I’ve never been in labour, so although it sounds like a lot of fun it does mean that I’ll never be able to blog about it (be grateful). This was written by my friend Gemma Hayward especially for me so that I would know all about the stages of labour!*
The real ten stages of labour!
Well done you, you’ve spent 9 months growing a human!
It’s been amazing, exhausting, painful and you’ve eaten a lot of biscuits but now the time has come; one final hurdle and, at last, you get to meet your baby and find out who they look like! (It’s probably going to be their dad. Don’t be too disappointed.) It looks so easy on TV, right?
Er… sure. If you’re heavily pregnant with your first child, I would look away now. These are the stages of labour that the antenatal lessons don’t prepare you for:
You feel a bit strange, maybe have some period type pains, a twinge here and there, a mild back ache. You ask yourself “Is this it, is this something? Maybe gas?”.
Time to ask family, friends and random internet strangers their opinion and unashamedly overshare about potential plug loss and other gross stuff you wouldn’t have dreamt of talking about before. This is the beginning of the end for your dignity; wave goodbye to it now, you won’t see it again for years after this debacle is over.
All of a sudden the gravity of what you’re about to go through dawns on you. It’s as if everything you read about labour over the last 9 months didn’t apply to you and suddenly you realise it really does. You’re hit by the thought “Oh crap! This is it, I’m about to have a baby. Shit! This is going to hurt, what if it all goes wrong? How will I know what to do? WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!”. You kind of just have to accept this, because it’s a bit late now and that baby is coming out one way or another; and none of them are that much fun.
Following the acceptance that you’re about to go through an unquantifiable, unstoppable amount of pain you get overwhelmed with excitement. Thoughts of terror are replaced with “I’m about to meet my baby”. Enjoy it while it lasts, for the next stage is…
Minutes turn into hours, hours turn into more hours. Labour, unless you’re extremely lucky, is long and all through it you’re in pain making it feel even longer. Your excitement will soon wane and you will ask “How do I not have a baby yet, how long does this take?!” and think “This is not what happens on One Born Every Minute!”. Settle in for the long haul, you could be here a while.
You’ll be tired, you’ll be fed up but mostly you’ll just be angry; really angry. Your repertoire will consist of shouting things like “GIVE ME THE DRUGS, ALL OF THEM” “RUB MY BACK…DON’T RUB MY BACK YOU EFFING JERK!” “DO NOT TALK TO ME” “YOU ARE NEVER COMING WITHIN 10 FEETOF ME AGAIN”. Your birth partner will take a verbal battering through this stage. They probably deserve it.
6. Drug Induced Bliss
Many of the drugs given in labour not only help you to cope with the pain, they also cause you to act slightly inebriated. I’m fairly sure this is to give the midwives a laugh between being repeatedly sworn at.
Women have been heard to say “It feels a lot better now, I think I’ll just go home”. Others have mistaken the male anaesthetist entering the room to give an epidural for a handsome man making a move and declared “I’m flattered but taken”, or asked the midwife “How can you eat after staring at mangled vaginas all day?”.
By this point you’re probably getting close to pushing (yay!), at the end of each contraction you’re getting a little urge to push, but you’ll also be getting desperate for this hell joyous experience to be over. You’ll want to grab the midwife by her perfectly starched collar and shout in her annoyingly smiley face “GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME, NOW DAMMIT!”. Or something swearier.
8. The Pushing
This is the point your question about knowing what to do from stage two is answered. Your body will take over, almost like giving birth is a natural thing…and with every contraction you’ll bear down. If you’re really unlucky your midwife will tell you to not push because you will tear horribly, sounds easy right? Yeah, just try it, then tell me how easy it is. At this point many like to growl in possessed, demonic tone “just cut the baby out”.
Considering the short distance a baby has to travel to get out it can take a lot of pushing. You’ll probably find yourself once again thinking “This really isn’t like on the TV!”.
9. Relief/Pure Joy
Oh my god, it’s finally over, and there is an actual real-life proper tiny human being in your arms. OK, so they’re covered in all manner of gunk, shrivelled up and have a funny shaped head from being squeezed out like the last bit of toothpaste, but you won’t see any of that because you made them and they’re perfect. The pain is over, you’re exhausted but it was worth it. You’ll now want to force everyone within a 10 mile radius to look at your beautiful baby (who to them looks remarkably like a wrinkled old person).
10. The Final Surprise
Of course that isn’t the end of the pain and indignity! No, what you want now is more contractions and to have to push more stuff out; hello after birth. Another “Never saw this bit on the soaps!” moment.
And there you have it! Placenta – OUT. Labour – DONE.
But wait, the fun isn’t over yet; behold the coup de grâce!
Legs up in stirrups, and blinking underneath one of those huge, bright, over head lights and here comes a midwife approaching you with needle and thread in hand, to stitch up your ‘area’ – as if it hasn’t sustained enough trauma. As you grit your teeth and turn your head to the side, glance to the door; you’ll catch sight of the last shred of your dignity leaving.
Almost makes me sad that I’ll never experience the stages of labour.
*Gemma is the mother of two small children too – a little boy and a pretty brand new baby girl. She’s also the fool that attempted messy play with rice. She doesn’t have time to blog, what with having a real job, but she would be pretty good at it in my opinion…