When you’re pregnant with your first baby, you hear all kinds of advice from people. They want to tell you all about what happens in the delivery room, as if they alone hold this vital information for you. Even when you’re pregnant with your second, there will still be a wealth of advice poured upon you and phrases like, “Oh, your labor time will be cut in half with the second one” and “At least you’ll know what to do next time”. (I really hope that first one is true actually…)
These are all well-meaning people who probably just want to share some wisdom (and are just making conversation). But what do you really need to know before heading into that delivery room?
I went into the delivery room knowing a handful of tips from knowledgeable mommies, but here are 5 things you hear were no help to me in the delivery room.
Please take this with a grain of salt, and feel free to disagree! These were my experiences, but this pregnancy is yours. Ultimately, you need to do whatever makes mama feel more comfortable when you get into the delivery room!
#1. “Make sure you take a class”
Most of the things they taught in my birthing class I’d already learned from blogs and talking with other mamas. We really only took a birthing class because we felt guilty, like if we didn’t we weren’t being good expectant-parents.
I suppose seeing actual live births on film exposed us to the grossness that is labor and delivery, but honestly nobody wants to see that. Fortunately, I was on the northern end of all that while actually giving birth.
As we approached my due date, people constantly asked us, “Are you ready?” Although we felt prepared, that question made us feel uncertain. We usually shrugged and mumbled, “I, guess so… I mean we haven’t taken a birthing or Lamaze class, so we still need to do that… And we haven’t taken a breastfeeding class…”
I wish I had known… That ultimately this was my experience, and I wasn’t going to do it wrong. In the end, when we rolled into that delivery room, we were ready. It was the support Ryan and I provided for each other (mostly him for me, I mean let’s be honest) that made us ready.
My point is not that these classes won’t help you, my point is that the social expectation to “do all the right things” will not help you! If I could give you one piece of advice about labor and delivery, it would be listen to your own body!
Instead of worrying that I was not well-educated enough, I should have relied on Ryan and strengthened my connection with him, knowing that in the moment of God-awful pain, he would be my strength.
#2. “Make sure you learn how to breathe the right way”
This is the most common piece of advice that I received, and while don’t get me wrong, this is super important, I did not find the breathing exercises from the birthing class to be helpful while I was actually in labor. If anything, I felt the stress of breathing the “wrong way”, and that made it worse.
I wish I had known… That I know my body better than anyone else, and in the moment, I did not forget how to breathe. I fell into a rhythm that worked for me. Rather, the best piece of advice is, “Remember to breathe”! Really focusing on my breath is what got me through the worst of contractions. Well, that and moaning. And clawing my husband’s back… I may have bit him a little bit…
#3. “Go to the hospital when your contractions are three minutes apart”
I don’t know about you, but I expected for contractions to be evenly spaced! You always hear people say, “Oh, contractions were 3 minutes apart”, “contractions were 5 minutes apart”. What they don’t say is that contractions can be 5 minutes apart, then 3 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 3 minutes, then 5 minutes apart.
The pain also wasn’t consistent, it grew gradually. One contraction could hurt like hell, then the next was just an “umph” of discomfort.Using a stopwatch, I could never clearly see that 3 minute marker where I was supposed to go to the hospital.
I wish I had known… That the severity of the contractions are just as important as the time in between them. You may be told that Braxton-Hicks contractions are irregular, and therefore you can tell the difference between them and the real ones. That is not always true.
Thank the Lord for my sister-in-laws, both well-versed in birthing babies. The deciding factor in whether it was time to go to the doctor or not was if I could talk through a contraction. When the answer was HECK NO! and I was groaning and moaning through them as well, we decided to hop into the Honda CRV.
#4. “When your water breaks, that’s when you go to the hospital”
If your water breaks, do call your doctor and take his advice! But don’t wait until your water breaks to go to the hospital or birthing center. I kept waiting and waiting at home through each painful contraction for it to happen, but it never did.
I wish I had known…not everyone’s water breaks during labor. Mine did not. If I had waited around for that to happen before going off to the hospital, I probably would have given birth right there in the bedroom. When I had dilated to a certain point, the doctor broke my water to progress my labor (and also because I was about to throw someone through a wall if they couldn’t tell me I would have that baby soon).
#5. “When it’s time to push, you’ll just know“
False! This was one of the biggest worries I had going into labor. I had no idea what it was going to feel like to push! Ryan says I told the nurses as much right before it was time. That’s when those Godsent nurses told me the only helpful thing I had heard about labor…
I wish I had known…when you’re in labor and pushing the baby out, it feels like you’re pooping. There, I said it. Not pretty, but hey it’s giving birth and that’s pretty gross anyway. I am soooo glad those nurses told me that because I thought, “Oh, I know how to do that.” And you know what, they were exactly right.
So that is my story. Sorry to get so real there at the end, but I hope these points have helped you to relax and to be confident that this is your birthing experience.
I am not one to call the process magical, beautiful, or wonderful (these all apply to the actual baby that is born of course!), but I am a huge proponent of feeling confident in yourself. It is when you feel the most confident about your body and your ability to do this hard thing that your labor will go easier and faster.
Go with what you’re body tells you, and if you have a feeling that you should do something, then do it. God gave us these instincts for two reasons: so mamas can be real-life superheroes and so that we can take care of ourselves and our children the best we can.