Labor & Delivery: What I Was Afraid of & What it Was Actually Like

The fear of the unknown when it came to labor and delivery was absolutely crippling for me. I was absolutely mortified by it. I don’t think I was afraid of labor and delivery itself but more just not knowing what to expect. You hear everyone’s birth story and their experience but at the end of the day, no birth is the same. So, if you are like me, a first-time mom doing this for the first time, I want you to know that the fear you have is rational, normal, and completely understood! I am going to break it down for you, the top 3 things that had me shakin’ in my boots – what I was expecting and what ACTUALLY happened.

*Spoiler – it was nothing like what I imagined, in a very good way. Also keep in mind again, that no labor is the same and this post is totally just based on MY experience.

Contractions? Honestly, not as bad as you hear they are.

I was absolutely TERRIFIED of having contractions. Just know though that what I had built them up to be like in mind was nothing compared to what I actually experienced. I know everyone explains them as “bad period cramps” and truly that is the only way to explain them. Not gonna lie, once you hit about 4-5 cm in dilation those SOB’s HURT. However, I had no idea how manageable that pain would be.

Something I didn’t realize about contractions is that they are only really super, super painful for about 10 seconds of the 45-60 seconds that each one lasts. Deep breathing, visualization, and a firm grasp on my baby daddy’s hand really helped get through them. Again though, contractions were NOTHING like what I had imagined them to be (keep in mind though I was only a few hours into labor and I did eventually get an epidural so I don’t know exactly what they feel like towards the end of a natural labor). I suppose what I am saying for any first-time moms out there that are terrified of the unknown, contractions in the early stages of labor are manageable. They suck, but you can do it. 

To be completely honest I would say I had about 7-10 really bad contractions at about 4 minutes apart before I got an epidural and then it was smooth sailing. I thought contractions would entail this crippling pain that had me feeling like I was dying. False, they really weren’t as bad as I imagined not even close.

Getting the Epidural was pretty simple.

Another thing I was a little bit nervous about was getting my epidural. I  heard several stories about this process. Some said, “oh my gosh it was terrible!” and others that said they didn’t feel a thing.

So again, for any first-time moms who are a little nervous about this part of labor, here is my take on it! For me? Not bad at all. A little sting, weird, and uncomfortable, but not painful.

Here’s how it goes down. They sit your bed up super high, basically your spine is eye level with the anesthesiologist then they have you turn and sit with your back facing them, bend over and hug a pillow. At this point I was so drained and exhausted that I couldn’t really focus on what the anesthesiologist was doing, all I could focus on was not throwing up all over the floor (yeah, the nausea was still very present) and breathing through my contractions.

She then told me that I needed to hold very, VERY still. I heard that the hard part was holding still for the epidural when your contracting but lucky for me I didn’t have a single one while she was putting my epidural in place. The first thing she did was give me a local anesthetic to numb the area. This stung a little and there was a slight burning sensation but compared to the contractions you have been having it’s barely anything at all.

She then starts the process of putting the epidural in place which honestly felt like a tiny pinch and then this weird pressure that I could literally feel in my spine. This I can only describe as an “interesting” feeling and slightly uncomfortable but nothing painful! She asked me if it felt like it was in the middle of my spine or more on one side. She nailed it because I felt it directly in the middle. Now, be honest about this! Don’t just say it feels like it’s in the middle because you don’t want her to have to do it again. If it’s not in the middle, it’s not going to work the way you want it to and trust me…you’re going to want it to work.

The entire process was over pretty quickly and the epidural was going! It starts out slow meaning I had one contraction after it was in place that felt the exact same as all the others but then the next one was less painful followed by an even less painful one until eventually, I wasn’t feeling my contractions at all! Then the nurse rubbed a cold, wet cotton pad across my legs and stomach and asked if I could feel a cold or wet sensation to test its effectiveness. Again, be honest about this!!

It was amazing. After that, they gave me a catheter (because you also can’t feel yourself pee, which was nice because for the last few months I felt myself having to pee every 30 seconds.) Again, this feels like nothing because you can’t feel anything going on in there. The only thing I felt was the touch of the nurse’s hands.

Fact: I always heard that when you get an epidural you can’t move your legs – at all. False. I was still able to lift and move my legs I just couldn’t feel them to the touch if that makes sense.

The epidural did make my heart rate drop super low and I started to feel myself passing out which I think really scared my hubs. I don’t know how but they fixed it and we were good to go.

All-in-all getting my epidural was only slightly uncomfortable but in no way painful. Keep in mind this was just my experience but truly it wasn’t bad at all. For me, there was no way I could have had enough energy to push my baby out if I hadn’t gotten the epidural and was able to take a nap and shake off the nausea I was feeling. For me the epidural was a true life-saver. 

Pushing is like doing an intense 3-hour cardio workout with no break.

“Alright, and you’re gonna push like your pushing out a big poo!”

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Fact: You will never, ever, ever in the history of your life push this hard when your ‘taking a poo”.  On my first push, I could not believe how hard I had to push holy crap. It’s literally unlike anything you’ll ever do. There is no workout, no Spartan Race, nothing that will exhaust you like pushing does. I didn’t feel what was happening down there because of my epidural which I think is why I felt so exhausted. Keep in mind with an epidural you cannot feel the progress you are making with pushing so in order to avoid a c-section you need to freaking PUSH. Even if you feel like nothing is happening, trust me it is.

For every push you essentially go two-steps forward, one-step back so the baby moves forward a bit and when you stop pushing goes back a touch. I started to feel this intense pressure down there to the point that I looked at the nurse and said, “I am about to poop everywhere” and she laughed and said, “No honey you’re not I promise that is the baby! As hard as you’re pushing right now if you were going to poop you would have, trust me!”

So again, for first-time moms, that pressure you’re going to feel is your baby coming down, not poop. And it is with that sensation that you need to tell your nurse you have to push because if you could feel it, you would feel the contraction signaling it’s time to push. Use that pressure as your signal to start pushing! But yeah it is going to feel so much like you’re about to shit your pants so get ready for that.

Also! My entire pregnancy when people would ask me if I wanted to look in a mirror and see what was happening I quickly said

giphy (5)

But I can tell you this, in that moment, I wanted to see. Something clicked in my head that I knew I would look back and regret not seeing what was happening, it would have felt to me like I lost a moment of my delivery. Also, my husband was watching all of it so I figured if he was looking then I had to! Let them get the mirror and look at what you are doing. It really, really, REALLY helped me visualize from where I needed to be pushing. It’s very hard to distinguish if you are pushing from your butthole or your cooch, so get the freaking mirror. Also, it really isn’t that bad. Everyone says, “it’s like a murder scene down there!”

Absolutely not, honestly unless you want to watch the baby come out…all you’re looking at is your hoo-ha and a little fluid.

I hope this post brought you a little relief if you are anxiously waiting for your little one to arrive! I spent that final few days of my pregnancy not being as excited as I could have been because I was so very nervous. My advice? Try not to be afraid of the unknown because I promise you, once it is all over and you are holding your little one in your arms you will forget any pain you felt and any awkwardness.

What was your labor and delivery like? Comment on this post and share your experience I would love to hear it!

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