by: Pippa

It seemed that once I hit 30 weeks, all folk talked to me about – particularly other pregnant women – was about labour. What were my plans for it, how much did I think it was going to hurt, was I going to go drug-free, how did I wish it was going to go. There was also so many women wanting to tell you their story – usually a horror one – of how their labour went.

It really made me realise how much I hadn’t thought that much about labour – but folk were talking to me so much about it, I wondered if I was a bit of a freak. Because it wasn’t labour that was worrying me, it was the bit after. The baby raising bit!

Don’t get me wrong, labour is a hell of an event and I did get my head around some of the basics. After all, the baby has to come out, one way or another. But while I was reading about labour (and listening to so, so many people about this subject) there was something that always stuck in my head. And that was when it came to the arrival of my baby, I was not going to really get to decide that much. Granted I could pick the location, give some clear plans on how I wanted to deliver – for example, drugs/no drugs, what kinds of drugs – and decide who I did or didn’t want in the room with me. But ultimately, the way I saw it was that it’s actually your baby that is going to decide when and what way they want to arrive, granted helped a fair bit by your midwife or doctor. It’s the baby is going to decide if it’s going to engage properly or be breech – and that’s decides so much of whether your baby is coming out the boot or the sun roof.  And once that is decided, then drugs/no drugs, where, who…. All my plans were only going to be confirmed once the baby made the first move!

So in light of this conclusion, it wasn’t labour that was troubling my mind – in my many, many hours of thinking of what lay ahead. It was that big giant bit after labour that I wondered about. You know, the whole ‘I’ve-now-got-a-baby-what-do-I-do-with-it’ bit. And I definitely felt it early on in hospital when my husband kissed us goodbye our first night and said, “See you in the morning.” It was a hell of a feeling to know that this little tiny thing that was only a few hours old, was in my charge.

I remember asking a pal, ‘So what do you do with a baby all day?’ and getting a rather muddled answer back. She was genuinely hazy. And funny, when I look back now a few months on, it’s all a bit of a blur to me too. (Oh what tricks the mind plays on a mum’s mind!). But after a couple more questions, I got a good idea of what a day was like in those first few weeks of having a baby. The nappies, the feeding routine, how to organize snacks for yourself, how to politely tell folk when to visit (and when to leave!). And so importantly, the best ways to grab five minutes for yourself, if you can. Interestingly, by concentrating on the baby raising bit, I was able to relax about labour as there was so much more to learn about raising a baby.

So as an option, if you’re worried about labour, start thinking about the bit after that, it could weirdly relax you. After all, labour lasts for hours. Taking care of a baby lasts a hell of a lot longer than that!