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When I was pregnant with our first and only child, words could not describe just how excited I was. I researched everything, downloaded baby information and growth tracking apps. I took on board everyone’s tips and advice and I booked my self and my husband into all the appropriate birthing and breastfeeding classes available at the hospital where I would give birth.

Unfortunately though, looking back now, I don’t really think any of this really prepared me or my husband for what birth and that first week as a parent would really be like. I also feel like there was a lot of important information that would have been really useful to us, that we just weren’t told.

So here are my important tips for what I wish I knew prior to giving birth:

Labour

I think it’s safe to say that no amount of knowledge or preparation can really prepare a woman for labour. When my husband rang the birth suite, at the hospital, to let them know that my waters had broken and that my contractions were 5 mins apart, they told him that birth suite was very busy so if I could stay at home where I was comfortable for a little bit, that would be better for me; but we were to come straight up if anything changed. They also told my husband that I should have something to eat before I came up. It was 8am and I hadn’t had breakfast, so this made sense. No one told me though, that labour can actually make you vomit. Why would they leave that out of their birthing classes? This was the first thing I wish I’d known.

The epidural

During one of my birthing classes, we were explained, in a rather negative way, how an epidural works, what time frame we would need in order to get one and how the whole scene would look in the hospital.

I was already steering towards not having one but after this class I was adamant that I would not, under any circumstance, have an epidural. This was not up to me though and after about twelve hours in the hospital, my doctor asked me if I would consider having one, as labour was not progressing, and by having the epidural I might be able to fall asleep and give my body and my baby a few extra hours before the doctors would have to intervene. My doctor was lovely and I was not forced to have one but under the circumstances, I agreed, even though I was terrified.

As it turns out however, having an epidural is not as scary as the birthing classes made it out to be and I wish I’d opted for one sooner.

The caesarean

Not once did anyone ever talk to me about having a caesarean. They were not spoken of during birth classes or during my antenatal appointments. They didn’t even come up in the countless birthing stories that I had to endure from random customers, people walking past me in the street, waitresses at cafes I dined at and everyone else who thought it was a great idea to share with me their worst case birthing experiences.

My daughters birth was by emergency caesarean. This, I was not prepared for and it is to this day, one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through; not because having a caesarean is scary but because I didn’t know what was involved with one or what would happen.

The drugs

Not once was it ever mentioned to me just how much of a negative effect the drugs and gasses given to me in the hospital could have on my body. These drugs and gasses, while vital at the time, can make you nauseous and even vomit. They can also bind you up and make it very difficult to be able to go to the toilet. This would have been handy to know.

Going home

The hardest thing my husband and I had to experience in the days following our daughter’s birth, was being told that I could go home, or rather, had to go home, but that we couldn’t take our daughter with us. Some irregularities meant that the doctors wanted to monitor our daughter further, unfortunately though, my time in the hospital was maxed out. This was absolutely heart wrenching and nothing had prepared us for this. After being through so much and then having to return home with our arms empty felt like nothing we had ever felt before. Thankfully though, our daughter came home with us the next day, after having made a few health improvements overnight and after a lot of pleading with the nurses.

It became apparent to us though, that there are many families who weren’t as lucky as we were and who had to come to the hospital daily to visit their new babies. Leaving the hospital without your baby is a possibility, one that we, and certainly many others, are not aware of.

When going through a pregnancy, particularly your first, it becomes apparent that it is everyone’s duty to tell you how it’s going to be, according to their own experiences. But there are some things that I look back at now and think “why didn’t anyone tell me that?” Especially when it comes to birth, which is funny, as it seems to be that one topic that people seem to feel the need to share with everyone.

So I hope that in sharing some of my experiences, I might help a few women prepare for what may happen.

What things do you wish you were told about before giving birth? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • Basically don’t plan too much and be aware that something unexpected can happen. Sometimes you have to go with the flow.

    Reply

  • I think sometimes these pre natal classes focus on the wonderful, natural and life changing event of natural childbirth. I think it should be mentioned in passing that things do not always go like clockwork or according to plan. Every labour is different and every woman is an individual. Epidurals are fine if they work properly. One of my daughters had one and it did not work yet she still got a huge bill for it. An unfortunate side effect is paralysis of the legs etc so I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING ONE! With the last birth I decided to do the labour drug free because of a severe reaction to syntocinon when I was induced with the 3rd one! That was ok until labour was full on!. My analgesia was singing nursery rhymes! lol!!! I was told by experts that I would have been better to have an epidural after having a difficult P O P that turned at the last minute so to speak. P O P is a posterior position of the fetus that causes very , very intense back pain. I don’t regret it though as not having any drugs I got over the delivery quickly and was able to breast feed for a long time.

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  • As a lot of others have said, I didn’t realise this happens to a lot of people. Your story is so similar to mine. EXCEPT – this was my third child, we both nearly lost our lives, I had over 7 blood transfusions and so did she, she was baptised in the hospital with my husband and a dear friend as witnesses as I was still drugged out and being transfused after the emergency Caesar. Eventually I had to go home from the hospital and pick up the reins of my other two children while she languished in hospital until she was almost 6 months old. Every day I went in with expressed milk for her and she would beg you with her eyes to pick her up, but she wasn’t allowed to be touched. It was the most horrible 6 months of my life and I’m sure it is part of the rift we still have between us today as there was no bonding.
    Thank you for your story – it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

    Reply

  • Wow!! I feel like I could have written this myself. I am amazed at the similarities we share, and the experiences are exactly the same! Nobody once mentioned any of the above to me either, and as a result I was spaced out of my mind because of all the drugs, so after the c section and the next day is still blurry to me. Like you I read and researched absolutely everything, but I will never forget our first night we brought our daughter home. My husband and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing. It was the biggest eye opening life changing experience ever!! It was 5am and she hadn’t gone to sleep yet, so at that stage we rang my husbands mother, and needless to say she was there in 2 minutes flat and such a lifesaver.
    Everyone is so quick to tell you their stories and the “basics” but no body once told me any of the above. Thanks for sharing, its good to know I’m not the only one out there xo


    • We called my mum too! She stayed a few nights with us which was so helpful. I’m glad you could relate to my story, I’m glad I’m not the only one who was totally over informed on some parts of labour and birth, yet totally in dark about the rest.

    Reply

  • Would have been nice to know that you can bleed out after giving birth. I lost a third of my blood and had to go into surgery to stop the bleeding. Missed the first 3 hours of my baby’s life. She went hungry that entire time.
    Could not get up to tend to her during my first days in hospital as I was all wired up and weak from blood loss. I still cry about it after a week giving birth.

    Reply

  • I wish someone had told me ‘they turn into teenagers”!!! I would have run for the hills.
    Suck it up princess, life is tough, it prepares you for parenthood “it hurts, its messy, it makes you fat and it makes you cry” for the next 20 years. LOL


    • I do find this a bit harsh…actually my life has never been like this.
      And yes i do have children and they are well over being teenagers, I still have one at home and find that life is different now I’m older and life is much more relaxed and laid back but I can actually say my life and the life with my children has been AMAZINGLY AWESOME and they are AMAZINGLY AWESOME. :-)

    Reply

  • I wish I’d been told I would bleed for 6-8 weeks or how painful getting torn would be afterwards!

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  • Such a truthful article. I felt very similar to you. I also was told to eat something and then felt nauseous throughout labour and vomited. I agree though, nothing can prepare you for labour and the split second decisions that have to be made sometimes.

    Reply

  • I guess i was very lucky.
    With my first I went private as I had no idea what I might have to deal with. My Doctor was amazing and over the 9months he made sure I knew everything i needed to know. We covered all the things that could happen. All the different options for pain killers, etc and even though i said i wanted to do this without the drugs he made sure I knew all the options anyway just in case. Thankfully I didnt need them.
    He was an excellent Doctor and even told me that if after the birth I had any moments of feeling it was all too much or I was depressed, etc that i was to phone him straight away.

    Reply

  • There are so many different scenarios but I agree that there is not enough information given in regards to the drugs and what they do, as well as what is given to bub after he/she is born.
    However, different things afffect different people in different ways. I had an epidural for my first, and will never consider that option again as it really prolonged labour and birth.

    Reply

  • I’m almost 6 months pregnant and I feel the same. Noone tells you anything vital. My OB always asks if I have questions and my response to her is always what should I be doing or what do I need to know. It’s my first time, I have no idea! My friends and family can only tell me their experiences.

    Reply

  • I found theres lots of things they dont tell you about labour and the first week that i really wished i’d known. For me it was the epidural too. I was on the fence about having one, but what surprised me most was advice if i had one, i could rest and relax and it would allow my baby to come down lower as i had stalled. It worked a treat and an hour later she was born after almost 18 hours stuck at 3cms.

    Reply

  • Going home without your baby must have been so sad.
    I think I didn’t really understand how painful the contractions were, till they started.

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  • Thank you for sharing your story.
    I wish I’d been told that if the hospital gets busy, you might get forgotten about

    Reply

  • Reading your article makes me realise just how different the labour and going home experience is for everyone. My experience was very different to yours, but it was still a huge learning curve. I doubt that anyone can ever be fully prepared as there are so many variables.

    Reply

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