10 labour surprises to prepare for

Ready for anything that labour will throw at you? Wise up to shocking facts, even before those contractions start!

So, you’re entering the last leg of your pregnancy and reckon you’ve got most things prepared.

The hospital bag is packed, the nursery’s set up, and you’ve already bought everything you need for the baby you’re about to meet.

What’s more, you’ve read all there is to know about pain relief options during labour, plus, all the tips and tricks of giving birth smoothly.

But the truth is, all labour experiences are different – and there are always going to be things that surprise you, no matter how prepared you think you are.

Here are several.

No amount of planning helps

Wrote a birth plan? Practised hypno-birthing techniques? Memorised all your prenatal class notes? Well, get ready to toss all these out of the window. It’s not that these aren’t useful ― we’re just saying that it’s highly possibly that things happen too quickly ― and that you should be open to taking a different path from what you’ve meticulously planned. Sheila Zaini, mum to Ina, 6 months, faithfully listened to a hypno-birthing CD for hours on end in the months leading up to her due date. But when the time actually came, “All I wanted was to scream and squeeze my husband’s hand the whole way. Hypno-birthing was the last thing on my mind!”

Other people in the room

Besides your husband, expect midwives and nurses to check on you constantly while you’re in labour. They will use the CTG machine to check on your contractions, as well as monitor how much you’ve dilated — yes, this means sticking their fingers in your cervix to measure how much it has expanded.

Getting an enema

In most natural births, midwives would ask you to take an enema before you deliver. In an enema, fluid is injected into your rectum to clear out your bowels before the onset of labour. This is to reduce your likelihood of pooping during the birth (it may still happen, though — some mums find it quite uncomfortable. Says Tricia Tay, “The enema was more painful than the actual labour! I was told to hold the fluid for 10 minutes before going to the loo, and it was the worst 10 minutes of my life! It felt like I was having severe diarrhoea and not being allowed to go!”

“The enema was more painful than the actual labour!”

How long it all takes

All people see is that rosy picture of a smiling mum and baby that’s sent or posted on social media. But no one tells you that what went on before took hours…and hours…before said mum got to cradle her little one in her arms. While the average labour is 8 hours long, it’s not uncommon for some mums to labour for 20 or more hours. Often, it’s just a waiting game, and you and the hubs will find yourselves simply staring at each other at the delivery ward while you are waiting for your next contraction/to dilate. So, don’t forget to pack books, magazines and your favourite music to keep yourselves occupied!

You’ll feel famished

You might get very, very hungry as the hours pass as you won’t be allowed to eat once you’re admitted to the delivery ward — you’ll have to fast, in case you need to have a C-section. “While my husband popped out for meals and snacks, I wasn’t allowed to have anything except sips of water — I was starving, not having eaten anything for more than 10 hours!” recalls Leena Chua, mum to Samuel, 10 months. 

You mean pain management has side effects? Find out what these are…next!