The question of what to expect when giving birth frightens many women, some to the point that pregnancy is not an option. The answer of course, is blood, sweat, tears, more blood, drama, cold temperatures and lastly warm hearts. Yes, childbirth can hurt but for the most part, few women truly remember the experience to be as bad as it was once they see the fruits of their labor, literally!
Obviously, the big part of giving birth is physicians or midwives. Depending on the one you choose and your birthing plan your birth can go in several directions. So many people envision this perfect childbirth and labor only to be disappointed because of a c-section or the need for various medications during the course of labor. Some are disappointed that it went too slowly or didn’t feel that it went just as planned. Essentially, a million people can tell you what to expect when giving birth but your experience can be the culmination of so many things, your childbirth could be completely different.
There is blood. Luckily, few women have to see that part. The worst part of childbirth is lying on the table with your legs spread eagle for all to see and having little control over how many or who walks through the door to see the birth. Hint to pregnant woman is to be explicit if you don’t want your father in law barging in to see your privates! Nurses can be both compassionate and witchy and some will treat you as though you are the biggest sissy who ever gave birth while others will take their time and pet you so you will feel more relaxed. The doctors are only interested in about 5 minutes of your birth experience and just because you love love love your OBGYN throughout pregnancy doesn’t mean they care to be there through all the pushing. If your labor ceases and a C-Section becomes imminent, many doctors will order the epidural and leave you waiting until it is convenient for them to come in and delivery. While rude, with so many patients calling them away they have to set limits!
The other thing to expect when giving birth is to be very thirsty and be allowed nothing but ice chips. The hospital beds are uncomfortable and most birthing centers allow and encourage you to get up and walk around. The worst part of birth can be the back pain you experience through the contractions and although they seem like they will never end’ they do! If you choose to use epidurals or other spinal blocks than you can pretty much expect to feel alien to your own body and to experience nothing but mild pressure and some pulling sensations throughout your body? Medications will also mask the feeling of any tears you will experience and can help you enjoy the experience without pain. Realizing of course that many women are against pain meds and wish to tough it out, if you are fearful of that part be certain that with meds, you won’t feel a thing!
Another thing very few people consider is just how long it may actually take to give birth. There are the few women who can go in and have a baby within a few hours but the great majority goes to the hospital long before they are completely dilated. This can mean that you are going to spend hours and hours laboring in a bed and much of wont feel like true labor. Why? Because the initial phases of labor aren’t as dramatic or intense as the latter phases.
Of course you can also expect a wide range of emotions. One minute you will be excited and the next overwhelmed and psychotic. You are allowed to feel whatever, and the combination of not knowing what to expect, worrying that your baby will be okay and becoming a mother can be enough to make any person certifiably crazy.
What to expect when giving birth doesn’t have to be a nightmare. If you envision something grotesque and frightening, you are just psyching yourself out because it won’t be like that. There will be lots of people around, lots of people trying to call and visit and lots more people who can take care of you should the need arise. The unpleasantries of taking medications, being checked every hour to see how far you are dilated (which just seems cruel in retrospect) and enduring the ebb and flow of pain and emotion is really bittersweet. By the time its over, you will feel relieved and as though you have just lost something because the little baby you were able to hoard all to yourself for 9 long months is now out for the world to meet. At this point, mom is pretty much forgotten as people become grandparents, fathers, aunts, uncles or godparents.
The most important advice any woman about to give birth can get is to try and remain calm and flexible throughout. Learn relaxation techniques and as much as possible try to enjoy the last few minutes of couple hood without children before you are immersed in the new life ahead. What to expect when giving birth is nothing compared to what to expect when you have a house full of children.