‘As a first time aunt, these are the 10 surprising things I learned about childbirth.’

Video by MWN

I’m not the most maternal of females. I’ve never had any desire to harvest a small child inside my womb before painfully thrusting it out with no guarantee that my genitals will ever fully recover from the trauma.

When random colleagues bring their babies into the office and other women flock over hoping to score a sniff of his or her head, I tend to keep a safe distance.

It’s not that I dislike babies or children… I just don’t have that innate maternal desire that seems to drive a lot of women (and men) to procreate. It’s just never been a thing for me.

You’ve probably guessed by now that until last year, I knew nothing about babies or pregnancy. But then, my sister birthed a human child. Understandably, I immediately fell in love with said human and now my brain is full of Tommee Tippee and muslin blankets (yes, those are real things I had genuinely never heard of previously).

"I guess you could call me a cool aunt!"

Before you get excited and think this is a story about how a small child melted my heart and turned my igloo of a womb into a reproductive super-machine… it isn’t.

This is just me sharing all the things I found out about pregnancy that shocked me to my very core. The things they don’t show you in the movies. The things nobody talks about. The things you really should know before you decide to grow a human of your own. 

These are the things I experienced with my sister, and I have learned so much.

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1) The plug

As if ripping your vagina or defecating in front of a room full of doctors wasn’t enough to worry about, women also pass a mucus plug in the days or weeks before labour. It’s basically a gooey discharge that protects your cervix from infection during pregnancy. It can come all at once, in stages or mixed in with a bit of blood. 

2) Bleeding

One of the major (only) positives for me about pregnancy would be no periods. No paranoia over whether or not you’ve stained your underwear and bed sheets or bled through your pants in public. Utter bliss.

Unfortunately, it’s common for women to bleed or “spot” during pregnancy, especially during the first few weeks. (Seriously… we can’t catch a break!) It’s nowhere near as heavy as periods but keep your sanny pads handy, just in case.

3) Nose bleeds

Another bizarre side-effect is the expansion of blood vessels in your nose. You have an increased blood supply during pregnancy so it’s common for these vessels to rupture, causing nose bleeds.

4) You become Chewbacca

You retain hair during pregnancy, which is great if you enjoy a bit of volume up top. The problem however is that it doesn’t stop at your head (think about all the unpleasant places hair seems to sprout as you get older…)

If you can be bothered (and assuming that you can reach said areas) you are allowed to wax or tweeze them… except for the nipple hairs.

And it doesn’t end there. After birth, all that extra hair will fall out. Just another thing to tidy up when you have a newborn to worry about.

5) You can’t sit for weeks

After birth, your perineum (that patch of land between your anus and vagina) is in tatters so simple things like sitting down are not so simple any more! It takes 4-6 weeks for most perineal damage to heal and it can take up to 6 months for some women to feel completely comfortable sitting down.

You’d think it was a walk in the park after what you’ve just miraculously pushed out… but the first time you empty your bowel after birth may also be a bit of an ordeal (making a “moo” sound as you go apparently helps).

6) C-sections are their own fresh hell

While you may have spared your perineum some trauma by having a c-section, you certainly don’t get off scot free. In fact, it takes women a lot longer to recover from a c-section than from a vaginal birth. I mean, who wouldn’t feel a bit squiffy after being opened up and having their organs moved around to remove a tiny child?

Side effects include uncontrollable shaking (as the top half of the body reacts to the drugs used to numb the bottom half), vomiting, gas and chronic bloating due to air being trapped inside your body after surgery. You’re basically a human balloon… again.

7) Diarrhoea

Leading up to labour, some women find that their bowels open more frequently. Diarrhoea is the body’s way of naturally (and somewhat sadistically) making way for the baby.

8) You become a dribbling mess

Pregnant women can produce A LOT of extra saliva! Now might be the time to let your dog sleep in your bed so you can blame the drool pools on someone else…

9) Third day blues

As a rush of hormones leave the body, some women experience a significant wave of depression around three days after giving birth. Just what you want when you’re also recovering from major physical exertion (and/or surgery) whilst simultaneously learning how to keep another human alive.

Ashton Kutcher spent $1500 on a cot that puts his child to sleep. Ridiculous, or a worthwhile expense?

10) The “normal pregnancy” is an evil myth

Despite what movies and TV shows have us believe… there’s no such thing as an average pregnancy. Some women have no cravings, aren’t sick and somehow float their way through unscathed.

Others can’t get up off the bathroom floor for months and live off a diet of plain toast. It’s totally arbitrary and utterly unfair… but such is life.

I realise this is a very strange way to demonstrate affection for my niece. But I’ll be eternally grateful to my sister for suffering through all of it so that I could hold her in my arms and feel that overwhelming rush of instant and all-consuming love.

Totes worth it… cheers for doing all the heavy lifting, sis!

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