The thought of giving birth can be a bit overwhelming. Will it go as planned? Is it really like how it plays out in the movies? How painful will it be? Basically, there are a lot of unknowns. Here are a few things we think would have been great to know before we welcomed our little ones into the world.

Photo: J.K. Califf via Flickr

1. Your water doesn’t always break like it does in the movies. For some, a huge gush will occur. But for others, it’s not always so dramatic. In many cases, it can be more of a slow trickle that just keeps going (kind of like peeing yourself) – or it doesn’t even break at all. In fact, only about 10-15 percent of women actually have their water break before labor.

2. Your birth might not go as planned. It’s definitely a great idea to plan, prepare and get everything in order for the arrival of your baby. But it’s also a good idea to be prepared just to go with the flow when you’re in the moment. You don’t really know how long it will take, how it will all turn out or if it will go according to plan. An all-natural birth can turn into a C-section in the blink of an eye. And if it doesn’t go how you had hoped, remember that it definitely does not mean that you’re a failure or you’re weak. It just means that it turned out differently than you had originally envisioned.

Photo: US Army Africa via Flickr

3. It can take a LONG time to push. Sometimes it takes just a few pushes and baby is out. And other times, the pushing part of labor can take hours. Unfortunately, just because you’re ready to push, doesn’t mean you’ll be meeting your baby in a few minutes.

4. It feels like you have to poop. Gross, yes. But many women get this intense feeling of having to go number two right before it’s time to push. When you’ve got a baby pushing down on that area, it’s bound to happen!

5. Sometimes there’s actual pooping. Again, also gross. But let’s all give ourselves a break – right, ladies? If we have to push like we’re having a BM (sometimes for hours) a little poop might end up on the table. There are worse things that can happen. The nurses will whisk it away without a second thought.

6. And sometimes there’s puking. Some women find that labor makes them nauseous enough to vomit. Not pleasant – but perfectly normal.

Photo: Nate Grigg via Flickr

8. It’s best not to overthink it. Some people love to tell childbirth horror stories, or go into great detail about the pain they experienced. It can be pretty terrifying, for sure – but it’s best not to let your imagination get the better of you. Now is the time to take care of yourself and focus on your baby and your pregnancy. Leave the worrying for when your baby arrives and you suddenly have a small human to raise! No matter what, your baby will find his way out, and in a few weeks, months or years, the only parts of labor you’ll truly remember are the joyful ones.

newborn_jontyfisher-via-flickrPhoto: jonty.fisher via Flickr

10. The person who delivers your baby may not be who you wanted. There’s no guarantee that the OB-GYN or midwife you’ve been seeing every month will be the one who helps bring your baby into the world when she’s ready. Best to get used to that possibility ahead of time to avoid any disappointment. But remember – in the end, you’ll have your wee little squishy bundle of joy with you.

11. You really don’t need an elaborate and well-packed hospital bag. When it’s all said and done, you may not end up using most of the things you bring in your hospital bag. It’s always great to be prepared – so if you want relaxing music, scratch mittens and an ample supply of nipple cream, go for it. But if you’re more of a minimalist, you’ll get by just fine with a few basics. Anything you decide you need later, can certainly be hand-delivered by your spouse, a friend or another family member.

diapers-jason-white-via-flickrPhoto: Jason White via Flickr

10. Frozen pads will be your new best friend. After having a baby, there’s a fair amount of swelling down there. Placing a frozen maxi pad in your underwear for 15 minutes or so every hour will help big time with the pain and swelling. Freeze a few ahead of time and have them on the ready for when you get home.

11. The spray bottle will also be your best friend. It’s technically called a “peri bottle” and it’s given to you to squirt warm water on your nether regions after going to the washroom instead of wiping with rough toilet paper. And it’s heaven.

12. You’ll go home in diapers. Not everyone is prepared for this fun fact, but yes, it’s true. Your baby will not be the only one in diapers after the birth.

Tell us: What are some of the things you wish you knew before giving birth?

–Heather Dixon