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Want to help myth-bust childbirth for first-time mums? We need YOU. NOW CLOSED

(180 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 30-Jun-14 16:54:30

Hello folks,

For many of us, having a child of our own will represent our first adult contact with a real-life baby - and as you'll no doubt remember, the learning curve can, at times, feel vertiginously steep. One of the brilliant things about Mumsnet is that you can come on at any time of the day - or night - and have access to a vast group of people who've been through it all before. So we thought it would be a nifty idea to turn the virtual support group into a real-world one - which is why, come September, we'll be hosting our very first BumpFest, a one-stop-shop for parents-to-be.

For first-timers, the idea of birth itself can be terrifying. So we're planning to kick off with a panel discussion on the myths around childbirth - and in preparation for it, we wanted to ask you about your own experiences in the field.

- We’d love to hear from you what your biggest misconceptions were, and how they affected you, during and after?

- What were the things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be?

- And, if you could go back and tell yourself something the day before your first birth, what would you say?

Thanks in advance for your input - everyone who posts will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win £100 Love2Shop vouchers.


SaltySeaBird Mon 30-Jun-14 18:37:37

- biggest misconception was that it would be a lovely fluffy experience. There would be some pain but it would melt away as my baby came with a healthy cry into the world and be passed immediately to me and my husband. In reality my birth was long and complicated and my baby was whisked away to the special baby care unit. I know why they didn't want to scare us on our NCT course but a bit more reality may have forewarned us (not a single one of us had a birth experience with no medical intervention).

- What to wear when giving birth, what to take in my hospital bag, writing a birth plan. None of that mattered.

- The day before I went to hospital for my induction I'd tell myself "Don't get excited, that baby is going to be there another week" ...

lpbarton Mon 30-Jun-14 18:50:19

- Biggest misconception - I wouldnt love my baby immediately. Goodness the second he was out I was head over heels in love. It went against everything my NCT class had said!

- Thought I'd wear a lovely nightie. I thought it would look great in the photos. It got ripped off within seconds for a big baggy t shirt!

- Go with your gut instinct. You know your body best and just remember the seconds it is finished boy is it all worth it!

sharond101 Mon 30-Jun-14 18:56:50

- We’d love to hear from you what your biggest misconceptions were, and how they affected you, during and after?
That it would be tranquil with music and go as stated in my birth plan.

- What were the things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be?
The birth plan! Having music on. Having pain relief which I didn't want initially.

- And, if you could go back and tell yourself something the day before your first birth, what would you say?
Be in the moment and breathe.

joanofarchitrave Mon 30-Jun-14 19:04:41

- We’d love to hear from you what your biggest misconceptions were, and how they affected you, during and after?
That the pain would build up slowly and that I would get breaks between contractions with time to think and talk to the midwife. Once we got to hospital, it was fast and furious with 'bridging contractions' so that there was no real break, and I couldn't speak much.

- What were the things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be?
Music - never put it on, didn't give a damn. But I don't regret planning it anyway.

- And, if you could go back and tell yourself something the day before your first birth, what would you say?
You're right to start the TENS before you can really feel anything - the same is true of the gas and air, get the hang of it (or tell the midwife it's broken) before things get going.

TeenageMutantNinjaTurtle Mon 30-Jun-14 19:09:05

I was lucky to have a relatively straight forward birth however the biggest misconception was around timing and when to go to hospital, my dc was back to back so
contractions were all in my back and didn't feel anything like I'd bee led to believe. My contractions were also never regular until my waters had been burst when I was already10cm dilated. So if we'd followed advice to stay at home until contractions were 3 in every 10mins, we'd probably still be there!!

Hospital bag was mostly unnecessary. We only needed a couple of things - clothes/nappies for baby, clothes for me, couple of high energy snacks. Everything else dh could have got at a later date.

Wish someone had told me it was just like having a big poo. All that "push into your bottom" that midwives say confused me. If they'd just told me to push like I was having a massive poo, I'd have got the hang of it much quicker!!

WaffleWiffle Mon 30-Jun-14 19:12:18

Misconception: You will naturally get the urge to push when ready.
Fact:: You will certainly get a 'feeling' when fully dilated (if you have not had an epidurual) but blind panic and terror meant that I fought against that (slamming legs together and refusing to open my thighs). There was definitely no natural urge to push.

Misconception: You will be calm and in control.
Fact: You will be calm and in control if you have an early epidural. If you do not you will have no control and it will feel frightening.

Things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be
- Having an episiotomy
- Having to have a catheter in
- If your legs are shaved
- If your hair needs washing
- What you are wearing

Advise for myself before my first birth
Have an epidural early
If you will feel the pain through the epidural, don't just accept this, tell someone.
Chill out - the first birth will be a long time after the first contraction.

BeanyIsPregnant Mon 30-Jun-14 19:18:02

Biggest misconception?

That I would breastfeed. I wanted to, oh my goodness I've never wanted anything more in my life, but after a missed tongue tie diagnosis came about at day 7 and I was told if I continued to breastfeed I would need corrective and plastic surgery on my nipples, the dream was shattered and chucked me into horrific PND, because it was the one and only thing I had told myself I was in control of. Most mothers can breastfeed, most babies can breastfeed, but it doesn't mean they are always put together..

UnexpectedAutumn Mon 30-Jun-14 19:21:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sephy Mon 30-Jun-14 19:22:09

- We’d love to hear from you what your biggest misconceptions were, and how they affected you, during and after?
That it made sense for DH to go home after my ELCS so he could have his last good night of sleep and I'd have the midwives and nurses to look after me and DC1. In fact, I could really have done with a friendly person to hand me the baby any time I needed, get me water etc and advocate for me needing more pain relief before standing the next morning.

- What were the things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be?
My medical history - the midwives didn't seem to read it at all. But actually in the end I didn't really care so long as the baby was Ok.

- And, if you could go back and tell yourself something the day before your first birth, what would you say?
Remember every minute and take lots of photos because it is the most amazing day!

ipswichwitch Mon 30-Jun-14 19:29:54

The most important thing to remember is that it's so different for everyone. Some (like me) have a very straightforward cs, recover very quickly with no complications. Others don't.
Some (like me) have agonising contractions that render you incapable of even speaking never mind remembering breathing exercises or being able to move. Some don't.

And yy to the push like you're trying to poo thing. By the time pushing started I was bloody exhausted and could not comprehend what the hell "bear down" was supposed to mean.

I found birth plans pointless. I don't believe there's any point saying no drugs in the birth plan, how do you know until you're there how you will feel and what you'll need? Better to say that maybe you'd rather not have them but be open to the possibility should the need arise. Also, the cd never even made it out of the bag!

kingbeat23 Mon 30-Jun-14 19:41:17

That giving pregnancy and giving birth were the most important bits. They're important, but the support and focus is very much geared towards that point and once I'd had my baby it felt very much like, here's your baby off you go. Make it live.

Agree w pp re: pushing. If only someone had explained that it wasn't an enormous poo and was in fact, a head I needed to push out I think I'd have saved an hours worth of pushing.

Also yes to breast feeding. I so desperately wanted to do it. All my friends assured me I'd be fine. The paediatrics refused to help me make bottles on the ward. Gah! So much trauma that even now I get a bit funny re:ff/bf and people be dismissive about it all. It's been 5 years FFS!

Birth plan out the window. Baby bag/hospital bag fucking useless. You need towels. Maternity and bath. Flannels. Flip flops for the showers. Change of clothes in case you flood all over yourself and your feckless xdp deserts you for 72 hours on a major bender.

The clots from bleeding are terrifying but ok. Going for your first poo after childbirth is almost as scary as giving birth yourself.

Looking back I gave myself a massive hard time for minor things but I wouldn't do it again for fear of being so messed up and traumatised. I was relatively ok just had horrifically high blood pressure and extreme stress. Thankfully I had a healthy baby. I can't imagine how traumatic it must be if your babies are in icu.

BikeRunSki Mon 30-Jun-14 19:45:50

Biggest misconception - that I would love my baby straight away. First time I did. Second time I was so tired from labour, crash section, haemorrhage and all sorts of other stuff that I really didn't bond with my baby for 3 or 4 months.

stargirl1701 Mon 30-Jun-14 19:48:48

Biggest misconception - that labour and birth would be painful. I just felt pressure, not pain.

I thought it was important to have music and food, etc. during the labour. Turns out I want silence, darkness and left alone!

I should have done lots more research on bf. I just went to the NHS class and watched the NHS DVD. I thought it was about nose to nipple and big gape. Total BS.

ipswichwitch Mon 30-Jun-14 19:55:54

Yes in hindsight I should have done a lot more research on bf. The antenatal class made it sound so simple. No mention of things like expressing (which I had to do for the first 3 weeks as DS1 was on Scbu), how to bf, what cluster feeding is.

madamweasel Mon 30-Jun-14 20:44:54

For me, I was really psyched up to deal with the overwhelming pain of the birth but this turned out to be a misconception as I didn't find it that painful. Then, when they said we'd need forceps the epidural took even the sense of the contractions away. So if anyone was seriously scared about dealing with pain, I'd say, don't hesitate to take the drugs.

Secondly, after the birth was much worse for me than anything else - stitches, infection, antibiotics, weeks of pain and painkillers ending up with corrective surgery - all of this was a complete surprise. I was expecting that looking after the baby to be the hard part, that was a piece of cake compared to my physical condition.

Breastfeeding: I always assumed that if you wanted to breastfeed you could and would - nope, not always true. Baby was born with medical condition that meant he wasn't able to breastfeed so was formula fed in hospital from birth on medical advice. We were caught by surprise, we arrived home from hospital totally unprepared for bottle feeding. DH had to do a mad trip to 24hr supermarket to buy bottles, steriliser, formula etc, and get home before baby wanted the next feed.

Visiting relatives: we got the impression that we needed 'bonding time' just the three of us and that we should keep keen relatives at arms length till we were settled in at home - hell no! We were utterly exhausted from nights in hospital with no sleep, feeding every 3 hours, the physical strain of birth, so pretty much straight away we decided to call in the cavalry. My MIL came to stay for 4 days and did all the cooking, cleaning, etc to help us cope and catch up on some rest. Bonding is a gradual process, helpful visitors are irrelevant to it but essential to your well being.

CMOTDibbler Mon 30-Jun-14 20:54:51

I'd never really thought through that my baby might turn up early. I particularly hadn't thought about what I'd do if a big plop of water going occurred.

The whole labour bag thing therefore didn't happen - I had a book, a nightshirt and some socks. Actually, this was fine as it turned out.

The thing that I was very grateful to my colleague for telling me (and she had been told by her sister) was just how much you can bleed, and for how long.

LittleBearPad Mon 30-Jun-14 20:57:20

Misconception - that all the decisions about birth matter and writing a four page blush birth plan is a useful way to spend your time. After an induction and ventouse delivery with failed epidural and spinal anaesthetic I didn't give a monkeys although it was great that DH told me we had a daughter, the only but I'd planned. The birth is a process, it's every day after that one that actually matters.

You think you'll care what you look like and what you're wearing - you will not.

That tea and toast isn't the food of the gods. I was starving!

gillyweed Mon 30-Jun-14 21:06:13

- We’d love to hear from you what your biggest misconceptions were, and how they affected you, during and after?
That labour/birth would be the most painful bit... Oh my god, the afterpains were excruciating and literally debilitating for the first few weeks. Labour paled in comparison. Having birth a back to back baby at home naturally, I took all the drugs under the sun for the first few weeks!

- What were the things that you thought would be important, but turned out not to be?
Music, it did matter but only as background noise I wasn't actually listening. Clothes; I was convinced I would want to keep my modesty, couldn't wait (or care) about getting naked.

- And, if you could go back and tell yourself something the day before your first birth, what would you say?
You will get a small completely dependable human being at the end of this; when she 'popped' out I was utterly shocked that there was a baby in my arms. Even the midwife commented that I looked surprised I had given birth to a baby! I think you get fixated with the journey sometimes and forget about the destination.

Sixgeese Mon 30-Jun-14 21:08:33

That once the baby was born all pain would go away. Trying to wee after stitches was almost worse than the labour.

And being expected to know what to do with the gas and air, it wasn't explained during my first labour, but was quite effective during the second and third. I think they thought that I would have be shown during the Prenatal classes, but as DS was early we hadn't got that far.

The hardest thing was trying not to scream at the midwives coming around the post natal ward, I know they are overstaffed but still "Is your bleeding normal?" they asked a couple of times a day, I didn't have the foggiest, what is normal?, it turned out it wasn't normal I had a PPH.

AndHarry Mon 30-Jun-14 21:15:02

- That I would be excited all the way up until I met my baby for the first time. In reality I got ante-natal depression and spent my first few weeks of maternity leave before DC1 was born at home with the curtains drawn crying over all the things that could go wrong hmm

- I thought packing the perfect maternity bag would be important. I didn't use much of it first time round and packed much lighter the second time.

- The day you give birth, you need an advocate.

sittingatmydeskagain Mon 30-Jun-14 21:30:34

Biggest misconception - that I was fit, strong and would be able to handle the pain. Reality was that it was beyond pain, and I actually thought I would die and didn't care. I had no idea how to breathe through the contractions, and fought against them for most of the labour.

Thing I didn't need - the diamorphine they gave me. An epidural would have been much nicer.

What I would tell myself - listen to my body during labour, and if it hurt, it was because I was in the wrong position. Trust my instincts more.

OrangeMochaFrappucino Mon 30-Jun-14 21:32:54

Biggest misconception - the first time I thought it would hurt a lot more than it did. The second time it was much more painful, but the first one was so easy. That taught me that birth can be a great experience when it all goes well!

What wasn't important - music. Both times I spent ages compiling a fecking playlist that I wasn't aware of at all once things got going!

What I'd advise myself - don't be embarrassed about anything! Just tell the midwife what you're worried about and let her reassure you. I was really worried about weeing or pooing in labour - as it turned out, I didn't, but I realised that it wouldn't have mattered if I had as they've seen it all!

CheeseEMouse Mon 30-Jun-14 21:34:47

Misconception - I thought labour would be really obvious when it started. As it was I really wasn't sure and spent a lot of time googling the symptoms of labour....

The thing I would change if I could would be to really understand how hard night 2 with the baby is. I remember getting told off by the midwife and I just had no idea how much the baby wants to feed to build supply. I had no idea and got very distressed that I was doing something wrong

maxpower Mon 30-Jun-14 21:39:50

Misconception - that I'd have any control over anything. Birth was the absolute opposite of what I'd wanted and decisions were being made about me rather than with me.

Didn't need - most of what I took to hospital! Oh and you really won't care who sees what ;-)

What I would tell myself - actually I'd tell myself to prepare dh to be my advocate and stand up for me when I can't do it myself.

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