1. Your body might start shaking uncontrollably. At some point during labor, often during transition or after birth, your body may shake or shiver for a few minutes. While it's not entirely clear why this happens, it is seen in births with pain medication and without, and is believed to be your body's response to stress or fear, or muscle spasms caused by holding tension for long periods of time. It does not last for long, but can feel strange, and though it looks like shivering, it does not mean you are necessarily cold.
2. You have to give one more push to birth your placenta. It can come as a surprise when your midwife or OB asks you to push one more time to birth your placenta. Many women are so engrossed with their new baby, or simply overwhelmed by the experience of birth that they are caught off guard for this one last task. Fear not, however -- pushing for your placenta is much quicker than pushing out your baby! Usually, it's one simple push and your placenta is out.
3. Pushing might feel great. Yes, it's almost always true that pushing is hard work, but many women report that pushing feels good because they were finally able to work with their contractions.
4. Labor will most likely be different than what you expected. Whatever your ideas and expectations are of labor and birth, the real thing will probably be different -- different from your birth plan and different than your imagination. Labor and birth are powerful experiences; it's difficult to truly understand until you've been through it.
5. You might make loud sounds. Even if you think you could never moan or groan like some women you've seen in birth movies, you may be surprised at the sounds you end up making during labor. Moaning, grunting, groaning, even roaring, are all helpful ways to release tension and cope during labor. You will naturally find your own unique voice during labor, and though it seems odd to think about it now, your support team won't be fazed at your sounds.
6. Strength and energy will surface when you need it most -- even when you think you can't. The female body is amazing. Even after many hours of labor, or two hours into pushing, you'll be amazed at the things you can still manage to do in birth.
7. You will remember your birth for the rest of your life. Birth is one of the most transformative and powerful experiences you will likely have. Years later, when your children are having children, you will still be able to recall the details of your birth, almost like it was yesterday.