Every pregnant woman starts to fret during the third trimester. We all start to wonder what labor is really going to be like. Some moms-to-be have a plan from the get-go and say, “I’m going to have a midwife and water birth,” while another quips, “I’m getting the drugs ASAP.”
It doesn’t matter what kind of birth you plan for, childbirth is the great unknown. You can research it, watch the videos, and go to Lamaze classes, but you won’t know what it will be like for you until it starts.
If you’re anticipating childbirth, here are some possibilities to keep in mind just in case your birth does not follow your birth plan:
1. The baby will come at an inconvenient time.
It’s near your due date, but you have a cold. Or there is a snowstorm. Or your husband is stuck out of town. If it is the worst possible time to have a baby, you can count on your baby arriving within 24 hours. If chaos strikes your life, just finish packing that overnight bag quickly.
2. Is this really it?
Those pre-labor warm-ups can be painful and alarming as you are anticipating baby’s arrival. You might show up at the hospital only to be let down and told to go home. You’ll be mad because you’re in serious pain. You’ll say, “This feels like the real deal.” The nurses will just shake their heads and show you the door.
3. Your water could leak…for hours.
You assume that when your water breaks, it will be comparable to a flash flood. Perhaps it will — or you may just continually leak fluid throughout your labor like a leaky faucet. Sounds lovely, right? Just grab some plastic bags before you get in your car.
4. Epidural, are you there?
If you are putting all your eggs in the epidural basket, you may be unprepared. Sometimes the epidural doesn’t work, or it works only on one-half of your body. Remember bad timing? The anesthesiologist could be called to an emergency or maybe the power is out because of the ice storm.
5. You might need a barf bag.
Some ladies react to pain in different ways and one way is to vomit. It’s more common to empty your stomach contents around the transition since that’s when the pain can really gear up, but with birth, there are no hard and fast rules.
6. You may ask for some cheerleaders.
Some ladies labor in silence, focusing inward on getting them through the contractions. Others may look to those around them for a little verbal encouragement. You might ask for motivational words, cheers, or even songs. You just never know.
7. You may get freaky.
Again, who knows what you’ll do as you try to cope with the process of expelling a human from your body. You might feel the best totally naked. You might want to make strange animal noises. You might get on your hands and knees and rock back and forth. (Let’s just hope you don’t do all three at the same time.) You may act really, really strange. Don’t worry. The good folks on the labor and delivery ward have seen it all.
8. You might think the baby is coming out of your behind.
You’re probably anticipating a lot of sensation for your lady parts, including that infamous “ring of fire.” But did you know that you’ll feel an extreme pressure in your derriere? You might think you are pooping a watermelon. Try not to panic. The baby really isn’t coming out that exit.
9. You might poop your pants.
Speaking of poop, you probably will poop for real. You may worry about it before labor, but the doctors, midwives, and nurses won’t be fazed. They will clean you off and will even be encouraged that you are pushing correctly. Remember: What happens in the delivery room stays in the delivery room.
10. You may push for hours.
First-time moms are told to expect to push for 1-2 hours. That sounds like a really, really long time and you may think, “I’ll be done in 15 minutes.” Expect to do some grunt work as you figure out how to do something you have never done before.
11. You may see a new side to your husband.
Your man may act out of character during this huge event and could surprise you in one way or another. Maybe Mr. Tough Stuff will need to sit down with his head between his legs after getting a little queasy. Or maybe Mr. Unemotional cries at the birth of his child, surprising you with how touched he is. Or maybe Mr. Laid Back is the Mary Poppins of birth and fetches you ice chips and tennis balls and stays awake for 45 hours straight while tending to you.
12. You’ll feel capable of anything.
Once it is all said and done, you will feel a huge amount of relief and satisfaction like you’ve never felt before. You’ll be riding on a high during which you will think, “Wow. If I can do that, I can do anything. Bring it on, Mount Everest.”
Birth will change you in ways you don’t know. You’ll discover how strong you really are and how much you can endure. And it’s great to end on that high note, because now you’ll have to survive a lifetime of parenting.