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    I've Given Birth Vaginally And Here Are 12 Surprising Things Everyone Should Know

    Buckle up, you're in for a wild ride.

    If you're here, I'm assuming you're curious about what the process of exporting a human from your body is like. It's not pretty, but I'm happy to report that you're in the right place.

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    Last year I answered some of our readers' questions about vaginal childbirth from my personal experience, so I am back again answering the ones I didn't get to.

    PLEASE NOTE THIS ARTICLE HAS A LOT OF TMI SO IF YOU ARE NOT OK WITH THAT PLZ EXIT OUT NOW! Alright, are the rest of you ready?! Let's get into it...

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    Q: "How common is it to have your mother in the room with you when you give birth? If I ever decide to have kids, I wouldn't want my mother anywhere NEAR my room when I give birth. No fucking way. It's just too weird to me." —a43920c533

    A: This question was interesting to me because I did have my mom in the room...BUT I was 20 years old when I gave birth and it was an unplanned pregnancy. So I just needed to have my mom there with me at that point in my life. IF I ever got pregnant again now (I am 33 and happily married), I don't know that I would have her in there! My own mother didn't have hers in the delivery room for any of her births, and I think a lot of people chose to make it an intimate moment between themselves and their partners. However, some want to share the experience with multiple people, so just do what feels best for you!

    Q: "How many people can be in the room and what does it feel like to have so many different strangers staring at your vagina?" —Anonymous

    A: When it comes to how many people can be in the room, I think it varies depending on the place, but with COVID now, I am assuming it's only one or two. As I stated above, I had my mom in the room and my now-husband — that was plenty of people for me, but I *think* you can request more.

    When it comes to strangers staring at your vagina — the pain of labor allowed me to get over any uncomfortableness really quickly. I didn't have time to think or focus on anything (or anyone) but the pain. Also, I just reminded myself beforehand that these healthcare workers come into work every day like, 'Another day, another vagina' — and mine was just another among the thousands they've seen. 

    Pro tip: Your doctor will likely ask if medical students can watch WHILE YOU'RE IN LABOR, so decide beforehand if you're OK with this...here's a real-life example:

    "When my mom was delivering me, there was a whole class in the room. There were so many people, the doctor almost didn't let my dad in. She was in labor for less than two hours, it was all happening so fast she didn't have time to care who was in the room." —pinkster

    Q: "The biggest thing I’m scared about it all the tubes and not being able to be comfortable with the epidural and catheter. How uncomfortable was it in terms of machines you were connected to?"—user5318008

    A: For me, the most uncomfortable part was the hand IV. I just really had a hard time with that because it hurt every time I moved my hand. The other machines really weren't bad. There's a monitor on your stomach for the baby and that's really all I remember in terms of equipment I was hooked up to. 

    When it comes to the epidural, I think most people are surprised to know that most don't feel it because you are in so much pain. I am not sure if this is true for everyone, but in my experience (and other moms I've talked to), the epidural just happens, and AFTERWARD is when you feel some relief from the pain! 

    Q: "When your baby came out, covered in your inside fluids, did it phase you, or were you just more concerned with the idea that your baby is actually alive and healthy?" —girldummer

    A: Here's another one that may also surprise you, but a lot of times you don't immediately get to see your baby. My son's heart rate had dropped during labor and I almost had to have an emergency C-section, so they had to take him away to make sure he was healthy right after he came out. I waited in agony watching literally every healthcare worker in the room hover over him on a table that I couldn't see. Luckily, he was healthy and placed in my arms about 5 to 10 minutes after birth — and they had already cleaned him off by then. But, if he had been covered in loads of bodily fluids, I would not have given a shit, haha.

    Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

    Q: "What is pooping like after giving birth?" —Anonymous

    A: Scary and difficult — especially if you tear and have stitches. My brain's immediate response was, 'that's not happening' and I was constipated for a while. I don't think I pooped for several days after childbirth. I ended up taking stool softeners because I was so scared it would rip the stitches. Constipation is normal though because your body just had a baby and is going through all sorts of changes — just be prepared because it is not fun.

    Q: "Is the downstairs ever the same?" —izziereyes

    A: Let me start off by saying that before you even give birth, your vagina ain't the same! Haha, it can turn blue during pregnancy due to varicose veins. But (here comes the TMI), I tore and had to be stitched up. At first sight, because yes I looked, I was like WTF. There are stitches so it definitely looks, for lack of better words, 'stitched up!' But, the stitches dissolve and truly your vag goes back to looking the same way it did before, just give it some time. 😅

    Q: "Mentally speaking, have you changed? That's my biggest fear (diagnosed with PTSD)." —6thspicegirl

    A: I think the answer to this is very difficult to answer because every person is different. That being said, what I can tell you is, yes, I think people change to varying degrees. For some, it may be a subtle change of mentally realizing what's now the new important thing in your life and for others, the effects could be more monumentous. The fortunate thing is that society is finally normalizing these things, like postpartum depression. Now, more than ever, we have professionals who are experienced to help, and there are tons of support from other moms. Any changes to our mental health and body can be scary, but I do believe it is something that we can all help each other get through. 

    Personally, I experienced more permanent, hormonal body changes than mental changes. The foods I like now are different, I sweat all the time and I never did before, and my hair is much, much thinner. 

    Q: "Can you walk to the bathroom after giving birth?" —satanic_at_the_disco17

    A: I love this question because, honestly, I would have thought, yeah why couldn't I? Well, now I know the answer is a hard no for people who get epidurals. I cannot speak for anyone who does not get them (or gets a C-section) since that was not my experience, but an epidural takes a while to wear off — meaning you can't move your legs. Not thinking, I asked if I could get up to pee (really I just wanted to check on things ~down there~) after I had my son and they said I would fall over, lol. So, just plan on not being able to get up for several hours after childbirth. I read that the average epidural takes about two hours to wear off, but if they are continuously giving you more medicine to keep you numb, I am going to assume it takes longer.

    I'll shamelessly admit that the above story is true, here's part two and part three.

    Q: "I’ve seen videos of moms with epidurals still crying out while giving birth, but I thought the medicine was supposed to eliminate pain?" —literally_nobody

    A: An epidural eliminates most of the pain, but not all of it. I 100% would still recommend one because it makes the pain thousands of times more bearable. However, I do think the screams are mostly from how intensely you have to push. It's human nature to scream or grunt or yell when you are pushing something the size of a bowling ball out of your body. Just imagine having the worst constipation of your life and trying to push it out. That's what pushing feels like with an epidural. 

    "How did you find it best to deal with pain during labor (I’m a first-time momma)? I’m *hoping* to forgo the epidural if I can and am curious as to what worked or didn’t work?" —chessaf

    A: Great question! I would say strong mental concentration. Practice on your ability to get into a headspace that allows you to disconnect from the pain because — I won't lie — it's bad. I couldn't do it without the epidural, but I truly admire any mom who can!

    Q: "What did you bring to the hospital?" —neajess

    A: The best things I brought were a comfortable robe, thick pads, and a pillow. Pack cute clothes for your baby and a carseat, sure. But, you're going to be hella uncomfortable, so a pillow is key — and any other thing you can think of that will help make YOU comfortable (maybe a spray bottle if you think you'll be hot or a good playlist to help keep your mind off labor). The hospital has all of the baby necessities if you forget them!

    Q: "I've heard there's a lot of tears and pain, my mother almost died in labor — she's a small woman and so am I. Everybody is like 'it always worth it,' but peeing when sneezing all the time and all the other long-term postpartum aftereffects do not sound fun. A friend told me that labor was a huge trauma for her, but it's something I want — but when I see info like this it really makes me wonder...is it worth it?" —isabelbermdez

    A: I love these questions because, IMO, it IS worth it. You truly get to see just how strong your body is. It will do things you didn't even know it could (which is, yes, sometimes gross, but it's also very neat). I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat childbirth (or even pregnancy) for you. Some people love being pregnant — I hated it, but that's a different story for a different day, lol. Childbirth IS painful, but it is also something I am glad I've experienced in life. It gave me my son, whom I love with all of my heart and it allowed me to appreciate my body and myself for what it and I can do. I would endure every single tear, contraction, stitch for my son again!

    Just replace Oatmeal (my dog) with a human baby and this photo is basically me giving birth. 😉 If you have some lingering questions, I may have already answered them in this article, but if you still have more — let me know in the comments and maybe I'll do this again. And, hey, let's be friends — follow me on TikTok and Instagram!