I learned through the birth process that having the baby isn't the end of it. I thought I'd have the baby and it would be all over! I also wish that had been better explained to me.
What did you learn that you wish you'd known?
I knew a lot before birth, classes and books aplenty, but there are some things I had to experience to understand. Like that I would have my own unique way of doing it and the birth would happen whether I was loud or quiet, relaxed or active, and no matter what it was a success. I wish I'd really known with my first it can take a long time so rest up until you can't anymore. Also that you have to let go, surrender and get out of your body's way.
I shook during labor instead. I swear, that wore me and my muscles out way more than the actual labor part. I really, really hope that doesn't happen this time...
I agree on the vulnerable part, Primordial, I wasn't prepared for that either. Between the hormones and the Life Changing Event and the part where everyone leaves to let you take care of another human being all alone, I was a mess!
Believe it or not, I didn't realize quite how big my tummy would look, even on a "thin" person, afterwards. So then when I saw Duchess Kate not hiding her bump today (postpartum), I was like, "you go girl!" That was the first time I had seen a woman's belly so "closely" (not covered or hidden) right after birth. Since I was thin also, I assumed the bump would flatten out, but it wasn't......and I think most people in the real world don't realize, you REALLY will look 5-7 months pregnant afterwards, unless you TRY to hide it. I spent weeks thinking I was a freak of nature.
Also, I wish someone would have told me to bring earplugs to the hospital. I wasn't planning on getting an epidural, but did. Then I wished I had earplugs so I could sleep. You can hear the nurses and stuff going on outside your room at night, in Labor in Delivery. I finally buzzed the nurse to bring me some at 4 AM, but I only had 1.5 hours of darkness left to sleep at that point. I had packed TONS of stuff, scoured every list on what to bring, and never did I see earplugs mentioned. I didn't use a lot of the other stuff!
I also wish I would have read up more. I "knew" I wanted a natural delivery, but I still wasn't educated enough on what an epidural was, etc, until the very end, when I crammed. Things can change, so just know it all. Know what a C-section is like.
I wish I would have known not to get too attached to anything.....this or that outfit, this product for newborns, etc. Things change so quickly, that you may scarcely have time to use an infant carrier, before your baby outgrows it. So don't obsess about any "thing."
I wish I would have realized how nice it was to stay in the hospital overnight, multiple nights. Sacrilige, I know!!! But it was nice having food brought to us, every meal, and never having to leave the baby's side, and hubby never having to leave our sides, not for a moment. There were no awkward fights about how to do this or that, because there was someone there to be a tie breaker. Even if we ignored their advice.
Okay, most of this I wrote as though what I would tell the version of me who is nearly 8 months pregnant if I could talk to me, then. It obviously doesn't hold true for everyone.
And it's not all about birth but about those first few weeks, I guess because the labor came and went but those first weeks and months were quite an initiation to motherhood!
Not all moms deliver their first late. I was nearly a month early and it was scary!
Hire a doula! You will not want to speak to your loving husband once contractions begin. He just doesn't get it and can't say or do the right thing no matter how hard he tries!
Severe, severe sleep deprivation in the early weeks, followed by spurts of severe sleep deprivation in the months ahead. And that it will pass.
There will be no time to prepare food for a while, so if you don't have a lot of people preparing casseroles for you after the birth, do it for yourself beforehand. Prepare as much as will fit in the freezer.
Breastfeeding was significantly harder and more painful than anyone prepared me for. (This could be followed by a list of things I could have done to make breastfeeding easier).
At 97.8 degrees she did not need to be put under a warmer to heat up. She needed skin to skin with a blanket and to nurse.
As soon as someone utters anything that suggests you should hold your baby less/wait to respond/ etc., you should tune them out immediately. They are so, horribly wrong.
Hold her more.
It may feel like your instincts aren't kicking in, but they are and in time you will see how strong they are.
There will be moments where you can't imagine it's possible for you to do what you're supposed to do all by yourself without sleep. But you are and the payoff is great!
I'm sure there's more but that's it. It's a wonderful journey and is completely life changing.
No one told me how amazing I would feel after an unmedicated, natural birth. I had this amazing rush of feel-good hormones and turned to my midwife and just said "I feel AMAZING!!". And also how absolutely starving I would be.
That everyone loves to offer you parenting advice - I love to hear different opinions but at the end of the day I do what feels right and works for me and my family. Whether that is AP or not, or any of the other theories behind parenting just doing what works for you and feels right was the best decision for us. It did make some of our family members a little upset that we weren't parenting in the same way that they did but I am ok with that.
Your friends that have kids will be way more understanding and helpful than your friends that don't have kids. This may be just my group of friends but I totally didn't see this coming. I thought my friends without kids would be by more but they just weren't.
Oh - and how emotional you are the first couple weeks after giving birth. I always heard about the baby blues, and PPD, but being the kind of person who rarely cries and have never had any issues with depression I just assumed I would be fine. I cried a ton (happy tears as well as sad tears) for about a week and a half or so, then on an off for awhile after that.
I read so, so much about birth, and a little about breastfeeding, and thought I'd just be okay with a baby. We went home less than 5 hours after our baby was born, and looked at each other like... what the heck are we doing?!? (It was 1 AM by this time, too.)
I wish someone had explained that the feelings of not being able to cope any more when you're in transition aren't just psychological. It actually hurts more! I was under the impression it was an all-in-your-head thing. Um. No. Contractions getting closer and closer and harder and harder is not all in my head.
Also, next time I need to tell my husband/midwife/someone to remind me why I shouldn't scream at the top of my lungs, and why I shouldn't push my baby out as fast as humanly possible. I know why, but I couldn't access that knowledge at all in the throes of labor.
I wish I had known more about the possibility of prolapse (uterine, bladder, rectocele) and how to minimize the chances of it happening. This extends into the postpartum time - I think that we're expected to jump back into things very quickly before we have fully healed and that can have an impact on our pelvic floor health.
For my first and only so far, I was so geared up for having an awesome natural birth but really didnt consider what happens after that. I really didnt know how tough the first few weeks would be. And then additionally, looking back I see that had I focused more of my preparation on becoming a mother and not just birthing that it actually would've been helpful in the birth. I think I was subconsciously apprehensive about becoming a mother and that actually stalled out my labor towards the end. (Over-analyze much?)
Oh and lastly, my goodness I wish someone had looked me in the face and said "TRUST YOURSELF!"