What you need to know before you give birth

Giving birth. I must admit, it's something I know little about, having never done it myself. 

I feel that those who have come out the side never tell you EXACTLY what you're in for, never giving an accurate depiction of the pain and time and pain and hunger and pain involved. They sort of vaguely mention "a bit of a sting" and then focus completely on the wonder that is their newborn child.

But it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, especially with hordes of pregnant Newshub mamas exiting for maternity leave in droves. 

This week on Newshub podcast The Snack, Podcast Editor Maggie Wicks shared her own birth tale, including an exhilarating cab ride in busy London. 

If one day in a far off, fuzzy, financially sound future I have children of my own, I need to prepare for the whole birthing thing. I want tips and tricks from those in the know, like a list of life hacks for birth. 

So here is a list of my own compiled research, that some of you, whether pregnant, planning to be, or similarly frustrated by lack of accurate retelling, may feel like reading. 

Writing for Cosmopolitan, Michelle Ruiz popped some cinematic illusions about your water breaking. 

  • Your water doesn't break in a ceremonious splatter at your feet. Unlike in every movie ever, when a real woman's water breaks, it usually doesn't look like a water balloon shattering on concrete. More likely, it's going to be a slower, more gradual flow akin to uncontrollably peeing yourself. We've all done that, right?
  • Your water might not break just once. Said "water" — actually, amniotic fluid that forms a protective sac around your baby — can keep trickling all day, necessitating a fat maxi pad, which feels very Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. This is the first time birth will lead you back to maxi pads. But it ain't the last.
  • If your water doesn't break on its own, a doctor breaks it for you. With a super-long hook-like thingy, I am told. Supposedly it doesn't hurt per se, but just feels "uncomfortable.

Writing for What To Expect, US labour and delivery nurse 'Mama M' gave some planning inspiration. 

  • Prepare yourself. And I mean, really prepare yourself. Pay attention in those birthing classes. 
  • Decide early which birthing method you want to use. "Just winging it" is not a recommended birthing method and is certain to guarantee you a fentanyl drip into your epidural space faster than you can say "Get the anesthesiologist, STAT!".
  • Find yourself a supportive labour partner. Not all men are great at fulfilling this role; others are fabulous at it. Just find yourself someone (sister, mother, friend, doula) who supports your goal and is willing to be with you through the thick of it.
  • Focal points really do help, as does focusing on your breathing, and well, anything really, that can help get your mind off of the contractions. Once upon a time, I had a patient that would sing through her contractions. Not songs, really, just a warbling of words that came out of her mouth in a somewhat song-like fashion.

Also writing for What to Expect, parenting expert Nicole Fabian-Weber offered these gems of advice:

  • You might want your partner to leave you alone. No matter how lovey-dovey you and your partner were during your pregnancy, active and transitional labour — when your cervix dilates from 8 to 10 centimetres — is no joke. During your contractions, you may feel sick, sweaty, tired or just annoyed — and you may not want to be touched. Do whatever feels right for you in the moment, and trust that your partner (you know the person who's not giving birth) will understand.
  • You give "birth" twice. After you deliver your baby, you're technically not done. You still have your placenta to deliver. Typically, the placenta, the organ that gave your baby oxygen and nutrients during your pregnancy, is delivered within a few minutes of giving birth — and don't worry, it doesn't hurt! 

 And finally, this one from a mother in the Newshub newsroom:

  • No matter how painful labour is, its probably not as painful as that first bowel movement, post stitches. 

We'll leave that one there. 

Join us for The Snack podcast, where Sarah Templeton and Monika Barton talk all things love, relationships, dating and of course, sex. 

In each episode, Sez, Mon and sometimes a guest or two dig into the metaphorical cheese platter of their personal lives - often divulging much more than their mothers would like. Tune in every Friday! Wine, laughs and full-body cringes guaranteed.