How to Prepare for Delivery

Woman giving birth

I know having a birth as bad as I did is very rare, but we do exist.

Hi ladies, does anyone else feel like you weren't aware of how incredibly hard pregnancy and labor can be for your body?

I have been thinking for a while about something that has crossed my mind quite often - how many times while enduring the pain of recovering from my catastrophic labor I felt like I was "tricked" to have children, which I know isn't true but I felt that before I actually got pregnant, nowhere was I told how destructive labor can be and that pregnancy can be 9 months in hell, not a beautiful thing. Just, why we don't talk about it? I guess what really bothers me was how horribly uneducated I was about pregnancy and labor-and this comes from a university-educated woman.

No one - absolutely no one told me before my pregnancy that my birth could end up being a diabolic experience with fourth-degree tears (I don't know if I translated that correctly, sorry, English isn't my native language), my flesh being cut from anus to vaginal hole, that we would need the assistance of a vacuum. That I could end up having multiple surgeries trying to give back my ability to hold my feces, that it would take 14 months for me to be able to have sex with my husband again, and even after that the sex would never be the same. I have suffered from horrible PPD and the feeling that my sex life and body had been robbed from me made me really angry, sad, and bitter for a long time. My marriage has suffered from the fact that I couldn't have an intimate connection with my husband. The worst part is that even my super patient husband made me feel that I was being selfish or that it was my choice at some points - even though he knew perfectly well what had happened and had talked to all my doctors. My husband's best friend made a tasteless joke about our lack of sex while he was drunk, one that made clear how he and obviously my husband thought that he was the victim of that situation and I was to blame.

I know having a birth as bad I did is very rare, but we do exist. I am not a unicorn, I meet other mums of young children every day and all the subjects we discuss are something I would have never known before. How so many ladies (even with minor tears) can have problems holding pee, how common it is to have at least some tearing, how hard it can be to start sex life after labor, how everything your body from your breast to the feet size can change shape, how nobody prepared for nauseous you can feel through the pregnancy, how your belly can look a bowl of oatmeal 3 years after giving birth to your third child, how breastfeeding can be painful and hard instead of being a beautiful bonding experience... The worst one is definitely one of my best friends whose birth was so excruciating torture she went into psychosis (again, extremely rare but she was never even discussed about the possibility, even though she had a heavy risk factor from her mother's side). Fortunately, she recovered because she received immediate professional care and is a wonderful and dedicated mother, but she still refuses to talk about it even with me. It is that shameful and horrible to her.

I quite often feel like we don't discuss the possible side effects of something that is so common not nearly enough- most of the stories in mainstream news feeds are raving about mothers 'kanungo', we don't really see how pregnancy and labor can change drastically the bodies even of those mothers who take care of themselves, and how it is normal to have a different body afterward. And that is only about looks, not to mention real-life stories about what labor and pregnancy can really be about.

Should we start educating children in school about what labor and pregnancy can do to your health and body, what is your opinion?

Labor and delivery will be less stressful if you plan ahead. To get ready:

  • Decide where you will deliver. Most women deliver in a hospital or birthing center. Contact your health plan to learn your options. Visit the facility beforehand—note directions, parking, and where to check-in.
  • Find out how to reach the doctor when you are in labor.
  • Ask your doctor about what to expect during labor. If you are worried about pain, ask about ways to manage pain during labor. Some women do fine with natural childbirth. Others are helped by epidural or pain medicines.
  • Discuss how to care for your newborn, including deciding about breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, and circumcision if you have a boy.
  • Pack a bag with your health insurance card, bras and nursing pads, nursing pillows, sleeping clothes, toiletries, and going-home outfits for you and your baby.

How do I know if contractions are real labor? 

It is common to have Braxton Hicks, or “practice,” contractions in the last weeks of pregnancy or earlier. The tightening of your uterus might startle you. But these contractions are not in a regular pattern, and they taper off and go away. If you are unsure whether contractions are real labor, time them. If they become regular, stronger, or more frequent, call your doctor.

Signs of labor: 

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs of labor:
  • Contractions become stronger at regular and increasingly shorter intervals.
  • Lower back pain and constant cramping.
  • Water breaking.
  • Bloody mucus discharge Labor occurs in three stages. How labor progresses and how long it lasts are different for every woman. The first stage begins with the onset of labor and ends when the cervix is fully opened (dilated). 

Many women spend the early part of labor at home. Your doctor will tell you when to go to the hospital or birthing center. The second stage involves the pushing and delivery of your baby. Pushing is hard work, and a support person can really help keep you focused. The third stage involves the delivery of the placenta (afterbirth). Once the placenta is delivered, you can rest and enjoy your newborn.

Did my water break?

It’s not always easy to know. If your water breaks, it could be a gush or a slow trickle of amniotic fluid. Let your doctor know the time your water breaks and any color or odor. Also, call your doctor if you think your water broke, but are not sure. Often a woman will go into labor soon after her water breaks. When this doesn't happen, her doctor may want to induce (bring about) labor. This is because once your water breaks, your risk of getting an infection goes up as labor is delayed.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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