5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Labor
Yes, no matter how much you read to prepare yourself for labor there might still be surprises lurking around the corner, and hey, this keeps things interesting right? But there are some things that do not need to be a surprise.
Even though I had done my due diligence and been interested in birth most of my adult life there were still things I did not expect.
This article is a compilation of my own experiences along with the comments from several postpartum parent’s accounts from both hospital and home birth situations expressing things they wished they had known before labor to prepare for a bit better.
Personally with my first child I opted for a home birth without an outside doula. My husband and I took classes and we decided he would be my support and doula. This might have worked if I had a short labor, but a day in I realized we had made a mistake. He was tired and exhausted and needed a rest and the midwives were there for encouragement and medical support but did not provide what a doula would have.
Another mother's experience.
“My midwives were there for encouragement, doing the medical checks and charting on their computers, but they did not help with counter pressure, supporting my partner, and giving him a break, suggesting comfort measures, or much else. I now know hiring a doula is a must for additional support.”
I know all midwives are different and some may offer these additional services but as far as I understand, it’s not their role. If you are using a midwife I suggest checking with them exactly what to expect and what their role is in the laboring process. They may also be able to offer referrals to good doulas.
You may have your whole birthing experience mapped out and planned but remember this is life, and life sometimes has a way of happening in ways you do not expect.
Remember that anything is possible and allow your intention to stay focused more on the best possible outcome for all and plan for the worst case scenario, while staying positive you will get the outcome you desire. Trust that whatever happens, even if it deviates from your plan, is in divine order.
Here are accounts of mothers' experiences of dealing with unexpected events and things they had wished they had known prior to birth.
One mom who transferred to hospital for a Cesarean had this to say about their preparation experience.
“We sat down and considered our birth preferences, what we wanted, and how we prepared to create our ideal scenario. But we didn’t talk much about the “what-ifs” and how we would be prepared for them.”
There is a fine line between being informed and prepared for possible special circumstances (complications) and maintaining a focus on positive mindset.
“For our home birth we would have ironed out the details of “our worst case scenario”, packed for it and put it aside feeling prepared both physically and mentally. But we didn’t and really wished we had”.
So much emphasis is placed on preparing for birth that little is discussed about what happens afterward and how you will feel.
“After my hospital labor experience I remember being so upset that no one told me how uncomfortable, in pain, and hard, post birth would be. I had an epidural so along with birth pain from a long labor I was constipated and was severely uncomfortable trying to go to the bathroom. I remember being alone in the room, hobling to the bathroom, wishing someone had prepared me mentally for this.”
Prepare yourself mentally for your body to maybe work differently after labor as it adjusts back to normal. Yes, you may only have fatigue but sometimes things get jostled around and your functions may take a few days to get back to normal even without a cesarean.
“We spent a lot of time getting ready to birth our baby and since we didn’t have the birth story we planned for we had no clue what the recovery might look like. It was much more difficult than we imagined it would be”
Make sure you prepare for all scenarios and know what recovery looks like given an outcome you did not plan on.
Society places a lot of authority in our medical system, this is not bad because they do know a lot more than you in most cases, but this does not mean you do not have the right to ask a lot of questions and say no to things they suggest.
As a mentor of mine once said, doctors, lawyers and accountants all work for you, they provide sound professional advice, it is still up to you to decide whether to take it or not.
One mother's experience explains this point.
“I have the choice to say no and/or ask questions of my providers for a lot of the things they offer me or suggest. The staff in the hospital presented things to me as though they were needed or what I “had to do”, but after researching a bit more for my second baby, I was shocked to find out that I can actually say no to a lot of things they routinely do.”
For the families I work with I spend a lot of time going over how to communicate with providers including asking them simple yet informative questions. For example the acronym B.R.A.I.N.S. guides you through this process.
What are the BENEFITS?
What are the RISKS? And do the benefits outweigh the risks?
What are the ALTERNATIVES? Know your options and ask for a second opinion.
What does our INTUITION say? Trust your parental instinct.
What if we did NOTHING? Holding off for an hour can make a difference sometimes.
Take SPACE. Discuss your options with your partner while no one is around and make an informed choice/decision.
Remember to trust yourself and make choices from a place of what is best for all involved. Even though things might not go the way you planned, take a moment to check-in. Along with planning for what you want, looking into what will happen if things change. Plan for the worst case scenario too, even if just mentally. Trust that you have done all you can and whatever happens will be perfect.
Avoid comparison, always. This one is plain and simple.
If you have any questions I can answer personally I am available via the contact form on my website. Please fill it out and we can schedule a call. If you are interested in knowing more about hypnobirthing or hypnotherapy please checkout my websites.
Certified Hypnobirthing® Childbirth Educator, Hypnotherapist, Doula