Childbirth is one of the most natural acts a woman can perform and, yet, so many complications can come of it, it is hard to know what will happen.
Despite all the literature, documentaries, TV shows and ante-natal classes, you can't possibly know what to expect when you're expecting as every human is different.
A Reddit thread is shedding some light on the things women wish they had known when they went into labour and gave birth to their children.
Doctors (or the midwife) will check your placenta is intact
"Apparently some doctors are really excited when they see a good placenta. Well, a compliment is a compliment, I guess," a Reddit user posted.
For future reference, as another user pointed out, the correct answer to that is "Thanks, I made it myself".
Checking the placenta is actually a pretty important step of the process as a damaged placenta can be worrying.
Childbirth involves a lot of bodily fluids. A LOT OF THEM.
"How... wet everything can get. If your water breaks and you have a slow leak... there'll be fluid at home, in the car, in the waiting/triage area, in your room, in the hallway, in the bathroom. Combined with all the blood loss and peeing yourself, and it's almost like a slip-n-slide trying to get around. They gave me a big chuck pad to put between my legs but it was kind of pointless because it wouldn't stay up unless you held it," someone posted.
It can all escalate pretty quickly
One moment you're wondering when your child will decide to grace planet Earth with his/her presence, the next moment you're lying in a foetal position yourself, in unbearable pain.
"The pain wasn't as gradual as I was expecting. I went from 'this is fine' to 'this is not fine make it stop' in maybe half an hour," someone commented. "But then you have to wait before they can get you set up with an epidural, so it's hard to avoid that 'not okay' period entirely."
The cramps don't stop then
If you thought giving birth means the contractions stop, we have bad news.
"Your uterus continues to contract after delivery to get back down to pre-prego size. It's pretty painful, worse than menstrual cramps. And breastfeeding really kicks the contractions into high gear," a Reddit user pointed out.
Peeing is painful for a while
"It hurts to pee afterwards, but if you lean forward on the toilet then the pee goes away from the most painful areas," a Reddit user commented.
"Also try and time your pain relief around trips to the toilet or other strenuous activities."
Your body will take a bit of a beating and that's normal.
"Your vagina is going to look like a nightmare after. Don't look at it or touch it, put ice packs and medicine on it but don't investigate. I repeat: DO NOT INVESTIGATE. You'll just keep yourself up at night fretting over what happens if it never goes back to normal. But if you do choose to look know that it won't look like your labia just lost the title fight forever," someone posted.
Also, you will still look about six months pregnant for a while and might only be able to fit your maternity clothing for a few weeks. That is totally normal, all your organs take some time to go back to their old positions.
Post-partum bleeding can last weeks or even months
All those period-free months of pregnancy come to an end and, while you come to terms with having to raise a tiny person, you have what a Reddit user describes as "the worst month-long period of your life".
"I read books, took childbirth classes and had no idea. Not a nice surprise," the user added.
"I bled for close to six months," someone else said. "No one talks about the bleeding afterwards. It's scary, especially when you're bleeding for so long, but every doctor is saying you're fine."
Sometimes it's more than just a few drops of blood. You can actually pass massive clots and it is still all normal:
"That after birth you can pass large clots. When I say large I mean large. My first shower after a nurse found me crying in the shower because I thought I was dying because a baseball sized clot came out. She told me that was normal. It looked like I gave birth to a bloody jellyfish," someone said.
You might not be in love with your baby straight away
"Took me around 3-4 days to start feeling attached to my first born. I did not fall immediately 'in love' with him as so many moms claim," someone said.
A lot of people chimed in with similar experiences.
C-sections are different but in no way easier than vaginal births
If you think c-sections are easy, think again. As one Reddit user describes: "It's major abdominal surgery, and your recovery time will be much longer. You are also more at risk for complications and infection".
"I spent two weeks in hospital after my first with a raging infection that could have prevented me from being able to have more children," she added.
Baby blues are common, but look for signs of the much more serious PPD
"I had known about PPD and the 'baby blues', but it was honestly sickening to me how sad I was after getting home from the hospital. I had wanted a baby for so long, finally had him and then just hated it. I felt like 'what did I do? Why did I do this?' It was a shock. I had thought about just leaving. Which was absurd. Eventually it went away and I enjoyed my little boy. I mean, at the time too though, I did love being a mom because I constantly checked on him, took pics and all that. But the depression you get can be surprising, considering how badly I wanted to be a mom and then I'm like 'I wish I was anywhere but with him'," a Reddit user shared.
"He is almost 4 and I am so happy. Seeing him after a full day of work is probably the best feeling in the world to me. I just wish I had prepared myself more mentally and for those challenging first weeks/months."
While baby blues are common and your hormones will be all over the place, it's important to check for signs of post-partum depression. If you feel like you might be experiencing something deeper than baby blues, talk to your doctor immediately.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is this: every labour and birth experience is different and, no matter how much advice people give you, you will go through your very own experience that no one can accurately prepare you for. Also, recovery looks NOTHING like what you see on Instagram. You are not expected to be at the gym lifting weights the week after and you can't possibly develop a six-pack within weeks of growing a whole human inside your body. Be gentle on yourself.
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