Labour – the word itself is pretty self-explanatory. You have a vague idea that it is a long, very possibly painful experience that results in a baby. It is, but it is also so much more. Labour is a truly amazing experience for a mother. Most women you talk to will sing its praises but it seems that there may be one or two little facts that your doctor/mother/friend omitted during their account of what labour is.
Here is the low down on the “unexpected” when you are expecting:
1. Labour is long
On average a woman dilates around 1 cm an hour. And the first few centimeters can take even longer. So bank on the better part of the day in labour. It is a good idea to warn your birthing partner too. Try not to rush off to hospital the minute your labour starts. The longer you can spend at home relaxing the better.
2. Your baby can get stuck
The birth canal is not exactly a straight passage. The baby has to negotiate the somewhat tricky pelvic outlet. On occasion if your pelvis is misshapen, or the baby is too big, then there is a chance that the baby can get stuck. You will be monitored closely throughout childbirth to ensure no such complications arise.
3. You may poop
This is one that not many like to share. Most moms keep this little gem totally to themselves. If we’re looking at the basic anatomy of delivery, the baby exit and the poop exit are basically semi detached neighbours. As the baby makes its way down the birth canal any stool in the bowels will make its way down into the rectum. Being so close in proximity it is obvious that when bearing down to push the baby out, you may also be pushing out a poop.
4. You might vomit
With birthing comes a big surge of adrenaline and this can cause you to feel nauseous and even vomit. This, in addition to the pressure in your abdomen during contractions and pushing, can all contribute to the unexpected purge. Don’t worry the staff are pretty used to this and will have a handy vomit bowl for you if you need it. There is also a chance if you have had an epidural that your blood pressure may drop leaving you feeling nauseous.
5. You will be stiff afterwards
You are literally using every single muscle in your body to push a baby out. Be prepared to feel like you have run a marathon the next day because you pretty much have. Doing some strength and flexibility exercise during pregnancy will help you prepare for labour day.
6. You may get hungry
Having used such a high expenditure of energy to deliver a baby can leave you pretty hungry afterwards. Make sure you bring in some extra snacks to keep you going.
7. You say mean things
Something about labour pain can make you say some pretty mean things. Forewarn your partner that anything said in labour ward stays in labour ward.
8. You may shiver and shake
A massive surge of adrenaline is released during labour that can leave you feeling a little jittery. This will pass. Try to stay calm and ask for a warm blanket.
Taking into account all of this, one thing is for sure- you will feel like a total rock star! It can be the most amazing empowering experience of your life.