Every single pregnancy or labour I have supported is so unbelievably different so I thought it might be a good idea to write about what others have experienced. I applaud these women for speaking out about their journeys and outcomes. It’s time the stigma is broken and we can create a safe space with other women to share our stories with no judgment.
Here are some brutal truths about it all:
“That sometimes it’s not love at first sight.” – Stacey Meyer
“I didn’t know that I could handle so much pain for the whole 30 hours without sleep and still felt strong afterwards.” – Deli Judith Mashoabathe
“How to breathe your baby down and out (I found this easier to understand and I achieved this with my second birth). How easily you will lose focus during transition (to the point of not even hearing your midwife’s commands/requests. What on earth a doula was and why I’d even need one (I had NO IDEA with my first. I wish I knew). That it is normal for your baby to want to constantly feed, be it every hour or four and ‘bad milk/not enough’ is nonsense.” – Natalie Lütge
“How ‘when your milk comes in’ it really feels like engorgement and how easily it can turn into mastitis.” – Mathilda Meiring
“How your brain cannot switch off after labour and sleep is impossible for the few days.” –Riandi Steyn
“This might be strange but nobody ever actually mentioned how a baby slips out naturally, with my first I thought it was going to be ‘dry’ down there, nobody prepared me for the super wet, slippery before birthing and after birthing mess???? if I had known it would be so lubricated I wouldn’t have stressed about bubba getting ‘stuck’. Our bodies are amazing. Probably ANOTHER BIG thing doctors didn’t actually discuss was when you actually have contractions… You don’t go into labour and have intense contractions immediately, you have plenty of ‘normal state of being’ rest in between to recover for the next one. Even in the end the 30 to 45 seconds in between are enough to rest. Labour wasn’t at all like it looks on TV. My labours were super chilled, no rushing and going mad like on TV.” –Sivonne Steyn
“I didn’t know that you could start leaking colostrum from 13 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know that underarms could also swell when your milk comes in. I didn’t know that the effects of an episiotomy and internal stitches can last for months after birth. I also didn’t know about the mental high you’re on post-birth, and that when exhaustion hits afterwards, it’s crippling.” –Leandra Talbot
“That if you don’t get your ‘golden hour’, it’s not the end of the world or the end of good bonding or the end of your breastfeeding journey. My little boy went to the NICU and we couldn’t breastfeed or do skin to skin until a few days later. I was in tears because I thought this is the end, this child is never going to know me or latch properly. We went on to breastfeed successfully for just short of two years after that. I will still ‘fight’ for my golden hour with number 2 due in March though!” –Marné Combrinck
“1. If you’re forced to do an induction due to health reasons you REALLY should try to get some sleep the night before/ask for something to help you sleep if needed. The back to back contractions are really, really tiring and make everything feel worse if you’re mentally and physically exhausted.
2. Induction pains when your body hasn’t even begun any signs of labour is a real shock to the system because they come hard and fast once your water is broken.
3. Your nipples become really sore and cracked in the beginning, especially if you don’t know how to get baby to latch correctly.
4. If you have a catheter during labour and birth, once it’s removed and you pee for the first time it feels like a struggle.
5. Maternity pads or pads that are cottony are much softer and comfortable post-VD
6. For the first few days, you’ll be hearing a crying baby even when you’re in the shower [and no baby is crying]
7. Breastfeeding can be difficult, isolating and sometimes stressful! Also some days you feel like all you’re doing is breastfeeding.” – Gaafitha Mustapha Sydow
Katrina Meek is a mother, a wife, a sister, an Aunty, a friend and a doula. I believe birth is incredibly beautiful and powerful. It is a sacred moment and quite possibly one of the most important and life-changing events in a woman’s life. I believe if women can carry the courage and strength they gain from a positive birth experience and transfer those qualities to their daily life the possibilities are endless. As a doula, I believe in supporting your strength and acknowledging the choices you make. It is a privilege to witness a birth. It is profound.