Women get nine whole months (usually) to prepare for labor mentally, but let’s be real—no woman can really predict how she will feel until after her contractions have begun. And most women will be surprised at their thoughts during labor: some rational, others…not so much. Whether she chooses The Bradley Method or the “give me all the medicine you got” method for delivering her little bundle of love, one thing is for sure—labor is memorable!
I chose to have my first son unmedicated. So before his birth, I created a beautiful playlist, designed my motivating signs, and practiced different pushing positions to get myself ready. Then within two minutes of being in transition labor, I had no desire to use one thing I had prepared. Instead, I wanted silence, darkness, and no one near me.
On the other hand, my sister expected to think labor was terrible (probably after watching me—haha), but after having her first son now plans to have her next child unmedicated because her labor moved so quickly. Thus proving two things:
1) You never know how you will feel about labor until you’re in labor.
2) All women do not feel the same about their labor experiences. And that’s perfectly wonderful.
So, today I wanted to share 10 normal, yet contradicting, thoughts you may think during your labor. None are the right way to feel. And none are the wrong way to feel. But they are all normal.
1. I’m so ready for this.
For some women, the process of contractions beginning feels like the best. gift. ever. Their thoughts during labor lean toward a feeling of relief and readiness. They feel elated. Because after feeling swollen and achy for the last few months, they are willing to endure whatever it takes to meet their sweet little baby. And finally, be done with pregnancy. Hallelujah!
2. I’m not ready at all.
But for other women, they feel the exact opposite. Instead of feeling prepared, they feel unsure of their readiness to have a baby. The labor process begins, and a feeling of reluctance, sadness, or worry sets in. They worry they aren’t equipped to be a mom yet or that the pain may hurt too much. Some may even grieve being done with their pregnancy. One of my friends once told me she was two weeks overdue when she went into labor, yet still felt total grief knowing her pregnancy was over because she loved being pregnant!
3. I can’t do this.
I have heard MANY of my friends say their first thought during labor was that they couldn’t do it. Instead of feeling empowered, they felt scared. “The pain is too strong. It’s not natural. There’s NO way I can do this!“ But despite feeling a level of pain you’ve never experienced, I can assure you the pain is natural. In fact, so natural that women have been enduring it for generations. But it’s probably safe to say many of them doubted their abilities in the process. Yet still came out with a baby.
4. I am woman. Hear me roar!
On the other hand, I have known many women who feel just the opposite. They do not necessarily enjoy the pain, but it makes them feel womanly and strong. My sister-in-law had an epidural that didn’t work. She said as her pain increased, her mind became determined. “I got this!!”
5. This pain is manageable.
While some women feel the pain is terrible, others truly do not. I know it’s hard to believe, but many of my friends said they didn’t feel it was nearly as bad as they expected. I have also known women who feel the pain is different per labor. Therefore, you may surprise yourself! (It is said that some women can even have an orgasm during childbirth!) If you are one of those women, do something that involves luck! Because you’re LUCKY!
6. This pain is more than I imagined.
As mentioned above, some women can feel surprised by the level of pain they feel. This can especially happen if you plan to get an epidural and run out of time. Therefore, my best tip to combat this thought is to remember: “This pain has a purpose!!!“ Whenever you feel immense pain, you are one step closer to getting to meet YOUR baby!
7. I want everybody out of the room.
Some women prepare to have family and friends by their side. Some women even practice how their partner or doula will comfort them. But then find out that they do not want to be touched or massaged when the time comes. This is perfectly normal!
8. I don’t care who sees what’s going on.
On the flip side, some women who were once worried about having people in the room during delivery may discover they couldn’t care less about who is in the room. They just want the baby out. Modesty and labor do not necessarily go hand in hand, which is helpful since someone has to deliver the baby!
9. This process is so beautiful.
For some, labor ends up feeling beautiful. They want to watch the baby be delivered with a mirror. Or they want a photographer. They want their husband filming. Despite the pain and body fluids, the process is beautiful!! And they want to remember it. All of it!
10. This process is so messy!
Lastly, some women are shocked by how messy the whole process is. They find themselves asking that no pictures be taken until after delivery. They find themselves throwing a camera across the room (not that I did that or anything). Because no matter how beautiful it is, it is also messy. Which is kind of a perfect way to describe motherhood in general. A sweet mess that is beautiful!