I have several friends who are currently pregnant (congratulations!) and as I was reflecting on my own experiences, I thought it may be helpful to collect my own thoughts on giving birth to pass on to them.
Everyone is going to have their own, unique birth experience, but there are still some things that everyone will invariably go through together – and it’s not just the end result of a baby. I gave birth to both my kids in a hospital Birthing Centre, which is sort of half way between being in a hospital and having a home birth. I also had an epidural with both, an episiotomy with my first, an induction with my second, and chose to breastfeed both my children, so all my points are based on what I’ve gone through – twice.
I hope you find these observations from my birth experiences helpful to you.
0. Do take pre-natal classes. Take private ones, if you can afford it. The Internet can only teach you so much.
1. “Real” labour pains feel like you’re about to start your period. You know, in case you need a reminder of what that’s going to be like.
2. Labour at home as long as you can stand it. You don’t want to be sent home when you arrive at L&D. Don’t go making a 911 call because you waited too long, though.
3. Send your husband for your hospital bags after you are admitted. There’s nothing worse than experiencing a contraction in the parking lot while wrestling bags out of the car (or looking for a place to park!).
4. Keep your pain medication options open. Despite what all those videos and tv shows show, Epidurals aren’t half as scary and are twice as amazing as you think. You also may have other choices, too.
5. You can eat. Ask for a liquid only tray if meal time rolls around and your belly is grumbling. Jell-o and broth will stave the hunger and give you much needed energy. Hospitals usually say no because they don’t want you yacking from pain or medication. If they do say no to food, ask where the kitchenette is so you can keep those ice chips coming!
6. If you haven’t had an epidural (or before an epidural), you don’t have to labour on your back or bed. Get up, move around, get in the tub, walk the halls, do what it takes. (On that note: “walking epidurals” are offered in some hospitals and allow you to move. Regular epidurals require you stay in bed. Lets face it, you won’t be able to feel your legs, let alone move!)
7. You may poop. While pushing. Yes, it’s true! Don’t worry, the medical staff will not bring attention to it and clean up very discreetly. Think of it this way: if you’ve pooped, you’re pushing correctly!
8. Ask if your hospital practices “kangaroo care” (skin-to-skin contact). You’ll want to have your newborn in your arms as soon as you can and nursing within the first hour; even if you don’t think you know what you’re doing. Do not panic if there is a delay in this happening; just make your request known.
9. Ask for breast feeding help. Nurses sometimes forget you’ve never done this before. Ask for a lactation consultant if no classes are offered while you are there. Your breasts will be manhandled, but it’s for a very good cause.
10. Check if your insurance will cover a private room and charge you the difference. A private room at $50 a day is much more comfortable than a semi for free.
11. The nurse will be in the room when you pee for the first time after birth. If you have stitches, it will hurt. The peri bottle is your friend! Also, walking to the bathroom after having an epidural is…awkward. Ask for help.
12. Pack/wear granny panties or something you’re ok with throwing out. Having a baby is messy, yo. Save the pretty nursing pajamas for after you heal.
13. Don’t have visitors right away; or at all. Relax. Take a shower. Snuggle with your new baby. Visitors can come to your house. Enjoy your new family!
Everyone’s birth experience is different, so go in being educated on what you can expect and keep and open mind. Know where you personally draw the line and don’t be afraid to ask questions and say no.
If you are an expecting mom reading this: congratulations! You will ROCK your birth!
If you have kids and are reading this, what things about giving birth did you learn from having gone through the experience?
Loved this! So many truths here. I would add “be patient and kind to yourself” – things don’t necessarily go as planned, you may yell, swear, or poop, you may forget every single one of your well laid plans, but please, give yourself a little bit of love and forgiveness in the process. You are pushing a living human being out of your body for goodness sake – some props are deserved here! – Kristy Schoyen