More Sh!t No One Tells You About Labor and Delivery (and Your New Baby)

This post was originally published on May 14, 2012, after the birth of my second. But after a recent chat with another mom about things no one tells you about labor and delivery — and after sharing part 1 recently — we thought we’d share it again!


My friend is currently expecting her first child, due in August. (You can read about her pregnancy brain, or lack thereof, here.) And as I found myself going through labor, delivery and childbirth the second time, I kept making mental notes of little things I should tell her about the experience. Little things that would help an expecting mom out. As a first timer, there is so much unknown. How much will it hurt? What is recovery like? What can I expect at the hospital? And although I’ve already shared some dirty secrets of childbirth, here are even more to help expecting moms know what to expect!

Even More Dirty Secrets of Childbirth

1. Potty help. At the hospital, the nurses tell you to get help the first time you have to pee. USE THEM. They will pad you up (cold packs/pads) and show you what to do. And help you clean up — it’s a bit of a blood bath that first time and you need the assistance!

2. Don’t wear your Sunday best. Don’t wear anything you want to keep for the first 24 hours. They’ll give you disposable underwear; just wear the hospital gowns or cheap PJ bottoms in case you bleed through.

3. Listen to the nurses. They’ll tell you to pee often. Pee often! I guess it helps your uterus go back to its rightful place, but you’ll also avoid peeing yourself.

4. Butt, really? Nurses come to see where your uterus is by feeling your stomach and also checking your rear. It’s slightly embarrassing.

5. Bring … Lip balm. Bottle for water. SNACKS. My hospital food was amazing (or I was so hungry I thought it was), but it doesn’t always come the moment you need it. Or overnight!

6. LIMIT VISITORS! I don’t know how people with friends and family close get any rest. Between the baby, nurses checking on you, getting your vitals taken constantly, doing blood work, having your trash emptied, talking to lactation consultants and nutritionists (at least at my hospital), and having those people drop off forms and info all the time, I got no rest even without visitors. And you’re bleeding and exhausted and emotional. There is plenty of time for visits out of the hospital.

If Breastfeeding …

7. Get stocked. Buy several nursing tanks and bras early in the third trimester. I didn’t have mine dug out and packed, and it’s a major pain in the ass to breastfeed around normal clothes. Better yet, just avoid the NICU and just wear a nursing bra around the house. Same with nursing pads — buy some now and ask for some at the hospital. Leaking from whichever boob isn’t being used is annoying.

8. Don’t stress about each feeding. Some will go great; some will be craptastic. My son feeds totally differently than my daughter, so I feel like I’m learning all over again. Relax, make sure you’re comfortable. (I had a week’s worth of neck pain this time because I was lazy in the NICU and didn’t grab more pillows to be comfortable.) Have a nurse help you the first couple of feeds. Breastfeeding can get super easy after a bit, but babies can be surprisingly difficult, and it’s hard to trap their little limbs!

9. Don’t stress if you supplement. I had to supplement both kids with formula the first week. You really shouldn’t have to unless there are health issues, but supplementing won’t ruin a shot at breastfeeding. And do NOT let any nurse make you feel like crap if a feeding goes bad. Some of them have their own breastfeeding baggage or guilt.

If Doing It Without Drugs…

10. Know that you will feel like it can’t be done. It can.

11. Breathe. Try to relax between contractions. Contractions suck, but they’re not constant, and you get a break. I felt great between them.

12. It’ll feel familiar. Know that it will feel like you’re pooping. I knew what I was at the hospital for and I think I even said “I have to poop!” Yeah, a BABY.

13. You’ll feel like SUCH a bad-ass. Everyone will be impressed. Haha.

When It Comes to the Baby… 

14. Penises. Little, hilarious, spray pee everywhere, with greater force and quantity than you thought possible — watch out.

15. Sometimes they want to nurse 24/7. Or they’re hungry after an hour or before others think it’s possible. You know best; trust yourself.

What do you wish you had known before having a baby? —Erin

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  1. Atisheh says:

    More dirty secrets:

    1. Just because the hospital childbirth class doesn’t mention c-sections doesn’t mean you won’t have one. Your chances of having one are about a third, give or take a few percent depending on where you are.

    2. Just because you do everything “right” (diet, exercise, education, kegels, training, birth plan, etc.) doesn’t mean you will have the childbirth experience you wanted. Though it might make you feel better about the process afterwards.

    3. Bleeding doesn’t always stop by 6 weeks. It can take up to 8 and still be normal. (Sources: my doctor, and the internets.)

    4. The hospital schedule after birth can be just as exhausting as the labour and birth. Get your partner or doula to convince the nurses to coordinate care and give you some rest. It’s possible if you ask.

    5. For childbirth and new motherhood: if any person is bringing negativity or stress into your life, cut off contact with them for as long as you need to. Protect your sanity. Protect your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding. Protect your baby from feeling your stress. You and your baby are #1 right now.

    6. You might not love your baby more than life right away. And it might not be worth it right away. Some women have those emotions, the deep bond, immediately, and a lot do not. That’s also ok.

  2. Jessica says:

    I especially agree with your comment about how nursing doesn’t always go great and you can’t let anyone make you feel bad about that (especially for babies who start out in the NICU), and with Atisheh comments 1 and 6. I had an emergency c-section before even starting labor because my amniotic fluid was so low, despite have a great, problem-free pregnancy. And while I loved my baby, I don’t think I really started falling in love with him for several weeks. The first few months were HARD and I didn’t think it was worth it for a while. About the time he first smiled at me, the tide started turning, and now he’s about 15 months old and the most wonderful, amazing, kissable little boy in the world and I can’t imagine not having him!