I was in serious denial the day my water broke with my first baby. Maybe it was because it was a month before my due date, maybe it was because I was at work and thought, “Lord please let this not be happening.” But that is exactly how it happened.
He was born healthy as can be, and luckily not in the elevator at work but rather in the comfort of a hospital as I had planned. I honestly think it was his way of proving a point to my ‘Type A’ personality. No matter how organized you think you will be when baby arrives, there is no telling when and how they are going to arrive. Thinking back on that day, I am flooded with memories including some of the things that would have been nice to know when going into labor.
1) It’s not pee. Well, sometimes it is pee. Heck, my youngest is two and during certain high intensity workouts it’s still pee. Or just sometimes when I laugh too unexpectedly. But what I am talking about here is when your water breaks. I insisted to my co-worker that I was peeing when, in fact, it was my water breaking. I think it was after dousing the third maxi pad that I finally realized perhaps she was right and I should get to the hospital.
2) Pack a bag. This sounds obvious but be thoughtful of what you pack. Cozy socks, giant underwear and comfy pajamas are high on my list. A bathing suit, phone charger, mints and make up removing cloths (because they refresh your face when you cannot move around after child birth) are also a must have. Have you ever heard of a Pretty Pusher? You’ll either love or hate the idea but I had one with my daughter and I seriously loved it!!!! It was so much more comfortable and stylish than a hospital gown. Because, in the hospital style must be your number one priority.
3) Get in the tub. If you have the option, utilize the tub and get some soft jets on your belly. For me, I wish I had known earlier how good this would feel. When I did dip in it immensely helped with my contraction pain.
4) It is your decision whom you want or don’t want in the room. With my son, we made the decision to just have it be my husband and I in the room. Oh, along with the doctor and nurses. I am very close to my mom but it was important for this to be a moment for the three of us. Part of me felt guilty but I shouldn’t have. Besides, I am pretty sure my mom had her ear glued to the door of our room just in case I changed my mind. With my daughter, I did have my mom there with me. It was amazing and I am so glad she experienced that. If you are pregnant, remember it is your experience and you don’t owe anything to anyone.
5) Your partner needs a role. Perhaps this isn’t a news flash to anyone but the guy won’t know what to do. He is basically watching you in extreme pain with no control over the situation. “Rub my back, stop touching me, I need ice.” Any of those requests sound familiar? I advise to ensure your partner knows his role is to be your support so he knows that even though he may be seeing a whole (probably not super lovely) side of you, that he also has a role to play in getting you through. I honestly could not have gotten through my labors without my husband being the rock star that he was, AKA super patient and nice. If your partner is freaking out, this is normal. Maybe send him on an ice run and have a friend or relative step in to relieve him for a bit.
6) Push like you mean it. Nothing prepared me for what it would be like to push a human out of my body. I mean, how can one ever really know what that is like until you are in the moment? I sure as heck didn’t. A tip to those of you preparing for this experience- You cannot push like you mean it and only be working some of the muscles down there. You must push everything. And I promise if that causes you to have some, er, movement- just know that the doctors are ready for it and you are with 50% of the population that does it. It. Is. Normal.
7) Nobody cares if you’re groomed. With my first coming unexpectedly early, I literally apologized to my doctor for not having a fresh pedicure or wax. How embarrassing when I now look back on that because I know the last thing a medical professional cares about is what color your polish is. I will say, however, that with my second, I was thrilled that my water broke the day after I had been at the nail/wax salon. But less because I thought the Doctors cared and more about the fact that I knew it would be awhile until I was able to have any pampering time so I was happy it was all fresh.
8) The pain goes away when that baby arrives. I went drug free with both my kids. With my son, I recall strongly regretting that decision when it was time to push. I remember feeling beyond defeated and thinking that I would always be screaming in agony. A woman in labor is not a rational one. If I had known that the second my son came out that intense pain would be gone, I feel it might have given me just a tad more hope and energy during the pushing. For those of you considering this route, I swear the most euphoric amazing feeling I have ever experienced was when those babies were out and that literal pressure was gone.
9) “Ok, next up let’s deliver the placenta” are words that will forever ring with detest. While I did say all the pain goes away, I should add, “until you have to deliver the placenta and get stitched up.” I almost punched my doctor when he started pushing on my stomach after I had JUST had a baby. You have been warned and I hope you will act more gracefully than I perhaps did.
10) It is all worth it. No matter the route the baby arrives, I promise you the pain, work, tears and exhaustion are all worth it. When you hold that baby in your arms, you will tell yourself you would do it all again.
What do you wish you would have known before childbirth?