During my pregnancy, I ready so many mommy blogs. I scoured Pinterest to learn tips for labor and delivery, postpartum care and life with a newborn. I read reviews on baby gear. I wanted to be armed with all of the information possible so that I would be less scared.
I can’t say it didn’t help. Who knows how much more scared I would’ve been without all of that information? But I was still terrified. And you know what I learned? Some of it was legitimately good advice. But some if it was total bullshit. Here are my top 5 DOs and DO NOTs (all based on my personal experience – obviously I am no medical professional and everyone’s experience will vary):
… Get the epidural. I was terrified to get an epidural, but I was more terrified not to get an epidural. So, I got an epidural. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I had heard so many horror stories about not knowing when to push, not being able to walk, having to have a catheter, being totally numb and missing out on the full experience. Perhaps mine was one of the few completely positive experiences, but I had no issues whatsoever and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
… Bring adult diapers. Listen, those gigantic pads and mesh underwear aren’t bad. I gave them a shot, but the Depends that I brought in my bag were so much better. I had heard so many stories about not bringing anything with you to the hospital that you didn’t want to get ruined. I could’ve worn a ball gown and not worried about a leak.
… Let the baby sleep in the nursery. Listen, my baby was NINE days late. When he finally arrived, I didn’t want to give him up, even for a second. I cried when they took him for his assessments. I struggled to even let his dad and grandparents hold him! But I finally caved and let the nurses take him to the nursery when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and realized the nurses would be awake with him all night making sure he was safe and sound. Your body goes through so much when you deliver your little miracle, and it needs rest to recover.
… Delay visitors for awhile. My baby was born at 7:30 am and visiting hours didn’t start until noon. It worked out perfectly because my husband and I knew that we wanted some time just the three of us before we accepted visitors. We had time to just soak in the miracle we had just witnessed and stare at our boy in awe. While we loved showing our boy off as soon as our family arrived, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Our world stopped spinning during those few hours and all that mattered was that we were all together.
… Ask all of the questions you want. I thought I knew it all. I had read the books, after all. Parenting can definitely be summarized in 300 pages, right? I read the blogs; I had pinned lots of new mommy topics. I didn’t want to ask questions. I would be sitting in my hospital bed using my iPhone to google things that I could’ve just asked the team of medical professionals that came into my room every 20 minutes. That was dumb. It’s okay to have questions. Some of it comes natural – like the love and admiration you feel for your baby – but some of it is hard and confusing. That’s okay. The nurses aren’t going to judge you. They’ve heard and seen it all.
… Make those damn padsicles that are all over Pinterest. I bought all of the supplies and took the time to make them. I used one. The rest are still in my freezer. Why? They’re so freaking cold. You can’t put something that cold on a part of your body that sensitive. You couldn’t do that on a normal day, let alone after the trauma that has just occurred. Save yourself the money and the time. Not worth it.
… Make yourself miserable over breastfeeding. In fact, I have a whole post dedicated to my struggle. I’ll save you the time here – just give that a read.
… Be embarrassed or insecure while in labor/delivery. I was self-conscious at first. Then the nurse told me I was never going to get anywhere if I didn’t stop holding back. So I stopped holding back. I gave it everything I had for an hour. I was a hot mess. I had busted blood vessels in my face. I had sore muscles for weeks. I can only imagine how I looked. But I didn’t care. I was getting another human being out of my body. All behavior is excused.
… deny visitors completely. Like I said above, we waited several hours to have visitors and I wouldn’t change it. But we had considered asking family and friends to hold off on visiting until we came home from the hospital, and I’m so glad we didn’t. Even though having a new baby is so exciting, being cooped up in a hospital room gets boring. And I got so much joy out of seeing my baby’s grandparents, aunts and uncles meet him for the first time. It just enhanced the entire experience.
… believe everything you read. Your labor and delivery experience, just like your pregnancy, is going to be one of a kind. No one can tell you exactly what to expect, and no one can give you fool proof advice. It definitely doesn’t hurt to be prepared – I am really glad I armed myself with as much information as I did. But I wish that I wouldn’t have expected to an experience exactly like the ones I had read. I had very few complications, but my baby had pooped sometime between my water breaking and his arrival. So while he ended up being perfectly healthy, he had to be fully assessed immediately – meaning I didn’t get him placed on my chest for skin to skin until he was several minutes old. I mourned the loss of that precious few minutes and decided that next time around, I will go in without expectations and just accept the experience as it happens for me.