What with International Women’s Day just been and gone it got me thinking what incredible things us women really are. No better is our awesomeness exhibited than during the mammoth endurance test of pregnancy and childbirth. You might look at a pregnant woman and think ‘oh how lovely for her, she’s blooming’ but what you don’t see in that fleeting moment is the incredible transformation her body will undergo within 9 months.
Firstly, not only are they growing another person but they’ve also grown a whole new organ to nourish and sustain it called the Placenta, which is the only temporary organ in the human body. Clever girls. Then if you’re rather unfortunate like I was you’ll spend the first 3 months trying to kerb the constant flow of vomit threatening to explode from mouth and nostrils whilst at the same time attempting to maintain control of your bladder and dignity all whilst stood in a queue in Morrisons.
Of course, it is those lovely things we call Hormones that cause some of the most attractive changes during pregnancy. A lot of women report an increase of general hairiness all over their bodies, something I like to refer to as the ‘Yeti effect’ having spent many an afternoon in a beauticians chair having my new moustache tamed. Overnight your breasts spectacularly turn into porn star knockers, with an ability to stand up independently right underneath your chin but don’t let your husband get too excited as there’s no way in hell you’ll let him near them as the slightest touch feels like they’re being run over by a caravan. Then there’s the uncontrollable mood swings, for example the other day I was happily cooking dinner when before I knew it I was sobbing hysterically on the floor as I couldn’t get THE BLOODY LID off a jar of Bisto.
Once you’ve got to the third trimester your hormones start to plateau but then the growing and swelling begins. At some stage or other you’ll feel like you’ve reached total capacity but then you go on growing until you realise that you’ve a similar circumference to that of a mature hippopotamus. My friends ankles swelled up so much there was no clear definition between leg and foot, she spent 12 weeks stomping around on elephant legs but it’s ok she couldn’t see them so we didn’t tell her. You can’t sleep on your front for obvious reasons which means you’ve got to prop yourself onto your side, 200 pillows usually does the trick but once you’ve got comfortable and are about to fall asleep you’ll have an urgent need to urinate and will have to wrestle your way out of the pillow prison and try not to fall over anything on your way to the toilet. This will happen atleast 4 times a night.
If you’re lucky then your baby will make an appearance on or very close to your due date, however for some mother’s the day will come and go and you’ll become increasingly sweaty and angry at the world. Well meaning people will tell you of miracle ways to induce labour like raspberry leaf tea or going for a swift walk. Let me tell you with my first baby I drank gallons of rank tea and sprinted as fast as I could around a field causing alarm to a lot of dog walkers and still nothing. I tried everything and still had to be induced at ten days over.
When it finally does happen labour is pretty much as you’d expect it to be. Bloody painful. Thank god we live in the 21st century and don’t have to give birth in mud huts next to goats anymore, there are lots of ways to manage pain in labour but I doubt it’ll ever be a pleasant experience. Every mum loves sharing their labour stories, chatting about it at play group the other day one mother revealed that she had been biting down so hard on the gas and air tube that she managed to bite out her own tooth then simply spat it out and carried on. Wowzer. Another mum told me that during her labour she found using a birthing ball helpful but after a particularly strong contraction rolled completely over it and knocked herself out. A petite and usually reserved friend of mine needed help with forceps during her delivery but when the doctor approached her she screamed “GET THOSE F#CKING SALAD TONGS AWAY FROM ME” and proceeded to push the child out without help.
Everyone’s labour and birth are completely different and my advice would be to do exactly what makes you happy. You might not realise what makes you happy until you’re about to push but do what feels right to you. One things for sure, on holding your brand new tiny person in your arms you’ll realise that every single second of those nine months was utterly and completely worth it. You’ll automatically enter the strong sisterhood of Mummies who’ll provide a priceless crutch of support and advice should you seek it. Never in my life have I had such respect and admiration for my own body and the power of female kind who bare responsibility for the continuation of the human race, therefore I must conclude that women are ace.