Birth is one of those things that forever changes your life. There's that whole new baby thing, sure, but there's more to it than a new mom-to-be might ever expect. There are some things, that if you knew about them prior to going into that delivery room, might actually make your experience better, or at the very least, less surprising. Consider yourself #blessed, because I'm about to give you the low-down on all things birth- before, during, and after. You're welcome.
15 It's Not Like the Movies, At ALL
Most movies show a frantic group of nurses and doctors running around a delivery room while the mother shouts expletives and tries to physically harm the well-meaning father at her bedside.
I might be going out on a limb here, but most deliveries aren't like this at all. The delivery room is pretty quiet, with usually one labor and delivery nurse assigned to a mother, and a doctor that shows up for the final moments to catch the baby.
While a C-section delivery might have more health professionals in the room at the time of the birth, it's still not quite the way it's portrayed on film. And for that, we are all grateful. Who wants to have a baby in the middle of crazy chaos?
14 You Won't Care Who Sees What
You have most likely heard it before, that modesty goes right out the window during labor, and with good reason, because it is TRUE. During labor I just wanted to know I was making progress. If someone in the hallway I was laboring in wanted to take their own guess, I probably would have let them examine me. I'm not kidding. I kind of wish I was.
This goes for everything, including pooping on the table, getting your catheter, the whole nine yards. You just.won't.care. And that's a good thing, because otherwise, you'd feel pretty violated by the time you've given birth. Instead, you'll feel proud of yourself, because let's face it- you just did something amazing.
13 Epidurals Aren't Really Scary Or Painful
Before I had my first baby I was horrified at the thought of a huge needle going into my back. I kept repeating "like a bee sting" to myself every time I began to worry, because that's what I had heard and read that it felt like. You know what? It really wasn't awful at all. It WAS just like a bee sting, maybe less of a pinch even.
And the relief that came with that sweet nectar of pain relief was well worth it. This just isn't something to worry yourself with, promise.
12 Birth Is Not the End of Contractions
Ok so I hate to be all "Bad News Bears" here, but this one is true. After you've given birth to that sweet baby, your body will continue to contract. First, to get the placenta detached and delivered, and then it will keep right on going to shrink your uterus back down to it's pre-pregnancy size.
Your delivery nurse will push on your stomach and massage it to help it along. You'll contract while you nurse your baby as well which might feel as though you're in labor again, but thankfully these contractions are more mild. Not pleasant, but not as bad as labor. See? Silver lining!
11 The Labor Pains Are Temporary
While you're in the thick of contractions and active labor, your brain might go into panic mode. You might freak out that you're not strong enough to handle the pain, or worry that you are actually in danger. The pain is temporary (once that baby is out, you'll feel SO MUCH better), and the pain does not mean you are in danger.
It's labor, and it's painful- but it's all going to be ok, and so are you. Before you actually are in labor, it's not a bad idea to make your peace with the pain, and accept that it does not equal danger.
10 Your Birth Might Not Go According To Plan
As good as it is to have a plan in place for your best case scenario, birth doesn't always go accordingly. Birth is an unpredictable process, and it's best to try and accept that it might look differently than what you have envisioned.
Both of my births were very different from one another, and neither looked like what I had pictured in my head before hand. I never got the instant skin-to-skin contact after birth I had dreamed about, or the joy of watching my husband cut the cord. The birthing team at the hospital did what they needed to do to keep my babies safe, and I am forever grateful, but the disappointment was real.
It can take awhile to come to terms with the loss of what you have hoped for and imagined birth to be, and it's okay to give yourself the time to process that.
9 Recovery Is No Joke
Whether you've had a vaginal birth or a birth by Cesarean section, the recovery period is a process. Your body is trying to remember what it's like not to house another human, and everything is out of place and out of whack.
Add to that some pulled muscles from pushing, stretching and tearing of places you weren't sure even existed, and stitches in very personal places, and you've got yourself a hot mess of things for your body to try and heal. There's blood (a lot of blood), sweat, and tears during this time, and it's all perfectly normal.
8 It's Okay To Say No To Visitors
This is one of those things that is so personal. Some people might love having everyone they've ever known visit them while in the hospital. I was not one of those people. After birth I just felt like I needed to wrap my brain around what had just happened, and I wanted to focus all of my attention on my new baby.
If you're nursing, then you are pretty much ALWAYS nursing while in the hospital, and you might not be so comfortable trying to get the hang of perfecting a nipple latch in front of your dear Uncle Freddy. It is perfectly ok to ask that no one visit you in the hospital, and you don't even have to be the bad guy. You can ask your nurses to turn away visitors ( or ask for your permission first, at least) before they are allowed into your room.
You're the one that just gave birth, you call the shots.
7 You Can Ask For A Lactation Consultant
If you're nursing your baby, those first days after birth can feel like it's all you do. Which is kind of true, considering it seems like that's the answer to every whimper the baby makes. Plug it up with a boob!
Getting your baby to latch correctly (read: So it doesn't make you want to cry) is imperative before you're released. Most hospitals have lactation consultants who will visit new moms in their hospital rooms and walk them through how to correctly latch and nurse their new babe.
This advice is invaluable and can save you from giving up on the joy of breastfeeding because it's too painful. Ask your postpartum nurse to schedule a visit with a LC as soon as you can, so that you're able to be seen before you are sent home.
6 Breastfeeding Hurts At First
This is the truth. Even if the latch is perfect. Even if your colostrum is plentiful. It takes some time for your nipples to toughen up and slightly callous so that nursing is no longer something that makes you lose your breath and curl your toes. You'll get there, I promise.
Don't stop, and don't give up. You're going to get to the place where it's lovely, and pain free, and all of those things you read it was in the books and magazines. At first though? It's going to hurt.
The best thing you can do is let a lactation consultant watch you nurse to make sure your baby's latch is good, and then buy a good nipple cream and cooling pads for your bra. I repeat: It won't hurt forever.
5 When Your Water Breaks It's Not Always A Big Gush
Movies and TV would have us believe that when a woman's water breaks it's like Niagara Falls and there's no doubting what happened. That's not always the case. For some women it's a slow leak that makes them wonder if they've simply waited too long to use the bathroom.
Be aware that your water breaking can be the big gush you expect it to be, or it can happen in a slow, but steady leak. If you're not sure if your water has broken or not (or if it's urine), you should call your doctor just to be safe. Don't be embarrassed, you're not the first woman to have this question.
4 It's Okay To Question Your Doctor's Plans For Induction Or A C-Section
If your doctor has no other reason for inducing you or scheduling a Cesarean other than his convenience or vacation schedule, you have every right to choose not to. This is a time when going with your instincts is probably the right way to go. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor for his reasoning behind scheduling you for either scenario- it's your body and your baby.
3 Advice From Others Will Make You Angry
Suddenly when a woman has a baby, everyone is an expert on what she should do. Whether it's diapering, feeding, or sleep scheduling, everyone has an opinion. Before you have the baby you might nod and smile, taking notes to add to your list of things to make sure you do once your baby is here.
After you've given birth, however, you no longer feel like anyone is an expert about your baby but you. And you're absolutely right! You know your baby best, and while dear Aunt Mildred has the best intentions and truly thinks she's helping you when she advises you to start your three month old on solids (DON'T), she is not the mother. You are. Remember that. You can still smile and nod though.
2 You Might Change Your Mind
So before my first baby was born I had researched everything from the best breathable crib bumpers to how to get my baby to sleep through the night. I had planned to put him on a strict sleep schedule as soon as I could and never offer a pacifier. Then I had him.
Suddenly I couldn't imagine allowing him to cry himself to sleep ever, and on the first night home from the hospital I offered him every pacifier I got at the baby shower. Once the baby is in your arms, your opinions and ideas (no matter how firmly held before) might change. And that's okay.
Allow yourself the space to change your mind and go with what your gut is telling you. You've just met your baby, who is an individual, and he deserves to be treated as such. You're the mom, you decide.
1 How Deeply You'll Love Your Baby
I'll admit that I'm totally tearing up writing this one. The love you'll have for your baby isn't anything you can prepare yourself for, because it will pretty much change your perception of love. Suddenly the world will seem too big, too scary, and too unpredictable to raise children in.
It's okay if you don't fall head over heels in love with your baby right away, by the way. They're people, and it takes a bit to get to know them. Don't put that pressure on yourself to feel all the feelings as soon as you're face to face with your little one. They're brand new to you. Once you do get that rush of maternal love though, watch out- nothing compares to it, and it's the best thing ever.
So there you have it. Fifteen things that might help you navigate the wild ride of birth a little bit easier. I can't promise that it's always easy, but it is always worth it.