What It’s Really Like to Give Birth

The other day a friend of mine posted a link to this Cosmo article in which two women were interviewed about what it’s really like to give birth (and go through pregnancy/postpartum ish) and I thought it was an interesting read, so I decided to take their questions and answer them myself, since obviously you’ve all been dying to know what I really think about pregnancy and birth.

Also…I really hope you saw my featured image here and started humming “Let’s talk about birth bay-bee!” a’la Salt-N-Pepa. But I digress…on with the questioning!

What It's Really Like to Give Birth // @ The Little Things We Do

How old are you?

Relationship status:

Did you try to get pregnant, or was it an accident? 
Fern was planned…ish. We weren’t actively trying (no ovulation tests and all that jazz), but we weren’t preventing either…just kind of a “wait and see” approach, but I did track all of our boot knocking sessions so I could figure out what my due date was in case I did get pregnant. Clive was a little more of a happy accident. I wasn’t totally ready, but we had started talking about it and then just got a little lazy about prevention and the next thing you know…

How long did it take to get pregnant? 
With Fern 6 months. With Clive, it was more of a surprise, so I guess it didn’t really take any time. I was on hormonal birth control before getting pregnant with Fern though so I think it took awhile to get out of my system.

How did you feel when you found out?
It was kind of surreal…both times. Even though you obviously know how babies are made, it’s still a little surprising when you find out you’re actually growing a baby in you.

Did you have morning sickness? When did it start? 
With Fern: morning sickness started week 6 and ended week 10. I was nauseous all day, but never puked. With Clive: no morning sickness.

What were the changes in your body during the first trimester? 
Just sleepy mostly both times.

Describe the feeling of being pregnant to someone who hasn’t been. 
The first trimester: exhausting and surreal. The second trimester: the cute trimester. The third trimester: over it. Also, before I was ever pregnant I imagined pregnancy to feel like having a fish swimming around inside of you. I asked some pregnant friends and they denied any such feeling. Once I was actually pregnant myself, I feel like I could safely say that my initial thoughts were pretty accurate. Totally feels like a little alien fish moving around in your belly. It’s equal parts creepy and awesome.

And the changes in your emotions/cravings? 
I get super emo when I’m pregnant…just really on edge. The littlest, stupidest things can set me off. The first time around I would cry over anything to do with sick kids. I once cried during Celebrity Apprentice when they showed one of the contestants giving money to kids at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This time around I cry when I feel overwhelmed with my toddler’s shenanigans. Everything just feels way more intense and overwhelming. As for cravings…pretty much everything you shouldn’t have, but mostly I crave ice cream. Last time I ate it almost every night, but this time I just don’t buy it very often and suffer my cravings.

While you were pregnant, did you want to have sex more or less than usual? 
With Fern it was about the same amount. I’m usually a big fan of sex, so we were still pretty regular about it. This time I would say less. I feel like I’m carrying differently this time and everything feels more awkward and cumbersome when it comes to sex. Thankfully there are other options to take advantage of.

What was your biggest fear throughout your pregnancy? 
I wasn’t super fearful either time, which is weird because I tend to be a worrier by nature. I guess I was most freaked out about actually pushing a tiny human out of my vagina.

Did you read books? If so, did they help? 
I read “What To Expect” and gave up on it after about five seconds. It felt too fear mongering and technical. I also read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Hypnobirthing: The Monogan Method. Both of those were great and totally helped prepare me for birth. I probably should’ve read more books about newborns and sleep and breastfeeding though. I was totally clueless about all of that.

Did strangers treat you differently when they found out you were pregnant? How so?
With Fern people always asked me questions and wanted to share advice, but thankfully no one ever touched my belly. This time around I’ve gotten a few belly touches, but less questions and advice. I guess people assume I at least sort of know what I’m doing at this point since I’m schlepping a toddler around all the time.

Did you drink at all while pregnant?
I would have sips of Craig’s beers and I had wine at Christmas when I was pregnant with Fern (she was due a month later), but I’m not much of a drinker so I didn’t feel much of a need. I will say that I’ve missed margaritas terribly this pregnancy though. I feel too guilty to drink hard alcohol while I’m knocked up though, so I’ll just have to wait a few more weeks.

How did your friends react? Did they treat you differently?
Our friends were all super excited when we told them we were pregnant the first time, but this time people are more like “Oh? That’s cool.” It’s not that they don’t care, but we’ve already been there done that, so the excitement level is a little different. No one treated us very differently though…aside from all of our friends with kids wanting to let us in on all the gory details of parenting that they hadn’t shared before.

How involved was your husband in the birthing preparation? Did he go to classes with you, read books, etc.?
Craig had a big role in helping me to decide to have an out-of-hospital birth both times. He hates hospitals and while he would’ve supported me in whatever choice I made he was pretty stoked I chose a birthing center birth with Fern and a home birth this time. He didn’t read any books or go to most of my appointments, but he did watch a birthing video with me and we took a weekend birthing class together. We talked about it a lot though and he listened to all of the birth tidbits I’d share with him as I was learning them, so when the time came he was pretty well versed. He was awesome during labor.

Did you intend to take drugs during the delivery or not? Did you change your mind about this when you were in labor?
No drugs since I was at an out-of-hospital birthing center. There were no drugs to be had, but believe me…I definitely wanted them at a certain point. If I’d been at a hospital I’m pretty sure I would’ve taken the epidural.

How long did the delivery take?
12 hours.

Who was in the room with you?
My husband and my two midwives.

Was your delivery how you expected it to be? (I guess I mean, was it like in the movies?)
It was actually a lot better than I expected. Way less dramatic than in the movies. Although I’ll admit…toward the end there was a bit of screaming when things got intense. Overall I was a lot more calm than I thought I’d be though.

Did you poop?
Yep. Not during the actual birthing part though, but earlier on during some contractions while I was in the tub. They use a little fish net to just scoop it out while you’re doing your thing. I was pretty mortified. It wasn’t as messy as I thought though, because often your body ends up just getting rid of everything early on in your labor (i.e. lots of pooping and puking), so there’s not a ton left by the time the baby is ready to show up.

Describe the feeling of giving birth to someone who hasn’t.
Like taking the most monster deuce of your life. I tore…a ton, so it was pretty painful. Definitely that whole “ring of fire” business happened.

Was it an emotional experience?
Yes and no. I didn’t cry at all, though I expected to. I was mostly just overwhelmed with happiness and relief that it was over and she was out safe and sound.

What did you think when you first saw your baby?
My first response was “I can’t believe I just did that! That’s bad ass!” After that I thought…“Is her head supposed to be shaped like that?!” It was so bruised and cone shaped because I pushed for three hours!

What was your recovery like?
Awful. I hate postpartum with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I was tore up from the floor up and couldn’t even drive myself anywhere for nearly two weeks. I definitely had the baby blues, but it never turned into full blown postpartum depression thankfully. It took about 6 months to really feel like myself again, but it wasn’t until I stopped nursing around 17 months when I really felt totally normal again. Sad, but true. Here’s a post I wrote about 20 “little surprises” I encountered postpartum that you may want to brace yourself for (i.e. couch size pads and embarassing moments).

Do the changes concern you?
Not really. I’ve realized that it’s obviously not forever. I’m definitely not looking forward to going through all of the postpartum stuff again and having a ravaged body, but it’s the price you pay and it’s well worth it. Eventually I will get sleep again and get my body back (at least to some degree) and I will feel like me again. It will be wonderful.

What advice would you give to soon-to-be new moms?
Embrace the mesh underwear. They’re awesome. Ask for help…lots of it…and meals. No one is allowed to come see the baby unless they come bearing meals! Also…know that it’s overwhelming and that’s totally normal. You aren’t a bad mom if you don’t bond immediately with your child (I didn’t) or if you have moments where you think, “What the hell did I get myself into?!” We all think that sometimes. The postpartum/newborn stage is no joke, but it doesn’t last forever…even though it feels like it at the time. You’ve got this mama!

Any other questions I didn’t think to answer? Feel free to leave them in the comment section!


Love and reality,



  1. I don’t have any children, but can I just say that your “monster duece” comment TOTALLY cracked me up! Bets of luck in your final weeks with this pregnancy and beyond. Love your honesty, its so refreshing.

  2. I really enjoyed your post about postpartum and this was so informative and helpful as well. I appreciate your honesty!

  3. Loved your answers! I had so many similarities to you with my first birth experience and I’m happy to report the second one was very different and recovery was much better (way less tearing, no mastitis etc, less sore nipples) so hopefully Mr. Clive will take it easy on you too!

  4. I enjoyed this, thanks 🙂

  5. I’m relating to so much of what you’ve shared here. We have a 21 month old girl who looks just like Fern. 🙂 I’m not ready to try for our second yet, for many reasons, but mostly because it also took such a long time to feel normal again (like you, a couple of months after I stopped nursing). But I’m just so touched by your answer, “It will be wonderful.” You’re exactly right. Even when it’s so hard with a newborn, it’s still completely and wholly wonderful. Babies are awesome. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone else admit that they didn’t feel “totally normal” again until they stopped nursing. I stopped breastfeeding around 13 months because I just felt like my guy was getting unruly to handle when we nursed, and because working full-time/traveling/pumping 24 oz a day had finally just gotten to me. I was completely blown away by how quickly I felt like myself again. I hadn’t even realized how down I was until the breastfeeding hormones started to clear out.
    I’ll absolutely be breastfeeding again next time because I know it’s best for my babe and I really did enjoy the bond it creates – but I’ll definitely be more conscious of how it’s affecting me and not so afraid to let it go this time around.

  7. Seriously, you need to win an award for the most raw and helpful blogger about mommy life. Almost every one of your posts prepares me for stuff and I love it! Thank you for this post. my fear and excitement has grown in tandem hahaha.

  8. I am so glad I’m not the only one who felt like she was growing an alien. I said that to other people and they looked at me like I was a freak!

  9. I am both excited and nervous for all of this. 5 weeks to go for me! Cannot wait to meet our little dude.

  10. Have I told you lately how awesome you are? 😉 This was an inspiring read. Evan and I aren’t there yet but it’s nice reading some honest answers to some tough questions. Thanks!

    • @Ali – Awww, thanks :). I just always wished I would’ve had someone tell me some of this stuff before I went through it. I was the first in our friend group to have babies so I was kind of just fumbling in the dark for awhile. The first year was a bit rough…so much to learn about little ones and yourself and definitely your marriage, but year two is the sweet spot where I feel like we’ve hit our stride. I hope you and Evan get to enjoy parenthood one day. I’m pretty sure you guys are going to be ridiculously awesome at it :).

  11. Aw, Lauren, this was so funny and brought back so much! it’s amazing what you forget, and of course the stuff you remember. the feeling that there is an alien inside you. the mortification and amazement at what your body is capable of. the intensity of all the feelings. do you remember that iphone commercial that aired over Christmas time? where the family thinks the kid isn’t into anything when really he makes that video that makes everyone cry? oh my gosh i couldn’t even think about it without bawling. and man, i’m so excited for you to welcome baby Clive into your world, two kids changes everything in a wonderful, wonderful way! just wait til you see Fern as a big sister, it will blow you away! and a boy too! i’m thrilled for you, as i know all your readers are. you bring humor and brevity into your writing, which is a real treat to read. Thank you and best of luck and so much love for the next couple weeks!

  12. Great post. I also had the baby blues and it lasted for about 10 days. I was miserable and soooo glad when it was over. 🙂

  13. Rachel Handing says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I did read this post – pretty great. The only thing I would add, obviously doesn’t happen to everyone, but I was super prepared for a vaginal delivery. I was young, healthy, and in great shape. Labor went perfectly and I dilated to 10 like no one’s business (I know.. I’d hate me too), but all of a sudden (issues with baby) happened and they swooped me out for an emergency Csection. I think it’s just important for moms to know that no matter what you plan, what you want, or what you think will happen – your baby and your body may not agree.

  14. The birth of my daughter is very similar to Fern’s. I was in a hospital though, my plan was a natural birth but my contractions started out of the gate as back labor so I was begging for the epidural. I pushed for over 2 hours and remember being told by the doctor that, “You shouldn’t scream, it’s not effective.” If I hadn’t had a ginormo sunny side up kiddo splitting me in half I would have killed him with my later eyes I’m sure.
    I remember thinking I was going to cry when I finally had her but I didn’t. I’ve always felt weirdly guilty about that since ever since I got pregnant I’ve cried over every. single. thing. Anyway, you seem to be cool enough to give yourself a break and that makes me feel good.

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