Belly Diaries: What First Timers Need to Know

Before I had my eldest, I heard all the birthing horror stories: hemorrhoids, pooping on yourself, long labors ending in emergency c-sections, etc. AHHHHH!! I was totally freaked out.

But there were tons of little things that no one told me. So, first-time mama, I want you to say: “That crazy FWMB girl said this was normal so pass the remote and the ice chips, please.”

charlie hospital

1. No one can predict how long you will labor. Our doctors glibly told us before pumping me with petocin: We’re gonna have this baby by morning. “Woohoo! Let’s have a Lost marathon in the hospital room all night long!” (This was 2010 before we’d all discovered that Lost was a waste of 7 years of our lives). By 4 a.m., I was dilated to about 3, and we were exhausted. By 6:30 p.m. (26 hours later), we finally welcomed our girl. Sleep, mamas and daddies. Do not have a Parenthood or Scondal marathon.

2. You might shake. Right after I had my eldest, my body started violently shaking. I was piled with warm blankets and felt better soon. Right before my epidural with my second, I experienced the same crazy shaking. This is normal. It can be caused by transition in labor or your body coming off of anesthesia. Regardless, it happens to a lot of us, so don’t worry. You are not a freak.

3. You won’t get to eat or drink. Just in case you get sent back to the O.R. for an emergency c-section, you will be treated like a surgery patient until after delivery. But guess what? I doubt you’ll care.

4. Epidurals and catheters come hand in hand. Sorry mama, this keeps you from peeing on yourself. Don’t worry, though, you won’t feel a thing . . . literally.

5. When it’s time to push, someone is going to slap some oxygen on your face. This is because your doctors and nurses want your baby (or babies) to receive the maximum amount of oxygen possible. It protects from a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain; this is a good thing. Plus, labor is LABOR . . .  a little extra air never hurt anyone!

6. When it’s all said and done, sooooo many people are going to see your privates, ok? 

7. Right when you think it’s over, it’s time to deliver the placenta. This involves some pretty intense kneading of your abdomen. Don’t be thrown off when they treat you like some bread dough.

8. Everyone is also going to touch your boobs. It doesn’t matter, if they have the title “Lactation Consultant” or not, everyone on your hospital floor has an unofficial degree in breastfeeding basics, and they will probably tell you about it. This fact led me to write my first and only ill-advised postpartum mommy rant blog post about my nipples.

8 1/2. Don’t publish blog posts in your first 2 weeks postpartum.

9. BREASTFEEDING IS HARD AND IT HURTS. You are not crazy; there is nothing wrong with you; breastfeeding hurts at first.  A person is eating from your body, and it takes a while to adjust. If you are having issues, consult a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League chapter. It took me about 6-8 weeks, to say, “Whew, I’ve got this . . . kind of.” Hang in there, Mama. It gets easier!

Before I had kids, I was scared to death, but I will tell anyone that I LOVE pushing out babies. It is the most rewarding and emotional thing you might ever do. So breathe, relax, and try to enjoy the crazy ride. It’s a badge of honor!

What do you wish someone had told you about labor?

Anna is wife to Matt and mom to two little ladies: Charlie and Georgia, and dog mom to the best dog ever, Attie, and the worst little Beagle ever, Toby. Besides chasing around her girls full time, Anna spends her spare time running her business, Fit4Mom SW Fort Worth. And can be found enjoying British TV, dark chocolate, and a good cup of coffee with her husband.


  1. Such great advice! One more I would add: Even if you have a vaginal birth, it’s going to hurt the first few days. Like, REALLY hurt. I always assumed if I avoided a C-Section, I would be prancing around my hospital room the following day. Um, not so much. But, within a week I was so much better, and within two weeks it was almost like nothing had happened. In the meantime, buy some Epsom salts.

  2. Cringing at some of these things but, laughing at others. I’ll soon be a first-timer (end of Jan) & honest things like this post is what we really need to know! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. The catheter thing FREAKED me out the first time “Wait! What are you doing to me??”. Haha. I didn’t have to do have oxygen either time and for that I am grateful (don’t like stuff strapped to me).I have vaginally birthed two babies and like you Anna, I had an epidural both times and had GREAT experiences. Sore afterwards as Bethe mentioned but as you said, I also love birthing out babies and can’t wait to do it one last time this Spring.

    One thing to also add, the doctor will come check on you and will be there when you birth the baby but your nurses don’t really call him until it is time to have the baby. I remember that nurse saying that we should start pushing a bit and I was thinking “WHERE’S MY DOCTOR!?!”. OB nurses are awesome people and they know what they are doing (or at least all the ones I have had have been great).


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