21 ways giving birth is different to what you see in the movies.

Summer Land.


Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a mum. I used to watch Father of the Bride Part II and daydream about the day that I’d be rushing in a car with my husband to the hospital. We’d get there just in time for my water to break while checking in and within minutes I’d be on a hospital bed pushing. A doctor would announce, “It’s a girl!” and we’d all live happily ever after.

In reality, my birthing experience was nothing like the movie version. I’m not saying it was better or worse. I’m just saying it was different and that I wish someone had told me the other ways it could have played out. Below I’ve outlined the movie version vs reality so that if you find yourself with a tiny human trying to exit through your vagina – you’ll know what to really expect.


Movie Version: Your water breaks while browsing at a Farmer’s Market.

Reality: You will experience some light cramping which your doctor will tell you to ignore until you’re having full-blown contractions. This could take days.


Movie Version: You’ll be in a bright hospital room wallpapered with pictures of babies and happy families that had delivered there before. Doctors and nurses will flutter about.

Reality: You’ll be in a dimly lit room. Apparently it is instinctive to go to a dark safe place to have a baby. Hence the “mood lighting.” Since you’ve forgotten to bring your birth playlist, you’ll most likely listen to Mama Mia (the movie) on your mom’s Kindle Fire. Twice.


This is how you looked when you arrived at the hospital.. right?

Movie Version: Contractions last about 1-2 hours.

Reality: Contractions last 30 hours.


Movie Version: You already have your baby. (Okay fine, not yet!)

Reality: It will take 15 hours of contractions, bathtub time and an hour of climbing stairs before your midwife will decide to break your water manually with something that resembles a crochet hook.


Movie Version: There isn’t any poop.

Reality: There is poop. You will spend the time in between contractions on the toilet. And since the room is dim, every time you turn on the bright bathroom lights, all of these unidentified little black gnat-like bugs will flock to you and blanket your body.


Movie Version: Contractions hurt, but you still look amazing. Just a little sweaty.

Reality: Imagine someone taking a burning hot rubber band and then wrapping it around your torso and squeezing it tighter and tighter until all of your insides are going to burst through your bones and splatter on the walls around you. You are dripping in sweat and it’s all you can do to breathe, let alone make noise.



Movie Version: Epidurals are easy and wonderful.

Reality: A doctor will come in dressed head to toe in surgical gear. He will start yelling out numbers. Since you’re sucking the life out of some nitrous oxide gas you will begin to think that he is the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. And you are of course the caterpillar sucking on his hookah and ask, “Who arrrrree youuuu???”


It doesn’t really look like this one hour later… does it?

Movie Version: The epidural works.

Reality: The epidural doesn’t work. Your doctor will put the needle in too low and you will only go numb on half of your body. It will make the pain on the other half even more intense.


Movie Version: You will develop a demonic voice: See Kirsty Ally in Look Who’s Talking.

Reality: You will develop a demonic voice: See Kirsty Ally in Look Who’s Talking. (This one is accurate.)


Movie Version: You will be pushing while sitting up in a hospital bed.

Reality: You will be pushing while sitting on a toilet. This is to help you use the correct muscles to get your baby out.


Movie Version: There still isn’t any poop.

Reality: There is poop. And you’ll use your hand to claw it out because you’re giving birth and delirious and you just do weird things. Your partner will then have to dispose of said poop and clean your hand.


Movie Version: You will give birth lying down.

Reality: You will give birth standing up. You will do this because your botched epidural has worn off and you are hoping gravity will be your friend and help you get the baby out. It also hurts too much to lie down.


Always. Lying. Down.

Movie Version: Your partner will pass out from the sight of blood.

Reality: Your partner will ask to catch the baby. Which he/ she does.


Movie Version: Your baby will be taken away for tests and a bath.

Reality: Your partner will pass your new baby through your legs and you will bring her to your chest. She will be covered in amniotic fluid, a little blood and sweet goodness. Nothing will hurt anymore. Nobody takes your baby because she is nursing and healthy and totally worth all of the above scenarios.



Movie Version: You only have to deliver a baby.

Reality: You also deliver the placenta.


Movie Version: Your baby will look like a perfect Huggies baby.

Reality: Your baby will have a super oddly shaped head and will poop in your hand. You’ll also be starving at this point and will forget to wash your hands when you eat a Mars Bar Slice…which is totally covered in merconium. It doesn’t matter. You have your baby.


Movie Version: Your birth video will be special and PG because who would ever film your vagina?

Reality: The midwife in training will film your vagina.



Movie Version: The video is so wonderful. You can show all of your friends.

Reality: There is no way that you can show your friends because your anus does things on film that no anus should do.


Movie Version: Is there a movie version of a vagina? (Well anyway – I’m sure it would be perfect.)

Reality: Your vagina has stitches. And you’re bleeding and passing clots that will not go down your shower drain. (Can be weighed on a food scale.) You will need extra large underwear to accommodate the mattress that you wear between your legs to soak up that mess.


Movie Version: Breastfeeding is so wonderful and easy.

Reality: Your nipples are on fire and decide to “let down” (SPRING A LEAK) at every inopportune moment of the day (and night.)


Movie Version: You get no sleep.

Reality: You get no sleep. But it’s because you’re too busy just staring at the adorable and perfect (aside from the head shape) baby you just made.


I bet you’re going to think twice about touching a penis without birth control tonight. Well don’t. No matter how painful, awkward and horrific your birthing experience – the weight of that new life in your hands makes pooping for a crowd totally worth it. Plus you can totally teach her how to take a selfie.

This excerpt originally appeared on SumerLandish and has been republished here with full permission. Find out more about Please Exit through the Vagina here.

Summer Land is a blogger and author of Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did (which you can buy here) and Fried Chicken for the Drunk Girl’s Soul. Her most recent ebook Please Exit through the Vagina  is available for download here.

To find out more about Summer Land, head to her website here or follow her on Facebook here.

Your turn to share now. Do you have any expectation vs reality stories to share?