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8 Things They Don’t Tell You About Labor

From the moment you became pregnant, how many times have you thought “How come no one told me about this?” The morning sickness that may actually be all-day sickness. The excessive discharge. The itchy stomach. The ultra-sensitive (and um, already leaky) nipples. You probably found yourself Googling a variety of “strange” events, just to find out that they’re totally normal.  

Before giving birth, you will meet with your provider about the type of childbirth: caesarean vs. vaginal, and all-natural vs. medicated. You will sit down and discuss your birth plan with your significant other, friends, family, or provider. You will see some adorable moms and their “littles” on Instagram in matching outfits post-birth, you too will splurge on a matching robe and onesie set. But, regardless of the preparations you take, there are always some unexpected moments in the delivery room. 

Here are 8 things no one tells you about giving birth, but you need to know.

1.Nausea and vomiting make an unwelcomed return.

Haven’t seen nausea and vomiting since those first 12 weeks? Well for some women, it resurfaces during labor. The American Pregnancy Association lists vomiting and nausea as two common symptoms during childbirth — especially during the “transition” phase. 

2. Bowel movements might be inevitable. 

It is very common for women to defecate on the delivery table. Don’t worry or be embarrassed. Your nurses will have it cleaned up before you even noticed it happened. 

3. You may have an audience.

Was part of your well-thought out birth plan to only have your significant other and mom present (in addition to your doctor, midwife or doula)? Well, you may be in for a surprise. In many teaching hospitals, labor and childbirth is a time for learning — meaning you could have quite the audience during your labor. If this concerns you, speak with your provider ahead of time. 

4. Baby’s head can be elongated.

You’ve likely spent nine months dreaming what your perfect baby would look like. But birth doesn’t just do a number on you, mama! Babies delivered via vaginal birth often come out with elongated or cone-shaped heads due to tightness of the birth canal. But, don’t fret! Your baby’s head will likely return to “normal” in about 48 hours.  

5. Prepare for two deliveries, without twins!

After you deliver your baby, you’ll be asked to give “one more push” to deliver the placenta.

6. Not everything will go according to your “plan”.

While many providers advise having a birth plan, sometimes sticking to that plan isn’t easy! Epidurals are not always as effective as expected. An episiotomy might be necessary. Sometimes a vacuum extraction is necessary. And sometimes after hours of pushing, an emergency c-section is needed. It’s important to go into childbirth with somewhat of an open mind, and trust that your provider always has you and your baby’s babies’ safety in mind. 

7. You may experience anal tearing or hemorrhoids.

According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 53 and 79 percent of women will experience tearing during pregnancy. Any women who plans on giving vaginal birth has already come to terms that some slight (or major) vaginal tearing may await her. But, you may not have been told about anal tearing. While anal tearing qualifies as third and fourth degree tears (much less common than vaginal tearing), they are still possible. The healing process and length for third and fourth degree tears can last much longer than first and second degree tears, taking upwards of 12 weeks to heal. 

In addition, the potential for hemorrhoids, swollen veins in the rectum, is also common.  

8. It is going to be the best day of your life!

And lastly, remember that even though you and your newborn both may head home in diapers, the joy, relief and excitement you’ll feel will outweigh any pain or discomfort you’ve experienced (or, are still experiencing). Just keep looking into those beautiful little eyes!