Pregnancy & childbirth explained for your man
They say that passing a kidney stone is the only thing that’s as close to – if not more painful than – childbirth. But do kidney stones come with nine months of hormones, sickness, tiredness, discomfort, hyper-emotions and result in the most life-altering experience of your life? No, didn’t think so.
(Disclaimer, I’ve never had kidney stones and I’m sure they’re super painful but I’m just not buying that it’s worse than childbirth).
So if there’s nothing else in the human experience quite like pregnancy and childbirth, yet only 50 per cent of the population experience it, how do we go about explaining what it is like? More so, how do we truly get our partners to understand what we are going through?
What does labour feel like?
Well, if your husband is brave he could volunteer to be hooked up to a labour simulator like this guy did:
And while many have tried to explain the feeling of contractions, it’s different for everyone, and everyone has different pain thresholds. But think of when you get a cramp in your foot or your calf, the sudden onset of pain like a rubber band snapping at you, but imagine this feeling in your entire body and continuing off and on every couple of minutes for hours and hours AND hours – some women can be in labour for up to 36 HOURS. And that’s not even the whole pushing the baby out business and let’s not even get started on if you need an episiotomy…
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But what of the nine months leading up to game day?
For the guys, they get the news and then have nine months until any real action begins for them. For us, as soon as we see the double line on that pregnancy test, it’s on like Donkey Kong. We feel a sudden internal shift, granted some more than others, but it’s always there in the back of our mind every single day.
As humans, we spend a significant portion of our day thinking about food – and when you’re pregnant this dramatically increases. Suddenly you go from a well-balanced three meals a day to thinking about food pretty much 24/7. There’s a constant internal battle between feeling deathly ill/nauseous (depending on your personal experience) and so hungry you might drop dead if you don’t get food right this second.
You suddenly find yourself flying through the busy life you always had, juggling work and a social life, and this life-changing experience – all while feeling exhausted 24/7 without a glass of wine to come home to after a tough day. Or having to sit through a colleague’s leaving do stone-cold sober and sipping on soda water.
Don’t let it show!
And then there’s the hiding it in the beginning which is actually way more stressful than it should be.
You become paranoid that everyone can see through your little white lies – trying to explain why you’re not drinking alcohol, why you’re running to the bathroom every five minutes or why your colleague found you asleep under your desk three times last week.
Better to let them think you have a drinking problem than the actual truth that you are pregnant, right….
Oh the tiredness…
This brings us to the tiredness. Oh the tiredness. And god bless you second, third, fourth (or more) time mamas who are going through it all with older kids to look after too.
Pregnancy hits you with tiredness like no other, literally like a tonne of bricks. It’s the sort of tiredness where you wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve just run the city to surf, climbed mount Kilimanjaro and done the Kokoda Trek.
Or if you will, think of the absolute worst hangover you’ve ever experienced – and minus all the fun and jager bombs you had getting to that hangover – and that’s what pregnancy feels like a lot of the time.
There’s a myth about some women feeling ‘amazing’ in the second trimester but the reality is you just feel slightly less horrible than you did in the first and will in the last…
One of the cruellest things about pregnancy is sleep!
Because everyone tells you to rest now because you won’t sleep when the baby arrives – but no one tells you that sleeping during pregnancy is near impossible.
As soon as your bump starts to show, sleeping becomes so uncomfortable.
Then throw in the pregnancy insomnia and the crazy pregnancy dreams that wake you up and leave you lying awake paranoid and analysing them for fear you’ve already screwed up your unborn child for what just went down in your dream.
What you should take away from this…
So guys, if we whack you because you’re snoring next to us during the night, that’s why. Or if we’re not up for a little hanky panky during the sheets at all hours, that’s why.
As well as all the physical changes (including but most definitely not limited to: getting fat, sore nipples, nausea, vomiting, sore legs, fluid retention) add to that, that you’re suddenly an emotional wreck due to the increased hormones now pumping through your body.
You might find yourself sobbing uncontrollably while watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians – or raging at your husband for buying the wrong flavour of chips. We can’t always control what’s madly going on inside our bodies…
Hot tip: Don’t dare bring up the aforementioned hormones if you value your life.
And this is just all the surface stuff, add to that those poor women who are dealing with severe morning sickness, chronic pain and the myriad of other symptoms and conditions that women’s bodies experience to bring life into the world.
So guys, go easy on your baby mama, sure she’s emotional, maybe sometimes irrational, she’s always tired and might complain a lot… But she’s GROWING A FREAKING HUMAN INSIDE OF HER. So offer her a cuppa and a footrub and tell her she looks beautiful.
And if you’re still not convinced it’s all as tough as we make it out to be, here’s another dad who dared tried to experience what labour feels like:
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Jessica Bosco Follow +
Jessica is a writer, editor and professional wrangler of two boys. Working in women's lifestyle publishing for over 15 years she has written about everything from fashion and beauty to royal weddings and true crime. These days she loves helping parents navigate pregnancy and the early years of raising little ones...
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