When I was pregnant for Rayne I felt like I had done quite a lot of research and preparation for the labour and birth. We did hypnobirthing and I had a very detailed birth plan, I was hoping for a home birth . After giving birth and after the shock of having to care for a newborn baby had worn off I realised there were lots of things I did not know, things nobody told me about. I did more research and found out lots of things I wish someone had told me!

If you are expecting a baby, congratulations! I hope this list will provide you with some information you may not have already know.   


1. Start preparing your body in the weeks leading up to your due date

Being active really helps prepare the body for childbirth. If possible, go for a swim and regular walks, take a pregnancy yoga class, drink raspberry leaf tea (known to help tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of your uterus, which can help make delivery easier).


Stay hydrated throughout your labour and if possible try and nibble on food regularly to keep your energy levels u


2. Babies are rarely born on their due date


Your due date is calculated by adding 40 weeks (280 days) from the first day of your last period. About 4% of babies are actually born on their due date in the UK. Full term pregnancy starts from 37 weeks and medics are happy for you to go to 42 weeks without intervention (you can request to go longer with regular monitoring). 


When people asked me when I was due I told them it was sometime in the month of March in the hope to avoid questions such as “hasn’t the baby come yet?” and “any signs?!”


3. Having a doula or advocate can lead to better outcomes for your labour and birth


I hadn’t even heard of a doula when I was pregnant for Rayne and gave birth with Sy and my mum supporting me.


After her birth I did some research and found out about doulas. I was sure I would have one for my next birth and I did. I still had my mum and Sy supporting me but having a doula present too made such a huge difference, especially when things didn’t go to plan. Our doula was able to reassure all of us and we ended up having the most amazing birthing experience


Research found that having a doula provided a:

  • 30% decrease in the risk of cesarean 
  • 15% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal delivery


Having someone with you providing continuous support, whether they are a doula or a friend or family member provided a:

  • 10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average
  • 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
  • 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience


You can find out more about doual’s at DoulaUK and search for a doula in your area


If you do not want a doula but have strong ideas about what you want during your labour and birth have someone with you who will advocate for you. You need to concentrate on the task at hand and hopefully will be “in the zone” so you need someone to stop the midwife, obstetrician or other health professionals who sometimes forget to seek your views and preferences.  When in labour with Rayne, Sy had a few copies of our birth intentions printed out and insisted every health professional who walked into our room read it before they even touched me. He then answered questions on my behalf, knowing what I wanted and what I definitely didn’t want. Even though the birth didn’t go as planned, I still felt empowered that we made informed decisions at every stage.


4. There are alternative pain relief options


There are lots of natural pain relief options to manage childbirth other than the traditional medical methods, even if you are giving birth in hospital. I used hypnobirthing which included affirmations, visualisation and touch as well as yoga breathing during both of my labours and birth, Rose was also born in water which helped too. Some people also use a TENS machine, acupressure, massage and even laughter as a natural pain relief  


5. Your birth plan may not go to plan

I strongly advise you to have a birth plan and know exactly what you want for your labour and birth however do not be disheartened if it does not happen the way you planned it.  Neither of my births went to plan. With Rayne I had planned a home birth but ended up in hospital and Rose’s birth ended up being unattended by a midwife! 

Try using the term birth intentions in the knowledge that, despite what you have in mind, it may not always go to plan.


6. You own your birth 


Yes, the midwives have experience and have done this lots of times but this is your birth. If the midwife or doctor suggests something and you are not sure or happy with the suggestion, don’t be afraid to ask for more information (or get your doula or advocate to ask for you).  If you or your baby are not in immediate risk of danger you can say no. It is your body, your baby and your choice.


7. No two births are the same


Try not to judge what birth is like from your first experience as your second experience can be completely different. I have a friend who swore she would never give birth again because her first was not a good experience for her but when she did have her second (11 years later), it was lovely. 


After Rayne’s birth, I did some more research and found things out about what had happened, for example, when I had a show (mucus plug coming away from cervix) it was bloody so I went to the hospital because I was concerned. I later found out that blood in the show is completely normal in labour, so if this was to happen again with my second I wouldn’t have rushed into hospital.


8. Your baby does not have to have a vitamin K injection


If you want your baby to have vitamin K but do not want them to have a needle in their leg just after they have been born, you can request oral vitamin K. I didn’t know this when I had Rayne but requested it for Rose. It was much nicer than seeing my baby cry out in pain minutes after her birth.


9. Your placenta is full of goodness for you and your baby

Once you have given birth to your baby you then need to give birth to the placenta. You can speed this process up by having managed third stage which consists of an injection in your leg to help the placenta birth quicker or you can have a physiological third stage where you wait for the placenta to birth naturally, which takes up to an hour. You have more contractions and latching your baby to the breast can help speed it up.  

The placenta is full of oxygenated blood that gets pumped to the baby, this is why delayed cord clamping is now a recognised procedure to ensure the baby has all of the blood from the placenta.

But did you know your placenta can also be good for you after birth too? You can keep your placenta and have it made into capsules. After I had Rose I had some of the placenta made into a smoothie then had it encapsulated. I took 1-2 capsules (as recommended) for 6 months and felt amazing and full of energy. They are known to help with post natal depression and milk supply. Be sure to make sure the person is trained and certified by the Independent Placenta Encapsulation Network (IPEN). 

10. Prepare for the postnatal period 


Nobody can be 100% prepared for what it will be like bringing a baby home for the first time, or even the second, third fourth time etc! I wish someone had told me though that my body would be sore and I would find it difficult to get up off the bed, even after a natural vaginal delivery. I wish I knew how heavy I would bleed and how emotional I would feel.  I also wish someone had explained to me that breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally, even if you are 100% determined to breastfeed, no matter what!


When we had Rose we took a 2 week babymoon, 2 weeks of getting to know our baby with no interruptions from visitors. If immediate family visit, have a list of things they can do to help you while you get to know your baby and rest when he/she is sleeping {don’t let pride get in the way of asking for help). Put a polite sign on the door asking visitors to call back another time. I wish somebody told me to do this when I had Rayne.


Is there anything you wish you knew about before childbirth and the early days with your baby?

Written by


I am a mum of 2 daughters. I recently gave up my 9-5 job of 14 years to home school my children. My dream is for my family to become world schoolers, travelling around the world and learning as we go! I love blogging about our life, sharing our wins and fails. I hope some of the things I blog about inspire you along the way