There are a lot of things I wish I did before giving birth. None of them relate to fancy nursery furniture, taking naps or getting a facial.
I wish I’d saved more money, I wish I’d shaved my legs and I wish I’d told my mom to just stay at my house and cook all my meals for as long as she damn well liked.
Most of all, I wish I’d put a little more effort into preparing to give birth.
This was my second baby but ten years after the first and, as it turns out, you forget stuff in ten years. In fact, when it comes to childbirth you forget a whole lot faster than that (because otherwise no one would ever have a second baby.)
Not medical advice: I am in no way qualified to give you or anyone else medical advice. This isn’t medical advice and neither is anything else I’ve ever written on this site or anywhere. For medical advice, consult a medical practitioner.
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Giving birth is natural
Thousands of women give birth every day – and a lot of them do it in much worse circumstances than you or I will face. So it’s easy to feel that this is all a natural process and you’ll take it as it comes.
And it IS a natural process.
But that doesn’t make it any easier.
As totally natural processes go, childbirth is about as intense and agonising as they come – so if there are things that can make it a little easier, you’d want to know about them, right?
If you do, jump over and check out the awesome online childbirth classes from Mommy Labor Nurse – the free videos are great and if you do sign up, you’ll get 10% off with coupon code LAPTOPSANDNAPTIMES.
Preparing for birth – the wrong way
My prep for that particular birth was basic to say the least.
Sure, I went to all my appointments but the birth planning amounted to yes, I’d like to use the birth pool if possible and no, I didn’t mind getting an IV. (We have a history of Group B Strep and always need antibiotics during labor.)
We didn’t discuss pain relief, monitoring the baby or my partner’s role in helping me through the whole experience. Hint: think about those things.
And I’d been there before and got the T-shirt so I skipped the hospital childbirth class. No time for that.
(I can only assume that I was caught up in LIFE. There is no other obvious reason why I would have knowingly NOT EVEN TRIED to make childbirth easier on myself.)
This’ll be your easiest birth
“Statistically speaking, this’ll be your easiest birth,” my doctor cheerfully informed me – and I took that and ran with it. I might’ve been ‘on the heavy side’ but I was also a walking statistic whose body was getting ready to open, flower-like and ease a new life into this world.
So, no, I wasn’t very well prepared for this birth. But I’d done it before and had my doctor’s words to bolster me so I was gonna be fine.
How the birth went
So labor came at last (induced) and all these things started to hit me right when I was least able to deal with them.
The monitor straps. (Hands up who hates those things?)
The when-is-this-all-going-to-end, which is the worst part, if you ask me.
And of course, I didn’t remember how to cope with the contractions – and I forgot that transition even existed. There’s probably a biological reason for that, too.
No epidural, thanks
And I should probably mention that I really wanted NOT to have an epidural this time around. So you’d think learning natural labor coping techniques would’ve been high on my list? Nope.
I guess I really had forgotten how tough labor is.
It’s great to learn by doing – that’s how most of my household repairs happen and why I know how to make a pavlova.
But I don’t recommend it as a way of learning childbirth coping skills.
As a rule of thumb, if something is definitely going to hurt, you probably want to do some basic research and planning beforehand.
So I had to learn to cope with labor pain on the job
And that’s not ideal.
FEELING EVERYTHING – the pain, the fear and a sh!t-ton of emotions on top. Ugh. Not pretty. Instead of feeling like an empowered earth mother, I wanted MY mom to come and rescue me. Just make it stop. Bwwaaaah.
BTW you will not feel like an empowered earth mother either. At times, you’ll feel like a nutcase.
There was nothing else to do but get on with it so I did, as best I could.
My midwife encouraged me to breathe correctly and gave me laughing gas, which worked pretty well for a while.
Then I reached a point where it just wasn’t enough.
Where I was breathing and pulling on the gas but the pain was just intensifying. I wasn’t getting a break. And because I hadn’t planned for it, I started to panic.
So I went for the diamorphine shot.
(Here’s another thing to learn about BEFORE you are in hospital – pain relief options and WHAT THEY MIGHT DO TO YOU.)
It did help the pain.
It also made me sleepy. So sleepy that I dozed off after every long, agonising contraction. And dropped my gas then snatched it back like Gollum seizing the One Ring when my partner helpfully picked it up for me.
But anyways, that all went on for a long while – me not coping very well and contractions coming anyway because that’s what they do.
We made it to the end somehow – with a ton of emotions and tears and a lot of pain in my entire body and his hand.
After many hours and a some help from a kind doctor who didn’t seem to mind the crazy stuff coming out of my mouth – finally Little Guy was born.
Healthy and heavy (10.5 lb) and perfect but my whole experience could’ve been a lot nicer if I’d been better prepared.
What I should’ve done to prepare for birth
Don’t you hate feeling out of control? I do.
And when you give birth, you’re going to feel out of control.
BUT – you might feel it less if you do some serious birth prep beforehand. I am saying this confidently in my non-medical capacity because after that hard birth I went off and had another baby. Yes, two years later baby girl came and that time I PREPARED MY ASS OFF.
The difference in how I felt before, during and even after that birth was huge and I wrote about it here.
Step 1 – Make a great birth plan
Take the time to think about how you want your birth experience to be. You’ll want to include:
- who’s gonna be there with you
- who has to STAY AWAY (immature friends, I’m looking at you and no MIL at the business end – well,ok, you decide.)
- what you want – pain relief, movement, birth ball, birth pool, monitoring, home birth?
- what you don’t want – episiotomies, interventions, pain meds? Learn what might happen and understand your rights to accept or refuse treatment.
- who is going to speak for you when you need it? What do you want them to say?
- how you will get to hospital & home again
- where your other kids will be and with whom
Once you spend a little time thinking about what you do and don’t want, it makes it easier to advocate for yourself.
Step 2 – Be ready to advocate for yourself
During that birth, I didn’t advocate for myself well.
I acted like it was happening to me instead of it being something that I was doing as a grown-ass woman who knew what she wanted.
Sometimes I really wanted things one way but accepted another because I wasn’t able to speak up for what I needed.
For example, I labored a lot lying down in bed when standing would’ve been better (I know that because I labored upright the next time and it WAS better.) Somehow, I wasn’t able to verbalise that I needed to be on my feet.
Once I understood that upright was what I wanted, I was able to get that. You might want something else – just try to know what that something is.
Step 3 – Prepare your partner to help you
This is a big one and I never did it well. Basically, if you know what you want from your birth, he needs to know it too. If you have techniques that you’ve learned and practised, he needs to know what they are. Duh. (That’s a duh to me, not you.)
When you educate yourself, get him involved. A supportive partner is a solid gold asset in the delivery room.
And how do you educate yourself about birth?
Well, reading on the internet is a great start. Blog posts and YouTube got me a long way with my prep for baby #3 and I wrote about that here.
Remember that birth plan list above? Google those topics. Read, watch videos. That’s actually all I did – but I did it A LOT – and it made a HUGE difference.
Attend your local hospital prenatal class – it’s probably free.
Have you considered an online prenatal class?
Like I said above, I didn’t take a class – I just did a lot of online research. And that was great but there are faster options out there if you want them.
For example, you can get a comprehensive, labor-nurse-led prenatal class online for only $39.
It’s called Birth It Up and Liesel, your instructor, is super enthusiastic about her subject and manages to explain childbirth in a way that makes it less scary somehow.
Click here to watch the free video and see what I mean! Just select either epidural or natural depending which way you’re leaning.
(And if you decide to sign up, don’t forget you can get 10% off with my coupon code LAPTOPSANDNAPTIMES.)
Busy preparing for your baby’s birth? Read these posts too!