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What would you tell a first time mum about labour?

(232 Posts)
LJHH Sun 13-Jul-14 09:58:39

I'm not scared of labour as I'm more excited to meet our DS, but I think (with 6 weeks til due date) it's time to start thinking about it and not having my head buried in the sand anymore...

Soooo, as a FTM, what do you wish somebody had told you or you that you had known before you gave birth for the first time?

(I'm thinking the books will give a rosy outlook with lots of smug looking couples and I'd rather be a bit prepared)

I realise a birth plan is just what happens in an ideal situation and can be thrown out the window in an instant. Was hoping to go into the midwife led unit, at the moment I don't want a epidural, not because I'm being brave and can take the pain and all that rubbish but because I'm a bit needle phobic and the thought of it already panics me. Again appreciate I may change my mind on that as well but am I right in thinking that you cannot have one in the MLU and need to go to the "proper" labour wards?
Trust me, I want drugs just not that!

Wow this turned out to be a massive post!

LabradorMama Sun 13-Jul-14 10:03:06

Firstly, don't have an ideal birth in mind. Then you can't be thrown if it doesn't turn out how you expected. Don't rule out any pain relief - you may find you change your mind and they won't give you it, so just be open minded
Every labour is different as I'm sure you know so no one else can really tell you what to expect. For me, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected!
The most helpful thing anyone said to me was remember that it's just one day. Just one day, give or take. If someone said 'you can have all your pregnancy symptoms in just one day' you'd snap their hand off wouldn't you??

LabradorMama Sun 13-Jul-14 10:03:26

Oh and good luck!

whereisshe Sun 13-Jul-14 10:03:35

I wish I'd known that "it hurts" means "it really hurts but if you try to get away from the pain it hurts more"... I found when I got right into the contractions they were more effective and hurt less.

Other than that, trust your instincts. I know everyone says that, but for me it meant not asking for advice or expecting to be told everything was ok. Once I realised about half way through that I was looking for outside reassurance from my midwife and DH, and that they couldn't do it for me, it was better after that.

Oh and "this too shall pass" + "the only way out is through" were what I kept repeating to myself! I found I just had to get on with it.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Sun 13-Jul-14 10:04:14


1) that good MWs do read your birth plan
2) that there can be lots of waiting around
3) that my dh wasan absoloutley amazing birthing partner

ThatBloodyWoman Sun 13-Jul-14 10:06:38

I think I would say not to invest too much in it.
You may not even get an opportunity to feel labour.If you do, it may only be the low level, leaky, and uncomfortable part.
Invest as much time in finding out also about cs's, assissted births, and the first few days after birth.

I hope you have a really good birth experience.Good luck!

LJHH Sun 13-Jul-14 10:10:15

My midwife wants to write a birth plan with me next week, so I'm assuming if they go to the trouble of writing it with you. That they will take note of it on the big day?

I'm going to make sure my DP knows what I ideally want too so he can speak up if need be.
Ultimately I want my baby out in the less traumatic way for both of us possible and if I don't get what I want then sod it so long as we're ok smile

Perspective21 Sun 13-Jul-14 10:11:48

You sound very like me before I had my DD1, 14 years ago. I didn't want an epidural as I feared needles in my spine the end I had a very long first stage and was exhausted. I'd laboured on and off for two days before the birth day. These days hadn't been too painful, I'd coped well at home, but it meant when the big day did come I was shattered. I too was on a MLU but when one of the midwives I'd seen at appointments came in and had a chat, I admitted I was desperate and frantic and so she arranged a quick trip in the lift to Central Delv Unit.

I was so relieved at the promise of the pain going (which it rapidly did) that I didn't flinch about getting the epi in. There is a team of absolute professionals who will help. My DH was especially relieved for me that the trauma had ended. I then had a couple of hours just resting and then pushing began. I did end up with a ventouse, but it was no problem as epi was just topped up. It transformed labour for me into something I could cope with again.

Having said that, two subsequent births I did on Gas and Air but they were considerably shorter and I knew more about what was happening with my body.

I would try and leave an open mind and although odd thoughts pop in your head, I'd say it's normal in pregnancy. Each time I've been very confident in the midwives and they really are very helpful and can help you find your way through. There are all sorts of things you can try and they will suggest them to help you.

Good luck x

purplemurple1 Sun 13-Jul-14 10:12:27

Talk to the midwife of your not sure, feel uncomfortable with something, etc ask and don't be afraid to ask for pain relief esp as it can take a while from asking to actually getting it.

For me it was easier than expected as it was fairly fast, I was able to stay mobile and I was able to pick my birthing position (in that I refused to lay down).

OH was a bit rubbish (unexpected as he grew up on a farm) but good at doing what I said so that worked for us, could be good to have a back up partner if it's a long Labour or your OH not sure if he will be useful.

Flexibilityiskey Sun 13-Jul-14 10:13:31

I think if I were you to some extent I would keep your head buried in the sand. It is so different for everyone, no one can really tell you what to expect. However it is you will get through it, and it will all be worth it.

StrawberryMouse Sun 13-Jul-14 10:14:17

I would say it's one bad day and then it's over.

Casmama Sun 13-Jul-14 10:14:31

I found it helpful to remember that each contraction is one step closer to meeting your baby. Try an relax during contractions- sounds stupid but go with it- your body knows what it's doing.

Contractions build like a wave- or an evil orgasm I suppose! Once you hit the peak you know that contraction is going away.

Once in labour you take things as they come- always thought I would be mortified if I pooed in labour but actually I didn't give a monkeys- was also pushing out an 8 1/2 lb baby at the time and that seemed a little more important.

Good luck

That it isn't always bad. You tend to only hear bad stories, and people focus on the pain. The pain was worse than anything I'd ever felt in my life, but never at any point did I think I was going to die from it (and no I didn't have an epidural).

I know this is frowned upon and obviously now she's here I don't consider it a competition at all, but what really helped in the heat of labour was to see it as a competition. I had to do it the most effectively, with the least screaming, and the least pain relief. It isn't a competition - of course it isn't! - and there's no shame in screaming, or in ending up with any level of intervention, or pain relief. But pretending it was a competition got me through.

StrawberryMouse Sun 13-Jul-14 10:15:47

Ok, two in Perspective's case! But the point is, you will get through it and it will end. The whole time I was thinking "this time tomorrow I will be with my ds".

Somanyillustrations Sun 13-Jul-14 10:16:19

Both midwives went through my birth plan with me in the early stages of labour and made sure that they were clear on what I wanted. DD started off as a MLU water birth, but as things progressed, I ended up being blue lighted to hospital for second stage of labour. DS was a very quick and easy home water birth.

First time round, I wish I'd known that it wasn't going to be as bad as everyone said! I was so, so scared of labour, and thought it would be horrendous, but it really wasn't (for me, I know not everyone is so lucky). I think that women who have positive birth experiences can be shouted down for being smug, and so the scare stories are the ones which get heard...

I also wish I'd known to eat during early labour, as I ended up ketotic, being force fed honey on toast between contractions blush

Perspective21 Sun 13-Jul-14 10:16:27

Plus my DH was the most amazing supporter each time, I really feel I couldn't have done it without him. You need a person (doesn't matter who you choose) who can "translate" the advice you are getting and explain to you and then back to staff your wishes, for when you are very tired.

Also keep focusing on meeting your baby. This really helped me each time. A sense of acceptance really helps, this I why I did better in labours 2 and 3, I knew I had to do it. With labour 1 I kept wishing the pain away and it became a negative thing.

Showy Sun 13-Jul-14 10:17:45



Showy Sun 13-Jul-14 10:19:13

My phone has lost the plot. I wrote the most helpful, witty post ever. Will it post? Nope.

KleineDracheKokosnuss Sun 13-Jul-14 10:20:35

Keep your birth plan to about 6 bullet points. Keep an open mind - you might find that instead of listening to your favourite music you want absolute silence and you snap at anyone who talks (sorry DH), or that you actually don't want the waterbirth/epidural you had planned. Things may go faster or slower than you expect, so be prepared for either. If you end up needing a CS - that is perfectly OK (but be aware it will entail admission to the hospital for at least 24 hours and quite likely 48).

Finally: go with your instincts - don't try to overthink (it gets in the way).

mismylinford Sun 13-Jul-14 10:23:44

well noone knows how or when then giving with will happen. the best thing is to just keep am open mind and don't rule anything out. my birth plan for dd2 is the same as dd1 see what happens don't plan anything.

with dd1 i had no pain relief at all not even gas and air. when i asked about pain relief they told me how long it woold take to work and i thought stuff it i cam do this without.
afterwards i didnt even know i was having the injection to help remove the after birth... or that it had been removed. i was so emotional with new baby in my arms. then i was hoisted up to a bed for stitches.... now they bloody hurt!
having a local anesthetic in your lady parts hurt alot was adviced to have gas and air (more forced) very glad i did. once stitches where done i had my baby girl an felt like i.could do anything at all as I've just done the most wonderful thing of all.
the hours days after you are very sore... even with a natural birth. take it very easy don't pressure yourself your very delicate. had a break down on 3 days after labour as was in so much pain ended up living with mil for a week which helped alot!

HicDraconis Sun 13-Jul-14 10:24:19

That everyone's birth story is unique to them. A disaster to one person is someone else's ideal.

That it doesn't have to be bad - but if it is, it will at some point finish. Every contraction has an end, and every one down is one less to go.

That giving birth is the easy bit smile

MaloryArcher Sun 13-Jul-14 10:24:56

That contrary to almost every post on MN about this subject, you can retain control of your birth experience and you can have the birth you desire.

It doesn't have to be an unpredictable rollercoaster over which you have zero control.

Do not lay flat on your back on a bed like in the movies. Stay active, squat, do whatever your body tells you. Try and avoid coached pushing. Concentrate on your breathing and the fact that every single contraction takes you one step closer to meeting your baby. Try not to panic. Rely on your partner as much as you feel you need and want to - both physically and emotionally. DP was my cheerleader and really kept my spirits up all the way through.

Go with your instincts as much as possible.

Showy Sun 13-Jul-14 10:27:55

The crux was, hope for the best, plan for other eventualities. There are two people going through the labour and delivery and the smallest one who will make the biggest impact, hasn't read the books. There is NO competition. Do not go into it thinking you must win or achieve a certain birth and do not come away from it feeling guilt, shame or like any part was a failure.

You are not dying if it feels you are. You are overwhelmed. Don't panic.

You will probably poo.

My labours were 2 days and 3 days respectively BTW. Sometimes it takes days and not hours.

Showy Sun 13-Jul-14 10:33:36

Malory, I disagree completely. You can possibly control how you feel about what happens. You can stay positive, use all sorts of techniques and control your thoughts. But you will not control the baby inside you. I read a book which aimed to empower women whilst labouring and it agreed with you. It implied I could think the baby into and out of a bad position. That book hurt me at a time when I was most vulnerable. The message was you didn't try hard enough. NO. My baby was presenting ear first. I could not control that.

And the message not to lie down during labour? Sometimes it is what your body tells you to do.

Trinpy Sun 13-Jul-14 10:36:17

Don't hold your breath, keep taking deep breaths through the contractions or it will hurt more.

Don't scream. It feels amazing at the time but it will just sap all your energy.

If you hate the thought of an epidural then use that to spur you on through the tough bits. I hated the idea of a hospital birth so everytime I thought 'I can't do this. I want an epidural.' I visualised myself lying in the postnatal ward after a hospital birth, and then imagined being snuggled up with the baby in my own bed after the home birth I wanted. That's what really kept me going towards the end.

Unless you're really unlucky, it probably won't be that awful and you can definitely do it smile .

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