Ah, babies. Squishy, cute, lovable, little poopmachines. These adorable little humans are our reward for enduring not only nine long months of super, awesome stuff associated with growing babies (you know – morning sickness, exhaustion, insatiable hunger, etc.), but that totally fun thing they call childbirth. I don't consider myself an expert on childbirth in any sense of the word, but I do have two kids, and have experienced both a cesarean section and a vaginal delivery. I came away from both of those experiences wondering WHY nobody told me about ____________(fill in your biggest surprise about childbirth). Now, I'm all for public service and saving other people from that “WTF” feeling, so I thought I would compile a list of things I wish someone had told me about childbirth.
1. There is no “one-size-fits-all” in labor. Some women are incredibly lucky – they have lightning fast labors and super easy recoveries. Some women are not so lucky – they have prodromal labor that can go on for weeks before it's the “real deal.” Some women have their babies before their estimated due date. Some women have their babies after. It's great to prepare for the birth of your baby by reading birth stories and asking others about their experiences. However, you cannot realistically set expectations for your labor if you've never given birth. Every body is different. Every single person will experience labor and birth differently. I wish I had known this before I gave birth to my first. I had very unrealistic expectations, and was constantly disappointed.
2. Pooping is terrifying. Seriously, though. Whether you have delivered your baby vaginally or by cesarean section, pooping is, no joke, the scariest thing ever after having a baby. NO ONE prepared me for this! I know it's not really dinner-table appropriate conversation, but let's be real – it's totally important. Your nurses will give you stool softeners. Pop those babies like they're candy. Drink a ton of water. Eat all the broccoli you can, because when it's time… you will be sitting there praying that things go quickly and smoothly.
3. You can say no. I always thought I had to do exactly what the doctors told me – that I really had no say in the matter. I only learned after a somewhat traumatic and unnecessary cesarean section with my first child that I could have said no. If you are not comfortable with being induced, tell your doctor. If there is an intervention you are not comfortable with, you can refuse it. Please note: Doctors have gone to school and through residency. They are trained professionals who know what they are doing. That being said, some are a little more hands-on than others. Interview multiple providers and find one who is the best fit for you.
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4. Your pants will not fit right after you pop the baby out. In fact, you might even still look about 6 months pregnant. When I had my first baby, I brought pre-pregnancy jeans to wear home from the hospital. That leads me to another thing no one told me: you will not even want to wear jeans for like, three weeks after you give birth. AT LEAST. Maybe even longer. Maybe you'll never want to wear jeans again. Anyway. I couldn't pull those suckers up past my hips if someone had paid me to. Looking back now, I have the “whatever, I birthed a freaking baby!!” attitude about that, but at the time, I was devastated. For some reason, I thought my body would just suck itself right back in after I gave birth. ‘Twas not so. Some lucky people can fit into their pants a few weeks after giving birth, some people take months to a year. Some people might take longer. It's okay, though – because leggings are all the rage.
5. You should prepare yourself for any outcome. Again, I learned this the hard way. With my first child, I was dead set on having a completely natural, medication-free waterbirth. I was told that it was highly unlikely that I would have a c-section, because I'm tall and have great hips for birthing babies. I never even let the possibility of a c-section enter my mind. Sure, I was prepared for an epidural if things got too intense, but I wouldn't need a c-section, so why even think about it?! WRONG. I don't care if you are planning a homebirth, waterbirth, medicated birth, whatever – you need to prepare yourself for anything. We all know that babies are on their own timeline and don't exactly take our wants and needs into consideration. They come when they come, and that isn't always the way we want them to. You are far less likely to experience negative feelings surrounding your child's birth if you are at peace with any outcome before it happens.
The most important thing I have learned about giving birth is this: there will always be something new you will learn. Childbirth is an amazing, beautiful, terrifying, exhilarating, wonderful, natural (albeit sometimes gross thing). Every birth is unique. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself and learn as much as you can, because your life is about to change for the better. <3
“Although birth is only one day in the life of a woman, it has an imprint on her for the rest of her life.”
— Justine Caines
What are some thing YOU wish someone had told you about childbirth?!?
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