What women do and don’t need to know before giving birth

I confess to skipping NCT.

It’s never been in my nature to ditch class, but I just wasn’t up for the NCT courses on giving birth. Plus there wasn’t a group running near enough to our home.

But I’ve given birth to two kids and read a whole lot on the subject. What I have learned is that there is such a thing as too much information, and not enough.

Giving birth was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. It felt like running a marathon, or how I imagine running a marathon would be, through sand, while being poked with a cattle prod.

But there are certain things I wish I had and had not known going into the situation. Sometimes you want to be surprised and sometimes you don’t. When it comes to giving birth, it’s a fine line.

What we don’t need to know

What 10cm looks like
It’s scary enough thinking about the size of a baby’s head, let alone thinking about our bits spreading so wide. Charts like this need to be kept away from third trimester ladies. I went from biscuit to bagel so quickly the doctor preparing to give me my epidural was just readying the needle when the midwives declared it was “too late”.

Waiting to dilate chart

Any photos of babies crowning
The picture in our heads is bad enough, we do not want to see it up close. Besides, we won’t have to see anything from the business end anyway, thank f**k.

I was scared off of epidurals by figures saying many women end up having a C-section because of it. I’m sure this is true, but it stopped me asking for an epidural earlier during my second labour and by then it was too late. I really could have done with that epidural.

Any physical description or pictures of the placenta
In fact we don’t want to see it at all after the birth either. My husband did and he’s still traumatised.

That breastfeeding doesn’t hurt
In my opinion it does for the first few weeks. Telling women not to expect it to hurt probably contributes to a lot of them stopping, in my opinion. You have a hungry baby sucking furiously on your boobs for up to 20 hours a day. It’s going to be sore, but it will get better.


Average length of labour
Everyone told me my second baby would shoot out of me like a small child on a slide at a water park. It took 19 hours with about 30 minutes of pushing. Being told the average length of labour sets our expectations at a certain level when we shouldn’t have any. Every delivery is different.

What we do need to know

It’s going to hurt like f**k
Contractions are an absolute doozy. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten how bad they were when I got to the second time around. Knowing it will really hurt and thinking in advance of ways to mentally cope with it helped me.

What you think is full-blown labour actually isn’t
Think back ache and period pain is labour? You’re wrong. Take that pain and dial it up about 50, then you’re ready to go to the hospital.

You may poo
Sorry ladies but your dignity is going out of the window and it culminates in you pooing in front of a stranger/strangers.

Every drug option that’s on the table
Give us the facts, all of them. Don’t sprinkle in a bit of rhetoric about how great you’ll feel if you do it with no epidural. We just want to know the pros and cons of every option, then we will let you take our order.

Your other half won’t have a clue what to do
You can read all the books and articles you want but nothing will prepare your other half for when you’re screaming out in pain. It’s made worse if things start to go a little wrong, like you need an emergency C-section or a forceps delivery. It’s painful and scary for you, but terrifying for your other half too. No wonder its tradition to have a drink after the birth.

That your birth plan is highly likely to be ripped into pieces and thrown out the window
The baby didn’t read that you want to give birth in water at home with Celine Dion playing in the background. Babies get stuck, women in labour struggle and sometimes doctors have to step in. If you get your heart too set on a particular scenario when giving birth you are highly likely to be disappointed. Make a plan for things like pain relief, cutting the cord and other important choices, but don’t expect to stick to it.

The unimaginable pain really is all worth it once your baby is finally here
Whatever the journey to having your baby, once it’s over the memory of the pain starts to fade quite quickly for most women. Then you’ve got a whole new set of challenges to face as you cope with a newborn. There are no drugs that can solve these, but wine definitely helps!


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  1. mycircleuk
    August 10, 2017 / 11:36 am

    It’s so hard to find the right balance. My experience was that there wasn’t enough of the right information. But only each women can decide what’s right for her, which is why it’s such a balancing act as you say. More support / info on all of the options / outcomes is needed though. Great post x

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