On the topic of childbirth, there are some black-and-white, universal truths…
…like: Baby has to come out somehow, and it will be hard no matter what. Labor is tough. And you will pee when you sneeze for a while after said baby comes out.
And then there are some gray areas, the biggest of which is, how exactly the baby gets here.
Aah. So much gray area when it comes to that. It’s probably why all moms will turn into a brood of clucking hens when you ask about their birth experiences. It’s super fun to hear everyone’s (inevitably crazy) stories. They’re all so different, yet end with the same beautiful result.
In the interest of keeping the veil lifted, I am sharing five things today I want all my mama-to-be friends out there to know, just in case. After years of commiserating with fellow mommies about their birth experiences, I have heard these things multiple times. I like to consider us friends, you and me, so I’m passing all their and our hard-earned wisdom along to you.
You may not experience any of these; you may experience all of them. It just helps to know early on that you aren’t alone, mama.
1 – Build in some time for an epidural.
Before you can get relief from your labor pains in the form of an epidural, a few things need to happen: First, you need to get to the hospital, get checked checked in, get checked out (meaning your dilation). And on top of that all, you may also have to give blood before they send in the anesthesiologist to actually give you the shot.
So if you’re planning on laboring at home before going to the hospital, just know you won’t be getting that pain relief the moment you get to the hospital. It will likely take a little while, so plan accordingly. And make sure your husband isn’t queasy around blood.
2 – You may push out some other things besides the baby.
I hate to be such a party pooper (PUN 1), but it’s your duty (PUN 2) to understand that when you start pushing, your muscles may just crap out (PUN 3) and you’ll end up dropping (PUN 4) something onto your hospital bed other than a baby. (Why yes, I do find sixth-grade-level boy humor very entertaining, thanks for asking.)
You’ve heard it before, and let me tell you again: Shit happens. This is true in life, as in childbirth. Don’t be embarrassed! Just wipe (PUN 5 AND SERIOUSLY I SWEAR I’M DONE AFTER THIS ONE) that frown off your face and move on, girl!
3 – You may get a little claustrophobic.
Maybe this is just my experience, but after delivering my babies and recovering for anywhere from 1-3 days in the hospital (1-2 days after a vaginal birth, 3 days for C-section), I began to feel a little antsy long before we checked out. Of course you need to be at the hospital for monitoring and to make sure both you and baby are healthy, but being contained to one room or one hospital floor can get you feeling a little claustrophobic.
Don’t push your doctor to let you out early, but also don’t be surprised if you feel a little antsy to get back to your place, where you can wander about freely exhausted and in a zombie-like state in the comfort of your own home without having to wear a goofy hospital robe while doing so.
It’s always good to have some slippers or hospital socks on hand so you can walk the hallways a bit (and visit the awesome magic maternity ward ice machine. Mmm.)
4 – There’s a decent chance your birth plan will go kaput.
Of course there’s a chance your starlit, classical-music-in-the-background, epidural-free water birth will go off without a hitch, but there’s also a chance it won’t. If you want that, go for it, girl. Just don’t be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen that way.
I always encourage my friends to have a plan they’d like to see through, but to remain open-minded. And most importantly, forgive yourself if it everything doesn’t go as planned. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to question whether you’ve done things right as a parent; don’t start too early.
Our favorite OB-GYN (and mom-to-be in just weeks!), Dr. LaKrystal Gordon, weighs in:
“Not everyone chooses to have [a birth plan.] For those that do, the realistic plans get what they want, [things like] specific music, pain medication, immediate skin to skin, dad to cut the cord, etc. The two-page directives rarely get what they want because some choices are too rigid and actually can’t be controlled or predicted in advance (for example, the use of pitocin or internal monitoring or an operative delivery for a baby in distress). It is great to voice your wants, but important to be flexible due to the unpredictability of the labor process.”
Tattoo that on your inner arm for reference. (Side note: Dr. Warren is the best.)
5 – It may take a while to bond with baby.
Childbirth is just not what Hollywood would have us believe—where every mom is sobbing with ecstasy the moment her little bundle of joy come out—and that’s why I feel compelled to mention this.
There are many moms out there who don’t immediately get the warm and fuzzies the moment Baby is plopped into their laps. Sometimes it takes a little longer to develop a bond between you and this tiny little person you just grew and birthed. I have mom friends who have felt this very way, with plenty of others claiming they did experience that deep attachment immediately.
Allow yourself the freedom to experience new motherhood on your own terms. And please, please, talk with someone if you’re still not feeling like yourself days or weeks after childbirth. Many women—more than are likely to report—experience some form of postpartum depression or anxiety or blues, and you need to speak up if you’re feeling out of it. Help is always there. [LINK]
Becoming a mother is the single most intense experience of my own life to date, and it all starts the moment you go into labor with your little angel. It’s a giant season of change for you and your partner, and my best advice—no matter what type of mom you want to be—is to be kind to yourself and to expect change. Oh, and keep those elastic-waistband maternity pants too. They’re all sorts of awesome.
Any advice any other moms would add to this list? I’d love to hear it! Chime in in the Comments below!