4 min read

Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now...Labor & Delivery

I felt better prepared going to the hospital for the birth of number three.  I learned from the from the first two and I just ready to go when it was time.  From me to you (in case you need it) things that I've learned...

  • Everyone (and I mean Everyone) is going to see everything.  There is no modesty in Labor and delivery.  What they show on all those baby shows with the mother being modestly covered, is only for the cameras. You might as well just roll with it.
  • Pick a labor coach who is going to be a calming presence and a good support especially if things don't go as planned. I was lucky that my husband can read me like a book and knew when I needed him without me having to tell him.  My SIL is also good at reading people and was able to help me out as I transitioned through each phase of labor. She knew what I needed before I could identify it. Very helpful! She's also been through each of my other SILs labor and deliveries and she's delivered 4 beautiful daughters. She knew what was up.
  • If you can, stand or walk as much as you can while you are laboring. It will make things move faster. Trust me. My SIL who coached me through this birth told me that's what we're doing next time. I think the final 45 minutes might have gone more smoothly if we had done this.
  • If you plan on nursing in the hospital, wear a nursing bra during labor and delivery.  Your pretty bra that you're wearing isn't going to cut it for nursing a baby, especially if you do it within minutes of delivery.  There isn't a time/place/or possibility of changing bras right after so that you can nurse your baby.
  • Go in with an idea of what you want your delivery to be and be prepared to throw it out at a moment's notice. Be flexible. You may not get the doctor you want, or maybe you'll have to go in a for cesarean when you were expecting to give birth vaginally.  Do what's best for you and the baby.  (Though I have not had to do a cesarean I did tell my labor coach to find a knife and cut the baby out of me the last 15 minutes of labor...that's another story for another time)
  • If you need meds, ask for them. Don't wait for the nurse to ask if you want them.  At the hospital I went to, they didn't give it unless you asked for it.  Ask. And definitely ask for a dose before the ride home, otherwise you will feel every bump and pothole on the way home. I certainly did after my first birth. ugh!
  • Ice it up "down there." If you can, ask them for an ice pack. It will help for the first 12-24 hours.
  • Even though you should take it easy, walk a little bit and try to do some things independently in your room. Picking up the baby. Taking a shower. Walking to the bathroom. Do what you can within reason. I stayed off my feet way too much after the first birth and had a tough recovery. I probably did too much after the 2nd birth and could have done less. I think I'm finding a happy medium after this one. It also helps that my husband is able to stay home for a few weeks to help out.
  • Breastfeeding hurts initially. You're learning, the baby is learning. Ask for the hospital's lactation consultant to see you.  It took me more than two weeks with my first kid before I asked for help. If I hadn't I would have turned to formula. But it was an easy fix and I nursed my son until he weaned himself a week before his first birthday.  I still had difficulty with number three. Remember, even though you may know what you are doing, the baby is still new at it.  Give yourself time to get used to it and ask for help.  I was fortunate that a friend, who is also a nurse, was able to help out over the phone, otherwise I'd be crying right now.
  • Bring comfortable clothes to wear in the hospital or for the ride home. You probably aren't going to fit in your cute pre-pregnancy stuff just yet.
  • NAP, NAP, NAP when you can. Easier said than done, especially when you have other children at home.  But if baby is napping, turn on PBS for the older kids and take a nap, too. I don't mind that my bed becomes a family bed at this time. At least I know where everyone is and honestly, you know that you've got that Mommy radar going and you can sense what's going on around you.
  • Remember you are champ! Childbirth is hard.  Do not beat yourself up if it did not go the way you wanted. I started to beat myself up over this last delivery. The last 45 minutes was tough (my epidural came out by itself and my body was reacting...again, another story for another time).  My husband and SIL told me I was a champ during the final phase, but I couldn't see it.  But they were right...it didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, but when the time came, I got the job done.  My reward is the sweet baby who's sitting next to me.
  • Finally if anyone asks what you need, ask for a meal. You're not going to feel like cooking when you get home.  If you can get a few frozen meals in your freezer, you'll be good to go when you get home. It's one less thing to worry about while you're trying to juggle a new little life in your family.

Giving birth is one of the amazing experiences I have ever had.  Each one was different and unique. I love sharing "war stories" with other moms.   I hope my little list helps you. I wish I had known these things before I went in with baby #1. But now I know and can share my knowledge with you and now you know and knowing is half the battle...good luck :)