I was reading a post by a mom who gave birth recently to her first baby in a hospital. She talked about the secrets no one tells you and to be honest, it made me really sad.
I wanted to take her post and write a spin-off; something to negate some of the negativity and fear that surrounded her blog and turn it into something useful and positive for all you soon-to-be mamas.
You are going to deliver the placenta after you deliver the baby but it’s like birthing a giant sponge.
Your placenta has to come out. It typically follows shortly after baby. The first time I learned that you had to give birth to something after you gave birth to a baby, I was like, why would the universe do that to you?! Find a provider who will wait for your placenta to detach naturally and not risk hemorrhage by pulling on the cord. One little push, and that sucker will most likely pop out. It’s easy compared to the baby you just birthed. And don’t forget to look into encapsulation!
You will probably swell up anyway, so go ahead and celebrate the birth of your baby with a giant cheeseburger and a milkshake.
Hippie? No. But deserved? HELL YES. Whether you have a natural birth or a medicated one, you will probably swell. An IV will almost certainly cause swelling due to all the extra fluids, but even natural mamas experience swelling too. It’s normal, you don’t look fat (you just had a baby for cryin’ out loud), and it will go away. Promise. Do not say no to pictures because you think you look fat. Seriously.
You may tear, but you get a ton of cool presents to help take care of your hoo-ha.
The bag of goodies I took home from the hospital was like having a mini-Christmas. It was so nice not to have to buy all that stuff (although let’s be honest; I PAID for every single thing I got, lol). However, you can do things to help minimize the chance of tearing. First, find a care provider who does not perform routine episiotomies. It’s an archaic practice and we know now that the body heals better when it tears naturally as opposed to when it’s cut. The fibers of your skin join back together more tightly when they are allowed to separate on their own. You can avoid tearing by practicing perineal massage (for the record, I hated this more than anything and ended up not doing it), and by asking your doctor or midwife to use a warm compress and olive oil. Mothers who deliver without pain medications also tend to tear less, as the pushing process is much gentler and more controlled; giving the skin time to stretch as opposed to just shooting baby out (like I did), while under the effects of an epidural. Do all women tear? No. You could very well deliver tear-free! If you have anything beyond a 1st degree tear, chances are, you may need sutures. But they will dissolve and there are ways to ease the discomfort while you are healing (see the following paragraph)…
Going to the bathroom can be quite the production, but on the plus side, you’ll have time to check Facebook!
Each trip to the bathroom after you have a baby requires TIME. You may be given quite the gift bag upon leaving your birth place (or your midwife may give you one if you birth at home), all in the name of caring for your vagina. I had a huge basket next to the toilet of pads, a peri bottle, and Tucks pads (you might also be given stool softeners). I used that stuff for at least a month. The pads are a must because you’ll probably bleed quite a bit after giving birth. It’s like the longest period ever. The peri bottle came everywhere with me the first month or so. I kept it filled with warm water to douse myself when I had to pee–it helped eliminate any sting I might feel due to my sutures. The Tucks pads are just BOMB. That’s right, I said BOMB. They were so soothing and cool and were a huge help in providing me comfort in that area after delivering Brynn. The postpartum period rocked me because it’s hard. Not many people talk about it. So having those little comfort measures on hand was wonderful.
Do not send your baby to the nursery. Don’t you know baby snuggles are the most magical thing ever?!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories from mothers who think something may have happened against their wishes while their babies were in hospital nurseries. The best way to avoid this? Keep your baby with you. There is absolutely NO reason to send your baby to the nursery. You’ve been sleeping your whole life. You don’t get one more night–you’re a parent to a newborn and they need you now more than ever. I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT LET YOUR BABY OUT OF YOUR SIGHT. Hospital staff mean well, they really do! But they don’t always remember the wishes of each family they are attending. And they’re not always up to date on the best practices (like not giving formula if it isn’t medically required). And the worst stories I’ve heard are about babies being vaccinated and circumcised against parents’ wishes. It’s not common, but it happens. So just sidestep the whole thing by rooming-in with your baby.
You may or may not receive lactation support – Ok, this one is serious.
This is a big one. I’m coming to find more and more how awesome Boise is about this. We have some amazing hospitals and they are working on reforming policies all the time.
Sidenote: In fact, this Saturday, I’m attending a meeting about changing policy for immediate skin to skin after cesarean at one of our local hospitals. Is that not the best thing ever?! I’m so excited to hear more about this, as EVERY mom deserves to hold her baby immediately after birth, regardless of how baby enters the world.
So you have a baby and you want to breastfeed so you just put the baby to your breast and BAM! Right? No. It’s not always that easy, especially if the birth has been medicated. You and baby will probably be sleepy. Brynn was and we had a hell of a time with latch. Had lactation counselors not been on hand immediately, I honestly don’t know what we would have done. Given up? Maybe. Knowing me, I would have been on the phone to get someone to come help me, but not every new mom is as much of a pain in the ass as I was/am. So have a back-up plan. Do you have someone you can call to come see you immediately if no lactation support is readily available? Find someone and do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not accept formula supplementation as the answer because it’s not. Once you give a newborn formula, you have forever changed the environment of the gut, where the majority of their immune system lies. It’s important and you deserve as much attention as you need in this department. So get a plan in place and fight–for your right–to breeeaaastfeeeed!
(Little Beastie Boys reference for ya.)
You will never get this time back
If I could go back, I’d just chill. I was so concerned about visitors and the house being clean and being a good wife, friend, employee, mom, blah blah blah…I wish I would have just freakin’ chilled out; let the laundry go. Not done all the dishes. Not worried about the bed being made. But I did and I pushed myself and it would be 4:00 in the afternoon by the time I realized, holy shit I haven’t eaten today! So focus on taking care of you. Surround yourself with people (a postpartum doula, perhaps?) who want to help you and not just come over and dote on the baby. Make them a deal; you can come see the baby if you bring me food or fold a load of laundry. You deserve a rest. Your baby needs you. Resist the urge to be that perfectly put-together mom and just relax. Don’t pull a Brittany and wear eyeliner to your lactation consultant appointment. Because she honestly doesn’t care what you look like. All that matters is that you’re rested, nourished, hydrated, and that your needs are met. If your needs involve a hot shower and a blow-dryer, then we probably have more in common than you think.