When it comes to discussing some of the less pleasurable realities of birth, we’re loathe to discuss some more grim realities of labour beyond our nearest and dearest.
Midwives Jane Mason and Theresa Mounsey have 15 years of experience in the delivery suite between them are also mums themselves.
Having seen many women suffer in silence with the physical side effects of child birth, the pair decided launched the Natural Birthing Company to encourage women to talk more openly about some of the realities of labour. They also sell a range of products to help along the way.
Here Jane and Theresa share the six things nobody tells you about childbirth:
'I think my waters have broken'
Unlike how it’s often portrayed in Hollywood movies, most women’s waters don’t always break in one big gush and birth isn’t always imminent when they do - things can often happen much more slowly especially with first-time mums.
For some women, their waters go before there’s any sign of contractions, for others they will break during labour, whilst for a small number of women, they do not break at all and their babies are born still inside the bag of amniotic fluid.
Another point worth knowing is that once your waters have broken, you will continue to leak the amniotic fluid until your baby is born as pockets of fluid are freed due to contractions and your baby moving.
Cuts and tears
Cuts and tears are unfortunately more common during labour than you might think. In some cases women are given an episiotomy, a cut between the vagina and anus, to help reduce tearing.
You can help improve the elasticity of the skin in the build up to birth, which will hopefully reduce the likelihood of tears during, by massaging the vagina and surrounding area with massage oils.
If you have suffered from a tear, you may have stitches to help repair the damaged area which can leave you feeling sore and uncomfortable.
However there are things that you can do at home to help with the healing and our ‘Blissful Tincture’ helps ease the discomfort of perineal soreness, tears and uncomfortable stitches, haemorrhoids or caesarean section wounds.
Passing your placenta
Once you have given birth, unfortunately not all the pushing has finished. Whilst your baby is having skin-to-skin time on your chest, you will still need to birth your placenta.
There are two different methods to consider. Firstly after a few minutes the contractions begin again but with less intensity, so by continuing to push with contractions you can push the placenta out yourself.
Alternatively you can opt for an injection of oxytocin into your thigh as your baby is born. This causes your womb to contract & peel the placenta away from the wall of the womb.
Once the midwife has witnessed signs that this has happened she holds the cord and guides the placenta out. This method tends to give a quicker delivery of the placenta, however the side effects of the drug are headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Bleeding after the birth
It is perfectly normal to have vaginal bleeding following birth, but to some women this comes as a surprise.
For the first 24 hours it should be like a heavy period, there may be an odd small blood clot but anything bigger than a 50 pence piece should be saved and shown to the midwife - she will need to make sure it is not part of the placenta that has been left behind.
The bleeding should not be to the point that it is flooding out onto the bed but you will need the proper “brick style” maternity sanitary pads and maybe double them up for the first day.
Normal sanitary towels won’t be sufficient and some women can become irritated and sore from using the honeycomb plastic type coated pads against their delicate area post-birth.
It is important during this time that you pass urine frequently so as to keep your bladder empty as this allows your womb to contract down better which helps to stem the bleeding.
After the first 24 hours you will notice the bleeding starts to settle to a more normal period type flow. The lochia, as it is known, will become less over time as well as changing colour from bright red to pinky/brown colour to creamy/white colour and finally clear just as a normal discharge.
Any over exertion can cause the flow to become briefly heavy and darker in colour. If the flow remains heavy or begins to smell you should inform your midwife.
Breastfeeding plays an important part in the early development of many babies, but initially you may find your baby’s feeding takes its toll on your body and your nipples become sore.
When it comes to alleviating the pain however, you need to be aware that medications can get in to your milk supply and ultimately your baby’s body.
Our 'Bosom Buddies' breast feeding survival kit contains all the essential tools to help you face common breastfeeding difficulties. The kit features ‘Ooh!’ for engorged breasts, ‘Aah’ for low milk supply and ‘Ouch’ for sore nipples, all helping you feel comforted, relieved and uplifted.
Hot flushes can take hold at any time during your pregnancy, labour and even after giving birth as your body recovers.
For more information on the issues discussed above, please visit www.nhs.uk or consult with your midwife or GP.
For more information on the Jane and Theresa and The Natural Birthing Company visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.co.uk.