I don’t know about you but I had a lot of pre-conceived notions about childbirth. I thought it would hurt like hell, I assumed the ‘pushing part’ would be over in seconds, and there was no way I’d be losing control and mooing like a cow (which I did apparently, thanks Matt). Here are 8 things I wish I could go back and tell myself pre-childbirth:
1. Babies don’t keep to schedules:
My waters broke two weeks early with Emily and I was admitted to hospital shortly afterwards. Four magazines, one Marian Keyes book, and sixteen hours later there was STILL nothing happening. Prepare for those pre-baby jitters to last a while. Some babies take their own sweet time arriving at their birthing parties whilst others, like Jess, shoot out like rockets. I went from 2cm-10cm in twenty minutes with her. We only just made it to the birthing suite in time.
2. Contractions hurt:
I wish I could lie but I can’t. Still, it’s not what you’re expecting. There’s no sharpness, it’s more a dull, gripping pain that comes and goes. A bit like the worst period pains you’ve ever had.
3. Pushing didn’t:
With Jess I had no pain relief whatsoever but I can’t remember her actual birth hurting. I tore quite badly as well. I think you get so caught up in the whole birthing experience. You can see the finish line and almost taste that first glass of wine in nine months…
4. Don’t rely on the iPod:
And this goes for candles, incense sticks and all those lavender-infused, diamanté-incrusted pillows that granny hand-stitched for you. I guarantee the only birthing aid you’ll be reaching for is your partner’s hand. We wanted something deeply personal playing on the stereo when Emily was born. A song that we chose for our wedding. Unfortunately Matt hit the wrong button and she was born to the Braveheart soundtrack instead. At one point I half-expected to see Mel Gibson popping up behind the midwives and flashing his kilt at me.
5. Tens Machines are only useful up to a point:
After then you may as well be sticking a cattle prod up your bum for all the good it does. Now is the time to switch to a birthing ball and ‘visualize’. It sounds pretentious but at 9cm dilated I was sitting on a ball imagining myself holding a baseball bat and smacking the pain out of the ballpark. And you know what? It worked!
6. Don’t be a hero:
I was brainwashed by NCT and those HypnoBirthing DVDs. I was convinced I could do it on my own, but I didn’t count on a drip of Syntocinon wrecking the party. There’s no shame, people. Take the damn drugs! It doesn’t make you a better mother if you don’t. As soon as my epidural kicked in I had a great time and actually enjoyed Emily’s birth (sort of).
7. Don’t fear the needle:
I hate needles, and the thought of someone sticking one into my spine…? It gives me the shudders just thinking about it. Yet I didn’t feel a thing when I was given my epidural. In fact I was so reassured by the experience that I was planning on having one with Jess too. Unfortunately Jess had other ideas…
8. Prepare for stitches:
It’s an inevitability with most births, along with sore breasts and those ridiculous disposable maternity pants that you’re advised to wear. And no it doesn’t hurt when they ‘numb the area’ because you’re so chuffing numb down there anyway. Plus you’re as high as a kite with all the hormones and cuddles with your newborn. I had between 20-30 stiches with both births. Two second-degree tears. And guess what, I’m ok!
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