Tuesday, March 27, 2007

what I wish I knew..

Going along with Missy's Newbies post, I've been wanting to do a what I wish I knew [about labor and delivery and recovery] post. It's a personal subject/experience, so I'm not asking for a tell all, but don't you think that there are some things all of those pre-baby books should have mentioned? [I hope this doesn't sound negative, because it was an amazing experience. But, I could have been a bit more prepared!] Maybe, for a lot of women, labor is what they expected; what they read and were ready for (?).

I wish I knew:
1. That labor could be really long. I was in no way prepared for being in labor for 3 days. And that I was in so much pain for so long. I was basically in the dark about labor in general: my contractions where a minute long and a couple of minutes apart for days, but...my body wasn't progressing. I didn't know that was possible. And I wasn't prepared for back labor.

2. That the epidural isn't extremely painful. It was a pleasant experience for me. I think that a good anesthesiologist=a good experience.

3. That the aftermath of an epidural (days/weeks later) could mean extreme back pain. I had no idea. And back pain (intense!) was the hardest part about my recovery.

4. About split stomach muscles that don't heal. It's a bit scary when you can fit 4 fingers (across) in the hole between your stomach muscles. And the exercises I was given didn't join them. It's just the way my body handled carrying Cole. (Including no more belly button. I have an innie and an outie.)

5. That I would bleed SO much. I had never worn pads in my life until...after the delivery. Good thing I was stocked up. And good thing I had no reason to go in public for a while. [No tampons until 6 weeks postpartum, right?]

6. That birthing the placenta can be painful. It was for me...the kneading it out of my stomach while I was holding my new baby and trying to love the new experience of a newborn.

7. Tucks witch hazel pads. They were lifesavers!

8. That it's almost impossible to get sleep in the hospital. Nurses come in every...too often.

But, now I know. And it helps me look forward to my second experience. [I get emotional every time I watch the baby delivery shows: vaginal or Cesarean. They are amazing. The experience is amazing. It reminds you of your strength and of the value of a life.]


  1. LIke you said...labor is such a personal thing. One thing that I did before I gave birth to addie was to take a birthing class. It was a natural birthing class, but the intentionwas to educate the parents so that they could choose the best birthing experience. It was the best thing that i ever did. We learned all the differnet birthing options and discussed the pros and cons. We decided to birth naturally, since we knew about the after affects of the epideral, and the potential complications. But I also had a duola (a birthing helper) which was such an amazing experience because of the help and the preparation. The duola was there to massage, help me relax, apply counter pressure along with my husband, be the extra helping hand to get ice and water so that Kenneth didn't have to leave me, etc.

    I read lots of books...I can't remember them all, but my favorite was called "mind over labor". This book really calmed my fears, and gave me confidence that birthing naturally is what our bodies were meant to do, and that it can be a beautiful experience. I just loved that as soon as the baby was out, I was literally "there". I was able to feel the natural endorphins that keep you energized. After I delivered the placenta, I think that I was up and walking 15 minutes later.

    Anyways, there is a lot of help out there for mothers who really want to have a special experience...how to let the dr's know what you want and how to get what you want in the birth experience. The second time around is neat too, because it is different, but you know more of what to expect. But, in some ways it was harder, b/c I DID know what was coming, so I think I was more scared. But I did a better job and had more confidence. It's all about the learning process!

    Sorry...this is kindof a babbled response...I guess there is more to say than I have room for. I have a lot to say on this subject, but will hold back for the lack of space!

  2. I think that it's good to have a birthing plan, but then to expect the unexpected. I was vomiting and shaking from pain after 3 days of labor, so I'm pretty convinced that a natural birth (no medicine) would have been very difficult for me..even if I had planned it. Medicine allowed me a couple of hours of rest (before my blood pressure dropped and I couldn't have any more. I delivered without epidural.)which I'm so glad I did. But I think it's amazing that people do it completely natural. And I admire it. (But I also think it has to be right for the person/situation. Like you said: know your options and make an educated choice.)

  3. i totally agree...to be honest, on my second I had a little medicine too, just to take the edge off. I also needed oxygen...this kept me breathing and not hyperbentilating. man...three days! That is amazing. I was in preterm labour with both mine, so weeks of contractions, and on bed rest. So, I know what you are talking about. (both of mine were a month early). So, like you said...know your options. Seems like you will be a lot more prepared for #2 now! (PS: giving birth the second time is ALWAYS faster! Your body isn't as timid as the first time!)

  4. Great points Kelli. I went into labor fully prepared for pain (didn't want an epidural, but after throwing up several times decided to get one). My labor was relatively quick - 8 hours after my water broke, she arrived. But, that doesn't mean that I was anymore prepared.

    I had no idea how much you bled and for how long too.

    I was not prepared for my stomach to still be 4 months pregnant.

    The epidural made me shiver and my teeth chattered like crazy. Right after I got the epidural AND after my placenta came out. I could not get warm.

    Witch hazel. Love it. I didn't know what Tucks were though and next time I will be prepared!

    I don't think I was fully ready for newborn on night one in the hospital. I guess I figured that the nurses would help me, but when she was crying and I had just fed her?! What was I to do. Next time I will have a binky at the hospital b/c she wasn't hungry, but needed to suck from day 1.

    My doctor gave me stool softeners, which helped to go...something that other people tell me was very difficult and painful for them.

    Not to go into too much detail, but I actually got hemmroids from labor too. I didn't even know what they were...and maybe I'll end there with that. Even still, next time I will have the Tucks bought.

    Also! Nursing bras and pads in plenty rather than going out the weekend after having her to buy one when my milk has already come in.

  5. I hope all of you know that Tangled & True is quickly turning into my motherhood preparedness "Bible". I'm already SO grateful for all of you... if not a little scared for motherhood (and birth).

    Witch hazel? For what?

    Throwing up? I'd never heard that before... but I guess it makes sense. I got a bikini wax a few weeks ago and had a similar sensation from the pain. Really.

  6. Witch Hazel is soothing...I had torn (and got stitches) in three places. So, when I went to the bathroom (#1), wiping was out of the question. Patting the witch hazel pads on the bum got me clean and made the pain and discomfort a little less.
    (See, you can count on me to tell it like it is, right..)
    They are a MUST!

    And missy, I second your other quickly mentioned problem. I got a surgery consult once to see about getting them removed. They are that bad.)

    Kathryn, I was just thinking today how fun it will be when you are experiencing all of this. I wish I had friends that kindof gave me the heads up about everything good/bad. I'm especially excited about you decorating a nursery. (Whenever this all happens for you.) There is so much amazing stuff out there that I didn't find until afterwards. :)

  7. Refrigerating or freezing the witch hazel pads feels oh, so good on a sore lower half. And it helps you heal.

    Kelli, I hear they don't go away, right? Oh dear.

  8. PS: Kathryn, somebody HAS to tell you these things. Funny thing is that I think people either forget or don't want to bring it up. But, they are good to know, especially the lower half pain and the nipple soreness and bleeding (I was for 5 weeks, some people are shorter some longer). It's just something that comes along with having a baby. It may sound bad, but it pales in comparison to having that sweet and new spirit in your home. Oh....that's what I look forward to again. Someday.

  9. Kelli, I am with you. I didn't know labor could be so long. My sisters had short labors (like 3 hours) and I figured I would also have one. I was an idiot to have those expectations. Mine was 26 hours.

    I was almost dilated to a 9 when I had the epidural. I planned on getting it earlier, but that's a long story. I had been in labor for a very long. With the epidural I felt like I had two different labors...I liked one half better than the other.

    NEVER knew about back labor. I think that was the worst.

    hemorrhoids? yes. Um, suppositories. I'm supposed to stick that, where?! And with that, yes Missy, stool softeners. It took awhile for that issue to get back to normal.

    How much it hurt down there. Really sore. Sore to sit, sore to walk, sore to stand up. I need to try this witch hazel. I do. And tucks. I don't know if they have them here so that will be an import, because my sisters both recommended too.

    Another thing: breastfeeding isn't easy for everyone. I really struggled the first month, but kept with it and amazingly made it to 10 months. But that you have to do whatever works for you and makes you happy. The baby will still be fed, regardless.

    Also, that your hormones (mine were especially related to the above) may be everywhere! They'll get back to normal though!

    Oh and that it does get better with each day. Not that it isn't good the first day, because there is nothing better then holding your little one. BUT, with each day you figure out what works best for your baby and you establish a routine...you feel more comfortable .

    And that all of the physical stuff is totally worth it (a million times over), when you hold your little newborn baby!

  10. Oh Lindsey, I was an 8 when I got the epidural too. Looking back I didn't think I could go two more hours to get to a ten like that. My sister has short labors as well. Like one hour short so I thought mine was long.

    And I second that breastfeeding isn't "easy" even though our bodies are made to do such. I think there are curves. Two weeks the nipples weren't AS sore. And then six weeks, I started to feel better. But, again, that was my experience.

  11. Kelli, how do you tear in THREE places? I knew that you had problems, but yikes. That's scary. You are absolutely right- I NEED friends like you. I remember that you gave me the sex book before I got married, too. :) You're the best. Always better to be prepared I suppose... but I haven't heard about most of these issues...

    I read portions of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" once in college, while waiting for a friend to start playing his guitar in Borders. I just about started crying, and called my mom soon after to confirm the truths. Maybe that is why I am so terribly anxious about being pregnant/having a baby.

    I need a reading list.

  12. great advice - thanks for adding the post in my comments! amen on tucks!


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