It’s definitely not like the movies.
If you’re like me, the closest you’ve come to childbirth is watching that epic water delivery scene from The Back-up Plan or cheering on Rachel Green during her 21 hours of labor in Friends. But of course, no cinematic pursuit could ever really capture the miraculous bundle of pain, magic, emotion, and superhero-status strength that is childbirth. The physical transition from pregnancy to real-life parenthood is something only a woman can know, and there is so much more to it than what we observe from the comfort of our own living rooms: the months of preparation (yoga, doulas, lamaze classes), the mantras (“Welcome the pain!”), the creation of a personalized yet realistic birth plan as the due date draws near (meds or no meds? vaginal or C-section?).
As part of Coveteur’s Women’s Health series, we spoke to seven impressive women in the beauty, fashion, and media industries (among them some of our favorite Coveteur alumns) about becoming mothers. From the unexpected role of a questionable Jamaican beef patty to the story of an at-home water birth, we’ve compiled their honest and varied perspectives on what giving birth is really like. And while many of these fierce females agree that no book, anecdote, or course can fully prepare you to push life into this world, each account proves that no two birthing experiences are alike. Read on for more from these lady warriors.
Bestselling author, beauty editor, and copy director at Bumble and bumble
Co-founder, Shoppe Object
One minute later there was a horrible pain in my abdomen as my doctor was applying pressure to try to stop excessive bleeding. Additional doctors and nurses came rushing in, and a new IV was placed in my arm, readying it for a blood transfusion. The delivery room looked like crime scene, my husband looked scared, and I was in more pain than I had been the previous 27 hours combined. All I could think of is that I wanted Lennox off me, but I couldn’t even speak. The doctor eventually stopped the bleeding and, with it, the pain, but I was traumatized. The next day we were scheduled to have visitors, but I didn’t feel like I could face anyone. I felt depressed and scared, to which my doctor said: “You should be scared, you almost died yesterday.” Not comforting! It took me months to be able to discuss childbirth without crying. I actually am tearing up as I write this. But I did it again two and a half years later, with the birth of my second daughter, Locke, and this time I was guided by an OB armed with a significantly better bedside manner. It went a whole lot smoother (although I almost had her in an Uber, which is a story for another day). I love my girls so much I would go through that again and again for them.
Childbirth is impossible to imagine or plan, so try not to set high expectations for yourself or the experience, and pick an OB you like and trust implicitly (you can DM me for the one I have now—she is the best)!
Journalist, author, and media consultant
Stylist and brand consultant
For my second daughter, I went all-natural and gave birth at Mount Sinai West’s Birthing Center. I swore I would not give in to the pain this time, which turned out to be more psychological than physical for me. Yes, it hurts (I usually compare it to the burning sensation of a tattoo, painful but manageable), but we are stronger than you can imagine during birth. I found it important to take a natural route, and I was also convinced that the baby blues and hair loss I experienced with my first child had been due to the epidural. I do remember saying at one point, “I’m scared, I change my mind, I want drugs!” but it was too late. Her head was out, and the team of women in the room, my doctor, my nurse, my bestie, and even the energy of the baby girl I was about to meet guided me, and I did it. The endorphins and emotions that kicked in wiped away all the fear and all the pain.
Beauty expert and consultant
Maintaining a calm, zen-like attitude undoubtedly led to me having a natural birth. In fact, I didn’t realize I was actually in labor until I started counting contractions using an app my doula recommended and noticed they were four to five minutes apart. My labor only lasted five hours, and I had the luxury of doing so in the comfort of my home. I used soothing techniques—sitting on an exercise ball, reciting positive mantras, and lots of breathing—to get through it. By the time I reached the hospital, I was fully dilated. I recall being rushed immediately to the delivery room—my doula barely made it in time! But my child’s father was by my side with every push, and I was also fortunate to have the very first doctor I met with who was on my OB/GYN team there to deliver my son. And after pushing (and getting very tired) for only 20 minutes, J. P. was born. Everything happened so fast. To other mothers, especially black mothers, I will say: Consider adding a doula to your support team. Trust your instincts, take care of your mental well-being, and when you’re in the moment of actually delivering your baby, never allow anyone to force you to make a decision that you aren’t comfortable with.
Editor-in-Chief, The COOLS
My son is about to turn two, and he has taught me what true, unconditional love is, how to really give more of myself—more than I ever thought possible—and how much influence we truly have over shaping the next generation of strong, kind, and intelligent humans. I am fortunate to have a really tight-knit network of family and friends that have been there to support me when I feel like I’m about to put my head through a wall (yes, it happens). My husband frequently tells me, “Deep breaths,” and I get to work with a creative group of editors who challenge my mind on the daily. A good workout is also God’s gift (tennis, in particular). With that, here is my biggest piece of advice: Be wary of all the people who think they know it all. Being prescriptive about parenting only leads to feeling like you are failing—it is your journey with your child, so educate yourself and go with instinct and love, first and foremost.
Multimedia artist and consultant
Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. I guess sheer determination and a supportive team got me through. But nothing, and I mean nothing, could fully prepare me for the eight hours of excruciating contractions I endured. I have the utmost respect for doulas and midwives. My love for women skyrocketed. Children, and not just mine, are now the meaning of life to me. And my husband, Simon, is a gem. The pain was indescribable, but I was mentally and spiritually prepared. It’s nothing like the movies—I’m sure many women do scream or get loud—but I was peaceful and focused. As long as there was silence and low light, I could maintain during the twenty hours of labor, eight hours of painful contractions, and no meds—just lots of focus and repetition of my mantra: “Welcome the pain.” Nomi was born on April 27, nine minutes before my 27th birthday—the best birthday gift. I am a fucking warrior. I am incredible.
It should be noted, being able to have children does not make you a woman. However you identify, whatever you’re physically capable of, you are magic.
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