Congrats! You've made it through the 10 months (or there abouts) of pregnancy. You had the awful bouts of gas that you blamed on the baby, you most likely were not that 1% that had the actual coveted "pregnancy glow"(sorry!), and I bet you have tried at least one form of natural labor-inducing fad.
We all know that contractions hurt and labor can be messy. You have probably been told horror stories about labor and been told by every other mother out there how to handle it. But there are certain things that veteran moms, baby books, and your Ob/Midwife may leave out if not directly asked. So here it is....
You may think you're prepared...but you're not!
Sure, you're hospital bags are packed, you have a pet sitter on the ready, and you have your birth plan in hand. That is all well and good, but that moment when you do go into actual labor, I promise that you will not be ready. You spend 10 months dreaming of this moment, but when the harsh reality slams you in the gut, you will find yourself second guessing everything. Did I pack everything, am I sure I want a natural birth, am I timing the contractions correctly (even though you practiced a million times with your "Full Term" app during your Braxton Hicks), are just a few thoughts that will swirl around your head like a raging tornado.
All modesty will go right out the window!
I am a very modest person. I do not change in front of people, I do not show a lot of skin, I do not talk about bodily functions (until now!) and I certainly do not flash my whooha to the world. Well that all changed once I was in active labor. I started my labor in a nice black Victoria's Secret silk bathrobe (seriously who was I kidding?) but once I hit a certain point I figured all bets were off. You will have so many cervical checks by many different people then you will be spread eagle to about 6-7 others that you just don't give a care anymore! So, don't even think "I'll be covered up" because you won't. You will be sweating and want to rip off every article of clothing on you! So please, please, please do not go out and buy a special "delivery gown"since you wont wear it and if you do it will be a bloody mess by the end.
YOU WILL POOP!
Yup, that's right! No woman wants to admit that she pooped during labor, and some many never even have been told, but trust me, it is inevitable. Think about this for a moment, you are pushing a 7-9lbs baby out that is pushing on your rectum, and if pushing correctly, you push like you're pooing. There is no way around it and to be honest, you won't give a crap (see that I did there... hehe). I told my loving husband to not tell me if I do pass a little solid, but part way through I quietly asked him and he looked at me wide-eyed and said "oh yes!" but I didn't care. It actually will give you a sense of relief (yes in every meaning of the word) to know that you're pushing the most efficient way you can. So be proud ladies!
You will bleed.... a lot!
How could you not, you just had a baby come sailing out of you then you had the placenta ripped from your uterus, and your baby's lifeline cut from you. But no one prepares you for how much. I had asked this question to many women, just to be prepared, and clearly I never, not once, got a straight answer, many of them downplaying it (you know who you are!). So here it is: you bleed buckets worth. You will need assistance the first few times to use the bathroom (thankfully my husband was the one to help, as he met his traumatic limit earlier during birth, so this didn't faze him). It doesn't magically stop once you walk out of those hospital doors either. Oh no, it goes on and on for a solid 4 weeks (lighter as time goes on). But here is the silver lining, they give you mesh undies and massive pads to wear at the hospital. Seriously, if I had thought ahead I would have gotten Depends, they would have worked better and I would have felt more secure (plus when I peed by surprise I wouldn't have to worry!). Oh well, next time.
You may not be immediately overwhelmed with joy.
The movies have really skewed our perception of labor and delivery. It is not glamorous. It is painful, tiring, long, and down right taxing. So after hours of going through all that, of course you are excited to meet your little one that you cared for over the past 10 months. Just don't expect it to be a party. You will be exhausted and will have to go through all the "clean-up" associated with the delivery. This is NOT to say it is not the most amazing experience of your life, but it's not the movies ladies. It's okay if you don't get that overwhelming joy that you associate with giving birth right away. You are a basket of hormones and a bucket of yuck at that point. Trust me, you have plenty of time to feel all that joy! Some do right away and some it may take a few moments for it all to sink it, neither is wrong nor right, just reality.
Your baby will not be perfect!
Okay, in your eyes he/she will be, but on closer inspection and a few hours later you will see all the imperfections. When people think of babies, they think perfect head, perfect skin, and just a bundle of perfection. Well, most babies have some sort of deformed head that will normally correct itself by the time you head home (mine had the biggest cone head with a side of bruising). Their skin is far from perfect. A lot of babies come out with little whiteheads all over their face (Milia). It will go away within the first few weeks, don't worry. Some get cradle cap and others peel from head-to-toe. But in your eyes they will be perfect, so try to look past that, just don't be surprised when they don't come out looking like a Johnson & Johnson commercial.
Women often think that just because something is natural, that it naturally happens. Well, this can't be further from the truth. Some have an easy time breastfeeding from the moment their baby latches after delivery, but most have to work at it. It is a massive learning curve for you and baby. Take advice from the lactation consultant. But do understand, it will hurt. If your baby latches correctly, then it should only hurt for a short period of time until your skin gets adjusted. But don't get discouraged! If it continues to hurt, ask for a nipple shield. That saved mine and baby's breastfeeding. Make sure that you use some sort of ointment (I used MothersLove since it was oil based and not lanolin based). Oh, and make sure you always have a huge glass of water near you. When you breastfeed it triggers your body to crave fluids to replenish what the baby is taking from you. I got, and still get 4 months later, an insatiable thirst the moment (no joke) my son latches.