5 Parents Share What Surprised Them Most about Labor and Birth

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Image adapted via Flickr/ MabyCakes

It doesn't matter how prepared you think you are, how many classes you attended, blogs you read, or books you took out from the library — labor and birth may still shock you.

Read on to hear from five parents revealing what surprised them most about labor and birth, and maybe it won't catch you off guard when it's your turn. Of course, it's only a maybe because – as you'll see – the experience is different for everyone.

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Image via Flickr/ MammaLoves

That it could be so painful.

“I had a natural, un-medicated birth, and I totally thought that I would be able to just jump off the table and resume normal life after giving birth. I was completely shocked with the fact that, not only was I in excruciating pain after delivery, but that it took me so long to recover from a birth that didn't require surgery.

“I also didn't realize how much trauma would be inflicted on my lady parts and how long they would take to heal. Just getting out of bed to walk to the bathroom was painful for the first six weeks or so. I later found out that I fractured my tailbone during delivery. (Apparently this is a thing that can happen. Who knew?) Which explains why I was in pain for so long afterward.” — Anna Lane

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Image via Flickr/ rabble

Breathing actually works.

“I just knew that I was going to have the best and easiest labor in the world. If my mom could have three children all natural, then surely I could do it with my first one. And sure enough. I did! I was so surprised that breathing really works!!

“I mean, when you're pregnant, you always hear people say, ‘Just breathe.' But in reality, no one ever does. But with every contraction, I shut my eyes and inhaled and exhaled. Breathing got me through my eight-hour labor. I thought it would hurt more, but surprisingly it didn't.

“I went into labor at 10 a.m., and by 6 p.m., I was ready to take a shower, and as I was doing that, it was time to push!

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“The doctor broke my water, and an hour later, my baby was here! Now, the pushing out was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I had no idea at all that pushing him out would hurt so bad. That pain, I was not ready for. The labor was amazing! The pushing out was pure pain! My husband handled it so well. I was actually proud of him. So overall, it was amazing.” — Tiffany Komba

{ MORE: Grab the Tissues and Watch This 10-Year-Old Help Deliver Her Baby Sister }

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Image via Flickr/ Lars Plougmann

The pain goes away quickly.

“The shock. Once the baby was out (in my first delivery, breech, so first the bottom and then the head, both very painful “bumps”), the pain was over. OVER! It was as if the pain had been switched off, the relief was so immediate.” — Linda Carlson

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Image via Flickr/ MabyCakes

People say strange things.

“What surprised me was that I went through five hours of the most excruciating pain of my life and kept hearing what an easy time I was having.

“The pain-management techniques I learned in my natural childbirth class were useless, and the hospital staff held off on giving me an epidural. They did give me something that was supposed to take the edge off. The edges were still there, but it did calm me down a bit, which made things easier for everyone else in the room.

“My experience wasn't at all like the woman they showed in the instruction video during class.” — Judy Nichols

{ MORE: Meghan Markle is Hiring a Doula. Should You? }

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Image via Flickr/ remysharp

You're sore after all births.

“[It was challenging] after giving birth. I had my first child in October of 2014 and was one of the last of my closest friends to have a baby. None of them are shy to share the gory details, but I don't remember anyone preparing me for the first couple weeks after having my son. Everyone discusses the recovery period for c-sections (which I'm sure is a lot worse), but I don't recall anyone saying how sore you are after natural birth. The ice packs from the hospital were my best friends.

“Additionally, I didn't realize how emotionally fragile you are. I remember crying for no reason at all. Every time a family member called or a friend came to visit, I would just bawl after saying goodbye to them. I had a beautiful and healthy baby and great support, but it didn't stop the waterworks.” — Colleen Jones

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{ MORE: 5 Unexpected Ways a Doula Can Provide Support }

What surprised you most about your labor and birth? Share in the comments!

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5 Parents Share What Surprised Them Most about Labor and Birth

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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2 comments

  1. Nicole says:

    I had always assumed your doctor stayed at the hospital with you until you delivered. I went through 6 doctors and I don’t know how many nurses over several days of laboring. My doctor was there when they decided a c-section was needed to help me, and then there were 2 different doctors in surgery and a whole other set of nurses, staff etc. I swear I met half the hospital staff during my labor and delivery!
    On the plus side, I had decided to bring cookies, candies, and some other homemade treats in a basket with me when I came to the hospital to leave at the nurses station. So everyone in the labor unit knew us as ‘the cookie people’. LOL

  2. Candice says:

    I think the soreness was the most shocking for me. I ripped and had i don’t know how many stitches but it took awhile for all of them and the roll of stitches was gone when he was done. It hurt to even pee but i did find the little squirt bottle they gave me to clean myself with water and iodine ( i believe) did help a lot. it hurt to move anything. you truly learn that yes all of your muscles are connected and when you cough you feel like everything is going to fall out.

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