Giving birth is some journey. It’s not something to fear itself – millions of pregnancies go well every year. But, even in the Western world, we just never know how it’s going to go. Back in 2012 when I had my first baby, I felt in a bubble. Shows like One Born Every Minute were addictive and slightly terrifying but exciting too.
If you’re a mum-to-be, here are some of the things that you need to know about giving birth.
Your bump Won’t Go Away Immediately
Mums like to believe that once the baby is out, their bellies will go back to normal almost instantly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it works. You don’t get that classic pregnancy tum just because the baby is pushing on it. It’s actually partly a hormonal response to pregnancy – a way of your body making room before squashing the baby up against the walls of your abdomen.
Consequently, the new volume in your midriff doesn’t return to normal immediately. It will get there – it just takes time. You’ll have to be patient.
It’s a good idea, therefore, to hold onto some of your pregnancy clothes. You may need them for the first few weeks after giving birth buy that’s okay. After all, you just grew a new human being inside your body. That takes a lot out of you.
It’s Not All About The Baby
When it comes to giving birth, there are two people involved: you and the baby. As a new mum, you’re clearly going to focus on your new child, but it’s vital to take some time out for yourself. You deserve a moment to recuperate too. Giving birth isn’t easy. Your body just did something incredible. It built a new person from scratch, which is something that takes an enormous amount of energy and resources. It’s okay to feel tired, especially after giving birth. After the birth, you’ll naturally want to spend some time with your baby. But you’ll also want to take some time to eat, rest and recover. All three of those things may have been lacking during labour, they were for me. I was shattered and could hardly keep my eyes open.
You Can Experience Cramping After Giving Birth
Many women experience cramping in the aftermath of birth. While it’s a perfectly natural process, it can also be a little uncomfortable from time to time. If you are experience cramping, remember that it’s healing you. It happens when the uterus returns to its regular size, and it also prevents bleeding. Cramping is your friend. In the days and weeks after birth, cramping can be especially intense while breast feeding. The reason for this is that cramping is a response to the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is a chemical that helps us to feel more connected to the people around us, including our own babies. When you breastfeed, your body releases oxytocin to help you bond with your child – it’s perfectly natural. The unfortunate byproduct, though, is more cramping in the womb.
Almost All Women Get Pain Relief During Birth
Did you know that 80 percent of women opt for pain relief during labor? Gas and air is the most common intervention. I personally LOVED it. This helps you to feel more calm and relaxed, making the whole experience a little less intense. Most women feel some discomfort during the labour process, but for some, it’s a manageable and even friendly, pain.
Don’t be surprised if you feel a little lightheaded after receiving gas and air, sometimes called Entonox. Also, it’s natural to feel a bit giggly. This effect is just the interaction of the chemical with your brain. Laughing while giving birth might seem silly, but it’s one of the best ways to do it. I remember laughing uncontrollably at one point and trust me, it wasn’t a funny moment. It would have been painful otherwise so gas and air was my best friend.
And don’t worry about the side effects. Entonox is perfectly safe for both you and your child.
The Burning Sensation During “Crowning” Is Normal
When the baby starts to emerge, and you can see the top of its head, it’s called “crowning.” It’s a perfectly normal and natural process, but it can lead some women to experience a burning sensation. That sensation is essentially just the skin around the opening stretching in a way that it hasn’t before. Crowning can feel a little unpleasant and usually lasts for a few contractions. But rest assured that it’s a perfectly routine part of giving birth. Nothing is going to happen to either you or your baby.
You Should Have A Dedicated Nurse
If you have a hospital birth, multiple people will likely be involved in the process. But there should be at least one person – your nurse/midwife- who is with you the whole time and not darting off to other places. The midwife/nurse is your port of call. She (and yes it is almost always a she) will be there to answer any questions and tell you what everyone else is doing and why they’re there. She will notify you when the baby is due, how far along you are, and whether there are any complications.
The Birth Of Your Child Will Be Different From Somebody Else’s
People are different from one another in many ways, including how they give birth. Your birth will be different from those of your friends. With this in mind, it’s worth remembering not to put too much stock in what others say. Some women can have days of labour before the baby emerges; others, minutes. It really does all depend on your biology. Likewise, your hospital experience might be pleasant, whereas that of another mother might be extremely unpleasant. It all depends on your circumstances. Your baby is unique too. The weight and size of babies vary from one person to another. Some babies have bigger heads than others, while some are “long.”
Try to blot out the noise of other people’s stories and focus on your own experience. Just because somebody you knew had a bad experience, doesn’t mean that you will necessarily. Giving birth is often very different from what many mums-to-be expect. So go easy on yourself and into it all with an open mind x