A beginner’s guide to labour and birth…

My first experience at giving birth was filled with self induced terror. I was petrified of the unknown. Would I be able to bear the pain? How much would it hurt? Would Jason think less of me if I opted for pain relief? If I allowed him to see the birth – like a front row seat at the ‘action’ end of the bed – would he ever lose the image of a human being emerging from my girly bits? Or in ten years time would he still see a smashed up vagina in place of my face? So many questions, no answers. So here’s what I ‘ve learnt during two natural births and two caesareans…

Firstly, let’s get the elephant out of the room – giving birth is a beautiful experience. Ignore other’s horror stories. Your vagina will not:

• Explode,
• Be ripped in two,
• Require a reconstruction or transplant, or
• Remain so stretched that your uterus will fall out as you walk down the street.

Everything will go back to how it was prior to giving birth. Your vagina is like a concertina – an organ that old Italian men play with a monkey sitting on top. Not that your vagina will have a monkey sitting on top, or an old Italian man playing with it, (but hey, whatever floats your boat is cool with me) – but it will s-t-r-e-t-c-h. That is what it’s designed to do, so like a piece of elastic, it will contract again afterwards.

You may have some scars if you require stitching, but unlike bullet wounds, stabbings or spectacular falls as a child, it is best not to display them to onlookers at backyard BBQ’s or enter into ‘my scar is bigger and better than yours’ competitions at local bars. That would be icky.

Be prepared that, at the birth, your partner may be confused, dazed, totally useless and possibly unconscious on the floor if he ventures down the other end of the birthing bed in order to see his baby crowning. Parking the car is likely to be his finest moment of the evening. But don’t worry, there’s a perfectly normal explanation for this:

He’s a man.

We all know that men are repulsed by the word ‘period’ and all the relevant associations. My husband refers to it as being ‘broken’ or ‘unserviceable’ . This is due to his former occupation as a military pilot. If a helicopter was not able to be used it was ‘unserviceable’ and the saying has now transferred to me. Charming, I know.

Men seem to require sedation and lose all mental agility around:

• the word ‘period’,
• when women discuss periods, or,
• when a feminine hygiene product advertisement comes on television, particularly that one that starts off with, “We all know that vaginas leak at times…”

So expecting him to cope in a constructive manner with the birth of his baby is perhaps overly optimistic. Put him in front of a Rambo, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Expendables movie and the blood fest is welcome. Have that same blood fall out of a woman’s vagina and he falls to pieces.

In all honesty, most men don’t know what to do with themselves during labour and birth. This is because they are ‘fixers’ and ‘problem solvers’ but in this situation, they are powerless to do anything other than offer emotional support , which is ironic because it’s usually not their forte.
So, what do you do? Make friends with your midwife – she’ll look after you. Trust in your own body that it knows what to do and don’t over think it. You haven’t had to consciously build a baby in the preceding nine months, your body has just done it on auto pilot. So let it happen again during the birth – this is what your body is designed to do.

Enjoy the most incredible experience of your life and watch in awe as your big, strong man turns into a teary, emotional mess as he holds his child in his arms for the first time, because that’s the moment you get to watch him fall in love with the precious gift you’ve given him. After that, settle back and bask in all the worship he has to give you, particularly those that come in the form of a diamond big enough to build a three storey house on.

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