“You just sneeze and he’ll be out of there,” my friend joked, wary of telling me the truth about labour. After all, I was asking because that doomsday was soon upon me.

Women seem apprehensive of telling their fellow mothers-to-be the truth, as though shielding them from it might make it better. I feel that I might have been better-prepared and less traumatised by the experience had I been told the truth.

You Will Never Be Prepared

Contrary to what I just said, no amount of advice is going to prepare a mother for what’s coming, simply because each birth is different and no amount of pre-natal classes are going to tell you what yours will be like. I was advised during Parentcraft lessons that only ten per cent of labours started with your waters breaking and that I’d be well into labour when it happened. Trust me to be among the minority, who got a very rude awakening at night as water started not trickling, as the midwife had suggested, but gushing out.

If Your Waters Break When At Home…

Do put on multiple maternity pads before dressing for the hospital or you’ll be changing your trousers every minute till your partner brings the car around from the garage. Which reminds me, put towels on the car seat before you sit down, even if you are still waiting for your waters to break.

Get Enough Sleep Before

I can’t stress this enough. I was advised of this, but brushed it off in favour of doing as much as I could before the baby came. Wrong choice!

Don’t Eat Anything Heavy

You won’t always know when you’re going into labour. Just in case you’re lucky and the contractions start coming slowly and you’re allowed that one last tasty meal before the hospital panic, do make it a light one else a plate of pasta, which will give you energy to deal with it. Never, and I repeat never, do what I did and gorge on hamburgers, sausages and onion rings as they’ll sit pretty badly on your contracting stomach.

Take Ice With You To The Hospital

I feel the cold a lot, so I was surprised when I asked my husband to lower the air conditioner temperature even more and he said it couldn’t go any lower. It was 16 degrees and I felt like I was melting.

It’s Ok To Need Pain Relief

I was told this but brushed it off because the person who advised it was male. Unfortunately, he was right and I was wrong and I almost missed my chance for pain relief other than gas and air since you can only take certain pain medication up to a point in the labour and not later.

Pethidine Will Make You Sick

Very very sick, as I found out too late for my own good. However, it will give your body the pain relief it requires to calm it down enough to help it go through the process less stressfully.

Pain Medication Will Require You To Stay In Bed

Therefore slowing down the process. It is always better to use gravity to your advantage so walking around, swaying your hips, squatting, anything but lying down will help your body. Staying in bed will also greatly increase the chance of the baby being posterior at birth, which will cause bad back pain.

The Searing Pain Your Already-Mother Friend Mentioned

She actually meant it. At one point I felt like my insides were being brutally torn apart as I rolled around on the bed in crazy pain, asking my husband to fetch the midwife. He said the monitor machine’s pain indicator spiked to over 100% and the midwife said it was just the cervix dilating quickly.

Films Don’t Exaggerate

You might not be screaming in pain but that’s only because you’re too shy to do so in front of the midwife and the student-midwife, who you’re sure you’ve put off her career choice. I don’t mind admitting I was delirious. So if there is anything, scientifically proven or not, that you think might help you cope with the pain, it’s always worth a try.

They say you forget the harsh reality of a delivery soon enough or you would never have your second, and maybe third child. I rather think it the case that women are naturally inclined to become broody every once in a while and only after the deed is done do they remember what they’ll have to go through all over again!