I am a Whale.
I could actually list a bunch of mammals that I feel like but this pregnancy has been super challenging. I am jealous of my first pregnancy self who had zero morning sickness, fatigue, crazy mood swings, or anything really. I felt 100% like me but I couldn’t see my feet while standing up. My second pregnancy self had more complications, morning sickness and I was put on “light rest” for a few weeks. It sucked, I couldn’t workout and I had Braxton Hicks contractions all the time. I also was pretty hormonal, and I really didn’t like my husband for some reason. (Sorry babe!)
This time around I had horrible morning sickness, horrible food aversions, horrible hormones (I cry all the time), horrible breakouts, random pains in places I won’t mention, way too many contractions to not be in labor and I have gained a LOT of weight. Seems like third time is not the charm! However I am carrying a girl this time, so many people just say that girls do that to you.
Everyday on Facebook it seems like someone new is pregnant and bursting with joy. I don’t want to pop your bubble, but here are some truths to pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery that people tend to gloss over.
-A good birth plan is nice to have- Having a baby is not a situation where you should just wing it. I winged it once, and it was a horrible experience. The second time around, I was fully informed in what I wanted and what was required. Many hospitals will give you a mock birth plan to work from and I suggest you fully research what you want and write it down! A good hospital will try to accommodate you. In a case of emergency, they might not let you do it all, but allowing you to have limited monitoring so you can walk or bounce on a ball will help the process so much.
-Can Suck- Everyone doesn’t have the Brooklyn Decker pregnancy. It was comical in the What to Expect movie, but in reality it sucks. You may have a friend that has a perfect pregnancy. If you don’t, hey welcome to the club. Don’t feel bad and try not to be jealous. Instead, drink ginger ale and eat saltiness.
- Never judge another pregnant person – While you may or may not have symptoms, you never know what someone else is experiencing.
-Freeze meals. How many? As many as your freezer will fit. After baby comes, cooking will be the last thing you really want to do. That and going to the grocery store with a newborn.
Labor and Delivery
-Epidural vs Natural- As soon as you have a kid the mommy wars begin and I feel like it starts with the way you birth. I will never understand the elitist mentality when it comes to bringing a child in the world. I have done both so hear me out!
- Natural- This will hurt. Hypno birth will try to make you brainwash yourself into believing that the surges (in lieu of contractions) are not that bad. If you can convince yourself of that, great. More power to you. If you can’t- I’m going to be honest, it hurts. Now your pain tolerance, position and state of mind all play a huge factor in natural birth. Also those things you can’t control like a tilted pelvis, uterus or anything different down there, will also impact the baby coming out. Laying on your back is the worst position possible, and many women will birth that way. If you choose to go natural, don’t listen to all of the naysayers. That will lead you to self doubt. Do your best and if you change your mind halfway through labor, that is ok too!
- Epidural- After hours in pain, this will be the bliss that will allow you to get one final nap in. My advice, don’t look at the tray the anesthesiologist is working from. Keep your eyes forward, focus on breathing between contractions and think about the relief coming your way. You may have pain in the injection site for a few days or weeks. I had to use a heat pack for two weeks from the epi pain. It also took my anesthesiologist more than one attempt to get it in so that probably added to the pain as well.
- You will be surprised at the amount of people that may see all your goodies. I was at a teaching hospital for Thing 1 and I feel like by the time he came out, my audience had grown from my mom, sister and nurse, to 20+ med students, nurses and the doctor. That room was packed. It was awful. I would try to close my legs and pull my gown down, but the nurse kept shoving it up. The second time around I was in the room with just my husband, midwife and two nurses. I was able to wear my own shirt and I felt like they let me keep a bit of modesty. I strongly suggest you include things like -the only people you want in the room short of an emergency, what you wear, and times you are interrupted.
Recovery in the Hospital
- PEE – As often as you can and as much as you can. After all of the IV’s you get put in, that mess needs to come out!
- General soreness down there – Sometimes it hurts. The nurses will bring you ice packs and witch hazel for a reason. Use it and if they give you some pain pills, you may want to take them. However, every birth is different. One kid I had the pain, the other I didn’t. You never know.
- Look in the mirror- People may think you are narcissistic, but you will want to look back at your baby pictures and not cringe. You don’t have to bust out a full makeover, but you might need to brush your hair, dry off sweat, fix your mascara, or add a little color to your mouth.
- You may waddle after giving birth. You thought you waddled in month 9 but just wait my friend!
- Your loving nurses will turn evil when pressing on your stomach to “help” or “check” that your uterus is going down. It hurts. I think a tear might have popped out on occasion.
- You may need space. After pushing a little person out of your body, showing your goodies to the world, getting poked, prodded, checked, a catheter, and moved into your recovery room, you may feel overwhelmed. You just went through a lot. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone to give you a few minutes. You might want to sleep, you might want to watch your little precious sleeping angel, you might want to update your newsfeed. Who knows, but don’t be afraid to take a minute for yourself. You just did a selfless act giving birth. Enjoy these moments of peace and quiet.
Recovery at Home
- Compress- I really wish I would have done this with Thing 1, but compressing helps pull you back in. Once the baby is out, you still have a belly that will rival a 5 month pregnant lady. The only difference is, your stomach is empty. You can press and mush it around and it will bounce and roll like flubber! Use a compression garment or even an ace bandage to bring everything back together. Plus it will boost your self esteem to look like you again, plus you will have a cute little baby as arm candy!
- Remember all those periods that you missed the past year? Yea. They all decided to come out at once and yea…overnight super maxi with wings will be your best friend with a few weeks. Those and the peri bottle.
- Use witch hazel pads. These bad boys are not just for hemorrhoids. These are a soothing happiness on your hoo-hah!
-Never trust the celebrity recovery magazines. They have personal chefs, trainers, special lighting, nannies and best of all Photoshop! Don’t believe that they really look like that.
-You will be exhausted! Everyone will advise you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but that isn’t possible sometimes. If you can, I suggest you go on ahead and do it. I personally have a coffee/kickstart addiction after having the kids.
-Freaking sucks in the first month! I’m not trying to deter you, nursing is a wonderful thing, but people forget to tell you it hurts a lot in the beginning. I’m talking toes curling, worse than the contraction feeling, somebody knock me out pain. Your baby is learning how to latch, your milk makers are getting used constantly and there is nothing you can do but persevere. No one told me how bad it was at first, so when it was difficult, I felt like a failure and wanted to quit.
-Lanolin will be your best friend! You will only need it for the first few weeks or months and it is great for keeping the girls from getting chapped, cracked, and it soothes.
-It might be hard to do. If your child has jaundice or has to eat frequently for some reason, it might be exhausting
-Is awesome after the first month!- You won’t have to deal with all the washing of the little annoying parts that make up bottles, or try to make and heat a bottle at 3am when you are past zombie mom tired. You can put the kid on the boob and keep moving.
But this is just the beginning! I’ll add more later! Happy pregnancy!
Do you have any tips or things you found out about that surprised you during the baby process?