I had contractions that are called 'voorweeën' in Dutch (I'm from Holland, Europe). This would be translated as 'pre-contractions'. I didn't hear about these before they happened. They were coming regularly and minutes apart so I called the midwife to find out these contractions weren't the start of the actual labour. There was not much difference with the contractions I got later. I even had contractions two weeks before giving birth.
I didn't get my skin cut, not all doctors do that and you can opt not to. Also, pregnancy is 9 months if you go by the months, it's 10 months if you count one month as 4 weeks.
I didn't know you had to sleep on your left side when you were pregnant, I hated that.
Oh gosh... all the things I can tell you! My momma had ten children biologically and vaginally... one at home and one on a stretcher. I've birthed 3 children and am adopting one currently. Adoption is more mentally tasking, that's for sure, but birth is definitely a physical beat-down. It's awesome and very instinctive though. I don't enjoy the pregnancy part too much (so long & you feel off all the time), but labor wasn't all that bad for me. Mind you, it was excruciating and I didn't have meds with the births, but you know it will end whereas the pregnancy just seems to keep going and going. In hospitals, all they give you is ice chips... eat before you go... also eat things that will help you poo. Also... with all the things that come out of your body that day, don't worry about poo on the table... pushing is from the same area as peeing and pooing... you have no control and trying to control it will slow down the birth.
They call it the "ring of fire" for a reason... crowning burns like you would never believe. Stitching you up if you tear isn't that bad because you are in shock and can't feel too much but a prick, prick, prick and it makes you jump a little. Plus they give you numbing shots. You also shake because you are in shock... ask for blankets or have a designated person ask for you if you have nurses that don't notice. Eat those ice chips, if you don't pee after you birth... sometimes they want to stick a catheter in... you don't want one of those from what I've heard. I had to beg my nurse not to put one in; she didn't. Also, with one child, I kept throwing up the whole birth... who knows why. It's not the end of the world if your baby is flipped face up, it just hurts worse with back labor. DON'T hold that baby in... unless it is life threatening, push the baby out and let the nurses catch if the doctor isn't there... I held mine in because the docs weren't quick enough, which means pain and lower oxygen for the baby. Only hold in if medically necessary.
Going bowling put me in labor... good thing because I was two weeks... talk about 42 weeks! You bleed afterward for up to 6 weeks and with the child that was flipped, it felt like I was hit by a Mack semi-truck. The others were ALOT less painful and a lot less recovery. Sometimes afterward you pass blood clots that are huge and painful... and doctors tell you to call if you do, and then they ask the size blah blah blah and then you wait forever with pain killers scared half-to death your dying when you find out it's normal (they are worried about hemorrhaging). It's only bad if it keeps happening.
You have to massage your uterus back down to size...the nurses show you how usually. Your hormone level drops immensely and you can be emotionally out of sorts. Strecth marks are a mother's proudest award! For real. All in all, it is worth every minute. Those children are worth 50 million times more than every ounce of agony or wierd things I ever went through. I would never trade one minute of agony whether through adoption or birth... they are thee most precious gifts in the world. You can absolutely find the strength even as a hypocondriac... I'm a bit of a germ-a-phobe... which goes away a bit after kid clutter.
Also, you can spot blood before labor onset... even before your water breaks. Some water breakage is a trickle others is a gush and every contraction pushes more out sometimes... it feels very warm and honestly you have no idea if it is pee or not. With one of mine they were trying to slow down the birth and asked me to keep holding things in... well the water burst and shot like 10 feet across the room my husband said. Kinda funny actually. Just remember, it is all worth it... and strangely I do miss it now that I'm not. =0)
Oh and you become clumsy and can fall alot because your hips spread (which usually is gradually but sometimes quickly which can hurt). But not much concern here for your baby... they are in the best shock absorbant material ever! Just try to fall gently if you can and not on your stomach. By the way, your rear-end has a mind of it's own and can knock anything or anyone down!