8 Things Moms Wish They Had Known Before They Gave Birth
If you’re currently pregnant and just weeks out from your due date, there’s a pretty good chance you’re experiencing a mixed bag of emotions. You’re likely excited to meet your baby, anxious about the pain of childbirth, and maybe even a little sad about pregnancy wrapping up…all along with being utterly exhausted. These feelings are all totally normal. It’s hard to know what to expect as the big day draws near, but it can be helpful to check in with other moms who’ve been through it. Here’s what moms wish they had known before they gave birth.
1. It can be overwhelming, but you will get through it.
At this point you’ve probably been privy to all sorts of childbirth horror stories from friends and acquaintances – whether you asked for them or not. Remember, though, that people have been giving birth since the beginning of time. Your body was made to do this, and all the effort you’ve put into it will be absolutely worth it when you hold your little one in your arms.
2. Plan ahead…but don’t drive yourself crazy.
There’s really only so much you have control over once labor starts. For better or for worse, you may discover you have to make choices you never contemplated before. Drawing up a birth plan is a great way to let your healthcare providers know your preference about what you’d like to happen during labor and delivery. It can also help you feel more empowered and prepared. That said, get comfortable with the fact that some elements of your birth plan will most likely have to be revised during the big day. Like most things in life, unexpected situations arise, and your vision should be adaptable. Give yourself grace. Having a flexible attitude will allow you to have a more pleasant experience and avoid feelings of shame because you didn’t follow your plan.
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3. The odds of you not making it to the hospital in time are slim.
It’s a favorite trope for movies and television, but the reality is that you’ll probably arrive at the hospital or birthing center in plenty of time. In fact, for first-time parents, you’ll probably be at home or work doing your own thing for quite a while during the very early stages of labor before contractions become regular enough to notice. That said, you can always contact your healthcare provider if you start noticing some of the signs of labor and they can advise you on whether to head to the hospital.
4. Expect that you may be sent home.
It’s not just first-time moms – even people who’ve given birth previously are sometimes sent home after arriving at the hospital to give birth. Don’t feel embarrassed – it happens a lot! Every person and every pregnancy is different. You could be having some pretty intense cramps, but not yet experiencing any changes to your cervix. It’s usually best to consult with your healthcare team and trust their advice.
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5. You may or may not want to interact with your partner.
The two of you might have engaged in lots of fun, playful banter during pregnancy or even during the early stages of your labor. But when it comes time for the active, transitional phase, you may feel like a whole other person. Contractions are painful. They can make you feel nauseated, exhausted, sweaty, or cranky. You might snap at your partner, or you may just want to be left alone. Do whatever brings you relief in the moment, and count on your partner (who isn’t actively trying to expel a human from their body) to be understanding.
6. Make peace with pooping.
Having a bowel movement during labor is a top fear for many pregnant people. The truth is most people poop when they give birth. It happens for a number of reasons. The important thing to remember is that it’s completely normal and natural.
First of all, the release of prostaglandin hormones that allows the cervix to ripen for birth can also trigger muscle contractions and relaxations. This may cause pre-labor diarrhea, mid-labor poop, or both. Secondly, your baby’s position can put pressure on your colon and sacral nerve, making you feel very much like you need to poop. Finally, pushing the baby out engages the exact same muscles (the abs and intercostal muscles) that are used for having a bowel movement. In fact, your healthcare team may even encourage you to push as if you are pooping. The reality is that pooping is often inevitable. It’s also a reality that when you’re gasping and moaning and pushing out a baby, you won’t really care too much. Priorities tend to shift during childbirth.
7. There may be lots of people you don’t know in the room when you deliver.
Throughout your labor, particularly during pushing, you may notice a variety of individuals coming in and out of the room. Several nurses will be monitoring you, and your doctor (if they’re on call) will arrive at the end to deliver your infant. Before the big day, discuss with your healthcare provider how deliveries are handled and what to expect.
8. It’s one of the most surreal experiences you’ll ever have.
Even after reading through this list and researching every piece of information you can find on childbirth, there’s nothing that can really fully prepare you for the experience. You’ll probably feel shocked and relieved when they finally put that warm little baby in your arms. It’s truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
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