What to expect during labor for first time moms (PART 1)


Birth: What to Expect during labor for first time moms and other things no one else might tell you.

Things no one ever talks about regarding what to expect during labor for first time moms (or moms who have previously had a c section and are looking for a vaginal birth this time around). Realrawtrue facts and things ALL expecting mothers should know. Things no one told me. I did my own research at 24 years old because I like to know everything! Before I was ready for my own children or pregnant, I knew these things. I talked to pregnant moms, moms whose children had been born recently and moms who already had teenagers. A lot of these moms didn’t know the information I spoke about to them.

It was shocking.

***Please keep in mind that these are my own words and some of my experiences. I am not saying go against your medical professional by any means, this article is to enlighten you with knowledge of things Mothers usually aren’t told, don’t know or don’t talk about. I’m writing this to encourage you to be knowledgeable about birth and start an open conversation with your provider so you both know what you want. If you’d like to read more about these topics, I’ve attached professional articles under each one or talk to your health practitioner. pregnant mother sitting on a bench holding her belly and holding a sonogram in the other hand in cleveland ohio
"Education often creates a sense of confidence and empowerment, which reduces the fear, thus lowering the unpleasantness of the sensations you may experience."
-Rebecca Decker

pregnant mom laughing with father while holding belly

First thing on the list for what to expect during labor for first time moms is Birth Plans:

You should always have a birth plan. Type it up, read it, print it. It’s your words when you can’t speak through contractions. Your husband, family members, the delivering doctors or the new nurses when they switch shifts, all of them! So, they all know exactly what you’re going for and can help guide your birth the way you’d like. Make one plan for everything you want, another plan if it doesn’t go exactly as planned and another plan for worst case scenario/c-section.

Things to help with labor:

If you try to stimulate a different area of your body, like your hand, it could possibly ease some pain and shift your concentration a little. A quick top five for myself that I would recommend trying would be:

  • Take a hot shower
  • Always keep moving
  • Try a scalp scratcher (can be found here: https://amzn.to/3FQ4pQc )
  • Practice rhythmic breathing with yourself and your partner
  • Try to visualize something that makes you calm and happy

If you want to research some more serious ways to help throughout the phases of labor, even if you’re not in the “what to expect during labor for first time moms” category, you should read this: www.spinningbabies.com/start/in-labor/tips-for-labor-progress/

Eat if you’re hungry, even during labor:

Think about it this way… you’re tired, hungry and have been working for 6 hours. Do you have energy to do some heavy labor for another 2 or more hours? No. So that’s why I say EAT if you are HUNGRY! You can’t push if you’re starving and lacking energy. If you want to read more about this topic, here’s a good link: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-eating-drinking-labor/

mother sitting in rattan chair holding her pregnant belly while looking down and smiling at belly

STRESS and FEAR can stall your labor:

Yes! If you’re stressed and fear birth, it can stall your labor. Three conditions any laboring woman has to have in order to produce the hormone oxytocin, which progresses labor:

  • safety
  • security
  • sense of privacy

Make sure your birth space is how you want it to be. Tour the closest hospitals to you or birth centers. If you’re having a home birth, make sure you create a space you feel safe & comfortable in. Make sure everyone you are planning to have in the room during labor and birth with you is on the same page and are supportive of everything. You don’t need or want any kind of negative energy in your space stalling your labor. If you’d like to read more, here’s a study about this topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595201/pregnant mother sitting on bench kissing husband at downtown cleveland museum of arts

Remember that you’re in charge:

You should be in charge of your birth. When I say this, I don’t mean skip your appointments or don’t listen to some type of life saving advice, etc. I mean that you don’t have to do anything you’re generally uncomfortable with. It’s still your body, your choice and your call. Stay in control, mamas.

You don’t need cervical checks at every appointment:

You read that right. You don’t need to be checked at every single appointment. The more you’re checked, the more you’re letting in possible infections and irritation. Protect yourself and your baby. You can go from 0cm to 9cm in minutes… trust me, YOU’D KNOW! Personally, I was not checked until I was past 40 weeks while pregnant with my daughter and son. I went to 42 weeks with my daughter and 41 +6 with my son. Things like that are extremely unwanted and uncomfortable to me.

Your cervix is not a crystal ball.

So, if you’re like me, your pregnancy will be a lot less stressful if you tell your provider NO. Yes, you can tell your provider no. If your provider isn’t going to respect your wishes in this simple way then get a new one, ASAPIf they can’t respect you during pregnancy, they won’t respect you during birth. No time is “too late” to switch providers. If it’s best for you and your baby, do it. You don’t need more stress in your amazing, whirlwind birth moments. Here’s a good article if you’d like to read more about refusing cervical checks: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-prenatal-checks/ . Which brings me to my next topic…

It’s OKAY to go past 40 weeks:

As long as your baby is safe and healthy in there, it’s okay. Based off of my experience, you’d have to go for some scans to make sure fluid and your placenta is okay and the baby is fine progressively, but as long as those are clear, ITS OKAY! 40 weeks exactly is not an eviction date. Your due date is a guess, it’s never exact.

The thing I hate hearing most when I tell people that is “they let you go that long!?” They let me? Let me tell you something – there was no reason for anyone to not “let me.” She/He wasn’t ready and that’s that. I went to our checkups, extra scans and stress tests; I was all clear. I wasn’t going to get induced or plan a c section because I was ready, it’s not about you.

If that’s your plan, that’s fine. But personally, that was not my goal. I would also like to add that a guess of a “big baby” is more than likely false. You can’t tell a baby’s weight by a scan. Here’s an awesome article reiterating this topic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/overdue-pregnancy/art-20048287

pregnant mother holding husbands' hand and looking at each other while walking towards camera

Episiotomy – What’s that?

Let’s get serious for a quick minute. From my experience, not a lot of people know what this is, even if they got one. And even then, some don’t know what it is. That’s baffling to me. And frankly scary. But I’m here to enlighten you about all the things! Raw, real birth things.

An episiotomy is a surgical incision of the perineum during childbirth to help delivery.

Routine episiotomy isn’t evidence-based and is not recommended by the ACOG or WHO. An episiotomy rarely has any benefits over a natural tear. A natural tear follows the creases of your body, allowing it to be stitched (if needed) like a puzzle. A cut does not. In fact, some mothers don’t tear at all or very little. This is something you need to talk about and be on the same page with your health care provider. And again, if they don’t respect what you want switchrightnow. Birth isn’t one size fits all. Episiotomies should not be routine anywhere. There are two exceptions: a medical emergency, where baby needs to be birthed quickly; or if a natural tear goes up towards your urethra. While touring hospitals you can also ask or look up their episiotomy percentage (how often they get done)!

To learn more about this, you can research this yourself or visit this website: https://www.babycenter.com/0_all-about-episiotomy_165.bc

Also, here’s a small study showing the benefits of a natural tear vs episiotomy:



Something all mothers-To-Be need to hear more often: YOU’VE GOT THIS!

I don’t think any pregnant mother hears that enough. YOU HAVE GOT THIS, GIRL! You can and will birth your baby how you want. Your body is perfect, your body knows what it’s doing, it knows how to birth your perfect baby when the time comes and it’s ready.

mother and father embracing each other and both holding moms' pregnant belly while husband kisses her forehead

C-Section Moms are just as amazing:

Last, but certainly not least! It’s OKAY if things don’t go as planned and you need something you didn’t want, or your end result is a C-section. Your body did not fail you; it just needed some extra help and THAT’S OKAY! As long as you and your baby are safe & healthy – that’s ALL that matters in the end. Sometimes you can’t control everything, and baby has other plans or issues you couldn’t plan for. Either way – you’ve got this. You’ve so got this whole birth thing! Go Mama!


Ready for more Cleveland Motherhood content?

Then don’t skip over the blog links below, including part two of what to expect during labor for first time moms! 

Nervous About Giving Birth for The First Time? Let me help empower you with knowledge (PART 2)

Ohio Birthing Centers to Help Make Your Birth Experience Great!

Top 3 Ohio Pediatric Dentists That Make You Feel Like Family!

Are you a mother looking for local breastfeeding support in a local, uplifting community with mothers just like you AND breastfeeding professionals? Join my NE Ohio Breastfeeding Mothers Group on Facebook! Can’t wait to meet you!