7 things you need to know about childbirth

Some labour secrets you won’t discover until your delivery day.


By the time you reach your due date, you’ll be feeling pretty clued in on what’s going to happen next. You’ve been to antenatal classes, sussed out pain relief options and written your birth plan. But a few things might still take you by surprise.

So that you’re not caught off guard, we’ve put together a list of major childbirth surprises. From coping with your first night, to the lowdown on your shrinking tummy, here’s the real story of what happens and how you can get ready…

1. Contractions start slowing down

It’s easy to assume that contractions start mildly and become increasingly painful until, voilà, your baby arrives. In reality, most women get a short break when they’re fully dilated (when your cervix has opened to 10cm) as contractions become less regular and their purpose changes from opening your cervix to moving your baby down the birth canal. This is a good time to rest and gather your forces for the pushing stage.

2. Accidents happen

It may be one of the most mortifying experiences of your life, but peeing or pooping on the table is not all that uncommon. While such an experience may haunt you for a long time after, keep in mind that your midwife or doctor won’t think twice about it — they’ve seen it many times. You may also be offered an enema to clear your bowels or be hooked up to a urine bag.

3. You’ll have to give an extra push

You’re celebrating reaching the finishing line, but now your midwife tells you to get ready for another push. No, you’re not having twins — you’re delivering your placenta. If no one’s warned you about this stage, it can take you by surprise.

When Jennifer See, 29, mum to 18-month-old Kara, gave birth, she was amazed that no one had mentioned the placenta. “We’d covered every single aspect of labour in antenatal classes, but we weren’t given any information about what happens once your baby arrives,” she says. “Luckily, I had a brilliant midwife who talked me through exactly what was happening.”

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