When I got pregnant, I read. I read everything I could get my hands on, I talked to friends who'd had babies, I frequently nagged my gynaecologist with umpteen questions. But I realised that there were many things no one told me— not my doctor, not my friends, not even my mother, the one woman I'm hardwired to trust.
So after my delivery, I spoke to a couple of other friends and managed to find these 10 things that no one will tell you about giving birth and pregnancy.
1. Your water breaking may just be a tiny trickle
In most Hollywood films where the pregnant lady's water breaks, they always show it as a big spurt of liquid that lands on the floor. I was terrified that it was going to happen to me too and so I generally avoided public places in my last month for the fear that everyone would see my dam breaking. Surprise, surprise, that's not what happened. Your water can actually break just like your period starts. It could just be a tiny, continuous trickle that increases in volume steadily, not necessarily like Niagara Falls.
2. They shave your hoo-haa
When I was admitted to the hospital after my water broke, the nurse asked me to set my legs apart. I remember thinking "Hmm, isn't it too early for the baby to come out? What about those contraction thingies?" But I did it anyway. And to my confusion and shock, out came an electric razor. And when I asked "What are you going to do with that?" all I got was "I'll shave you." Okay then. Go ahead and shave. Maybe I should be groomed for a baby. But why would the baby care? Apparently, it reduces the risk of infection (how?), but there aren't enough studies to support the fact. Either way, be prepared for it.
3. You'll be given an enema
That's right. You get a pill from the doctor so that you can empty your intestines... so that you don't empty them out on the delivery table. Basically, when you are giving birth, the pressure on your insides is so much that you might feel the urge to poop, and we all can imagine what a blot that can put on a beautiful thing such as giving birth. So to maintain the beauty of it, doctors ask give you an enema that forces the body to cleanse the bowels.
4. Internals... so many internals
If you thought the shaving was bad, think again. Internal examinations are generally done to find out what position the baby is in, but I think they are just God's way of punishing you for all the bad things you've done to people in your lifetime. Over the course of my delivery, I had to undergo at least six internal examinations, and they are done precisely when you are going through a contraction, making it even more hellish. Can you refuse it? Sadly, I doubt it. Can you try? Sure.
5. You won't be allowed to eat
Once you're in labour, you aren't allowed to eat anything solid unless the doc thinks it's absolutely necessary. So the shorter your labour, the better off you will be. Otherwise be prepared to starve for what may seem like an eternity. The only way I could console myself was to think "Oh, okay, so my weight loss journey has already begun. Yay!"
6. The miracle of birthing... is a slow one.
Again, I refer to Hollywood (and Bollywood) films. Once the water breaks, the actors are just running helter-skelter to the nearest hospital because "Oh my god! The baby's coming!" Calm the heck down. Not everyone delivers within two minutes of the water breaking. It's a long, lengthy process and once your contractions begin, you will feel as if you've been in the hospital for a decade. I was in labour for 14 hours until it was finally time to get the baby out. Sometimes it's longer, sometimes shorter. So get as comfortable as you can. There's time.
7. They cut you down there
An episiotomy is an emergency surgical procedure that involves snipping off a little skin down there so that the opening can be increased for the baby to pass easily. Need we say more?
8. Prep for breastfeeding before the baby comes
You might be breastfeeding only after the baby comes into this world, but no one has prepared your poor breasts for the onslaught they will endure for the next several months (or years, in some cases). My doctor, bless her heart, advised me to massage my breasts every night before going to bed right from the first day of the first trimester. She even told me to pull as hard as I could on my nipples so that they'd get accustomed to being sucked by the baby. Two of my friends who did not get any such advice from their doctors had major issues with breastfeeding (nipple injury, latching on problems, you name it) — of course, I can't say with utmost certainty that this is what made breastfeeding a breeze for me, but have a word with your doctor about it. Please.
9. Apply oil/cream for stretch marks right from the beginning
Yes, your tummy ain't gonna start stretching until you're at least in your fourth month, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't start preparing for it. Your body is about to go through a huge change and it's going to be really hard on your skin, so start applying oil or cream for on your tummy generously every night from the get-go.
10. The return of the red river
You'd think after giving birth, it's over. Now it's just sleepless nights, breastfeeding till your boobs have gone numb and the constant hunger. Nope. Mother Nature has one more secret weapon up her sleeve to throat punch you. Say hello to your old friend—your period! You will bleed (not a lot, but substantially) for anything from two weeks to two months after the delivery.