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Gross Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy and Birth

Photograph by Twenty20

Pregnancy and labor come with many surprises: Surprise! You just peed your lady shorts. Surprise! Your nipples are turning black.

Some of these occurrences are absolutely shocking, and as I wallowed in my mammalian shame, I wondered why nobody had told me these indignities might await me.

Curious if others had been caught off-guard by certain aspects of childbearing, I talked with some friends and asked them to share what the grossest surprises of their pregnancies and labors were.

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Stopping for Gas

One friend confided that she was shocked by the amount of gas she had during her pregnancy. To avoid "making a stink" in her workplace, she'd sink to all fours and do cat-cow yoga poses in her office to try and get all the farts out.

Just Swell

While she was pregnant, her swollen vulva was "reminiscent of a baboon."

While we often hear about the swollen feet that can accompany late pregnancy, sometimes other things swell up, too. One mom told me that while she was pregnant, her swollen vulva was "reminiscent of a baboon."

Stank Taint

During pregnancy, I noticed my armpits emitted a more pungent scent than usual, but it turns out that smelly parts aren't limited to underarms. One mom related the following story: "There was some funky swamp action smell going on in the crack of my ass. Not exactly poo smell, not exactly that not-so-fresh banjingo smell—I swear, it was emanating from my taint." Bewildered, she asked her ob-gyn about it. "I said, 'Listen, there is something going on down there that can only be described as Swamp Butt. Is this normal?' And my adorable 60something-year-old awesome ob-gyn tried really hard not to laugh, and answered, 'Yes, completely normal—some women have a change in pH and I bet that's what it is.'"

The Tsunami

Another friend was stunned by the amount of liquid that erupted when her water broke. "I just kept yelling at everyone to clean it up, and every time I moved, more water would come out. I stood up at one point after seemingly gallons of water had already come out and GUSH—water all over the floor, too." She says that to this day, the feeling of her vagina morphing into a rushing fire hydrant remains her most vivid memory of labor.

Party Pooper

"Honey, that's not poop. That's your baby."

Speaking of things being expelled during childbirth—sometimes you poop. Other times, you just feel like you're going to poop. As I writhed around during the delivery of my second child, at one point I announced, "I'm gonna poop!"

A seasoned nurse replied, "Honey, that's not poop. That's your baby."

That's right—just before I first met my beautiful daughter, I was convinced she was a rapidly descending turd.

Placenta Power

Just when you think you're done with the excruciating work of labor comes what my brother-in-law refers to as the "filet mignon." One friend colorfully described the squishy post-birth expulsion by saying, "It felt like diarrhea coming out of my cooch."

AfterVag

The first time I hobbled to the bathroom to pee after giving birth, I was alarmed to look into my underpants and find … one of my kidneys? A second fetus that hadn't fully developed and was now leaking out? Fearing my very life force was leaking out of my baby-hole, I called a nurse in to examine the fist-sized organ in my panties.

"Oh, that's just a blood clot," she said. I recalled how my husband once told me that as a kid, one of the worst insults in his and his friends' arsenal was to call each other a "vagina blood fart." Though at the time it was an abstract insult, it turns out to completely describe the horror show I discovered in my post-birth mesh panties.

The Psycho Shower Scene

Similarly, another friend described the duality of her first shower after delivering her son. "It was quite possibly the best shower I've ever taken, while also being the most Texas Chainsaw Massacre-y. Horrible things were falling out of my body and streaming around my feet, but that steady rain of hot water on my shoulders was heaven on a &*$!ing stick."

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Peri, Please

One of my buddies declared that the biggest surprise for her was "the gag-inducing smell of my bloody vag every time I sat down to pee." You know the less-than-fresh scent that occurs during a period? Imagine that magnified by 1000. Several ladies added that they were unpleasantly surprised when the nurse introduced them to the peri bottle, and by the pivotal role the peri bottle played in the days after birth. "I felt like the peri should've at least offered to buy me a drink first," one mom said.

While there are plenty of other disgusting parts of labor and birth, I don't want to totally ruin the mystique. After all, pregnancy and childbirth are truly the most stanky, swollen, vagina blood fart natural, magical things.

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