Also if they offer you a Volteral suppository then it’s a good idea to say yes as it can give you some great pain relief for 24 hours and start to take down the inflammation.
Still it’s all worth it in the end and surprisingly we seem to forget it quite quickly, that’s why some of us are crazy enough to do it multiple times!
Anything else you’ve experienced in labour you wish you’d known before hand?