Pregnant and wondering what to expect? Are you curious what surprises may await you? LOL.
Here are a few of the things I WISH someone would have told me before giving birth.
Important note #1: To the .01% of my readers who are men (my dad, my husband…yeah, that’s probably about it…) In case you missed it so far, this is a post about BIRTH. So perhaps this is a good time to find that little red “x” up in the corner. If not, consider this your fair warning.
Important note #2: This is obviously MY list. As I’m sure you’re aware from talking to other moms or reading birth stories, labor experiences can be very different one from another. I have a friend who had – get this – painless labor. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it’s a thing! (Although highly uncommon, so don’t get your hopes up. ha!)
Based on my three experiences with giving birth, here it is – the 5 things I wish someone would have told me about giving birth:
- It can take F.O.R.E.V.E.R. My first pregnancy, when I learned I was dilated two centimeters, I ran home, frantically packed my bags, did my makeup, and sat down with a stopwatch to time my “contractions.” BAHAHA! Even with subsequent pregnancies, it just never really sunk in. Labor is a looong thing. For many (I might so most?) women, it takes days, even weeks, of ebbing and flowing of contractions (often strong), random varieties of discharges, lots of pressure, changes in BMs, and having “that feeling” it will be soon… There is nothing so frustrating as being at the end of pregnancy!
- You don’t have to wear the gown. Of course, if you’re at home or a birthing center, this is obvious. But if you, like me, choose a hospital birth, you may feel you *have* to do what they ask. You do not. You don’t have to remain hooked up to the IV for continual monitoring. You don’t have to have the IV continually hooked up. You don’t have to lie in the bed. I’m a rule-follower, so it took three pregnancies for me to garner up the strength to put this into practice. I chose a hospital birth, and even though I allowed them to put in an IV port and check the baby’s heart rate periodically, I wore my own clothes, removed the monitoring equipment when I wanted, and moved around a TON. And I felt so much better! (Those gowns…aren’t they horrific? WHO do they fit??)
- Labor is hard work. Like, really, hard work. They call it “labor” for a reason. This does not (necessarily) mean there’s anything “wrong” – with you, the experience, or the baby. You will sweat and groan and really have to work to push that baby out.
- It is very common to have a moment where you think you will die and not make it through the labor. I’ve learned this point is called “transition” and marks the beginning of the end, so to speak. I have had it with every single birth.
- Epidurals can have side effects. My sisters and cousins get them with no side effects at all. I, however, am one of those people who do not do well with them. I get incredibly nauseous and experience massive headaches, lasting for days afterwards. The labor I had without medicines (though incredibly painful) was by far the best.
- You will still look pregnant…for a while. I remember taking my first shower after delivering, looking down, and thinking, “AHHHH!!!! What’s all this?!?!? I still look pregnant!!” It is just a little soft, and squishy…and weird…for a while. But don’t fret. That’s normal, and so will you be, again, sometime… 🙂
- It is best to be prepared – yes, with bags and painted rooms and all that, but especially: Mentally. Every piece of knowledge you have about labor is like a little tool in your belt. You may need it, you may not, but it will make you feel more confident and ready. I was not prepared with my first, not even my second. With my third, I finally prepared. I talked to moms, I read birth stories, and most of all, I read. Knowing what was happening in my body, why I was feeling the way I was, what was likely happening with the baby – it all boosted my confidence, helped my decisions, and gave me peace.
One book that was tremendously helpful was the classic, What to Expect® When You’re Expecting. I recently learned that What to Expect® When You’re Expecting is the long-running book on the New York Times Bestseller list. It spent 600+ record-breaking weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list!
That is amazing! But – not surprising.
This book is everything it promises to be. What to eat. How to exercise. Twin advice. Tips for dads. Month-by-month symptoms and milestones. How to induce labor. Safe medications. Every imaginable complication of pregnancy and delivery.
It is like your own personal O.B., right at your fingertips for every waking hour. (Minus the exams. And everyone said, “Amen.”)
I would consider it a “must-buy” for expecting mothers, but also a terrific shower gift. I guarantee this thing will get way more use than some monkey-printed burp clothes. And along with it, why not throw in:
I was personally interested in the What to Expect® the Second Year, because even though Ellie is my third child, you forget things, ya know?
What should she be eating now? When will she drop a nap? When do the tantrums start, and how do I deal with them? I’ve been browsing over this book and am simply astounded at the amount of helpful information that is covered. Car and travel tips (seriously helpful ones), picky eating, milestones, common health concerns, potty training tips, sleep problems, creative tantrum solutions.
What I particularly have benefitted from are the creative learning and play ideas. It’s so tempting, and easy, to throw Ellie in the pack-n-play when there’s a lot going on. But I forget what I did what my first – playing with Tupperware, exploring different smells and feels and sounds and how buttons and handles work. What to Expect® the Second Year is full of do-able, practical play ideas that I can actually pull together. I feel good about offering Ellie a stimulating environment – it’s just not always easy to remember how to do it!
Whatever you’re dealing with in raising little ones – whether there’s one in the womb, nursing, or crawling around, for your resources, stop “googling,” and pick up a copy of the time-tested, best-selling, easy-to navigate What to Expect® When You’re Expecting.
Did you read What to Expect® When You’re Expecting? Which of the others are you most interested in?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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