What's childbirth like?

Four things to expect when you're about to have a baby

By Alexandra Smith

Everyone's experience of childbirth is different (as you'll keep being told) but here are four things to expect:

1) Period pain cramps. To any men reading this, these are like the cramps you may have felt in your foot but they happen under the tummy and/or in the base of the back.  Eventually these will happen every four minutes and last around a minute when you're in established labour. This 'feeling' is the muscles of your uterus trying to pull up and open the cervix. Try to relax to help your body do the work it's got to do but, if you're having trouble coping or you've been in labour for hours, go to hospital (if you're not already there) and ask for pain relief; you deserve a rest!

How did you fit in there?
2) Panic! No, don't panic but expect that you may. At some point a midwife, your birth partner or a doctor may say something which scares you. For some this may be 'It's time to push,' for others it may be 'We may need to do a cesarean birth.' Whichever it is, try to stay calm. Being scared can stop labour (apparently) and can raise your pulse rate and your blood pressure which are the hospital's measures for telling how well you're coping. Remember, whichever way the birth goes, it's still a birth and the experience belongs to you.

3) To feel ill. Pregnancy is not an illness but it does involve
growing a human-being inside yourself then 'releasing' him or her along with quite a bit of your blood. Whatever birth experience you have, expect to feel a bit rough afterwards. Let yourself recover, use the stretch mark oil, take the vitamins, walk slowly and rest often (at least for a couple of months). Go to your GP for checkups, addressing concerns and even requesting blood tests over the year after you give birth because prescriptions are free at this point and you'll want to know if you're suffering from a lack of iron for example. Routine NHS dental care is free at this time too so use it.

4) Painful boobs. Whether you want to breast feed or not, your boobs will have different ideas.  Some people have a small milk supply which builds up over time whereas others feel like a prize dairy cow about three days after birth when their milk 'comes in.' If your baby tries to feed lots and can successfully 'latch on' then you should find breast feeding possible but not necessarily easy. There is a real art to breast feeding and it can be painful at times while you're getting used to a feeding-friendly wardrobe and methods to avoid nipple chap, infection or milk spraying everywhere! If breastfeeding doesn't work out then don't feel deflated; there's nothing wrong with bottles (as many bottle-fed individuals will tell you).

Keep Reading: Top 10 Tips on Bathing a Baby

© This article and its photo(s) are the property of Alexandra Smith. Only use or reproduce with permission.

Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

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