A Note for Expectant Mothers – how to be realistic heading into labor and delivery
A Note to Expectant Mothers
You’re finally about to meet your little one. Soon you will hold them in your arms instead of cradling them in your belly. Kiss their sweet head and tiny nose. Feel their long, tiny fingers and place your much larger finger in the palm of their delicate hand. It’s pure magic, the experience of going through pregnancy, labor, delivery and coming out of it all with a tiny little human wrapped in your arms.
I felt like I was Super Woman after I gave birth the first time. (Sore, bleeding, and tired but still Superwoman!) Birth is an absolute miracle and I couldn’t believe my body could do what it did! I was utterly amazed.
No matter if this is your first pregnancy or your second or your fifth, you are probably feeling a little nervous and anxious to be on the other side of this momentous event. You are expected to feel that way!
I was nervous too!
We all hear so many stories that people are all too eager to share. The trouble is, it seems like it’s the horror stories that people want to recant over and over again. I worked in early childcare for 10 years with mostly all women. Oh, were there some birth stories to share! And guess what? Not one person’s experience was the same as another. Your birth story won’t match anyone else’s stories either! Your birth story will be uniquely your own.
I have wonderful birth stories! Yes, it is possible to have easy(ish) labor (there is a reason it’s called LABOR after all – it’s hard work!) and quick births, though I don’t recommend expecting one. If you expect easy, everything will be harder. If you expect terribly difficult, you’ll be able to cope much better with whatever labor and delivery has in store for you. Throughout my labors, I kept thinking, “ok, I can handle this, I can do this. It’s bound to get worse, but I have this moment and I will be ok.”
I practically meditated through my entire second labor and delivery, though I don’t practice meditation. I was talking to myself the entire time in my head, coaching myself along and focusing on breathing and relaxing into it.
I just want to assure you that even if your mind has no idea what it is doing your body does!
Your body tells you when to push, though you should definitely listen to your midwife, doctor, or whatever medical staff is taking care of you and your baby. Your body contracts to move your baby downward and toward the birth canal without you asking it to. Your body knows the way. You will WANT to push when the time comes. Your body knows what it’s doing and it can do this AMAZING thing of giving birth to a child.
You were made for this! You were designed to deliver life into this world! It’s your superpower and you can do it!
Go into labor and delivery with your plan in your mind and written out. Make sure whoever is accompanying you and advocating for you during your labor and delivery knows what you WANT but be prepared for what you want not to happen. Birth is unpredictable and messy, things can happen fast, and emergencies come up, and babies don’t cooperate.
Whatever happens, you are strong. You will make the best decisions you can for you and your child given the circumstances you are given. The important thing is having your baby delivered safely into your arms.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your birth was less special or less amazing because of the way that it plays out. Own your birth story. No one takes the easy way out. You are amazing no matter what happens, mama. You are SUPER WOMAN!
Be realistic. It’s not a cake walk. You’ll PROBABLY need stitches down there from tearing. You WILL be sore and you WILL bleed and you WILL leave the hospital in mesh panties. Probably sitting on a throne of ice. And your belly will still have a poof where your sweet baby once was. You won’t recover overnight. If you end up with a C-section you WILL be recovering from major surgery and you will take even longer to recover.
Giving birth is a miracle and nothing worth having comes easy. But I’ll say it again, you were made for this. You are super woman. You can do it.
It is one day in your life and will soon be a distant memory.
Soon, oh so soon, you will have that little one in your arms.
You won’t be able to stop staring at them, examining every feature. When they’re out of your arms, you will feel like a piece of you is missing where that warm little lump was moments ago. Your heart will forever be tied to theirs no matter how old they get or how much they drive you crazy. Your entire life changes the moment they are on your chest and in your arms.
Your body aches, your eyes are dry from lack of sleep and then all at once wet from tears as your hormones are entirely out of whack. Remember, it took nine months to grow your precious little one, your body changing bit by bit to meet the needs of your tiny growing baby. It took just a day for them to come out of their warm home in your belly. Take time to adjust and to discover your new normal. That’s what it will be – a new normal. Things won’t ever be the same.
Don’t rush. Your body is changing and your mind has little time to catch up. Give yourself time. Give yourself grace. You’ll get there. It might take a year. It might take a few years if we’re being honest. But eventually you’ll get there.
Accept help. People genuinely want to help you, so let them. If there was ever a time to learn humility and to learn to accept help from others, it’s during the first few months and years of a baby’s life.
Sometimes it feels like everyone forgets how hard it is to have a baby in the house. People only remember the baby snuggles and tell you to take it in and appreciate these moments. But you feel stressed and sleep deprived and barely hanging on. Your house is a mess. You haven’t showered in a week. You’re on your last nerve and in desperate need of a nap. And the most they can give is “Oh, this time is precious just soak it up! Cherish each and every moment!”
Thanks so much for your unsolicited and unhelpful advice. Have a great day.
While it’s true that the baby years are fleeting, they are also really hard – especially with your first baby. The saying the days are long but the years are short is so true. The days can be SO LONG. The days can be so long in fact that they run right into the next because you didn’t actually get any sleep because you were up with baby. All. Night. Long.
You are not alone! All over the world, there are other parents awake with their babies, changing diapers by nightlight, walking around soothing their fussy babies and tackling those feedings in the middle of the night.
This too will pass – even if it doesn’t feel like you can imagine having a toddler, having a 4-year-old, having an 8-year-old, having a teenager, and so on and so forth. The tiny human now calling your belly home will one day grow into an adult, a person all on their own, independent from us. We have the joy and privilege of watching them grow. They won’t be a baby forever. They must grow up.
Try to tell your partner-in-parenting how you’re feeling and ask for what you need. Tell your friends exactly how they can help you most. Do you need a meal or for them to leave you alone? Do you need someone to commiserate with and an adult to talk to that you don’t have to put on real clothes or brush your hair or even shower to be around? Whatever you need from your partner, friends, or family, please, please, please try to voice your needs and ask for help.
This time will indeed pass as all things do.
Ask for help.
Record your experience. Believe it or not you will forget over time.
Take pictures of the little moments and of yourself too!
Hold your little one. You can’t spoil a child by providing them security and comfort.
Remember that every child, every person, and every family is different, so what works for someone else might not work for you and that’s ok. You are the expert on your family and your life.
Give yourself grace. No one is perfect.
You’ve got this. You’re Super Woman. But remember, we all need help. Needing help is not a sign of weakness. This parenting gig is just that hard. It truly does take a village to raise a child. Use your village!
One last thing I really want you to hear.
You are enough. You are strong. You can do this.
You are super woman!
Sending love and well wishes,
Big Love Small Moments
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