what to expect during labor for first time moms

The Honest Truth About What To Expect During Childbirth

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Do you find yourself constantly surfing the web, trying to figure out what to expect during childbirth or asking your friends who have been there and done that to PLEASE be honest about HOW much labor is gonna hurt?

Perhaps you ask your mom for the 1000th time to share any detail about childbirth she may have neglected to tell you.

No matter how much you think you can “prepare” for bringing your baby into this world, you truly won’t know until you’ve done it.

Trust me, I TRIED.

I spent the YEARS terrified about childbirth and the effect it would have on my body.

So, I totally get why you’re feeling the same way.

Honestly, there isn’t any point in sugar-coating it – giving birth to your baby will hurt a lot and it will be messy.

These are the two things you can count on happening.

But you can do it (obviously!) no matter how intimidating it might be.

Besides nagging my mom friends for their stories, I took a prenatal birth class taught by a labor and delivery nurse. Not sure which online class is right for you? I’ve done all the research for you! 

The fact a nurse had my back made me feel good about the whole thing – I mean, she SEES laboring women all the time so she knows what to say to us newbies. 

(BTW, it’s taught online so no having to go anywhere which is kind of perfect wouldn’t you agree?).

Okay, enough about all that – now it’s time for me to share exactly what to expect during childbirth.

This is my story and I’m sharing it all. 🙂

Want to know what to bring to the hospital?

Check out my ideas list for labor and delivery must-haves!

Or, read my post: What to Pack In Your Hospital Bag for Labor

Childbirth Will Be Painful

labor tips for first time moms

Let’s start off right and dig further into the whole painful childbirth experience.

Think about what your body is doing – slowly delivering a pineapple through a small opening.

It’s both miraculous and terrifying all at once, wouldn’t you agree?

No matter what your plan is, be prepared to deal with the most pain you’ve ever felt in your life.

During every single one of your contractions, you’ll feel like no one could possibly understand what you’re going through, especially if you have contractions for hours before you enter ‘active labor’.

Yes, that’s right. You might have contractions for a length of time before you’re even considered “active”.


I once read somewhere that the only way to know how much childbirth hurts is to break 23 bones in your body at the same time.


I’m not sure who or how they come up with these comparisons, but this one seems like it might be close to what childbirth pain feels like.

There’s really no way to know until it happens to you – so you need to prepared to deal with the pain naturally for an undefined amount of time. 

RELATED READ: The Complete Postpartum Care Checklist

Look on the bright side – you’re going to go through all that and get a beautiful baby at the end – makes everything worth it, right?

And, there are drugs to help – the good ol’ epidural – if you’re nervous about the pain, then take the epidural and know there isn’t anything wrong with that choice!

(Kudos to the women who give birth o’ natural – I don’t have the resolve to forgo the drugs.)

Seriously, I don’t.

I’m OKAY with admitting I took the drugs and you should be too if that’s what you choose.

I made it to 6cms dilated (they offer you the epidural once you’re 4cms – so yay me!), before aggressively demanding the drugs.

I felt like everything should halt until this Momma was given the drugs and could somewhat relax.

When I deliver my second child this August, I am NOT waiting to take the epidural.

It seems silly (to me) to deny pain relief when it’s available so you can feel like more of a woman somehow.

(Please no hate mail from women who delivered naturally – I have respect for you!)

If you’re worried about how much childbirth will hurt, go to the hospital where they will give you drugs to help you deliver safely.

(Side note: Some epidurals don’t work or lessen the pain (cringe), SO, please be prepared to deal with the pain naturally – it will be intense).

Since you’re not good with the idea of childbirth pain, I suggest you shouldn’t be one of the women who choose to deliver in your own bed at home.

Seriously, don’t do that to yourself.

Because, trust me, childbirth HURTS and will be the greatest pain you ever experience and it may last for hours or even DAYS.

RELATED READ: What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag For Labor

There Will Be More Blood Than You’re Expecting

what to expect during childbirth

My husband couldn’t believe how much blood I lost while delivering our daughter and SURVIVED.

Childbirth is not short on blood.

You will lose A LOT of blood. It’s almost like a small war zone down below.

If that sort of stuff makes you queasy, then please, whatever you do – DO NOT look or ask for a mirror so you can see what’s going on.

Some things are just better left to the imagination.

Because you’ve lost so much blood, you’ll need some help walking around afterward.

Trust me on this. I didn’t believe it either.

Yes, even to visit the bathroom for that dreaded first time you have to pee.

I scoffed at my nurse when she woke me up a few hours after delivery and told me I needed to try using the bathroom and that she was there to support me while I walked the 3ft from my bed to the toilet.

Um, I’m well into my thirties and walk myself there, I thought. And, I told her as much. She humored me and let me stand up and start walking on my own.

Oh boy – she was right – my head rush came on so strong, it amazed me.

I immediately felt nauseous, almost fainted and needed her to pick me up from the toilet and place me back in bed.

Childbirth is bloody – if you’re wondering what to expect during childbirth – think blood and more blood – everywhere.

Get ready for it. You’ll be amazed, trust me.

Related read: How to Have a Confident Birth

Labor Won’t Go As You Thought It Would

labor advice for first time moms

Do you have a birth plan?

Most women I talk to all say the same thing – what they expected during childbirth and what actually happened are two very different things.

The differences can range from labor being easier than they thought (insert my eye roll here, although good for them!) to being the worst or scariest experience they’ve ever had.

Yet still, through all of the varying experiences, most women go back for round 2, so what does that tell you?

My water broke before I had any contractions at all.

I didn’t even have those Braxton Hicks contractions (you know, the PRACTICE contractions – ha!) to have an idea of what was to come.

My water broke with a gush at 5am as I rocked like a turtle on it’s back to get myself into a seated position so I could visit the bathroom for pee number 12 that night.

I couldn’t believe my water broke first. 

Um, that wasn’t part of my plan.

I panicked – I didn’t know what to do because my water broke first.

(You call your hospital or midwife and let them know because your baby can be exposed to infections and germs – something you certainly don’t want to risk).

And, it ain’t like the movies where your amniotic fluid spills out all over the floor in one giant break.

Nope, it’s a slow trickle for HOURS.

Kinda feels like you’re peeing and yes it’s as embarrassing as it sounds – especially when you have people who come to visit you to see how you’re doing.

Trust me when I say, the thickest pads didn’t do the job.

Thankfully, the nurses tucked a few towels underneath me to soak everything up.

I guess because my water broke first, my body decided not to move the labor along.

My contractions didn’t start for hours, so my nurse had to induce me to get the show underway.

Again, not part of my plan.

My point here is, take any idea of knowing how your labor will go because you’ve detailed everything in your ‘birth plan’ and throw it out the door.

Birth plans are a general guideline.

Definitely not what will actually happen.

Be prepared for anything.

I had a friend who went from “normal” labor (contractions started, became stronger and closer together) to delivering via an emergency c-section because her baby was too big to fit through her birth canal.

The hospital sounded the alarm and the nurses and doctors jumped in to do everything they could to deliver the baby safely.

And, the baby was delivered safely – thank goodness – but the point is, your labor probably won’t go exactly as you planned or imagined.

All you can really plan for is to go with the flow and deliver your baby as safely as possible.

You’re all in one pregnancy prep bundle. From baby registry checklists to a birth plan- we’ve got you covered!

It Doesn’t Matter Where You Give Birth

I chose to go to my local hospital to deliver my daughter (please no hate mail from the birth at home Moms! ha!) and I don’t regret it one bit.

I know when I go to have my second child, I will choose to do the same thing.

I’m not knocking any woman who wants to birth at home or in a tub or wherever.

Deliver your baby where you feel the most comfortable!

Where do you feel you’ll have the best experience?

As you know, I was terrified of childbirth pain OR something going wrong during delivery.

I wanted to be in the hospital where there are trained medical staff who know how to handle whatever happens during childbirth.

Choose to deliver your baby where you’re most comfortable.

Don’t listen to what’s “in” right now or try to keep up with your friends.

Do what’s right for you!

RELATED READ: 8 Ways to Speed Up Your Recovery from Vaginal Childbirth 

You WILL Be Able To Handle Childbirth

I wanted to end off this honest account of what to expect during childbirth by saying you will survive and you will be able to handle whatever gets thrown your way.

As I’m sure you’re aware, women have been birthing children for YEARS and usually go back for more than one.

Women also birthed children before there was as much help as we have today.

Your body will know what to do.

You will survive the pain.

And you will have a beautiful baby at the end.

Take it from this Momma – expect childbirth to be the most painful and messy thing you’ll experience, but also the most beautiful.

No matter what you experience it will be completely worth it!

Are you expecting your first child and scared of childbirth?

Did this post help you know what to expect during childbirth?.

Or, have you been through the experience and have something to share with others who want to know what to expect during childbirth?

Let me know in the comments and we can chat about it!

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *