9 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Giving Birth
Looking back at the four times I have given birth, I have to say that there's only one thing that's certain about labor and delivery: it's never predictable.
But, there are a few things that I wish I would have known along the way about giving birth, such as …
That my water breaking would not be like in the movies.
When I pictured my water breaking, I envisioned a dramatic scene like in the movies: a tidal wave of fluid followed by a mad dash to the hospital, where I would be begging for my epidural. Turns out, it's not exactly like that. With my first pregnancy, my water leaked a tiny bit–just enough to make me think I peed my pants–and with my other three children, my water didn't even break before my contractions hit.
That labor can take forever.
Sure, you hear that first-time moms usually labor a long time, but who really believes that will happen to them? Well, my friends, believe it: it's better to be prepared for the long haul and be pleasantly surprised, trust me on that one. Pack a lot of distractions in your hospital bag, like headphones and a Netflix app, because you may be in for a long haul.
That those fetal monitors really aren't completely necessary.
If you're giving birth in a standard hospital, chances are you will be continuously monitored with a fetal monitor. And while the nursing staff may make you feel like you can never take those straps off, you may actually be surprised to know that studies have shown that continuous fetal monitoring has not been shown to decrease fetal mortality or complications. In other words, they aren't really helping to prevent any “emergencies” and in fact, may cause unnecessary interventions. So if they are driving you nuts, don't be afraid to ask your nurse for a break.
And the same goes for banning snacking.
Although I was lucky enough to have a midwife with my first pregnancy who let me snack, when I had my other children, the nurses in the hospital refused to let me eat. Luckily, I knew that eating during labor carries very little risk with it anymore, so I let myself have light snacks to keep my strength up during labor.
That honestly–no one cares if you poop on the delivery table.
Seriously, don't even waste a second worrying about whether or not you are going to poop on the delivery table. After working as an OB nurse for years, I will tell you without a doubt that I have never once cared if a mother giving birth, pooped–in fact, nurses chart the very occurrence because it's a sign that she is pushing correctly, meaning it's almost baby time! We see it all the time and a quick swipe and it's gone. No big deal, really.
That pushing can be really, really hard.
Not for everyone, of course. For a great many women who talked to me, it would seem that pushing was actually the easy part of labor. “It was a relief!” they gushed to me. For me? Not so much. Pushing was hard, hard work.
That it's easier to get the epidural early.
For some reason, I had the thought that I couldn't get an epidural until I was well into my labor. I thought, mistakenly, that I needed to hold out until the last possible minute when I couldn't take it any more or everyone would think I was a wimp. Or, that somehow, the epidural wouldn't work unless I was at an advanced stage in my labor. Turns out, it doesn't work that way. If an epidural is in your plan for pain management, talk with your nurse or care provider about the best time to get it–it's easier to get it before your contractions are too hard, because you are able to sit still enough for the epidural to be placed.
That giving birth naturally is totally possible.
I thought that giving birth without an epidural was crazy–but now I know better. I've seen countless women give birth and the only thing that separates women who give birth naturally is simply the belief that they can do it–and the desire to do so. If giving birth naturally is something that's important to you, you can do it.
That giving birth would be the single greatest experience of my life.
Nothing in life compares to that moment–that exhilarating, exhausting, overwhelming moment–when you give birth to your baby and meet him or her for the first time. The first time it happens, you wonder how you ever lived before and your heart feels like it's rushing out of your chest to unite with this tiny, little being that will forever claim your love. And the second, third, fourth or tenth time it happens? It's exactly the same.
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