Having just been there, done that and brought home the baby, Aly fills us in on a few of the things the birth books don't tell you about giving birth!
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You can’t always get what you want: Ask any woman who has given birth to compare their birth plan with the birth they actually had and I think you would struggle to find one that had what she had planned. The truth is, that plan as you might, mother nature does her thing and all your planning goes out the window. The key is that if things don’t turn out the way you expected, don’t let it freak you out. Go with it, press as much as you can for what is really important to you but as for the rest of it, just go with the flow and trust that you are in the best hands.
You give birth twice: I think I must have glossed over this part of the book but after giving birth to your wonderful bundle of joy you then need to give birth to the placenta. Now, I kind of thought that the midwife would just pull this out, or I would sneeze and it would shoot out, but no. You have to properly push that bad boy out, chin to chest, deep breaths, the works. You are exhausted and you just crack on and do it, but it was a bit of a shock for me!
You bleed, a lot: Once you have given birth I would recommend that you don’t look on the floor as there is every likelihood you will think you are on the brink of death due to the amount of blood on the floor! DON’T PANIC this is normal and just the beginning of your bleeding journey! After giving birth you bleed a lot, stock up on black plants and plenty of maternity pads as for those first few weeks you will have a tsunami of a period! Don’t be alarmed it will stop and you are not dying. Make sure you drink lots of water and listen to the midwife to keep an eye out for clots and other things you need to be made aware of. The bleeding can last for weeks like over 6 so don’t panic.
Breast is not always best...for you: We all know that breast is best for baby but sometimes it just isn’t right for you. It is not, as the books make out, easy and pain free. It is relentless, hard work and often painful but if you keep going you will get there with the right support so don’t be afraid to ask for help with it. Your nipples will crack, the latch will hurt, and you will feel like it should be easier than it is. IT IS NOT EASY, so give yourself a break and ask for help at every turn. Your milk won’t come in to begin with but it will eventually. If you decide that breast is not best for you, you are not a terrible person. Your baby will not grow two heads and you will get over the disappointment and Mum guilt that we carry with us if we aren’t able to do it.
Different is good: The problem with birth preparation is that there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We are not all the same. Some women will find birth a breeze others will not, some will breast feed like a dream others will not. Our babies will never all behave the same. We are all different (thank God!) and as such, what works for someone may well not work at all for someone else. Take all advice as just that, advice. You will suss out what works for you and what doesn’t over time, trust yourself and don’t be afraid if what you experience is not how the books say it will be. What you are experiencing is not wrong or right it is just your experience v’s that of someone else, who happened to write a book about it and declare themselves and expert! You are doing the best you can and that is not the best, or the worst, it is just what it says it is, it is good enough and that is all we can do!
The tiredness is crippling: The books tend to do the whole “it is hard work and you should sleep when baby sleeps” that does not even touch the sides my friend. The sleeplessness takes your mental and physical health to places it has literally never been before. Your body has never had to deal with so little sleep so cut yourself some slack. You will not function properly, You will not immediately get your body back. You will put the car keys in the fridge and the butter in the cupboard. You may not leave the house for weeks and your hair will never be washed. But you know what? As a great man once said “This too shall pass”. One day that baby will sleep through. One day the naps that Gina tells you will be regular as clockwork, will actually be just that and that will give you just enough time to eat some toast and pee. But that time will not be soon so just ask for help, accept it and know that you are not alone.