What I wish I knew about pregnancy and giving birth

I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby boy, six months  ago. I’m so excited to be a part of the “new mommy” club, but I’m giving a lot of people the side eye for not telling me the really important facts about pregnancy and childbirth. I already knew that I should stay away from shellfish, keep a watch on my heart rate when exercising and not eat for two people.  But what about all the weird stuff that happens to your body? What about those incredibly  strong emotions that you just can’t shake? I decided to put together a short list of things that I would share with a pregnant woman who wanted my advice.

You may not be excited to be pregnant, and it’s okay
I was extremely active during my pregnancy, and I didn’t have much fatigue besides the normal first-trimester nausea. I didn’t start to gain a lot of weight, have swollen ankles or watch my nose spread from one side of my face to the other until a few weeks before I gave birth.  I was cute and I was happy about this little man kicking inside my womb. 

But more often than not, women may not be so damn excited and full of joy during their pregnancy. Many put a brave smile on their face and get on with life while being secretly miserable.  

All pregnancies are different and some are incredibly difficult. It’s okay not to be ecstatic about your pregnancy. We know you love this little being growing inside you, but it’s hard carrying a child and you might just want this person out as soon as possible.  Ditch the guilt and be honest about your feelings. They are valid and perfectly natural.

Water breaking doesn’t feel the way you thought it would
I blame the movies and television series for lying to us about our water breaking.  Have you ever peed yourself slowly and uncontrollably? Sounds like Friday-night fun, right?

Well, that’s what it feels like when your water breaks. It’s a slow and continuous trickle of fluid that doesn’t even come close to resembling a water balloon bursting on the ground.  It’s not dramatic at all, and it can be quite uneventful except for the whole looking-as-if-you-just-peed-yourself part. 

Pushing isn’t the hardest part of labour
Believe it or not, when your doctor tells you that you can push, you will be so relieved. With every contraction that you have, all your body wants to do is push, but you can’t until the doctor deems it safe. Contractions are by far the hardest part of labour and they can last for hours on end.

Let go of your perfect birthing plan
No one could tell me that I wasn’t going to have a natural birth. I had already booked a room at one of those fancy hospitals with the birthing pools. I had prepared myself to squat, breathe and tough it out. I was going to push this baby through that birthing canal come hell or high water.

Well, the hell and the high water came when my midwife told me that my baby was in distress and I needed to have an emergency Caesarean. My heart dropped and I was devastated.

I ended up in a cold theatre room being cut open to save my life and that of my son. He wasn’t doing well at birth, so we were shuttled to different rooms to recover. I didn’t get to hold or meet my son for five long days. This left me feeling like a failure. Why couldn’t I bring my son into the world my way? 

I was given a crash course in letting go. Everything won’t always go according to your plan, and you just have to trust the process.

Note: These opinions and observations are based solely on my personal birth experience and those of my close friends and family. Your own experience may be insurmountably worse or absolutely amazing. Take it in your stride.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Iran ‘categorically’ denies link with Rushdie’s attacker

Rushdie, 75, was left on a ventilator with multiple stab wounds after he was attacked at a literary event Friday in western New York state

Defence minister Thandi Modise in Moscow for security conference

Discussions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are absent from the official programme

Ugandan student develops mosquito repellant from sour milk

The death of Jovia Kisaakye’s brother from malaria and the family’s struggle to sell fresh milk led to the new product

It is time to topple the false gods of capitalism

The market is the pillar of capitalist ideology, yet it is just another human institution invented and reinvented periodically across human history

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…