Last week, we asked our Facebook friends about their pregnancy and labor stories — specifically, something surprising that nobody ever told them might happen. Or maybe there was something they’ve never told other people.
These women have carried another human being and for that alone, they deserve a round of applause.
For being open and sharing their experiences with us, they should get another. (We really appreciated reading everyone’s submissions.)
Here are some comments that struck a chord with us.
Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Sarah Stuckey: All my surprises were after, actually. As someone who likes to research and be prepared, I found tons of info on pregnancy and birth. The aftermath? Hardly anything. Almost everything was a shock! From the ugly green and purple vaginal bruising that lasted for months after my daughter was born to going up to a bra size 34 K (legit — no exaggeration) while nursing, to the interesting phenomenon of projectile milk squirting while cumming.
Holly Frances: I also didn’t know that a really fast labor can be very dangerous — my son and I nearly died as a result of my second stage being two minutes exactly.
Alexson Calahan: Many women don’t hear that birth can be a beautiful and transforming experience. They focus on it as a painful experience.
Emily Suchowolec: Everyone talks about that lightning strike of love when they first see their baby post-delivery. Sorry to say, that doesn’t happen all the time. The baby’s face can get quite swollen during labor (at least, in my experience). When I looked at my daughters for the first time, I kept thinking, “You look like a potato…” It was a few hours later, after the swelling had gone down, and I could start to pick out individual characteristics belonging to me or my husband … that was when I fell in love with them.
Rayden Fyre: You might be able to avoid an episiotomy and a lot of tearing by asking for a perineal massage! I’d like to kiss my nurse at my second birth for performing it!
Bethany Phillips: That choosing your care provider is the most important decision you’ll make. It’s the number one factor in how your birth will go, so it’s incredibly important to get a team that’s on the same page as you. Don’t just assume they are, or that they’ll respect your wishes when the time comes. And don’t be afraid to switch practices to get what you want, or think I’ll see someone else next time, because depending on that birth your options can be limited.
Sarah DuBois: Mine is actually from the first month or so postpartum, but nobody ever told me that sometimes breastfeeding is difficult. I felt like such a failure as a mother that I was having such a hard time with it.
Kacey Reed: A friend of mine had to go off of her epilepsy medicine to carry her daughter. During her entire pregnancy and so far (she’s still breastfeeding so still no meds) she hasn’t had a single seizure. She sometimes had a seizure once or twice a week, and that was with meds. But being pregnant and breastfeeding … not one. It’s like her body knows and compensates. It is so amazing.
Chel Roush:Just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean you will have a high-risk pregnancy. I was well over 200 lbs and I passed my preeclampsia and gestational diabetes tests.
Wait for those results before being talked into a high-risk delivery based solely on weight.
Jodi Shelley: All of the post-birth stuff. Mesh underwear, not being able to go to the bathroom, rubber gloves full of ice to sooth the pain, bruising, that other people’s babies crying would make milk come out of your boobs. The whole aftermath is like this embarrassing thing no one tells you about. I mean, women have at least started talking about how you might 💩 but somehow miss explaining what your body goes through in the hours/days after.
Sara Alison: I really didn’t want to be pregnant again. I wept when I found out, was mad at myself for letting it happen. Everyone wants you to be happy about it, and if you’re not, there’s very little sympathy. It is embarrassing. I thought about abortion and hoped for a miscarriage. I was terrified. Luckily, towards the end of pregnancy I started to accept it. And when she was born, I fell in love. My fears about money and my body are now reality, but there’s also a whole new person and all the overwhelming love that comes with it. People don’t really talk about an unhappy pregnancy. There are social expectations. You playfully complain about the huge belly and swollen feet, but keep the deeper, scarier stuff to yourself.
Honora Yllek: Swimming makes you pee for like 30 minutes after.
India Wilkins: I was probably most surprised at how common co-sleeping is. We started co-sleeping by accident and we were initially afraid to tell anyone, but the more people I spoke to about it the more people admitted to doing it too. My view of co-sleeping has completely changed since having our baby, I now understand it to be completely natural and safe, and if we ever have another child I would do it again without hesitation. I also didn’t expect the feeling of vulnerability that I had whilst pregnant. I’ve never been afraid to try new things or go to unfamiliar places, but when I was pregnant I found I was suddenly afraid to go places on my own.
Emily Steffens: Plenty of warnings that you may poop while when delivering, but nothing about vomiting while laboring!
Alethea Sheehan: The isolation and vulnerability (mainly the vulnerability that comes with sacrificing financial security) after having a child. Oh and how much I would prefer my mum to be there for support (she is overseas).
Liz Bertsch: I was surprised by how being pregnant triggered the PTSD of women who had miscarriages. So many women told me their stories. At first I was scared to listen to them all, but then I just gave in and served as a witness.
Andrea Fossum: They didn’t tell me I wouldn’t fit back into my jeans, or how invasive it felt to have nurses hook you up to milking machines. They never told me giving birth felt like you had been in a car accident the day after, all your abdominal muscles aching. How you would sweat and leak after the baby was born or how an epidural doesn’t mean you won’t feel pain.
Lauren Newbrook: The one that stands out is just how massive the placenta was… that thing was enormous! I expected like something the size of a big chicken breast, I guess.
Nancy Breece:Even though both my pregnancies were miserable, I was surprised that I missed the feeling of having a baby inside after I delivered. I thought I would have been more relieved it was out than sad about it.
Saira Hussain Smith: No one ever told me how funny parenthood is or how much I would laugh. We are always told the cautionary tales; never about the joy.
To read the whole comment chain, visit our Facebook post.