Four Things I Wish I Had Known Before Giving Birth
Each day thousands of women give birth all around the globe. For many of these women, their pregnancies, deliveries, and recoveries are seamless. However, not all of us have the same experiences. Even if we have a typical birth story, there are bound to be things that no one ever told you and that you just don’t realize before experiencing them for yourself. My birth stories were not run-of-the-mill, but they could have come with more information.
Most Doctors Want You Happy
We are encouraged to make these lengthy birth plans down to the very last detail. In fact, some websites even warn you that without these plans, your delivery can be disappointing and stressful. While this is sometimes true, it is not the norm. In my experience and with most of my friends, things rarely happen according to the plan, and regardless of the circumstances, the goal of most doctors is to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during the birthing process. Most doctors are willing to allow music, coaches, family members, or other requests to help ensure the least stressful delivery environment.
If you want a special surrounding like a water birth or home birth, this is something you need to discuss with your medical professional ahead of time, but barring any legitimate medical reason, most doctors and midwives are accommodating. Many moms to be are still looking to have a doula by their side to assist with advocating for you in those tough moments and often assisting with relaxation and birth progression. And remember, no matter what the course your labor and delivery actually takes, you should have any of your non-negotiables in writing to protect your wishes.
With my second child, I was determined to have a VBAC. I had a cesarean the first time. I wanted to have a vaginal birth the second time. My daughter decided butt down breach was the best position to hang out in mommy’s belly. If that wasn’t enough, she also decided the umbilical cord looked like a snuggly, and the placenta looked like a soft pillow. This child was squeezing the cord and pushing on the placenta to the point that she stopped getting enough nutrients. I had playlists and birth plans. My daughter and God thought I was funny. I had another cesarean. By all means, if you do not want an epidural or you do not want certain people present, those are important wants, but some of it is just wishful thinking.
You Are Not Crazy
About three days postpartum, you are sore (cesarean or vaginal birth), tired, and probably dirty. You might even feel like you are losing your mind. Your hormone roller coaster is not over. On the contrary, it is picking up dang speed. You really are not crazy. Things will calm down. The best thing you can do is speak up, ask for help when needed and try your best to take care of yourself. If you are breastfeeding, it’s really up to you, and will require your participation no matter what, but when feeding time is over, ask your spouse, a friend, or parent to sit with the baby for a little while so you get a break. Go to sleep. Do not feel guilty. Your mind and your body need the rest. A sleep-deprived, crazy lady isn’t going to be helpful. Sad fact is as a mom, you will remain sleep-deprived- well forever, but a little extra rest here and there is entirely appropriate.
You Are Doing Great
Every birth story is different. Your story is yours, and you should never let anyone tell you it is not good enough or right. Our bodies are under so little of our control during pregnancy that childbirth can seem like the one thing you can control. Let go of that. You can’t really control that either. Your baby won’t care how he or she got here or what music you played when they arrived. They really just need you to feel well and be well and ask for help when you need it. New moms can’t know it all and even if we did, we would be too darn tired to remember it. So don’t get too set in your imaginary standards and remember that asking for help is not a weakness. You cannot compare your stories, doctors, babies, or feelings to anyone elses. Your birth story will be uniquely yours and your little ones alone.