The Expectations and Reality of Labor

woman in labor

My son’s birth was both everything and nothing like I imagined -- and trust me, I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would go! I had a strong sense of what the process of childbirth would be like, but when it comes down to it, you have to go through it to really understand it. The pain and joy of labor and childbirth just can’t be explained in a textbook!

Here are three ways that my birth story was different than I expected:

The Pain: I had a natural birth. To prepare myself for childbirth, I took a twelve-week birthing class and read plenty of books. But I was very surprised to discover that childbirth pain is not constant. There are lots of ‘breaks’ in between contractions. I wouldn’t say that these breaks were a cakewalk, but they were a welcomed relief. Towards the end of labor, when I was getting more tired, my body would even ‘skip’ contractions to let me rest and regain my strength.

Feeling Embarrassed: I thought I’d be embarrassed by the ‘bodily functions’ that accompany childbirth. Most women will poop or pee on the table because of the force of pushing the baby out! The idea of that was so mortifying -- until it happened to me. Trust me: You won’t care when you’re delivering your baby!

“I Hate You!”: In the movies, women always scream at their partners things like, “I hate you! How could you do this to me?” My husband was supportive, loving, and always did exactly what I needed him to do during labor. I never once thought, “I hate you!” Instead, I told him over and over again how much I loved and appreciated him.

And here are two ways my birth story was similar to what I expected:

The Pain: Although the pain was different than I expected in that it wasn’t constant, the overall pain level was what I’d imagined. Before birth, I spent a lot of time imagining what the pain would feel like and how I’d handle it, and that helped me a lot.

The Joy: I imagined that the moment my child was born, I’d look at him and feel this overwhelming and intense sense of joy. And I did! My son’s birth was such a spiritual and transforming experience for my husband and me. The emotional high that I got from delivery ran so deep. It really was the best moment of my life.