10 things you should never say to a woman in labour

Posted in Birth.

Hell hath no fury like a woman pushing a watermelon out of her hoo-ha. If you plan to live to see the baby’s face (I’m talking to you, Dad-to-be), do not say these very foolish things to a woman who’s about to give birth.

1. “It’s almost over”

Because maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just beginning. It’s entirely possible that there are still 27 hours of excruciatingly painful labour ahead. So, don’t make any false promises if you don’t want to get punched in the baby-maker.

2. “I’m tired”

We know you’ve had your hand squeezed to a pulp and all your words of encouragement have been met with death stares over the past 17 hours, but you are NOT tired. Is that clear? You are nowhere near as tired as your partner who has been trying in vain to eject a human from her body. In fact, you’re never allowed to say you’re tired again because she will always be more tired than you. The end.

3. “Shouldn’t you just take the pain meds?”

No, Joe. You’ve discussed this, remember? It’s in the birth plan. The one she printed 14 times and made you read over every day for the past two weeks. It says: NO PAIN RELIEF. What part of “no pain relief” are you not understanding? Maybe YOU need pain relief because you’re being a bloody pain.

4. “I’m just going to take a little break and get something to eat”

Nope, you are not. She gets no breaks, you get no breaks. She gets no vending machine Kit Kats, you get no vending machine Kit Kats. Sit right back down and don’t even think of pulling out your phone to check Facebook.

5. “Wow, the head is HUGE”

What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, so keep this little nugget to yourself. When she’s experiencing the infamous “ring of fire” (an indescribable burning sensation that occurs when the baby’s head crowns and her tissues are stretched to their maximum capacity), she’ll know exactly how big it is. For now, shush.

6. “Don’t push”

Mate, she can hear the midwife and the doctor telling her not to push when she REALLY wants to push. She doesn’t need you to frantically repeat their instructions. She needs you to be as quiet as a mouse right now. She’s trying to prevent a human from being expelled from her body at 100km/h and she doesn’t need the extra annoyance.

7. “That’s going to leave a scar”

If she’s having a caesarean, her vision is probably obstructed by the blue medical sheet that’s separating her from the medical team. She might feel scared and alone. She does NOT need you to point out that her body will be maimed for life. Hold her hand and tell her she’s doing a fantastic job. And when it’s all said and done, buy her an amazing push present. (Don’t you dare point out that she didn’t push!)

8. “I’m going to pass out”

If you’re squeamish, do some exposure therapy before the big day. Watch childbirth and C-section videos online and give blood a few times if needles make you woozy. You cannot pass out on the hospital floor seconds before your child makes its grand entrance into the world. Not only will you miss one of the greatest moments of your life, but your partner will never let you live it down.

9. “Something else came out at the same time as the baby!”

No, no, no, no, no. Simultaneously pushing out a human baby and a poo is EVERY woman’s greatest fear, so take a cue from the birthing team and look the other way. A clever midwife will whisk it away in mere seconds and no-one needs to speak about it ever again. Let’s leave the woman with a tiny scrap of dignity, shall we?

10. “Hey, doc, can you add an extra stitch?”

When a woman has just been through the most challenging and agonising experience of her entire life, making a joke about her mutilated privates is ill-advised. VERY ill-advised. Do not underestimate her power to get up off that bed and give you a reason to get stitches.

The moral of the story is: be quiet unless it’s to say, “Amazing job!”, “You’re doing great!” or “I’m so in awe of you right now!” You might still get hurt, but hopefully not as badly.

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