Labor & Delivery Pregnancy

Labor & Delivery: Expectation vs. Reality

baby feet
pin image labor and delivery expectation vs reality

OK, honestly? I didn’t do a ton of research about labor and delivery beforehand.

I did free online birth class that was basically just some women talking about how painful contractions were.

So when I arrived on the L&D unit at my hospital, I had a lot of expectations that were mostly from TV. 🤷

& even in my daily Pinterest searches about labor, nothing prepared me for some of the things that happened.

So let’s talk about the reality of labor and delivery!

Expectation: I would have to wait and labor at home

Reality: In some cases, active labor begins suddenly.

Most of the women I’ve talked to about labor say that once your water breaks, contractions get more intense and regular.

But for most of these women, they were in early labor before their water ever broke.

Personally, I had not been having any contractions prior to my water breaking.

& when the contractions came, they were legit.

When I told the triage nurse I couldn’t time my contractions because I couldn’t sit still, she told me it was definitely time to head to the hospital.


woman screaming

Reality: Dude, everyone was so chill. I mean, why didn’t I expect this? The nurses and doctors do this stuff every day.

There was no rushing me to L&D in wheelchair (my husband had to do it, & he walked, not ran…)

There was no, “OMG the baby’s coming!!”

No. Everyone was fine, including me (after I received my epidural).

Expectation: That it would hurt, even with an epidural

Reality: You wont feel pain (if your epidural functions correctly).

Again, pretty much everything I knew (or didn’t know) about L&D was due to what I’d seen on TV.

& pretty much every woman on TV who is in the pushing stage is screaming her guts out and scrunching up her face like it’s the worst thing in the world.

Did all of those women decide to give birth without an epidural?

Highly unlikely, since the rate of natural births is not that high.

The truth is, I didn’t feel a thing!

So when the OB told me I had a second degree tear, I was just like, “Okay

Expectation: That an epidural would allow me to sleep through labor.

woman sleeping

Reality: You may or may not be able to sleep with an epidural.

In the research that I DID do, many women claimed they chose the epidural so that they could finally sleep and get some rest.

I got an epidural because those contractions hurt like hell, but sleep would have been nice, too!

But as it turns out, for some women, there’s a ridiculous phenomenon that sometimes happens – the shakes!

Oh how badly I wanted to sleep. But every time I tried, I ended up feeling like I was in a frozen tundra without actually being cold.

Because of this, I was awake for my whole labor. No rest for me.

Expectation: The OB would be the one telling me what to do

Reality: It’s all the nurses <3

I witnessed two births in my L&D rotations in nursing school.

In one, there was a doctor there telling the woman to push.

In the other, the doctor didn’t even arrive until after the baby was born (mom was on her 4th baby).

Other than these experiences, I’m not sure why I thought the OB would be there.

The doctors are hardly ever involved in any patient care unless they have to be (which is the main reason I switched from pre-med to nursing school).

My OB came in the room after my son got into position and said, “You can push if you’re ready – you don’t have to wait for me.”

Expectation: That my husband would be holding my hand during delivery

Reality: I was too busy holding my own heavy, dead legs to hold his hand.

I actually felt a little guilty the whole time I was pushing because I wanted him to hold my hand, to be somewhat involved in the process.

If there was a long pause between when I felt ready to push, I would grab his hand and look at him and smile.

But for the most part it wasn’t possible.

He was probably secretly glad anyway.

Reality: not every labor is a happy experience

Not everyone has the same experience as me.

Many women go in thinking that they will have a healthy, uncomplicated labor only to find out that everything is going to turn upside down.

Many women give birth to babies who need to be whisked away for resuscitation.

& still, many women give birth to babies who don’t make it.

I want to hear how the expectation of your birth turned into a harsh reality.

Did you have an unexpected c-section? A premature birth? A baby who needed help to survive? A baby who didn’t survive?

Please share your story below.

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