I can’t even begin to tell you how different labor was with Finn than with Reese. I think the main difference was that I knew what to expect with Reese. Sure, I took childbirth classes and did lots of reading the first time around, but living and experiencing childbirth firsthand is something that is impossible to put into words. The pain, the anxiety, the emotions, the exhaustion – all of it is indescribable.
And here I am trying to help other expecting mamas what to expect. There is a lot that happens, and a lot that people just don’t talk about. As I look back on both my deliveries, there was so much I found to be surprising or confusing. So based on my experience, here are all the things they don’t tell you about childbirth.
The delivery room is very calm.
Unlike the movies, my experience in the delivery room was extremely calm. In fact, my labor with Finn took so long to progress that David and I fell asleep. The nurses do come in to check on you every so often, but there was nothing frantic about any of it – and Reese was born in under 3 hours! Both of my labor and delivery nurses were so calm and understanding. The lights were dim and we even watched TV (with Finn. There was no time with Reese!).
There are a lot of people involved.
While I labored, my nurse was the only person I really saw. The doctor poked his/her head in a few times, but really for the initial few hours, it was just my nurse. As soon as I began pushing, it seemed like the entire staff needed to be involved! Not really, but quite a few folks did show up. My nurse was there, and the doctor obviously, but then a pediatric nurse came in for the baby, and eventually a pediatrician as well. There was also a support nurse for me, and a lactation consultant came in as well. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that many people, but I was caught off guard at how many necessary people were in the room – and how little I cared!
You may need antibiotics.
Around my 36 week checkup, my OB checked me to see if I tested positive for Strep B. If a mom does test positive, and I did for both of mine, then you will need to be hooked up to antibiotics in the delivery room. Apparently Strep B is threat to baby’s health and if he/she comes into contact with it, it could be very dangerous. So I was hooked up to antibiotics that were ultimately passed onto the baby to avoid any harm. It was given through an IV, and although pretty annoying, it was obviously worth having.
Contractions are not like “intense menstrual cramps”.
I did a lot of googling trying to find out what contractions felt like. I kept reading other mom’s say they felt like “very intense menstrual cramps”. I disagree completely. The best way I can explain a contraction is a really painful poop. Remember the Friends episode when Rachel goes into labor and says it feels like pushing St. Bernard out of your ass? Yep, that’s pretty much it! You are using the same muscles to push baby out as you do to go number two, so it makes sense. There is some pinching and squeezing that happens as well. All in all, it’s not pleasant and the only relief I felt was when David would rub my lower back and I would moan like a cow. Childbirth sure is beautiful!
You’re going to poop.
That being said, you’re going to poop. You are using the same muscles after all, so you shouldn’t expect anything different! Unless your husband is like mine and leans over mid-push to tell you that you just pooped, you aren’t going to know that you did! My doctor was very discreet and never said a word. I didn’t care, regardless. At that point I would’ve done just about anything to get the baby out!
Contractions continue after the baby is born.
Once baby is born and laid on your chest, you aren’t out of the woods. You then have to push the placenta out, which is nothing compared to birthing a baby. In fact, I didn’t even pay attention to it since I was preoccupied with a fresh baby on my chest. However, each time baby latches onto your breast, contractions continue. This is nature’s way of getting your uterus back to it’s normal size – quite amazing actually! But also, very painful. And the rumor about it getting worse with each baby is true. These nursing contractions were 10x worse with Reese than with Finn. Fortunately they didn’t last longer than a few days.
Depends are a really good idea.
It may be obvious, but with Finn I was very unprepared for the amount of bleeding that happened in the week’s postpartum. This felt like Mother Nature’s sick joke to me – not only was I sore and sleepless, but I was on an endless period for weeks and weeks?! For Reese, I was more prepared for this and wasn’t as offended by it. I bought Depends – the best idea ever – and got through it without complaint.
Whoever tells you breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt is a liar. Sure, now that we are six weeks out, breastfeeding is a breeze. But those first few weeks were painful. I spoke with a lactation consultant about this and she was wonderful, explaining that it takes lots of practice! Of course it does. Baby’s mouth is small, and your nipples are extremely sensitive parts on your body. My advice? Keep breastfeeding! There were days in the first and second week where I literally screamed out in pain whenever she latched on, however I’m so happy I kept pushing through. We are a good pair! Stock up with lanolin and nursing pads. Pro tip – soak your nursing pads in coconut oil. It’s anti-fungal and incredibly soothing! Plus it won’t hurt the baby.