Things I Wish I Knew (And Learned Along The Way) About Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum3:49 PM
Photo: EffJay Photography
I can hardly believe that nearly 2 months have gone by since little Lilli came into our lives, and I figured I might share a few thoughts and things I learned along this whole pregnancy adventure for any other new mamas to be out there. Enjoy!
- The big picture of pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle...but the day to day reality of it can really suck. There. I said it. But every ache, pain, stretch mark, and bout of sickness is so worth it!
- Morning sickness is a misnomer. It can last all morning, afternoon, evening and night...and nothing will get rid of it. You can google how to get rid of morning sickness all you want (and you will) and call your friends for advice on how they dealt with theirs, but honestly nothing makes the nausea go away entirely. I tried ginger hard candies, strong peppermint gum, saltines, b-natals (vitamin B6), ginger tea, ice chips, Tums, switching up my pre-natal vitamins, avoiding my phone entirely because the scrolling motion brought on nausea, and praying to God for relief. You’ll just have to experiment, and see what your body responds to in order to take the edge off a little bit…and anything helps when you are on your 4th puke of the day.
- Slather on the stretch mark cream. I made the mistake of getting super lax on applying the stretch mark creams since I didn't get any for 38 weeks, and then...BAM! Tiger stripes started appearing on my stomach right when I was in the celebratory home stretch. Crap!
- Ironically, don't fret about stretch marks. It seemed like the end of the world when I was pregnant...a sign I'd never get my pre-baby body back. After having Lilli, stretch marks are the least of my worries and they'll eventually fade out anyways.
- I wish I had been a lot more active during my pregnancy, because the pounds really piled on at the end. I gained about 42 lbs, and I've got about 20 lbs to loose at 7 weeks postpartum. Dang it. So, if you can muster the energy, walks, swimming and light weights are a good idea.
- Read the books about how to care for and sleep train your baby now, because there is no freakin' way you are going to have the time or energy to do it once your babe is born. I've got a stack of books on my nightstand, and I joke with John that I'll probably get around to reading them by the time Lilli goes off to college.
LABOR & DELIVERY
- Shrug off the natural childbirth naysayers if that's the method you choose to go. You'll hear things like "You don't get any special medals for going natural" and "Girl, you are batshit crazy" and "You know the invented the drugs for a reason?", but don't let it get to your head if you want to go the natural route. Just smile, nod, and move on.
- Research as many labor positions as possible, with your partner/coach, before going into labor. You never know which positions will be most comfortable until you are actually in labor, and having an arsenal of options and massage/relaxation techniques is critical. Personally, I bounced up and down on an exercise ball for the entire 12 hours - bouncing paired with John pressing hard into my lower back was the only way I could find some relief. I'm pretty convinced I would've been begging for drugs and my labor would have gone very different had I not had that bouncy ball.
- Relaxation is key - try not to tense up and fight the contractions...it'll only make your body work harder.Your body was made to do this, and it knows exactly what needs to happen to birth your baby.
- When you're in labor, there are crazy surges of hormones rushing through your body that will make you shake like a Polaroid picture. I would go from freezing to a sweaty mess in minutes, all while ferociously shivering. It's normal...and so weird.
- Natural childbirth is very bearable. By God's good grace, there is relief in between the contractions. I didn't believe this at first, but you do get a chance to collect yourself in between the 'waves'. Granted, those moments are short and quick towards the end of labor, but that brings me to my next point...
- Delirium is a natural pain medication! I was so dang tired after being awake for 24 hours that I was basically in a trance and falling asleep while bouncing on that ball in between contractions. John had to catch me a few times from tumbling off!
- Make your space as zen as possible. Keep the lights low, and relaxing music helps. I alternated between listening to this free Doula app and this song about 2343454354654645 times on repeat really loudly on my headphones to block out all the beeps in the room.
- The ring of fire.You will howl like a wolf woman when the baby crowns because OMG. Yikes. The pain is short lived, but not gonna lie....that part wasn't pleasant.
- Apps are life. You won't be able to remember what side you last nursed on, how long it was since your baby's last feeding, how many diaper changes, and all that other stuff that nursers like to ask. I downloaded the Total Baby Pro app, and it's been super easy keeping track of all that stuff that my tired brain can't remember. I also use the Sound Sleeper app on an old iPhone that I hook up to a speaker.
- Don't feel bad about sending your babe to the nursery at night for a bit at the hospital. It's worth it to get some shut eye.
- You will get virtually no sleep in the hospital. After 2 days of nurses coming in to take your vitals, trying to feed the baby, check ups from the hospital pediatrician, lactation consultants, food delivery, visitors, etc....you will be ready to go home.
- Take the stool softeners. If they don't offer them, ask and take them regularly...and continue taking them at home. You will be very very sorry if you don't. That's all I'm going to say about that unladylike topic.
- Mesh undies. Not attractive, but oh so awesome. I took my stash home from the hospital, and these disposable granny panties were my jam while the postpartum bleeding was at its heaviest. Try to get extras if you can.
- Prep a postpartum care box for your bathroom at home before you have the baby. I got 3 different pads (1 box of extra heavy overnights for right after, 2 boxes of thinner flex foam medium flow, and a box of light flow ones), Dermoplast (the one with the blue cap), Colace, Tucks pads with witch hazel, and Prep-H just in case.
- Have some cheap washcloths on hand for when you shower at home. You don't want to mess up your nice towels, so use them as a makeshift pad while you're drying off.
- Spanx are your friend. I felt like my guts were sloshing around the first 2 weeks after giving birth, and I loved having these Spanx compression leggings and a few of these Rosie Pope nursing tanks to hold my jelly belly in. Also...don't buy into the marketing mumbo jumbo for postpartum compression shapewear. It's like 2x more expensive and does the exact same thing.
- Hoard items from the hospital. I'm talking extra pads, mesh undies, Dermoplast, a tummy binder (you might have to request one)....you won't feel bad about it once you get that oh-so-lovely bill in the mail. You'll also might have some gifts from visitors to bring home, so pack an extra bag or two.
- Don't be a dodo like I was and neglect to book your photographer in advance if you want to have newborn photos done. Find a photographer you like, reserve a session, and find some inspo photos so they can start prepping!
- Love on your baby and take millions of photos, because they grow and change so fast.
- The first several weeks are hard, scary, wonderful, exciting, and exhausting. Remind yourself that you are an awesome new mama and doing a great job!
KEEP UP WITH TRIPLE MAX TONS