The thought of giving birth can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. For me, the first time I had a baby the thing that scared me the most was not the pain but the fact that I didn’t know what to expect.
I asked a group of women who recently had babies what kind of advice they would give a first time mom who is ready to pop. Here is what we came up with.
Things are not going to be exactly what you’ve planned, so be prepared to roll with the punches. No matter what happens, the least helpful thing you can do is panic.
Have your support person know your wishes
You may be too medicated to be able to make those decisions for yourself.
Things can change at the drop of a hat
You may have a textbook pregnancy your whole 40 weeks, and then while you are in labor and delivery, things can change.
The epidural may not work.
Don’t rely on having a epidural for pain management because sometimes they may not work. Even if they do work, they may only work on half of your body, or they may work for a little while and then completely stop.
Educate yourself on coping methods
Even if you do plan on having an epidural take a birthing class or at least watch a video on YouTube to help learn breathing techniques and other coping methods. Epidurals may not always work, or you may not have time to get one.
Do not feel ashamed if you end up getting an epidural
If you decide throughout your whole pregnancy that you are going to have an unmedicated birth, it’s okay to change your mind!
Have a birth “wish”, instead of a set in stone plan
Birth plans are great. They help put in writing what your wishes are and help keep your care team aware. Just know that sometimes things change, and not everything in your birth plan may be feasible. You may need to be flexible. You’re birth plan may say “no Pitocin”, but if you aren’t progressing naturally, well then Pitocin may be needed if your water has broken. In most situations, you have 24 hours after your water breaks to get that baby out!
Don’t be embarrassed by anything
OBGYN’s, midwives and L+D nurses deal with bodily functions on a daily basis. One of the biggest worries many women have when thinking about giving birth is worrying about pooping on the bed. Chances are you are going to be so focused on getting that baby out that if you do poop while pushing, you are not even going to care. Nurses see it happen ALL OF THE TIME. They will quickly switch out the liner and you may not even know it happened!
Consider hiring a photographer or have a friend of family member take pictures.
You are about to meet the love(s) of your life and like your wedding day, pictures are a great keepsake!
You do not need to pack much in your hospital bag
Keep your hospital bag to a minimum, You are going to have lots to carry out, especially if you have visitors and they bring gifts for the baby
You may swell up
Sometimes the IV/ medications mixed with labor will make you retain water and start to swell up. If you have rings that fit you, or any tight bracelets, make sure to take them off before leaving for the hospital. They may be hard to take off if you start to swell, and swelling will most likely not be something you are thinking about while in labor.
Take off your bra when you get to the hospital
It may make things easier if you decide to get an epidural. Even if you don’t want an epidural if you become uncomfortable and want it off, the nurses will have to unhook your IV so the strap doesn’t get caught in it. Also if you wear a sports bra or a bra without a clasp it makes it even more challenging to get off. Believe me, when you’re ready for that epidural, you do not want to have to wait any longer than you need to, especially if its just to take your bra off!
The goal is to have a healthy baby, healthy mom
The rest is just a bonus!
What pieces of labor and deliver advice would you give to someone who is about to have a baby?
Paige Martinek is a SAHM to her stepsons, son and daughter. She enjoys road trips, long drives along the lake, writing, reading and talking about anything pregnancy related. She is an infertility awareness activist and plans on going back to school to become a L+D nurse. You can read more about her here!