As many of you may know, my husband and I welcomed our first child into our lives last month! While we were originally expecting a New Year’s Eve baby, we were both shocked and pleasantly surprised that I would be induced three weeks early due to high blood pressure. I was super excited that we were going to meet our little man so soon, but in the same thought, I felt jipped out of precious time to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for a newborn and for my life to change so much. At any other point in your life, three weeks doesn’t seem like a lot, but losing that precious time before having a baby can make you freak!
There were so many things about labor and delivery, insurance, breastfeeding, and much more that I felt completely clueless about and needed to figure out. Hell, I didn’t have even a single bullet point of a birth plan put together. Thankfully, I had my mother who has fed me bits of information and was there for me every step of the way through labor. I swear there were so many times I didn’t know the answer or what I wanted, and I just looked at her to answer the nurses for me!
So, to help you out a little bit, I have compiled a list of everything I wish I knew, what I learned, and every misconception I had about labor and delivery- all 54 hours of it (my first misconception)!
- My mother had a quick L&D, so I will too! I am pretty sure every other female in my family practically sneezed out their kids. They had such quick deliveries with minimal pushing, whether they went into labor naturally or were induced. I was induced, and did not get to hold my baby until over 54 hours after the induction process started. While some people may follow in their mother’s or family member’s L&D footsteps, just remember that it is not a guarantee.
- It is okay to question your doctor. I was induced early due to extremely high blood pressure, and as soon as I was admitted, my numbers were beautiful and in a perfectly normal range despite how nervous I was. After the first two attempts to soften the cervix and start labor did nothing, I asked her if she thought induction was really necessary at this point in time and if we should wait for things to start on their own. She told me no, and was able to thoroughly explain so much more than I had thought about and gave me peace of mind with continuing the process. I would have always wondered and worried if I didn’t question her. Make sure that you will stand up and ask questions or have someone with you who will when you go to the hospital!
- All modesty is lost- and you won’t care! Bra and underwear is practically gone as soon as you walk in the door, and you won’t be caring about covering up when you are feeling those intense contractions. Your butt will be in the air while you’re trying to “breath through them” and you will have nurses checking you in places you didn’t think another human could reach. And after delivery, I was never more thankful to have another person help me get to a toilet and into my mom diaper and an ice pack.
- Do everything in your power to avoid “toilet contractions.” Once I was hooked up to an IV with fluids and pitocin, I was having to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so. Once the contractions were more intense and frequent, I got caught on the toilet during one. It. Was. The. Worst! I felt like I couldn’t move, and the positioning was absolutely horrible. I also noticed while in this position, I was more likely to have double or triple contractions, and I couldn’t get up. So there I am: naked, on the toilet, crying and clinging onto the hand bar wishing I never sat down. Just don’t do it! After a few of these “toilet contractions”, my mom suggested something that I can’t even believe I am writing. Take a hand towel and one of the mom diapers (they have a million of these) and just pee into it in your bed instead of getting up. Since you aren’t even urinating very much- it is all because of the baby’s head pushing on your bladder, you don’t have anything to worry about and it will save you so much discomfort.
- Back labor SUCKS! I am sure you have heard this through the grapevine already, but I had such horrible back labor- it really takes your breath away. This is where you need to assign people to your needs and make sure someone else is there if they need to step away. I needed someone pushing with all their might on my lower back during every contraction when I entered active labor, and if they started pushing a few seconds too late, they were nearly unbearable. Definitely have someone there to apply pressure on your back or hips (try a few different areas to find your sweet spot). And apply heat between or even during contractions- this eased a lot of the pain as well. I thought I wanted ice on my back at one point during contractions, but as soon as they gave me a cold pack and I had a contraction, my husband could not get it off of my back fast enough. It froze the muscles and the pain was excruciating. Try different things and find what works for you.
- Walk around while you can. While you may want to be laying down as soon as the contractions cause you discomfort, try your best to walk through them or roll on a yoga ball for as long as you can. As soon as I was admitted, I thought I was suddenly confined to my uncomfortable bed. Therefor, before I was a centimeter dilated, my back and bottom were numb and hurting- and I was so sick of sitting and lying down. I spent the next 18 hours walking as much as I could manage. It felt so much better to stretch my legs and it also helped progress labor!
- Accept sleep medication if offered, and if not offered… ask for it! Not much was happening for me during the first night of my hospital stay and I was so nervous and anxious, sleep was not going to happen. After several hours of lying awake and restless, I finally asked if they had anything that could help. They have several options, and I was so glad I was able to rest because, little did I know, I had a loooooong road ahead of me in the next couple days.
- Do not feel bad if your plans change. I was planning on carrying our my pregnancy to term and having a quick all natural birth. Well, life showed me who is in charge! I am extremely stubborn and almost never budge in my ways, but when I was stuck at 8.5 centimeters for hours after several boosts in pitocin, I was exhausted and defeated. When they said they were going to up the pitocin yet again, I couldn’t take it. Having like four hours of sleep in my system for the last three days, I didn’t think I would have the strength for delivery and finally opted for an epidural. Just a few short hours later, I had my baby boy in my arms and I was able to enjoy the experience! Do not feel bad if you need to change how you envisioned your L&D going. The absolute only thing that matters is a healthy baby and a healthy mama.
- Know what you want to do about vaccinations in advance. When they were asking me to sign off on medications and vaccinations, I was completely out of it. Make sure someone is with you to double check if you are not planning on getting all recommended vaccines and medications for your newborn.
- Breastfeeding is no small task. You will feel like such a boss the first time they latch on! But it is definitely work. Since your milk doesn’t come in for a couple days, they will be on the boob All. The. Time. You will get lots of bonding time with baby, but you will also get blisters and cracked, bleeding nipples. But rest assured, just when you want to call it quits, your milk comes in and everything is uphill from there! If not, take advantage of access to lactation consultants- they are such an amazing resource! My little one would only latch onto one breast, leaving the other one swollen and painful. The consultants were able to give advice for a temporary and long term fix- never feel ashamed or embarrassed for needing help.
- Make sure someone is taking photos of the good, bad, and ugly! In the moment, you will probably want to punch them in the face for taking a picture while you’re knees deep in a contraction or pushing a human out of you. But when I returned home and saw everything I went through, it made me feel even closer to my baby and made me feel like a freaking champion. *TIP* If you are having anyone take pictures on their personal devices, make sure you or your significant other check through the photos before they leave to make sure there aren’t any pictures you wouldn’t feel comfortable with ANYONE seeing. I learned this the hard way when my wonderful aunt (who I work with) showed my boss my breasts when scrolling through photos when she went to work the next day.
What do you with you knew before labor and delivery? Let me know in the comments!