What They Didn’t Tell You at Antenatal...
Pregnancy is a big deal, and getting through pregnancy takes a lot of courage, teamwork, and compassion.... but it’s nothing compared to having a baby! Here are five things they probably didn’t tell you at antenatal class.
1. Giving birth doesn’t always go to plan
Having a birth plan is wonderful, but make sure ‘expect the unexpected’ is in there somewhere. According to the Ministry of Health, as many as half of all births involve some sort of intervention, such as an induction, epidural, or episiotomy, so getting fixated on the perfect birth may be a set-up for disappointment.
Remember, every birth is magical if there is a healthy baby at the end of it.
2. In case of an emergency, remember the statistics
If you are one of the 10-15% of women who require emergency intervention, remember that according to Statistics New Zealand, 99.5% of live births survive in this country. This may be a comforting thought when, after a 30hour labour, you’re in a hospital environment surrounded by white coat specialists and being asked to sign consent forms you can barely read, let alone understand
3. You will get less sleep than you think you will
Your normal happy baby might sleep for 4hours between feeds, suckle gently for 15min, then pass out again, leaving you refreshed and ready for a big day of nappies, cuddles, and play dates.... or they might not. Some babies sleep for an hour, wake screaming, fumble semi-successfully with the nipple for another hour in between more screams of frustration, then repeat. This is also normal, although most midwives would probably recommend a visit to a lactation specialist a this point.
4. You probably don’t need as much sleep as you think you need
Most people are borderline narcissists who worry constantly about whether they are getting enough sleep... and then they have a baby. Babies are trial by fire, and they shatter your sleep expectation. Suddenly you’re running on 5hours broken sleep a night (if your lucky), when before you needed 8hours on week days, and a 'do not disturb' sleep-in on the weekend.
True, sleep deprivation is a very real form of baby inflicted torcher. It will bring any suppressed feelings of anger or anxiety to the surface, and play havoc on your relationship. I believe babies do this on purpose as a way of burning off any unresolved ‘issues’ you may have before they grow up and start relentlessly pushing your boundaries.
5. These are some of the best years of your life
Your recently born baby is quite literally the centre of the universe. People will flock for a wee look, hand hold, or cuddle with your perfect example of innocence and love. The parent is the closest and most privileged of her majesties subjects, privileged with trust, affection, love, and deep attachment.
Many people will experience depression, conflict, uncertainty, and utter exhaustion in the first year, and sometimes in years to come, so don’t worry if it doesn’t feel all that great right now. Looking back, however, this time will likely be remembered as being full of purpose and meaning.
If you would like to share any thoughts you have on what they didn't tell you at antenatal, we'd love to see these in the comments below.
For a fantastic resource on 'what to expect' at different stages of baby development, check out https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/month-by-month/
Stats NZ (2020). Births and Deaths: Year Ended 2020. Retrieved from https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/births-and-deaths-year-ended-september-2020-infoshare-tables
News Hub (2018). Alarming rises in c-sections. Retrieved from https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2018/10/alarming-rise-in-c-sections-worldwide-study.html
Ministry of Health (2017). Report on Maternity 2015. Retrieved from