Pain, indignity, exhaustion..
And in retrospect, there's another benefit, too: the fact that it's probably the least inhibited moment of your life. Just when you thought you'd had that moment in 1998 after seven bottles of Castaway, you experience something quite unlike the 'freedom' that comes from too much booze. Total, primal, animal-like behaviour. Of a sort that the Rose & Crown has never witnessed. Not even during a World Cup.
Which might not seem like a great thing at the time. But looking back, it's quite interesting to see what side of your personality reveals itself in such an extreme situation. And it's not always what you would expect.
'As an inveterate potty mouth I thought I'd be shocking,' my friend Lorna told me. 'But when the time came I was convinced I couldn't swear in front of the midwife. So when she was in the room I shouted 'Owww', and as soon as she went out I totally let rip! My husband thought it was hilarious.'
It's a common theme. Lauren is also quite the fan of her 'Anglo Saxon' but told me how 'in labour, I think I swore twice and then couldn't stop apologising for my behaviour to the midwives!'
These midwives, as anyone who has tuned into One Born Every Minute will know, have seen it all. And by all, I mean ALL. And yet, with our legs akimbo and an 8lb human exiting via our lady parts, we are still bothered about how well brought up we seem to them. Those of us who are normally happy to partake in a four-letter word or two, that is. But what about the quiet types? They're the ones you have to watch out for.
Nikki is one of these women. She winces if you say 'fart' rather than 'trump'. She finds Only Fools And Horses a bit 'fruity' and wouldn't last 30 seconds in the company of Frankie Boyle. But what happened when she had her daughter Emily last year? She revealed her inner potty mouth.
'I look back and still go red', she told me. 'I don't know where half the words came from, as I've never used them before. But it did actually really help to let rip. And I think my husband has a new respect for me. Either that or he's just waiting until Emily's a bit older before he leaves...'
Claire was the same. 'I wouldn't normally say more than 'botheration', but when Joe was born I felt like someone had taken over my body. I could see the midwives smiling to each other at one point when I called my husband a...'
I'm afraid I can't tell you the rest of Claire's story. Suffice to say one of the words I removed rhymes with 'pucker'. So what is it that makes the mildest of women suddenly sound like a truck driver in a bad mood, while those of us who are less reserved in 'real life' hold back and spend the gaps between their contractions apologising to the medical team?
My theory is that it's whatever gets you through. And if you're used to swearing, maybe holding back is something to focus on. Whereas if you're normally quite the lady, swearing might just be the thing to take away the grim reality of a pain that has been likened to squeezing a Gaia melon out of your back passage.
And as for me, since you asked, I didn't swear – I just mooed a lot. Which doesn't say anything good about my language in 'real life', does it?
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