Since birth and Postpartum are continuously such a massive part of my life everything associated with both has become very normal to me. My hope is always that my clients feel similarly when they enter those phases of life. However, sometimes even the most prepared individual can be caught off guard by aspects of birth and Postpartum. Here are some things that might catch you off guard.
Be prepared to feel wet! You will likely have some "show" during the beginning of Labour which will involve blood and mucus and discharge. Once your water breaks or is broken you will likely have a gush of fluid with each contraction. This can be quite uncomfortable and unnerving to some women. Pads can be replaced as often as is needed to make you feel comfortable!
Contractions continue after birth! They are much milder but they continue until your uterus has returned to its original size. If you breastfeed you may notice them when you nurse. Breastfeeding naturally encourages these contractions. In addition, a nurse will press down on the top of your uterus several times in the 24 hours following birth to ensure your uterus is staying firm and contracting down. This massaging can be quite uncomfortable.
If you are sent to the hospital to be induced this does not necessarily mean you will be meeting your baby that day. You may be given cervadil or a prostaglandin gel to ripen your cervix several times before either labour starts or your cervix is softened enough to start syntocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin used to cause contractions). However, inductions are not always long! Just like labour that starts on its own inductions can vary in length!
If you have an epidural you may be 10cm and not be actively pushing yet. This can be the case without an epidural as well, but the epidural can help you ignore that urge to push a little longer. Your body may also naturally labour baby down a bit before you get an urge to push. 10cm is that magical amount of dilation that we always are told is when we start pushing. However, how low baby is is just as important. Baby will descend as Labour progresses and often care providers will wait until your baby is +2 station until they start instructing you to push. This allows your body to do most of the work while you rest! Isn't the body amazing?!
We would love to hear about what surprised you when you were learning about childbirth, or if you have given birth what surprised you during and after the birth of your baby?