What to Expect in Birth

Photo by Rebekah Vos / Unsplash

If you're pregnant, you probably want to know what to expect.  An entire book was written to answer this question.  But what to expect while you're laboring?  This is a question a birth coach takes great thrill in answering!  

Here are just a few of the responses shared by our community to help YOU know what to expect while you are laboring.  For additional resources to have the birth of your dreams, check out our Birth Course.  

  • Labor hurts, but nothing I felt like I couldn't handle. Deep breathing helped a ton.  Visualizing the goal of holding my baby helped me focus and know it wasn't going to last forever. Plus all the natural oxytocin afterwards is the best! Honestly once my baby girl was out the pain vanished and my recovery was so easy after that. It was awesome and super empowering!
  • It's not a walk in the park. I've had two VBACS at home and they were intense. My first home birth really took me by surprise, I was not prepared for the level of intensity. My second birth I prepared myself better mentally. Both were precipitous (4 hours and 2 hours, start to finish). That being said, with the right preparation and understanding of physiological birth, it became a joyous experience!! I loved my unmedicated home births.
  • I went all natural with my son in April. It was not intended. But I was way too far along to get an epidural. I got to the hospital and my son was born within an hour.  I had back pain, but it was only bad during the contraction. Then I felt fine.  I got through it and kept my focus while breathing down. It helped. I felt the ring of fire and once it passed it felt like nothing to push my son out. My body even decided to push him. I felt great afterwards. There will always be pain. But don't let your fear take over. You can do it. Anyone can. I believe that every woman can.
  • There was pain but it wasn't a painful experience.  I recommend to take your time in your pregnancy to prepare and do the mental work. Take a class, read, build healthy expectations, and you will have an awesome birth!  Pain is subjective. Look into hypnobirthing/hypnobabies. In my opinion, labor is mostly mental and breath work.
  • Everyone's experience and perception of pain is unique. I have had migraines that hurt much worse.  I used guided meditation. The worst part for me was a lack of sleep. I received IV pain medications which was crucial for me.  I did not have to use Pitocin, but did have the foley bulb and eventually AROM (Artificial Rupture of Membranes)
  • The thing that helped me most was my support system and the nurses.  The contractions were short and the time flew by once I remembered, pain is temporary and each contraction brings you closer to being done and closer to meeting your baby!
  • For my birth I felt really prepared. I walked 2 to 3 miles a day and doing around 30 minutes of strength training and yoga. Mentally this helped me know I had endurance for labor. In my yoga training, I held the chair pose with arms up for at least a minute and focused on trying to mentally scan my body for where I was holding extra tension and relax it. I did this with each contraction and felt I was able to feel the contractions leaving the last 15 secs. As for pushing, pelvic floor therapy can help you feel where to push.  I felt when I pushed too fast or too hard and was able to pause then push her out.  The after birth high was AMAZING.
  • I 10000% regretted my epidural the second I got it I kept it on minimum the whole time.  I didn't know removing it was an option as I was not told it.  Previously, I had an emergency C-Section, and wanted to go naturally.  I was induced and I was pressured by the nurses to get an epidural.  If nurses are persistent, keep telling them your plan and to not to convince you other wise.
  • For me, labor felt like a charlie horse, except not in my legs, but my abdomen.  It was also a lot of pressure in my pelvis/butt. Contractions felt manageable until transition. They came one after another like an ocean with only a split second between each massive wave.  Mental preparation is the single most important thing, and breathing exercises are second.  There are tons of books that help prepare your mind for labor. I tried hypnobirthing but my labor was so fast so I didn't feel like I could really get into a good mental space before transition took over.
  • There's a mindset that is often pushed on women about birth that our pain tolerances are fixed in stone.  They are not!  Our tolerance can be heightened in certain situations and with support and reframing our brain.  If you can train your mindset that the pain in labor does not signal something is wrong, it can make a huge difference.  Labor depends on mindset, movement, and optimal positioning.
  • You don't need a high pain tolerance!  Labor is hard work, but that hard work is for one minute at a time and then you get to rest. You can do anything for one minute! It's mostly the mental prep.  A tens unit, or utilizing a comb during contractions is helpful.  Hypnobabies is a great book to read.  
  • The biggest tool in your labor is your mental state. Your mind is a powerful thing. The more you prepare yourself for the pain, the better. Yes, its gonna be painful but that pain has a purpose and that purpose is bringing you closer to your baby.  Moving helps and utilizing a hot shower or bath.  Pushing was actually relieving for me.  And once she was out, the pain was gone. Delivering the placenta was easy too. Afterbirth felt like really strong period cramps and it slid right out with some light pushes.
  • Heat therapy was a huge relief during labor - a heating pad, a hot shower, or a hot birth tub.  Affirmations "I can do anything for 1 minute," and "I am meeting my baby soon" were extremely helpful.  If you understand the process your body is experiencing, you can picture it!

For first time birthers, knowing what to expect can help you immensely to prepare for the event.  No one likes to be surprised, and you can feel set up for success by studying and practicing.  Visit us here to birth without pain and fear.


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Sarah Ziroll

Sarah Ziroll