First Contractions and Labor: Every parent’s experience is different. Vary rarely do moms have contractions like they do on TV! Some mothers experience light contractions right up to the moment of a virtually painless delivery! Other mothers have strong, painful contractions that feel more like menstrual cramping. One mom described her contractions “feeling like being stabbed in the gut!”. Your water may break while you’re at the store or in the kitchen, or you may need to be induced. The key here is communication–keep your doctor abreast of any developments and changes. Make sure you have a direct line to reach your chosen healthcare professional, maintain regularly scheduled appointments and be sure to ask questions.
Epidurals: Some folks ask for an epidural right away…others opt out. The choice is completely up to you–we found that some mothers experienced increased nausea with the epidural, while others said it didn’t help at all. There are some obvious benefits–providing reduction or total relief from labor pains; a quickened labor; most mothers can rest easily even while in labor, after the epidural has been administered. And all that sounds pretty wonderful, especially if you know your body is about to undergo huge levels of stress. But there are some risks and side-effects to the epidural also. Things like nausea, retention of urine requiring a catheter, increased temperature and decreased blood pressure. While more serious conditions and situations can exist, they’re extremely rare. In the end, the choice is yours–you can consult your doctor and take his/her advice, but don’t feel obligated!
Delivery: Okay…first thing’s first, the process of delivering your baby can be little scary. And that’s okay! Any new experience can be a little unnerving…so imagining pushing a human being out of you is enough to shake you to your core! We would list all the responses new mothers gave when asked about their experience, but the options and results vary so much–literally no two mothers have the same story! Most mothers say that by the time they were pushing, the worst was over. Some say that the vaginal pressure was intense and painful. You’ll have several people with you in the delivery room, including your chosen doctor and a slew of nurses who can coach you and help you deliver your child.
It’s important to be ready for everything–realize that the birth of your child may decide to take a different route altogether than your standard “One, two, three, push.” You may require an C-Section (about one third of mothers do), or your child may come out with a little less grace than you’d hoped (1 in 25 full-term babies are something called “breech births”. What this means is your child isn’t entering the birth canal head-first, but rather baby buns first, or feet first). Trust your doctor–he or she will guide you through the birth process no matter what.
Now…this is important…you will have some uncontrollable bodily functions. With that much pressure and pushing going on under there…it’s bound to happen. Some mothers will have involuntary bowel movements, or urinate right on their doctor…some will have both and more. But remember–it’s okay. Everyone in that room understands what’s going on, and nobody is going to blame you! Your goal isn’t to be a beauty queen–it’s to deliver a healthy baby!
Time to Go Home:
Your first few days with baby aren’t going to be what you expect. It’s a lot of crying, pooping, and eating…sometimes all at once. Sometimes you are going to want to cry and eat. Sleep probably won’t come easy for a while. It’s important to have a support staff behind you at this point–some people you trust that can tag-team in and out. This could be a spouse or significant other, a sibling or parent…get some people in your corner to help the transition go smoothly!
You may also have noticed that your little bundle of joy isn’t what you imagined.
We’ll be frank–newborns are weird.
They’re squishy, sort of smooshed and frumpled…some may have fine hair everywhere…it’s odd. They won’t look like the baby you envisioned nine months ago right away–but don’t lose heart! They’ll get there.
It’ll take a few weeks for your baby to settle into a routine, and at about six weeks, you’ll start seeing the ultimate rewards: cooing, gurgling, and those first smiles.
And right there, you’ll know that this crazy journey has all been totally worth it.