As a new mom, you want to be prepared for everything. You read all the books, buy all the things, ask all the questions. No matter how much you “prepare” for labor, you can never fully prepare.
Here are eight things I wish I had known before I went into labor:
1. Every birth is different.
Trust me. I’ve had three of them.
2. Be flexible.
You’ve never done this before, so how can you know what to expect? All three of mine had unexpected aspects.
3. Do not have a step-by-step birth plan.
You can have all the ideas you want, but once you are in the throes of labor, your plans can change.
4. They don’t give out badges for doing it without an epidural.
Labor could be the worst pain of your life for one minute every two minutes for many, many hours.
I swore I wouldn’t get an epidural because I wanted a “natural birth,” so I tried changing positions, walking, a hot shower, music. After all of these heroics, what happened? Exhausted, in excruciating pain, and only four centimeters dilated.
When I finally got the epidural, I felt like a failure.
Then, I was told that I need to get prepped for a cesarean because I was stuck at 9 ½ centimeters, my baby is huge, and is sunny-side up. All that work and then this? This was NOT in my birth plan. I didn’t even read the chapter on C-sections!
Then, another mom came in with her baby breached and umbilical cord hanging out, so there went my doctor into an emergency C-section.
I threw my birth plan out the window. (see #3)
All I wanted was a healthy baby!
I rolled to one side and I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my life. After an eternity, the doctor came in, checked me to bring me in for surgery, and the baby turned over. I’m fully dilated and ready to push. Oh, and my baby was not huge after all. The baby was never in distress and because of the epidural, neither was I.
The epidural wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
5. It could be the fastest labor of your life and you don’t have time to consider any options.
You could wake up in the middle of the night and within the hour you are having a baby, like my second child. Within a couple hours of delivery, I was up and about dancing in my hospital room. In this case, not having the epidural was great!
6. Find your labor and delivery advocate.
Let me guess. You’ve stressed about which doctor was going to deliver your baby. When you get to the labor and delivery room, you will realize it is the nurses who are doing the most for you and are your biggest advocate.
I would have had my first C-section with my third child had it not been for my nurse. My nurse was also my next door neighbor. It is only weird if you make it weird, I promise. I trusted her and she knew I did not want a cesarean. She tried multiple tactics to help this 10-pound child find his way out. No C-section and a healthy baby was the result.
7. Your due date is a “best guess.”
Impatience and stress can lead to issues. Don’t try to rush nature. Due dates are not an exact science. My first was a day early, my second was two weeks late, and my third was a week late.
8. Do all the things that you have wanted to.
Once you give birth to this child, you will always have to worry about them. Go on date nights. Go on vacation. It is a whole different ballgame once they come out. Enjoy your baby while they are trapped in there!
What is your best labor advice?