While pregnant with Zeek, I did what I imagine many women do: read up on labor advice or information. I didn’t do a whole lot of reading on pregnancy itself, mostly just on actual labor. I never picked up “What to Expect While You’re Expecting” or any of those other popular titles. Instead, I picked up, “Natural Childbirth: The Bradley Way“, “Husband Coached Childbirth” and read articles about natural labor.
I didn’t want to watch any childbirth videos because I’m the type of person who would rather go into something as big and personalized as childbirth without having preconceived notions of how it would be and would rather just experience it for myself. (While having information on normal things during labor/after birth, that is.) Unfortunately and fortunately, with our childbirth class that we took (The Bradley Method), we were plopped down in front of labor video after labor video and eventually I gave in and uncovered my eyes. (Yes, I was the girl in the class sitting there with her hands over here eyes for the first 4-5 videos.) Even in those videos, they still seemed a bit “Hollywood” and you never really saw the bloody aftermath of birth.
I do remember reading some REALLY valuable information about childbirth that really helped me through my labor and through the first few weeks after birth. I’m so glad I have an even better idea of what to expect for #2. In case there’s any other birth junkie out there like me, I thought I’d pass along some information that I was so thankful to know about!
With labor and birth can (and most often does) come a level of fear, especially in first time mom’s. Some of these informational bits that I read (a couple of them I read just days before birth and was so thankful that I stumbled upon them) relieved some fears that I might have otherwise had.
Also, I must preface this by saying, childbirth was amazing. I loved it; the whole experience. These are just things I am glad I learned before my first birth or at least know now for my upcoming second birth. These are also not things to make you NOT want to have kids! Having a kid is 100%, hands-down, the best thing in the world and completely worth every single little thing that I went through to get him here in our family.
CAUTION: This post will be TMI. Because, well… because I’m Kayla. And that’s what I do. 🙂
On that note:
Hi, Dad! You can stop reading this now.
1. Your contractions won’t always feel like a tightening band around your stomach. My midwife told me to keep watching out for that as a sign of labor beginning. I went 14 hours of a day with just mild cramping and no tightening feeling, in order to realize that I was indeed in active labor and gave birth 12 hours later, still with no tightening band feeling. Ever. Just intense cramping. Had my mom not suggested that I time them and suggest that they might indeed be contractions, I probably wouldn’t have really known until they started getting more intense in the wee hours of the morning, just a few hours before my son was born. Which wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing. I just would’ve been in denial that I was actually in labor and probably wouldn’t have called my midwife to prep her.
2. Vomiting is normal in labor. So is poop. Get over it. I vomited several times while in labor and get this: it felt gooood. Every time I puked, I rejoiced. My stomach felt emptier and better each time. I did NOT rejoice every time I pooped, but I relaxed and new it was okay and my midwife was completely used to it and not phased by it at all. And I pooped every with every single push. But you know what? Before I even had the chance to apologize to my midwife for pooping (which I oddly felt compelled to do after each push), she had already quietly scooped it away.
3. Pushing can give you hemorrhoids. And a sore throat. I know it gave me some hemorrhoids. I never looked, but no doubt they were there. I didn’t know this last time around and am glad I do know it now, because last time I was in bed for a few days and didn’t have the energy to run to the store to figure out what hemorrhoid cream would be best. By the time I felt up for leaving the house, the hemorrhoids had left too. This time around, I’m going to try a natural remedy that I heard of: spraying heavy flow maxi pads with witch hazel (found in drug stores) and storing them in the freezer. These are supposed to help with both hemorrhoids and swollen/sore perineum.
I “roared” with each push. Or something like that. All I know is that by the time Ezekiel was in my arms, my throat was KILLING me. I could hardly think of anything but how sore my throat was. I’m pretty sure my phone conversation with my mom went something like this, “Hi mom, it’s a BOY! Oh, and PLEASE bring me some throat drops when you come.” Seriously. This time I have a bag of my favorite (Burt’s Bee’s Honey throat drops) in my birth box all ready to go.
4. You have to birth two things, even if you aren’t having twins. First comes baby, then comes placenta. Your midwife/OB might give you a fundal massage (which isn’t really a massage. It’s actually kind of a nuisance, albeit completely necessary.) to help your placenta detach. Birthing the placenta wasn’t painful at all, just very… odd to feel something so large just slip right out of you after all the HARD work you did to push something almost equally as big out just moments prior.
5. Actual birth isn’t the last pain you’ll have. If you are O Negative blood type like me, you’ll get to receive a RhoGAM shot in your rump shortly after. As well as some stitches if you need any. And some shots down there, prior to the stitching, which hurt worse than pushing a 13″ head out (in my opinion). After I climbed out of the bath, cleaned up and laid in bed with my husband and newborn to relax, I learned relaxing wasn’t an option quite yet. I remember laying there thinking, “Seriously, I JUST pushed a baby out of there. What more do you want from me?”
6. You will drop blood clots. Possibly the size of Texas. At least probably the size of golf balls, or like me, the size your liver. Shortly after birth, my husband took my son to the bed to cuddle and the midwife and her apprentice helped me stand up and hose off. I vividly remember looking down after standing up and just seeing something… there. Hanging out of me. My midwife just reached over and gave the clot a gentle tug to remove it, without a second thought. A couple hours later, after taking a soaking bath, I stood up and climbed out of the tub and two more giant clots just fell right out of me. Had I not read about this 2-3 days before birth, I would have have sworn up and down that my liver had just fallen out of me.
7. You will bleed A LOT after birth. For days. Or weeks. For me, it was around 8 weeks. I remember thinking, “what is all this crap about ‘oh it’s so nice being pregnant and not having a period for 9 months!’?” Because then it hits you like a truckload and you make up for it all at once. Oh, goody. I wore women’s Depends underwear for the first 2 weeks probably. I hated the netting underwear and over-sized pad’s that the birth center supplied me with because it felt like if I moved even the slightest in bed, I would soak their pure white sheets with something SO not pure. The Depends were comfortable and I had no fear of leaking anything anywhere that it shouldn’t be. My husband told me he couldn’t look at me the same while I was wearing Depends. I counted this as a bonus blessing. I love my husband dearly but didn’t want him to even think about coming close to me! Then I wore the really heavy flow maxi pads for a few weeks and gradually worked my way down to just the thin pantyliner’s. I was thankful I had bought stock in Always Pads. Just kidding. But seriously…maybe I should for this next time… 🙂
8. Pooping can be scary. I remember crying, a lot, the first time I had to go poop (a few days after). I also remembering thinking of asking Skyler to bring me a spoon and helping me shoveling it out because ain’t no way I was going to push anything else out of me for a LONG time. I’m not joking. Take it slow. Drink some prune juice and plenty of water. Maybe a natural laxative. I know I bought some for this upcoming birth.
9. Your hair might fall out. And your baby’s. Don’t worry, this is normal. For the both of you. There’s not much you can do about it, but it’s still nice to know it’s normal. I (thankfully) had a friend tell me that her baby who was born with a full head of hair starting losing it after a couple of months. I was thankful for her words, after my dark haired little man started looking like a mid-life balding old man around 4-5 months of age. And it grew back in just a few months. *whew*
10. People might not bring you meals. Or be thoughtful about their visits. It’s okay to put an end to it. I had made a few freezer meals before Ezekiel came along, but we had close-by friends and relatives and thought surely we would have some meals brought to us. We had two. Two meals. And people came by frequently. And requested coffee. And drank our coffee. And left their coffee mugs for us to wash. We didn’t have a dishwasher in the house we lived in at the time. And hung out for hours, not offering to help with anything. Just keeping us awake, drinking our coffee, eating our food and giving us more dishes to do. Needless to say, we weren’t terribly amused with visitors coming over and just making our home just a little messier for us (aka, Skyler) to deal with. We put an end to it after the first week and told everyone that for the entire second week, before Skyler had to go back to school/work, we weren’t wanting any visitors. Not one. Not even relatives. We just wanted to relax as a small family and NOT have to “host” anyone in our home (especially if they weren’t even bringing us food!). This sounds snotty and rude. But you know what? You just pushed out a child, are physically healing, are tired and your house is likely a wreck. I think you’re entitled to be a little snotty about it. I made several freezer meals this time in prep for baby. We know we had a bad experience with it the first time around. We’re open to trying out visitors again this second time. But we’re not afraid to pull the plug on that operation if we feel the need again. P.S. Friends & Family, PLEASE don’t read into this as a plea for food this time around!! We have our freezer stocked. 🙂
There are probably more things. But these were the ones that came to mind and are probably the most important ones that I can pass along. 🙂 Hopefully it helps you to know some of these things beforehand like it helped me! Feel free to add any other “Must Know’s” in the comments section for other readers to know, if you can think of any more.