Whether you are a mom-to-be, planning to be a mom, or maybe you want to support your wife (huge brownie points to you), this post is for you. Or maybe you’ve had a baby, or two or three, and you want to commiserate with me on all the surprising things about giving birth. You know, the things no one talks about and the things they don’t tell you beforehand. Well, fasten your seatbelt, or in this case, tighten your belly band, and prepare to get really personal as I share my top 14 things to know about giving birth…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This conversation is sponsored by Evivo, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
10 Things to Know About Giving Birth
- Birth Plans: Just go ahead and throw that out the car window as your spouse is speeding through stop lights to get you to the hospital. Wait, your husband didn’t do that? While it’s important to be prepared, and a plan can certainly benefit you, just know that “plans” often don’t go as you think and you may not be thinking about those plans when breathing through excruciating contractions.
- Labor Pains: With my last three births, my labor pains started 36 hours in advance. I was having full-on contractions consistently 5 minutes apart for an hour and as soon as I got to the hospital they would slow down. Sadly, when contracting pretty regularly for 36 hours you don’t get much sleep, or at all, so you begin the whole parenting journey sleep deprived already. I didn’t realize that I’d lose that much sleep BEFORE having the baby.
- Water Breaking: If you’re lucky enough to break your water in the privacy of your home, wonderful, job well done. I had the joy of five doctors sticking a long tool along with their hands in my area to break mine. And then it gushed, and it gushed, and it gushed some more. There goes one layer of my modesty.
- Epidurals: Number 1 birthing tip, don’t let your husband hold you during the epidural. It’s a known fact that both my husband and I don’t do well with needles or blood, but the longer we’ve been parents the easier it has gotten. When getting the epidural on baby #5, we were a little too confident in our skills. The nurse asked my husband to hold me while getting the epidural. I was already at 7 centimeters at this point and the contractions were coming on very strong every 2-3 minutes. As the needle goes in my back and I’m in the middle of a contraction, my husband says “I’m going to have to sit down”. All I could muster was “What?” and I lifted my head and saw his eyes roll back as he fell backward like Goliath, the nurse catching his head as if it were a football just before he hit the ground. He passed out cold and had all the medical professionals surrounding him. All while the needle is still going deeper into my back, I’m having contractions, and I’ve got no one. He ended up getting sick and had to lay down for a few hours before the baby made her debut. Here he is sleeping peacefully, isn’t he cute? Moral of the story, if they can’t handle needles, kick yo husband out of the room!
- Pushing: Birthing books may mention how to push, they may mention doing exercises to help build muscles to aid in pushing. Pushing for me was a little hard to get the hang of it, but once I did it was the easiest part. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t hard work to push, because I pushed with all my might and have the hilarious pictures to prove it with my face contorted and red. But it was much easier to push than to contract. Goodness, those contractions hurt!
- Uterus “Massaging”: “Massage” is an interesting term for what they really do. After you’re all sewn up, the nurse tells you they need to massage your uterus. It really feels like they’re trying to poke through your skin and come out your back. Not your typical massage, if you ask me, but it’s a necessary evil.
- Bleeding: You think maybe because you had a c-section that you might get a pass on bleeding for weeks. Nope. Not at all. I bled for nearly 6 weeks after each of my birth experiences, both c-section and vaginal, which means you’ll need lots of pads. Oh, since you can’t use any other method (tampons), you get to just hang out in giant pads for 6 weeks.
- Pads: Speaking of pads. You see this cute little pink thing above that kind of looks like a diaper? In fact, you might notice it’s actually much larger than the Newborn size diaper it’s sitting beside. My husband had never changed a diaper before our first son was born, so he had already (lovingly) said that he would handle the first diaper. Isn’t that cute? Everything is cute before you have a baby, you even think changing diapers is going to be cute…until you are peed on time and time again. He grabbed the big ole’ pink diaper and couldn’t figure out where the sticky tabs where until my mother informed him that was my pad (or should we say diaper). Yes, you need that big of a pad. Enough said.
- Breastfeeding: The baby pretty much wants to breastfeed around the clock for the first four-six days until your milk comes in. They are getting that vital colostrum so it’s important, but no one ever mentioned that to me and I thought my baby was just an overeater or that they needed a pacifier early on. No, the baby just needs to suck away, all day every day for 4-6 days straight, no matter how sore or tired you are. Check out my full breastfeeding journey including tips and my go-to products.
- Peri Bottle: It’s a humbling moment when a grown adult cleans your private areas with this little squirt bottle called a peri bottle. But it’s something that must be done. Motherhood is a humbling experience and modesty is often the first thing to go.
- Mesh Panties: Next up is the amazing invention of the most comfortable pair of panties you’ll ever wear. A nurse will help you in a pair of mesh panties that you will live in for the next few days and I promise you’ll want to ask for extra to take home. I’m thankful to have had amazing nurses who never made me feel uncomfortable and I solute all nurses for the selfless and loving work you do!
- Ice Packs: Thankfully, someone created these amazing ice packs that are the size of giant diapers. They help with swelling and with any tears you might have experienced. Ask for extra of those, they are truly amazing.
- The First BM: You’ll learn after having the baby that you can’t go home until you have your first bowel movement (BM). This can be scary because if you had any pain medication, or if you had a c-section, you can obviously be backed up in that area. The nurses literally cheered when my first one came, how fun is that? Magnesium is your friend, my friends!
- BM During Labor: To be honest, one of my biggest fears was having a BM during labor. I discussed with my doctor beforehand, I discussed it with my nurse after arriving at the hospital. I even researched the topic and learned that it’s perfectly normal (and expected), it’s a very natural process of labor and has an important purpose: to strengthen a baby’s gut microbiome. When babies are born vaginally, and as they make their way down the birth canal, they place pressure on the colon causing mom to have a BM, which transfers an important and good gut bacteria strain (B. infantis) that can only be passed from mom to baby. Babies are born with a sterile gut, so this transfer allows babies to receive necessary beneficial bacteria to help their gut develop and strengthens a baby’s immune system and metabolic function, and can help prevent colic, eczema, allergies, asthma, and diabetes.
Statistics show that only 1 in 10 U.S. babies born today have the important B. infantis strain. To reverse this trend, a team of doctors and scientists found a way to repopulate the infant gut with good bacteria by way of a once-daily baby probiotic Evivo. It’s so easy to mix quickly and my sweet girl has no issues taking hers daily. Evivo is clinically proven to restore B. infantis to baby’s gut while reducing the potentially harmful bacteria linked to colic, eczema, allergies, diabetes, and obesity by 80%. It’s important to me to give her all the support early on for a healthy, long life, and Evivo is definitely helping me do that.
So there’s my full list of things to know about giving birth, from my experience, of course. Even though there are painful and embarrassing moments, the moment that baby is in your arms nothing else matters. The long months of pregnancy and childbirth melt away and everything is right in the world with the new little life who knows your voice, knows your heartbeat and has been waiting to meet you. It’s funny how you forget about all these things so quickly, and you are filled with endless love for the life you created. If you haven’t already, subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a thing, and here’s a handy pin so you can save this for later!