Knowing what to expect during labor can be hard! Labor is scary and every labor is different. So when someone tells you what happened to them, chances are it probably won’t happen to you.
There are so many birth stories out there. Some are crazy, like when that lady gave birth in a cab, and some sound so simple that you are jealous just hearing about it.
And when you are a first-time mom you have no experience so you don’t know what to expect during labor. It can make you nervous and quite frankly scared. No matter how prepared you are there will always be something that you aren’t prepared for.
But there are some things that happen in every delivery room and knowing what’s going to happen in the delivery room can ease your mind and take some of the mystery out of it so you don’t drive yourself crazy with the what-ifs (like I did).
So how do you know what to expect during labor?
I remember asking this question to my OB when I was pregnant. She answered my questions but suggested that I take a prenatal class.
From being pregnant to working full time to trying to save money for maternity leave I didn’t want to have to put on pants to go somewhere when I would rather be sleeping.
Plus the classes that I did want to take didn’t fit in my schedule. So when I went into labor I had no idea what was going on! I didn’t know what to expect during labor.
I was 37.5 weeks pregnant when I went into labor and didn’t know it.
I should have probably taken a prenatal class. I took one after I was pregnant (I know, it was kind of counterproductive). And found out they take the mystery out of what happens during labor.
I didn’t want to take a class because I was afraid that knowing what was going to happen during labor would just cause more anxiety. I now know that if I would have taken a class it would have eased my anxiety instead of making it worse (hindsight is 20/20).
Your hospital will have great options for a prenatal class but if you want to take a prenatal class from home (so you don’t have to put on pants) Hilary from Pulling curls has a prenatal course that can give that sense of relief when you’re pregnant. She’s been a Labor and Delivery nurse for over 16 years so she knows what she’s talking about.
It’s a great option that can be done at home and on your schedule (like when the pregnancy insomnia kicks in).
She has a FREE mini class that you can check out to see if it will be a good fit for you. It’s free so you can learn more about pregnancy and labor without the pressure.
Contractions are different than what you expect.
Contractions are the second most scary thing about giving birth (right behind actually giving birth).
I had Braxton Hicks throughout most of my pregnancy because my baby was (and still is) very active. He was always kicking me. So when I went into true labor I had no idea because it just felt like stronger Braxton Hicks.
Plus when I was 27 weeks along I got dehydrated (a HUGE no-no when you’re pregnant) and started to have contractions then. The contractions at 27 weeks were uncomfortable and frequent so I assumed when I was in true labor, the contractions would be worse than that, closer together and more intense.
When I went into labor I just thought they were strong Braxton Hicks and after a full night of uncomfortable “Braxton Hicks” we decided to go to the hospital to get some relief and found out I was in labor.
I was only dilated to a 2, which surprised me because I had been in labor all night. Since it was my first baby and progressing slowly the doctor decided to start me on Pitocin. Then the contractions really hit!
Most women say they can feel labor in their back which means you feel all of the contractions in your back. Well, I felt all the contractions in my legs. I know! I didn’t know that was a thing either.
The doctor told me that where you feel your menstrual cramps that’s where you feel your labor contractions. My legs always were achy and I didn’t think anything of it until I was in labor. So heads up mommas!
Those leg contractions were the reason I got an epidural. I found out a lot about epidurals while I was in labor (besides the fact that they are wonderful) like the needle doesn’t get close to your spinal cord (Hilary goes over that and a lot of other things about epidurals in her course).
Epidurals are great!
After what felt like forever (my husband let me know that it had only been 45 minutes after they gave me the Pitocin) I was sure I had to be close to pushing because how intense the contractions were. The nurse checked and I was only dilated to a 3. That was when it was time for an epidural. (To all those mamas who had their babies naturally, you are a superhero!)
After the anesthesiologist left I was relaxed enough to take a nap. Some people say that you won’t be able to feel what your body is doing when you have an epidural, like when it’s time to push and I found that that isn’t the case.
There was this intense pressure and urge to push that woke me up 30 minutes after my epidural. When I told the nurse (I don’t think she believed me) she checked to see how dilated I was. She was shocked to find that I was indeed ready to push. So trust your body, it knows what to do and if something feels wrong/different/like you need to do something else go with your gut and let your nurses and doctors know.
When you need to push
When it is time to push the nurses will let the doctor know but the nurses do most of the heavy lifting. The doctor will only be there to deliver the baby and stitch you up if you need it.
If you don’t want an epidural when you deliver, then you go girl! And if you change your mind, know that it’s okay. Every kind of birth is magical, whether you choose an epidural or to deliver naturally or you have a C-section, giving birth is a beautiful thing!
When the nurse lets you know that it’s time to push you need to hold your breath. I would take a deep breath in and let it out slowly while pushing. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to do that. The nurse let me know that when you hold your breath you can push harder and you won’t be in active labor for as long.
If you choose to get an epidural, labor isn’t as dramatic as it is in the movies. When I was all done and I was holding my baby my husband made the comment that it was more low key than you see in the movies. We found out that it’s more dramatic when you have a natural birth (there’s more screaming, for obvious reasons).
After that, you get to be with your new baby
This is the best part. It makes all that uncomfortable moments worth it. The minute they lay that baby on your chest everything seems to disappear. It’s surreal. No matter what happens during labor that little baby will make it all worth it!
After all that hard work (of labor and being pregnant for 9 months) you get to enjoy that new baby smell and the best snuggles you will ever get. And labor will feel like a distant memory (except you’ll still remember it).
If you are still nervous about labor and delivery I would seriously suggest taking Hilary’s prenatal course.
DON’T FORGET TO PIN AND SHARE