1. "It shocked me how you can tear even if you don't have a big baby — my daughter came out super fast, and was barely seven pounds, but I still had a complete 4th degree tear. I was ripped completely from my vagina to my anus! Luckily, with the epidural, I didn’t feel a thing."
2. "That your 'water' doesn’t usually break on its own. I fully expected a gush of fluid to randomly come out when I was asleep or at the store, but that was not the case — the nurses had to break my water in the hospital after labor had already started, and I was over five or six centimeters dilated!"
3. "I didn't know back labor was a thing until I had my son. It literally felt like an elephant was stepping on my lower vertebrae! Then, when I had my daughter, the nurse complimented me on how well I was handling the strong contractions. I told her I'd had back labor with my son, and she just said, 'Oh yeah, these are nothing then!'"
4. "Honestly, I was surprised I didn't have that overwhelming, 'Oh, this amazing miracle is here, I love it so much' moment the second my babies came out. Both of my children were planned and very much wanted, but I was just so tired that I was like, 'Oh, OK, they're here. I'm gonna lay down for a minute.' That deep type of connection with them didn't come until later for me."
"I didn't get that instant rush of love. It took a few weeks before I started to love her!'
5. "Everyone freaks out about pooping on the table, but no one warns you about the peeing — ALL OVER your doctors and nurses! Like a damn whale's blowhole!"
6. "I was completely shocked to experience what's called the 'ring of fire' as the baby is crowning. I had little to go off as my mother had a breech birth and two C-sections, so she wasn't able to help me with what to expect. But it burns, burns, burns!"
7. "It surprised me that epidurals can cause you to faint. During both of my births, I passed out from the change in blood volume. Luckily, the second time, my husband was prepared — but that first time, he thought I was gone! If you don't know what to look for, it can be scary."
8. "I was surprised that the hospital expected me to know what to do immediately after birth. I literally didn't know how to hold a baby that was only minutes old, much less how to feed and change them! But the nurses just cleaned him, said, 'Congrats,' and left! I felt like they were treating me like a second- or third-time mom on my first turn!"
"After my first was born, they put him on me and gave me the suction bulb, and I was just in shock that this little person was laying on me — I had no idea what to do! Just try to keep him from rolling off me? Luckily, the nurse noticed my state of shock and took over!"
"I remember my husband and I feeling embarrassed to ask the nurse how to swaddle the baby at first, but eventually, I became a champion baby burrito maker!"
9. "I was surprised by what birthing the placenta was like. You've just recovered from the childbirth, and then midwives start pushing on your abdomen to help the placenta come out. I remember that discomfort more vividly than the actual childbirth!"
"With the placenta, they told me when to start pushing, and I yelled, 'I'm sorry, I think I'm pooping!' but no, that was just the placenta, and then it felt like a weird slimy water balloon being expelled from your body."
10. "That our brains are wired to forget the pain. That’s why people can have multiple children, because they might remember that it hurt, but they can’t truly remember how bad it was. If we remembered that, I doubt people would have more than one child."
11. "I was shocked at how fast it can happen! I felt my body bearing down with such incredible force, without me pushing at all, and consequently, my body birthed both of my children practically by itself. All I did was breathe! It’s such an amazing feeling that I don't know how to describe."
"And my second labor was 13 minutes long! They checked my cervix and said it was totally closed, and 13 minutes later, my baby was there. Childbirth is usually portrayed as the woman screaming while everyone around yells ‘PUUUUSH!,' but neither of mine were anything like that. My body just did its own thing."
12. "I opted for an epidural after 30 hours of labor, and I was surprised when my mother complained shortly thereafter at how long the anesthesiologist was taking to arrive. I thought I'd asked for it about 30 minutes prior — turns out it had been almost THREE HOURS! The intensity of the pain of contractions and the way it absorbed my focus meant I had lost all sense of time."
13. "That during the pushing stage of a natural birth, it feels like the baby is coming out of your BUTT!"
14. "I was surprised by just how amazing the hospital staff were. I laid there, numb from my epidural, surrounded by seven or so amazing women — women holding my legs, telling me when to push, and guiding my body and my baby. They did all the work!"
"It was an incredibly empowering and amazing experience, and made me appreciate women that much more."
15. "I was surprised at the instant oxytocin upon my children coming out and getting to hold them for the first time. Your brain makes you fall in love with your baby, and it changes the way you love everyone else!"
16. "It shocked me the amount of medical staff that had to be in the room — especially if the baby needs extra help. I was in a complete haze, but I do remember feeling stressed by the amount of people in that room. It was complete sensory overload!"
17. "It surprised me how different the experience can be with each child. My first delivery was horrible, with 21 hours of labor and two hours of pushing, then I ended up having my vagina cut to get my son out, which led to months of recovery..."
"But with my second, I was in labor for three hours, my water never broke, I arrived at the hospital 10 minutes before he was born, and I only pushed twice! No healing needed for that one!"
18. "I was caught off guard by all the vomiting! I threw up twice as my waters broke, then twice more during active labor. I had no idea vomit was such a common response to labor, but apparently, it is!"
19. "For me, the surprise was how little pain I felt while getting the epidural. As a first-time mom, other mothers will tell you that it hurts so badly, but for me, it hurt for only a split second, and then it was fine. After the initial sting — which was kind of like a bee sting — all I felt was a tiny pinch."
20. "I didn’t realize going into labor that my body would not stop shaking from the adrenaline rush. Picture what it's like when you’ve got a chill with goosebumps and you shiver to warm yourself up — it was like that nonstop until the epidural hit. They said the best thing to do was not to fight it, and they were right!"
"I mention this to every woman who is about to give birth because everybody needs to know! I was shaking so intensely that I seriously thought my body was dying. I wish I would have known it was coming."
21. "It caught me off guard what a relief it was! I had such an awful pregnancy with pregnancy sickness and pre-eclampsia — to name a few — so as soon as I gave birth, I had this immediate sense of relief that it was over. I remember people kept asking how I was, and I would always reply, 'Great!' They'd respond, 'You do realize you've just given birth?!' But I really did feel better than I had in the whole nine months of pregnancy!"
22. "I was surprised how little I saw of the doctors during the whole labor and delivery process. I literally could not tell you their names or what they looked like, but I can definitely remember the nurses who took care of me."
23. "I was shocked at how long it can take! I was in labor for 28 hours in which I had one nurse for her entire shift, then she went home, came back, and spent a second full shift with me!"
24. "I had a stillborn son, and after I gave birth, the endorphins that flooded my brain were intense! I know it happens so you can bond with your baby, but it was really weird to feel 'happy,' then cry in despair, then feel 'happy' again. It was like a rollercoaster."
25. "I was surprised that giving birth was such an out of body experience for me. It took 27 hours, but it seemed to happen so quickly. And being scared and anxious didn't seem possible to me because I was doing this for my baby and not for myself."
"That being said, the first postpartum poop is absolutely TERRIFYING — trying to do something so natural with a broken body and no nurses or drugs to help me along was traumatic!'
26. "I thought your water breaking was a 'one and done' type thing. I didn't realize it can just keep pouring out of you for a while!"
27. "I was surprised to discover that after having a baby, you and your well-being will never be first again. Please find moments every day for you. If you don't, no one else will."
28. "That once your water breaks, it’s not just amniotic fluid coming out, but a whole bunch of shit, including blood!"
29. "I was surprised how hard the recovery was. I tried breastfeeding for 10 minutes before I sat up and vomited THREE TIMES. It hurt to sit and walk after giving birth, and I couldn’t pee for hours afterwards."
30. "Getting an epidural was such a great choice for me. But nobody warned me that it could lead to a spinal headache. Worst pain of my life, hands down."
31. "For me, it was a shock that the pain immediately disappeared after birth — I felt like I could just get up and walk home! It's amazing what the body is capable of."
32. "Ultimately, the biggest surprise was everything. It never goes how you planned, so my recommendation is that your birth plan simply be, 'Healthy mom, healthy baby.” Any plans you make aside from that will fall apart."
"My OB said that first babies were usually late, that first babies usually drop a few weeks before birth, that labor would be long, that there would be plenty of time for the epidural, and that the actual pushing part of the delivery isn't very fast. My daughter said, 'Forget that!' and did the exact opposite!"
What about you? What caught you totally by surprise during your childbirth? Tell us in the comments section, and you could be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post!
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.