1: You know that lovely midwife that booked you in & sees you every visit at the doctors' surgery? She won't be at your baby's birth. It's not like 'Portland Babies', you won't have the same midwife all the way through your pregnancy, she won't be at your labour. Breaking news, you probably won't even have the same midwife throughout the labour. I had two. Shift changed at 7am, and a new one walked in to see me through the most stressful and traumatic experience of my life with only two hours to go. That's the NHS for you, not complaining here but you need to lose the rose-tinted spectacles before you read on any further.
2: Birth-plan. Really? Really? Really! No, no, no! Forget the whale music and candles; bring on the drugs! That's a bit harsh probably, and yes there are some lovely births that happen all the time (that stunning girl on 'One Born Every Minute' with her water-birth in the bikini with her hair artistically styled, pah!) but the vast majority just don't happen like that, from what I've heard. I went in saying "Whatever, give me drugs but no pethidine whatsoever!" I went 3/4 of the way with nowt whatsoever, 0-7cm in a matter of hours. Then I thought yep, let's try that gas and air stuff. I got high on it, ended up agreeing to whatever the midwife said and she stabbed my leg with pethidine! I then blacked out/vomited for two hours and had to be given reversal drugs. I blame it for The Boy's fluctuating heart-rate, ensuing epidural and spinal-block, and being prepped for a c-section. So please, be open-minded; lavender oil is chuff all use when a water-melon is trying to come out of your vagina.
3: Waters breaking is the most bizarre feeling ever. I was naive and thought that 'Always' would stem the flow. Do not laugh! The only way I can describe it is as if you are about to wet yourself and you have no pelvic floor muscle control. Oh and they like to weigh the maternity towel to monitor how much amniotic fluid you're losing. This is the first step to a lack of dignity. One pack of maternity towels will not be enough, I was in for 5 days and used probably 8 packs? Luckily they're quite cheap. Oh and paper knickers (not towels like I originally wrote!) are grim and rustle when you move, buy cheap normal ones that you can bin after.
4: It is actually a hell of a shock when the baby comes out, especially if you've had an epidural. This is mainly because you can't feel anything! I remember being told to push and thinking "I can't feel anything, I'll pull a face that makes it look like I'm pushing, if I'm doing it wrong, they'll tell me!" When The Boy was presented to me, I was quite surprised because I'd had no sensational build-up.
5: Post-partum hormones are a bitch. 6 days after The Boy arrived into our lives, I stood in the hallway asking hubby where my grey cardigan was. He said he'd put it in the wash. I burst into tears and stamped my foot because I wanted to wear it. He looked at me absolutely flabbergasted and open-mouthed, my mum looked at him, he looked at her, I sobbed hysterically a bit more, she hugged me and he went and hid. We laugh about it now, but for a while there we weren't allowed to mention the grey cardigan incident.
6: Breast-feeding burns up shedloads of calories a day. You must eat and drink loads to produce good-quality milk. And actually drink while feeding. Straws are good. I may have only breast-fed for 3 weeks (see here for the saga) but my milk was good stuff and I produced loads of it. A fortnight post-partum I was back in pre-pregnancy jeans, three weeks after and I was wearing jeans I'd not worn in two years. It all went back on again afterwards though. Which is a bit of a bugger quite frankly. [Forgot to add this bit when I originally posted: it bloody hurts, it's difficult to get right & after 3 weeks it all went ahem, tits-up for us but that was my experience]
7: Having a baby kills your sex-life. Once you've done your job in continuing the human race, rumpy-pumpy will never be the same again. It's a hard memory for both of you to shake, especially if like me you fall down the stairs after a week and rip out all the stitches in your episiotomy (oh sorry, did you wince then?). Like Mammywoo says "I can’t even enjoy sex anymore. You ruined that too. I know how it ends". Asides from that, sleep is so much more of an appealing option, for both of you.
8: When your newborn baby is held by women of a certain age, they will come back stinking of Ysatis or 4711. It will taint the smell of your little one. I don't know how to prevent this from happening, but it will upset you.
9: Having a baby will be the most amazing experience of your life; life will never be the same again and it is absolutely phenomenal!