Labor and delivery secrets – what experienced moms want you to know!

By the end of the third trimester you’re probably looking at labor and delivery with mixed feelings…

On one hand, get this baby out already!

On the other hand, can we just magically teleport the baby out without having to go through labor/a c-section?

Every first time mom has been there.

Dreading labor and delivery: the uncertainty, worrying if you’ll be able to endure the pain, stressing about what might happen…

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As a first time expectant mom there are a few things you can do now that’ll make your labor and delivery experience smoother:

  • get educated – take a (birth positive) prenatal course so you know what to expect and can chill some of your nerves. This one is my favorite – it’s by a L&D nurse and has a strong positive message about birth. 
  • learn from other mom’s experiences – mom’s who’ve been there are the best resource you’ll find for all the real details of what really happens during labor and delivery. 

Normally, what happens in the L&D room stays in the L&D room… but here are 29 moms sharing everything they wish they’d known about labor and delivery – no filter – all the grossest, weirdest, most TMI-but-helpful details you need to know to prepare for your baby’s birth!

What Moms Wish They Knew About Going Into Labor

Is this it? Or is it just Braxton Hicks?

Knowing when you’re in labor is a big deal when you’re a first time mom – you’ve never done it before, so recognizing it when it happens isn’t always easy. 

I didn’t realise I was in labor because I was expecting contractions to feel like period pain – mine was all in my back! I just thought I’d done too much that day…

Moms are often told that contractions feel like period pain (and for many moms, they do!) but contractions can also feel like back pain. Don’t get caught out – if you find yourself experiencing back pain that comes and goes, you might be in labor!

Contractions don’t always start slow and get closer together – I was so confused when I went into labor because my contractions were waaaay closer together and longer from the beginning… I guess labor is just different for everyone. ~ V

If you’ve gone to your prenatal classes you might have learned that contractions start out short with lots of time between – that’s the case for most moms, but not all! Make sure you’re timing your contractions and talk to your midwife – you may be progressing faster than most!

I thought I had a stomach bug, but it turns out some women have diarrhoea and vomiting before going into labor! ~ J

Diarrhoea and tummy upset is actually quite a common sign that labor is near – perhaps this is your body’s way of clearing the decks before the big day?

Don’t overpack your hospital bag! The hospital has everything you need – no need to waste your own supplies and money (and make sure you take as many supplies home with you as you can! ~ O

Before you pack your hospital bag, find out what your hospital provides! You may as well use their supplies while you’re there and save yours for at home. Oh, and experienced moms recommend always asking for more supplies and taking as much as you can home. 

[I’m a little jealous – this isn’t how our hospitals work in Australia, at least the one I’m going to – I need to take literally everything with me as nothing is provided and certainly not extras!]

When your water breaks it just keeps leaking out… I went through loads of pads and leggings before I even made it to hospital!!! I’ve got adult diapers ready this time just in case I have a repeat of last time. ~ N

Induction

I didn’t realised induction was so common and that it was so common to NOT go into labor naturally. ~K

Induction is extremely common – especially once you’ve reached or are close to your ‘due date’ at 40 weeks.

In a 2014 study, more than 40% of moms reported that their provider tried to induce their labor. That’s a LOT of moms not going into labor by their due date. Perhaps, this is because pregnancy also tends to be longer than 40 weeks (especially for first time moms)?

Evidence Based Birth has a great article on the evidence on due dates that discusses this in detail.

No one told me before my induction that if you’re induced they want to have monitors on the baby the whole time… I wasn’t able to move around, have a bath or most of the things I wanted for my birth plan… ~C

They must’ve skipped over this part in the prenatal class I went to because I don’t remember being told about monitoring during labor and delivery either! 

Monitoring can be either external (with a band that goes around your belly) or internal (they insert a tiny hook onto your baby’s scalp that monitors their vitals).

With continuous external monitoring your movement is extremely restricted – no baths, showers, or moving around.

With internal monitoring you can be as mobile as you plan to be, however some options (like baths) may be off the table but make sure you ask your nurse!

What Moms Wish They Knew About the First Stage of Labor 

You have to keep an open mind about how things progress and be ready to roll with the punches – labor is unpredictable and you’ve got to be mentally ready to change your plans at a moments notice. ~ M

Probably the most important thing to remember during labor – stay open! Your care team is there to help you and your baby get through birth as safely as possible. Sometimes, that’ll mean changes to your birth plan.

The rule about no food during labor seems cruel… so I ate a big meal beforehand… and vomited constantly during my labor. It was awful. Next time I’m sticking to the ‘no food’ rule! ~A

Although the rule about not eating during labor was brought in because of the small potential of choking if you need a c-section, it seems there’s another reason to hold off on eating anything too heavy.

Your abdomen is doing a lot of work during contractions which can mean anything inside gets squeezed right out.

I wish I’d known how to breathe through contractions – I tended to hold my breath, which increased my stress and tension and pain levels. ~S

I wish I’d known to relax during and between contractions – tensing up makes it so much worse… plus when the contractions got closer together I couldn’t tell when I was between contractions because I was so tense the pain was constant ~ K

Contractions aren’t particularly pleasant – but if you tense up it makes them much worse. Staying as relaxed as possible helps.

I wish I’d known more about different positions to labor in. I just went with the whole ‘lying in bed’ thing and it didn’t work out so well. I’m much more prepared for my second labor! ~ Z

There are lots of positions you can try during labor:

  • kneeling and rocking over a birth ball
  • sitting on a birth ball
  • kneeling in the bed with the top folded up
  • on your side in bed
  • in a squatting position
  • you can also use your partner to support your weight as you stand upright and sway

Upright positions are helpful because they get gravity on your side and open your pelvis more than lying down flat.

I wish I’d known how long labor can be – I had my whole family in the waiting room… and I was in labor for nearly 48 hours! Luckily, I got annoyed and sent them all home earlier… ~W

Labor can be short… or it can be long. There’s really no guarantee what yours will be (though if you ask your mom, you might get a very rough kind of idea of what to expect).

I wish I’d known that walking around helps you progress… and I wish I’d known that showers were AMAZING for pain relief! It just felt so much more bearable in the shower. Next time I’m going straight in! ~ A 

I wish I’d known about transition – I had an epidural with my first and didn’t get to experience it. If you feel like you can’t handle it anymore, you know you’re almost there! ~ C

Comfort Options During Labor

Many moms regretted not knowing more about what they could have during labor for comfort and pain relief!

I wish I’d known what my options were – I didn’t take a birth class and I must’ve missed it when my doctor talked to me about what I could have… so I only really knew about the epidural… forgot about the gas entirely! ~ S

I wish I’d know what meds I’d be offered during labor… and what the side effects were. I said yes to morphine and ended up spending my entire labor vomiting! ~ L

I wish I’d known more about the epidural – it didn’t work properly for me, only numbed half my body and it wore off by the time I had to push my baby out!! ~ K

Don’t be in this position! Make sure you look into prenatal courses at your hospital or try this one online – it’s created by a Labor and Delivery Nurse and is very thorough. You’ll learn everything you need to know about when to come in to hospital, how to know if you’re in labor, the stages of labor and much, much more! Check it out here.

I wish someone had told me to prepare a playlist for labor! I ended up listening to the radio on hubby’s phone and the music helped me distract my mind… but it would’ve been nicer to listen to my own music! ~ P

A lot of moms wished they’d known more about the epidural and its side effects: 

I didn’t know that epidurals don’t always work! It didn’t for me. ~ B

I didn’t know that the epidural had side effects – I started shivering and shaking as soon as I got mine… not pleasant!!! ~ A

What Moms Wish They Knew About the Second Stage of Labor (Pushing Baby Out)

What is there to know about pushing your baby out? A lot as it turns out! Many moms mentioned that they didn’t know how to push, so they were pushing ineffectively at first:

I wish I knew how to push. I didn’t take any classes and I wasn’t getting it on my own. Luckily, my midwife saw that I was struggling and told me to push like I was going number 2… it worked ~ S

And yes… just in case you were wondering, it IS totally normal for ‘pushing like you’re going number 2’ to result in actual poop… don’t worry, midwives see this all the time and are very good at cleaning up the evidence before you’re even aware it’s happened. 

I wish I’d known that pooping on the delivery table is normal… I was mortified… and so glad I’d told my mother-in-law I just wanted the birth to be me and hubby!!! ~ M

I was pushing, but it wasn’t working. My doctor helped by inserting her finger and telling me to ‘use these muscles’. My baby was born a little later. ~ C

Did you know you don’t necessarily start pushing straight away? Some moms catch a break after transition and before the pushing stage!

I wish someone had told me about laboring down – that’s where you don’t push as soon as you hit 10cm, you wait until your body starts pushing for you. It’s so much easier!!! ~ J

How should you give birth? If you’ve grown up on Hollywood movies, you’re probably used to seeing moms on their backs pushing their baby out. But, that’s not your only option (and it may not be your best option either!) You could try birthing:

  • with a birthing stool
  • in an all fours position on the bed
  • in a squatting position (helps open the pelvis as much as it can.)
  • on your side

I wish I’d known how awesome using a birthing stool was – I used it for my last birth and will be for this one too. The position was good and really helped get baby out easier. ~ S

I wish I’d known you can damage your tailbone giving birth on your back. I had no idea and I actually broke it… so painful. ~ S

C-Section Secrets

If you’re having a scheduled c-section or end up with an emergency one, here are a couple of things you might not have thought about:

I didn’t know they gave you pitocin (synthetic oxytocin – a staple induction drug) after a c-section! It’s to help the uterus contract and control the bleeding or something… ~E

I knew that ‘a c-section is major abdominal surgery’ which is why I was shocked when the nurses started pushing and shoving on my uterus afterward! I just had surgery! ~ H

Share Your Secrets

Now that you’ve been warned of all the grossest, strangest, weirdest things that can happen in the L+D room, got any more tips for us? Anything else you wish you’d known before delivering? Let us know in the comments!