When your birth story ends with the profound, life-changing love you have for your swaddled little peanut, you might just have a selective memory regarding some of the other details—like how hungry you got during hour 20 of labor. But giving birth is a much messier tale than that. So we asked real moms what they wish they knew before going into it. Here’s what they had to say.
That your water might not break.
"I was basically sitting by the toilet waiting for this magical rush of fluid...that just never happened. I was fully dilated...and to my knowledge my water never broke!" - Jillian, Brooklyn
If it does, it’s not always cinematic.
“It’s not like a ‘big splash!’ you see in the movies. It might be more of a ‘slow gush.’” - Karen, Chicago
But it can be really cold.
"When my water broke at night in the middle of winter, it made my pants freeze on the way to the car!" - Sabrina, Ohio
If they induce labor, you might go straight into really intense contractions.
“I was all about the natural birth, but they induced labor with Pitocin, which basically sends you into contractions from zero to 60 in no time. So yeah, I wish I got the epidural.” - Ingrid, Boston
And you might actually get hungry during labor.
“Once labor starts, you can’t eat. It’s only ice chips. So if you’re in labor for hours, you might start dreaming of a burger.” - Nadia, New York City
There’s a wide range of reactions to anesthesia.
“After my surprise C-section, I started having little convulsions and my teeth were chattering severely. Of course, everyone was so excited about the baby they kinda overlooked what was happening. Later the nurses were like ‘Oh, yes that happens sometimes.’” - Dana, Los Angeles
There will be blood.
“I had a vaginal birth. There was so much more blood than I expected when they were stitching me up. Sorry to be graphic, but when I looked down, all I saw was the doctor's gloves covered in blood. But you don’t really care because you just had a baby.” - Pia, Kansas City
Pushing is kind of like pooping.
“I had done a million kegels in preparation, but when push (ahem) came to shove, the act of pushing was a lot more like #2 than #1. In fact, the doctors told me to use my ‘poop muscles.’ Hey, the more you know!” - Emily, Memphis
Peeing will be painful.
“Why did no one tell me how terrible it would be to pee? It killed for like two weeks after.” - Michelle, New York City
It takes a while for your milk to come in.
“Maybe everybody else knows this, but I assumed I'd be breastfeeding the instant that baby was out of me. Nope. It took like two harrowing days for my milk to come in.” – Sam, Maryland