There are countless lists of what you need for your birth and in your birth bag. You can find a ton of different options on the internet and on Pinterest. You might spend your third trimester days on Amazon looking up postpartum essentials like a peri-bottle to spritz your “down-there” after birth, postpartum compression panties, ice packs for your “down there,” and some extra pairs of those mesh underwear (trust us, they are dreamy).
And don’t forget your favorite snacks to have while at the hospital after birth. But sitting down and trying to figure out exactly what you need and what you don’t need can start to make a pregnant woman a little overwhelmed when she is already feeling nesty..and fiesty. So instead of talking about what you need to pack, let’s talk about 10 things you DON’T need at your next birth experience.
1.You Don’t Need Family At Your Next Birth
I know, it sounds heretical to say you don’t need family at the birth, but you might not. As a childbirth educator, I have seen many people over the years who are having mom, mother-in-law, sister, best friend, cousin, sibling, etc attending their birth.
The truth is, this is YOUR birth. You, your coming baby, and your partner need to be there. Everybody else needs a whole-hearted invitation. They don’t get an immediate invite. Not only that — the birthing mother reserves the right to kick anybody out at any time.
When it comes to birth, sometimes the more people means the more you feel like a watched pot, the more you can’t relax, the more you feel the need to perform, and the more stress you feel at time when it is imperative that you not feel stressed.
2.You Don’t Need an IV
Is an IV standard at your place of birth? It may surprise you to know that you may not need one. Yes, like any intervention, an IV can be incredibly helpful during birth. But when we hand them out willy-nilly, they can just be annoying, or worse, a cause of breastfeeding problems or excess weight loss in your baby. So if you feel capable of eating and drinking, and all other factors are in your favor, question the need for a routine IV.
3.You Don’t Need an Epidural
Can’t deny that sometimes in birth it seems like a really fabulous idea to be numb! But you may not need an epidural.
1) you are probably a lot stronger than you realize
2) natural birth is often an amazing experience if you are prepared for it.
Like any other intervention, an epidural can sometimes save you from bigger interventions or give you some much needed rest. But the idea that it is a given or a need, just isn’t so. In fact, an epidural can sometimes lead to a cascade of other interventions.
4.You Don’t Need Social Media
It’s the age of the smartphone, the tweet, the status update and the live feed. Sure, there are some obvious advantages to social media. From communicating with family to the ability to share your every thought, desire, and opinion with the world; we have all grown a tad addicted to the instant gratification and attention that social media bring to our lives.
But birth is old stuff. It existed long before tumblr and it will exist long after. You don’t need to bring social media to your birth. You don’t need to update your friends about your dilation or your trip to the hospital. In fact, the precious time of late pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum is a time of nesting and drawing inward. Social media simply works against this natural process. Seriously consider being totally present at your birth and skipping the updates for others.
5.You Don’t Need a Bra
I know, bras are awesome. When you have had as many kids as I have, they are more like a vaguely uncomfortable best friend that you can’t live without. But when you are giving birth, you don’t actually need one. Birth photography has gotten famous and appreciated – and it is good stuff. I love that women share those amazing images and birth videos and I am grateful that I can share them with my childbirth class students.
But you don’t NEED to worry about the perfect bra for those pictures that your dad will see. More important is that you feel totally comfortable, intuitive, and primal while you are pushing out your baby. If that means you are roaring and buck naked and the pics aren’t ones you want to share with the world, so be it. Priorities first, and the priority is an awesome birth, not an awesome picture. (Plus, naked birth videos are pretty realistic.)
6.You Don’t Need a Fancy Birthing Gown
If you do want to stay covered, a beautiful nursing gown isn’t necessary. In fact, chances are that that nice gown will be covered in blood, feces, urine, and after birth liquids and you’ll want to get out of it as soon as possible.
7.You Don’t Need a Bag Full of Clothes
Many women find themselves packing several days worth of clothing in their hospital bags. Truth be told, you will probably change your clothes one or two times throughout your stay, if that. You might stay in your hospital gown the entire time until you’re ready to go home.
8.You Don’t Need a Bunch of Diapers or Onesies for Your Little One
On the same note, you also don’t need a bunch of diapers or onesies for your little one. Unless you’re doing cloth, and even then, sometimes you can have those supplied by your birthing center. Your little one will more than likely stay in a little wrap-around t-shirt and swaddled up tightly for the duration of their stay. A sweet “going home” outfit is really all you need.
9.You Don’t Need Your Own Pillow
One of the biggest, chunkiest things that new moms often bring to their births is their own pillows. Remember ladies, you will be leaving with a lot more than you came with, so try not to fill your arms to the brim with stuff that you will have to carry out.
10.You Don’t Need Other People’s Opinions
Everyone and their Aunt Sally is going to tell you how you should handle your birth. But you know yourself and your body best. Listen to your midwife or doula, but follow your birth plan how you want it to the best of your ability. In the end, that will make you the happiest.
So, if you don’t need all that stuff at your next birth you thought you did…what SHOULD be on your “bring to the birth” list?
- A prepared partner – Get that person in a fabulous birth class where they can learn all the things they need to be prepared.
- A doula. Doulas rock. And they don’t slow down labor like your mother-in-law might. For real.
- A garden pad. No gardening in labor, but you or your partner may realistically spend a lot of time on your knees. I’ll explain later.
- Honey sticks. Because honey is awesome. Plus it is clear (for those hospitals that still impose a clear fluid policy, not that you want to have your baby there) they are filled with energy, and can give you a needed boost.
- A hair tie. You have no idea how annoying stuff touching your skin can be until you are giving birth. GAH. Nothing on the neck. You have been warned.
- Witch Hazel pads. These babies can help relieve your “downstairs” area of the fiery burning and swelling that often occurs after you give birth vaginally. Actually, we love Earth Mama Organics’s entire Postpartum Bundle. Buy it!
- A camera. You might not feel beautiful but trust us- you are, and you will love having tangible memories of the moments before, during, and after your child’s birth.
- Your favorite essential oils. Rolling on your favorite oils will give you peace and calm, and help you center around the birth.
- Your other children. If you have other children, consider having them there for the birth or immediately after if you are doing a home birth. The experience of watching a sibling come into the world is like no other.
- The knowledge that you will be meeting your baby soon. Sometimes all you need is a little reminder that after all this hard work you will have your sweet baby in your arms. Sometimes it’s the push you need to give one last “push.”
You absolutely can have a great birth. I really believe that. But sometimes the things we think we “need” for our birth are the things that get in the way of achieving the best experience.