Women have been going into labor since the dawn of time. And yet, for some reason, it's still shrouded in mystery. No matter how many classes you attend, videos you watch (you know, the ones that make your husband pass out), or books you read, you never really feel completely prepared for labor with your first baby.
Have no fear!
Underdog I am here! Here's ten things I wish I had known before D-Day:
1. Not every labor and delivery is perfect.
Basically, take your expectations and throw them out the window. I didn't expect to be in labor for TWO DAYS. I didn't expect to take Pitocin. I didn't expect to get an internal monitor after munchkin's heartbeat went haywire. But it happened anyway. It's okay to have some idea of what you want as far as painkillers, relaxation techniques, who will be in the room, et cetera. Just remember your only goal at the end of this is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. And when you get to hold that tiny newborn in your arms for the first time, that nine hour Pitocin drip will be totally worth it. I promise.
2. Your body was designed for this.
Labor is a natural process. It has been medicinized and commercialized in the last century, but it is still something your body can do on its own. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't use painkillers or epidurals; that's a personal choice. No matter what you do, however, keep in mind that this is completely normal. It's like homeostasis. Or walking. Or even breathing. Don't get in the way of your body. Listen to it. It knows what it's doing.
3. Dilation is not an exact science.
|(this principle also applies to cervical checks)|
When I was pregnant, I always figured there was some sort of machine or high tech va jay jay gadget used to measure cervical dilation. When I arrived at the hospital and had my first cervical check, I found out I was SO WRONG. Basically, it's a guess. Completely dependent on the size of the fingers of the person checking you. Which is decidedly unscientific.
4. Sh*t happens. Literally.
This is one of those things I found accidentally in one of my late-night Google trolls. People poop? During labor? Ewwwww. I was extremely freaked out about it. I mean, how embarrassing. And then those Pitocin-induced contractions started. And I found out you really don't give a sh*t (pun!) when you're pushing something the size of a Christmas turkey out of your hooha. And the nurses? They've seen it all already.
5. You know all that stuff you pack in your hospital bag to help you stay "relaxed"? It's probably not going to help that much ...
I had EVERYTHING in the bag I packed for the hospital
three months early. I had lotions, I had candles, I had music, I had a focal point, I had tennis balls, I had board games, I had my computer, I had books, I had massage tools ... everything but the kitchen sink, as they say. And you know what? The only thing I used was my iPod. For an hour or so. If it makes you feel more prepared, by all means pack it. But don't be surprised if it all stays in your ginormous suitcase. Or if you get it all out and then have to frantically repack it when you get moved to your recovery room.
I was able to walk around during the early part of labor. Truthfully, I think it is the only reason I progressed at all.
7. Change positions.
A birthing ball became my best friend, especially after munchkin's heartbeat dipped and they had to do an internal monitor to make sure he was okay, which essentially chained me to the bed. Change positions as much as you possibly can.
8. Husbands shall not live by Starbucks alone.
Pack snacks! Men are much better labor coaches when they have full bellies. I didn't do this, but luckily my dad remembered the agony of ... dun dun dun ... going without food for more than two hours and ordered my hubby a pizza. Oh, how hard it is to be a man. *eye roll*
9. Don't freak out when you start having regular contractions.
I did. And then called my husband. He is EPIC at freaking out. Which means we ended up in the E.R. before going down to the hospital in Glenwood. Then we were stuck in the hospital for TWO DAYS. It sucked. I am certain one of the reasons I didn't dilate naturally is because I was uncomfortable and nervous. If I could have stayed in my house during early labor, it would have been much, much better. Of course, we were an hour and a half from the hospital, so better safe than sorry. Still, this is another one of those times when you need to listen to your body, not your fear. You will know when the time is right.
10. You can DO this.
Two words - girl power. You will rock this thing. Just think about the prize you get at the end - a beautiful baby!
You rock, momma!