Labour is about as unique an experience as you can get. You might spend it creating new and unusual swear word combinations to hurl at your partner, or go zen and spend the entire labour in a silent yet powerful trance.
Whatever you do, you’re unlikely to remember it very well afterwards.
In fact, when your partner recounts the story to you (which you might ask him to do a lot in those early weeks of parenthood, as you lie awake feeding your nocturnal baby), you might not even recognise it.
After all, you were probably far too busy giving birth to take note of what you were saying and doing.
10 Thoughts Women Have During Labour
Here are 10 thoughts you probably had during labour (even if you don’t remember them):
#1: Is This Really It?
After weeks of wondering whether you’re in labour (thank you, Braxton Hicks), you feel a little bit like the boy who cried wolf.
To avoid yet another false alarm, you might even try timing your contractions for a while this time. All you heard throughout the pregnancy were experienced mamas telling you that you’d know when you were in labour, but look, here you are, not knowing. Please, please let them be real contractions this time.
Look out for these signs of labour to help you determine whether it’s the real thing.
#2: Is It Time To Go To Hospital?
Once you’ve established that you are really in actual real life labour (omg, breathe, breathe), you need to start thinking about what to do next. Should you labour at home for a while, or head straight to the birth centre?
What if you arrive too soon and they send you straight back home again?
But, on the other hand, what if you leave it too late and end up delivering in the car on the way there? Does your partner even have any antibacterial hand-wash in the glove-box? Does he have towels? Is his car a mobile birthing unit?
#3: If He Drives Over One More Pothole…
Contractions and car journeys simply do not mix. Like, at all.
Ever wondered if your contractions could get worse? Try having them while flying over potholes at 70 kph.
Labouring in a car is not fun and you can be forgiven for spending this part of your labour plotting the many cruel things you will do to your partner when you’re a bit less tied up having a baby. Every single pothole (of which there are many) will leave you seeing red. So much red.
Try to remember that he is driving you to hospital. Without him, you’re going to have to drive yourself.
#4: I Must Be About 10 Centimetres Now, Right?
The wonder of labour is that you will spend its entire duration believing you are 10cm dilated, right until you really are 10cm dilated, and then you’ll suddenly have a crisis of confidence. Every contraction you endure will feel, at least, like another centimetre. So, once you’ve had 10 of those, you’re done, right?
If you thought your pothole rage was going to be the peak of your anger today, just wait until the midwife tells you how dilated you are. Are you 10cm? No, you’re less dilated than a paper cut. A word of warning though, punching your midwife is not a very good idea. You want to keep her on side.
#5: Time For A Sudoku Puzzle…
Just kidding, nobody ever thinks this during labour, so why did you pack a sudoku puzzler in your hospital bag? What were you thinking?
You can probably throw out the novel and the crossword as well. Labouring women don’t care for sudoku, they’re too busy bringing forth the next generation. No matter what happens, you won’t be complaining of boredom during labour.
#6: What Did My Prenatal Teacher Say? Breathe?
Remember when you signed up for prenatal classes so you’d be more prepared than those boy scouts (who are, in fact, famously ill-prepared for childbirth)?
Yeah, well you really should have paid more attention in class. Just showing up won’t do it, you need to listen to what’s being said. Now look at you, you can’t remember the first thing the teacher said about how to stay calm during contractions. This feeling of failure is actually making you feel more panicked and less calm.
It was breathe, wasn’t it? Are you breathing? Has anyone ever forgotten to breathe in labour? Judging from the insane morse code being tapped out on your back right now, your partner was equally useless during the antenatal classes and he’s forgotten everything he was taught about giving good massages during contractions. Great!
Childbirth isn’t necessarily painful, and many women even enjoy the experience. But even the most tranquil woman will have moments during strong contractions where the discomfort gets a bit too much.
Remember, focus on your breathing and try to stay calm. Giving birth isn’t easy, but your body is amazing and so are you. Breathe.
Here are 8 things that can make labour pain worse.
#8: Is There A Cow In Here?
With most hospitals being located in towns and cities, there’s unlikely to be a herd of cows munching grass outside the window.
And yet, you keep hearing the loud moos of exasperated cows. Where is it coming from? Umm, this is awkward but … it’s you.
Yep, you’re mooing.
#9: Let Me Just Check My Diary
Those elusive 10 centimetres are finally upon you, so of course you think it’s time to throw in the towel. Far from the I can do this approach one imagines Beyoncé adopting in the birthing centre, you will probably try to reschedule the birth. Or grab your keys and tell your partner to go get the car, you're going home.
Don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind; you’re just entering transition. It’s totally normal and very weird. You’ll announce you can’t do this today, and perhaps suggest coming back to try again tomorrow. You might even try to leave the room. It won’t last long though. In a few minutes you’ll be starting to push and then it’s time to say hello to your baby.
Well, you only spent months trying to conceive, nine months growing the baby, and then 12 hours trying to push the darn thing out. I guess you can be forgiven for completely forgetting what you were doing, and why. Luckily, your baby won’t remember the look of utter confusion on your face the first time she laid eyes on you.
And, you hope, it will only take a few seconds before reality comes flooding back and you realise you are holding in your arms the cause of your burning perineum. And here are 6 ways to care for your perineum after the birth. Don’t mention it – you’re welcome!