Friday, December 16, 2016

10 Surprises About Childbirth

There is no book or article out there that will truly prepare you for childbirth, because every woman’s experience, and in fact, every birth, is truly unique. However, there are some things that surprised me during childbirth with each of my daughters.

1. You won’t see much of your doctor

Of course, this will all vary depending on whether you have a doctor or a midwife, how large your hospital is, and how many other women are in labor at the time. But in general, doctors only make an appearance for the actual delivery, not labor.

2. Nurses can really help (or hurt) your birth experience

If you have a happy and attentive nurse, this can really impact your birth experience. Get someone who is unhappy to be there or someone who’s shift is almost over and can’t be bothered, and you’ll know it.

3. There’s no drug quite like an epidural

I tried different painkillers with each of my children in order to postpone the epidural. However, the truth is, there’s no painkiller that will actually kill the pain except for an epidural. If you can get by with lesser painkillers, by all means, do it. But if you want a painkiller that will stop the pain, go right for the sure solution–the epidural.

4. There’s always more paperwork

Even if you pre-registered or sent off all your information to the hospital in advance, there will always be something more that needs to be signed, dated, or seen with a copy of your insurance cards. Go to the hospital prepared.

5. Your lips will get chapped

It sounds a little ridiculous, but one of the things I desperately wanted and needed during labor and delivery was chapstick. Not only did I like the flavor, but lips get chapped from panting, breathing, and grunting.

6. You bleed a lot after the baby is delivered

I had been warned that you bleed after childbirth, and I expected something similar to a menstrual period. The bleeding you’ll experience after childbirth is heavier, may include more clots, and will last substantially longer than a normal period. Be prepared

7. You won’t be as tired as you think

I thought I’d want to crash after labor and delivery, but in fact, I felt a huge surge of adrenaline. I wanted to hold and cuddle my baby. I was ready to talk about things with my spouse. I wanted (a few) visitors to come and see us. I was, surprisingly, pretty awake. The exhaustion comes later.

8. There will be downtime

Whether it’s before active labor starts, after you have your epidural, or once baby’s been whisked away for a check-up, you will have some downtime during your hospital stay. Come prepared for it with a book, your knitting, or even your phone book so that you can make some calls.

9. Contractions hurt, and pushing is hard work

It may sound like common sense, but these things were big surprises to me, anyway. I thought of labor and delivery as one big thing, but it’s really two separate parts. Labor (the contractions) is the pain, and delivery (the pushing) is the work.

10. There’s no better rush in the world

Whether you delivery naturally, with the help of an epidural, or via a c-section, there is no rush quite like bringing your child into the world. Holding him or her for the first time…well, it really does change your life.

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