Having a baby is a challenge, and knowing as much as you can about what happens, before you give birth, is the best way to be prepared.
When you’re close to delivery, your to-do list becomes a mile long. Not only are you getting the house ready for your new arrival, but you’re making sure you have everything that you need on top of taking care of yourself. If you have complications, like preeclampsia, those really start to become an issue near the end too. So many things to do, and so little time.
Your mind is probably wandering between your to-do list and your curiosity of what having your baby will actually be like. Or even what giving birth is like. I was lucky enough to have people tell me the truth about what to expect, and boy, am I glad they did. So now I’m passing it on to you.
1. You’ll know when your water breaks.
I was induced, but about a week before that, things down there changed. I felt wet all the time, for like a day straight. After calling the hospital and having the nurse giggle on the other end of the line, I felt silly for calling. But I’m still glad I did. I’d rather be extra safe during that home stretch.
The doctor broke my water in the hospital. It felt like I just wet the bed 3 times over. I realized then why that nurse was giggling. I would know if my water had broke. Even if it was just a trickle, I would know. You will too. (But don’t be afraid to call the hospital if you’re unsure.)
2. A C-section is a very real possibility.
Even if you want to have your child naturally. It can still happen, for various reasons. Remember, even though your child is important, your doctor’s primary concern until he/she is born is you. You are the patient and if a C-section is needed, they won’t hesitate.
My daughter had the cord wrapped around her neck (we knew early because her heart rate would drop when I laid on one side and not the other) and they seriously considered a C-section more than once. In my case, I was able to give birth naturally. Your doctor will discuss your options and the reasons why with you.
3. Breathing through contractions isn’t going to help you.
No matter what your pain tolerance is, breathing isn’t going to help. Contractions are so strong, and painful there really isn’t any escaping them. Whatever you feel you need to do to deal with the pain, just do it. Squeeze his hand, yell, just remember, it will pass. (Only to start again a few moments later)
4. You’ll remember what you went through after your baby is here.
You won’t resent them for it, in fact, you may even want to do it again once you start enjoying your little one. While the experience is different for everyone, the pain and experience still matters.
5. Sex might hurt after the 6 weeks.
Again, everyone is different. If you have a C-section, you’ll probably be advised by your doctor to wait longer before having sex again. If you tore, or had something else happen, you may have to wait, just listen to your doctor. But the truth is, everything changes down there. You’ll get back to normal, you just have to give yourself time. Remember to go slow and try different positions, see what feels best for you.
6. You may not want to have sex after (at least not for a while).
Even after the 6 weeks, your mojo may not be back. You’ve got a new baby to take care of and a million things to do. You may find that your just not interested in sex right away, or months after even. Do it when your ready and not before.
7. Breastfeeding is (really, really) hard.
I thought it might be difficult to breastfeed, but with all the advantages, I really wanted to give it a shot. Our last (4th) night in the hospital, they brought my daughter in to feed around 3 AM. My fiance was asleep, and I’m sitting up in bed, trying my best to feed her. I had already spoken with the pediatrician and lactation consultant who had both shown me how to do it and given me advice. My daughter just couldn’t feed. It happens. Just keep trying and get all the advice you can.
8. The hospital staff doesn’t tell you much.
Now, this might not be every experience, but it was mine. The staff at the hospital told us absolutely nothing about taking care of our child. If we asked a specific question, they would answer, but other than that, nothing was ever offered to us.
9. There is a car seat test.
Your baby must go through this test before you can leave the hospital with him/her. Every hospital is different. Some do this test for babies who are premature, have health issues or are under a certain weight. Some hospitals do this for every baby. They did this the night before discharge. They took our car seat and said they were going to put our daughter in it for 3 hours to make sure there were no problems while in the seat. They monitor the baby the entire time, if there is a problem, they will let you know.
10. The first few weeks home are an emotional roller coaster.
I thought that coming home with our baby would be nothing but joy mixed with sleepless nights. Boy, was I wrong. I never thought about how I would be emotionally after having our little one home. At first, I’m sure I was on edge because of the lack of sleep, but once a couple weeks passed, my stomach was still like jello and I had zero energy for anything but baby. I thought my body would bounce back far sooner than it did, and I thought I would feel quickly like I did before I was pregnant. Nope, everything about the process takes time.
Having a baby is a challenge, and knowing as much as you can about what happens is the best way to be prepared. Keep in mind, that sometimes things happen that you aren’t prepared for, keep your chin up, you can do it. You’ll be enjoying your little one in no time!
So what do you have to add to the list? If you’ve had a baby, what did you experience that you didn’t know about?