No two births are the same. And many mums won’t tell you the gory details about what really goes down in the delivery room. But I’m not most mums. Here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to labour, delivery and the first hours with your newborn.
1. Expect to have trouble finding parking
Because for some reason, the hospital car park is always extra busy on the day (or night) you go into labour. It’s pretty much Mummy’s Law.
2. Expect to want to kill someone at some stage
Probably your partner. But also possibly the midwife who takes forever to come in or the doctor who announces you’re only three centimetres dilated after eight hours of pain.
3. Expect a lot of fluids
Not only in the form of water for you (and coffee for your partner) but also in the form of amniotic fluid, blood, tears, mucus and pretty much anything else.
4. Expect to hear other mums
This is not always the case, depending on where and when you give birth. But if your little one has decided to arrive on a busy night, then there is a good chance you will hear other mums next door going through the same things as you.
5. Expect to feel faint, shaky and even vomit
It happens to the best of us, especially if you have had a longish labour or if you have had an epidural. Embrace it. And ask your partner to get you a spew bag.
6. Expect to cry
From pain. From joy. From pride. Expect your partner to cry too.
7. Expect to feel euphoria you never even knew was possible
After all is said and done and you have your baby in your arms, you will feel like you have conquered the world. Which you have! This adrenaline rush, combined with pure exhaustion and newfound love, is so powerful it can be hard not to be overwhelmed.
8. Expect the afterbirth
Once your little one is born, you will still need to do a bit more work. But, compared to the birth, delivering the placenta is really not bad at all. Depending on your doctor and how long it’s taking, you may be given an injection to speed things along. If you don’t want that to happen, make sure you discuss it with your doctor or midwife beforehand.
What actually surprised me the most were the after birth pains as your uterus contracts back to size. Expect pain radiating through your stomach, pelvis and even down your legs, especially when you breastfeed.
9. Expect your baby to be hungry right away
A newborn’s sucking reflux is strong and most newborns will want to be fed within the first hour of birth. Of course, always ask the midwife if you are unsure.
10. Expect a seriously awful first nappy from your newborn
Baby’s first stool, known as meconium, has nothing cute about it. It contains whatever your baby has ingested during the time in utero including lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid and bile. The colour is dark green or black and the texture is similar to sticky tar.
Prepare to go through a whole case of wipes and probably dry heave three or four times during this first nappy change. But it gets easier, I promise!
11. Expect to look a little worse for wear
We’re talking bags under the eyes, possible bruising and swelling in places where you didn’t even know you could swell. It’s all part of the fun.
12. And, finally, expect the unexpected
Because there is just as much of a chance that none of these things will happen. That’s the beauty of becoming a mum – you never know what you are going to get! But I can promise you it will be a journey that you will always remember.