Being pregnant (opens in new tab) and giving birth are two of the most wonderful things, for the main part, but they can also be pretty terrifying too.
With all the talk of painless births and mess-free deliveries we thought it was about time we uncovered the truth about birth - because there's only so much you can learn from One Born Every Minute.
We asked real women, for their real stories on Facebook (opens in new tab) and Reddit (opens in new tab), and almost instantly regretted it. Here's what they had to say when we asked them for the one thing they wish they'd been told before they gave birth...
When your waters break they might not be clear...
Despite the common portrayal of women being soaked in a clear liquid when their waters break, it's actually often anything other than clear. As one Reddit user found, 'the amniotic fluid can be green or black.' One to look forward to, ladies.
That your waters can break more than once
This unpleasant factor of birth (are there any pleasant ones we wonder?) actually can happen consistently until your baby is born - so prepare to feel like you've wet yourself for a good few hours. Desirae Harbison Mitchell on Facebook told us, 'that once your water breaks it never stops 'til the baby's crowning. It was totally unexpected.' Unexpected is the word Desirae.
That there are alternatives to hospitals
As one mum on Reddit put it: 'I do wish people had told me about birthing centres. I found one on my own in my research and ended up having the baby there. It was much more comfortable than a hospital would be and much more personal. The baby never left the room and I was home only a few hours later. When I made the choice to go there instead of a hospital, a lot of people tried to dissuade me or tell me I was making the wrong choice. I just don't think it's an option people really get to know about unless they already know about them or research it.'
That there is a 'plug' of mucus that will actually fall out of you at one point
Yes, you read that right. A. Plug. Of. Mucus. One mum explained that 'I passed the plug thingy when I tried to go pee. I thought a bit of the baby had fallen off,' while helpfully explaining to the uneducated that it was 'the cork that stops up your cervix when you're pregnant' and that 'for some women it's literally just a lump of mucus. Some get blood and icky bits with it too though, and it can be a bit scary when not expected!' And probably scary when expected too, we think.
You'll not give two hoots who sees your WHOLE body
Goodtoknow Facebook user Theresa Inman Stutzman summed it up nicely by explaining that, 'your hoo hoo is up and out for the world to see and you don't care 😂.' Thanks for the clarification Theresa.
That you may or may not lose control of your bowels
The risk of pooing while giving birth is very real and shouldn't be taken lightly. Lesley White helpfully offered pre-birthing advice to mums-to-be 'that your going to sh*t yourself lmao,' before reminiscing about her own experiencing and saying, 'at least I could of gone to toilet before hand.' We wish that had been possible for you Lesley, we really do.
That you'll probably not remember the first time meeting your baby
If you've had to have a lot of pain relief during the birth then chances are you'll feel a bit spaced out once all the hard work is out the way. 'I also found a lot of people didn't really remember their first moments with their baby because of the drugs,' says one Reddit user.
That 'tearing' is often involved
We hope you're not attached to anything 'down there' because it might not look the same after childbirth. If you give birth naturally then expect tearing, and even cutting if needs be by doctors, during your birth.
That you'll need help using the bathroom
If Reddit user hsd1980 could give one piece of advice to expectant mothers it's to, 'call for a nurse before attempting to use the restroom,' as she explains. 'I had to pee really bad and nobody was in the room so I decided to just get up and go to the restroom. It looked like I dragged a bloody body to the restroom. I was so embarrassed.' A solid recommendation we think.
There will be blood clots
Aside from your baby there are other things that may or may not be 'born' on the day of your labour. As mum Sofia Bland puts it, 'you pass blood clot/s afterwards and it stings so badly for your first pee!' Her advice? 'Use a warm washer and apply pressure and don't stop!' Noted.
There's the possibility of having to use sanitary products on your stomach
If you have a C section (opens in new tab) then it turns out it's a pretty bloody affair. 'You bleed a lot after csection (I have never had natural so can't speak for that) it is gross and uncomfortable,' says one Reddit user while another mum replied, 'yeah, never worn a panty pad on my stomach 'til then!' Nice.
That a shower of breast milk is a thing
If you choose to breastfeed (opens in new tab) straight away then beware, you might have to deal with breast milk 'spraying' everywhere. Yep, it doesn't just stop when your baby stops feeding as one mum found out. She explains that, 'I had no idea it actually sprayed until my son unlatched during a let down and everything got covered in breast milk.' Not an ideal first experience of motherhood...
Got something to add? Let us know in the comments below!
Rosie is an experienced food and drinks journalist who has spent over a decade writing about restaurants, cookery, and foodie products. Previously Content Editor at Goodto.com and Digital Food Editor on Woman&Home, Rosie is well used to covering everything from food news through to taste tests. Now, as well as heading up the team at SquareMeal - the UK's leading guide to restaurants and bars - she also runs a wedding floristry business in Scotland called Lavender and Rose.
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