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5 things nobody tells you about childbirth

Baby being delivered by a stuffed stork

During pregnancy you have to come to terms with the idea of giving birth. Numerous parenting classes, pregnancy books and websites explain the various stages of labour and people will happily tell you their birth stories. All these things help you prepare but when it comes to extracting babies there are many things to take you by surprise.

In this post I share five things that happened during my labour that I hadn’t expected, or even heard about beforehand.

1. Labour can take a really long time: Yes, you hear about labour taking many hours, people baking cakes or going for long walks before things properly get going. Nothing I read, nor anyone I spoke to, suggested that it would take four days from my first contractions for Tall Boy to make his appearance. That being said, you only experience pain during contractions, which means you can carry on as normal at the beginning. Someone I know even completed a pregnancy pilates class in the early stages of her labour!

2. You have two types of waters: When you see people’s waters breaking on TV they gush out, usually at a hideously inappropriate moment. This does happen to some people but it’s also possible for your waters to release as a slow, continuous trickle (that’s where incontinence pants come in very handy). Many people don’t realise that you have fore waters in front of baby’s head and hind waters at the back. These may not break at the same time, which means you can lose your hind waters and still need assistance to break the fore waters.

3. When it’s time to push they take away your gas and air – but it’s OK: It’s the pain relief information that no-one shares. Apparently you concentrate better on pushing if you aren’t breathing gas and air so you are encouraged to go through the final stages under your own steam. Following the midwife’s instructions to push at the right time to make the most of each contraction is somehow enough distraction that you won’t really notice – they might have to prise the mouthpiece from your hand first though. 

4. You might not be allowed to eat: Everyone talks about filling your hospital bag with snacks to keep you going but if there is any chance that you will need a caesarean, for example if they are considering inducing your labour, food is suddenly off the table. Make sure you have sports drinks with you to keep your energy levels up.

5. Your legs and ankles can swell up beyond recognition: It’s common to experience swelling during pregnancy. Ankles in particular react if you spend a lot of time sitting or standing still, or if you find yourself heavily pregnant during a heatwave. However the process of labouring can also cause you to swell an alarming amount. My epic cankles almost merged with my thighs and it took several days for them to return to normal. For some reason this bothered me more than anything else after the birth. 

Did you experience anything unexpected during your labour? Share your revelations in the comments below for the benefit of other mums-to-be.



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Becci Johnson

Hi, I’m an almost 6 ft, thirty-something living in Manchester. Writer, blogger & mum to twins plus one.

  • Claire Hartley

    As always a very informative post! I’d add that some people are very sick if they eat or just cannot eat at all in labour too. Luckily a friend told me this so I was prepared with energy drinks & glucose tablets as I did experience it – for a proper foodie it was a shock and took about 36 hours after the birth to go too! It was like I was trying to eat sawdust!

    21st September 2016 at 11:32 pm Reply
  • natalie

    Very true – with my first I was really expecting this big dramatic scene when my water broke – it was simply a trickle I was very confused by it all! #coolmumclub

    22nd September 2016 at 8:21 pm Reply
  • Angela Watling

    My waters breaking was more dramatic (although I initially thought I’d just wet myself and for a second panicked because I thought I’d lost all bladder control…) but I’m with you on the taking a really long time. Also, energy drinks are a must even if there is no risk of cesarean. I couldn’t stomach anything so my blood sugar dropped and I got tired too quickly. Just thinking about it makes me feel tired and anxious 😉 #CoolMumClub

    23rd September 2016 at 12:59 pm Reply
  • Talya

    All so true…what I found totally OMG was not just that my legs and ankles swelled up but my whole body and face..I literally don’t look anything like myself in the photos of that moment after birth..!! Great to have you back at #coolmumclub and welcome to motherhood! Xx

    24th September 2016 at 10:40 am Reply

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