While I was pregnant, I discovered that women love to recount their birth experiences. It didn’t matter if I ran into a new mom at my doctor’s office or at grandma’s cashier at the grocery store: everyone had a birth story to share. I would listen politely and quickly roll my eyes as soon as I got to the car.
“I will not be that person” I said to myself blissfully.
Fast forward to about five weeks ago when I gave birth with my son, who by the way is a baby’s most precious and perfect little gum.
We are struck. But it also turns out that I’m totally, without any excuse this the person.
I will tell my birth story to anyone who will listen.
How did I become one of the their?
First of all, I am really proud of myself. Do you know how hard it is to push something the size of a big soccer ball through a hole the size of a baseball?
Second, I want to share my experience with other pregnant women so that they know what to expect during the whole birthing process, because I had no idea What to expect.
I really thought I was ready. I took the baby class; I practiced my breathing exercises; I have watched about a billion YouTube videos.
Then I went into labor for real.
And all that preparation went out the window.
So if you are expecting a baby, thinking about having a baby, or just curious about what having a baby really looks like, here are the four things I wish someone had told me before. it is not time to give birth to my drop of gum.
1. What do contractions really look like?
If I had a dime for every time someone told me, “Oh, you’ll know when you have a real contraction,” I would have enough nickel to put on a sock and hit these people.
I wanted to know exactly how the contractions felt so I would know exactly when I was in labor.
It turns out all of these women are right.
I had false contractions quite regularly during my third trimester. These false contractions, called Braxton Hicks contractions, are usually painless. Your abdomen tightens until it’s hard as a brick, then the contraction is complete in about a minute.
When real contractions started, it was like the worst menstrual cramp of my life. Just when the pain started to take my breath away, the contraction would end and I would have a brief respite until the next one started.
“Women can use so many different words to describe the feeling of contraction. Here are a few that come to mind: the pressure, the embrace, the pressure, the radiant heat, “like a migraine in my stomach”. … Comparing it to a menstrual cramp during a woman’s monthly cycle is the most common way to describe what a contraction looks like.
2. Nothing can prepare you for the pain of labor …
I chose to give birth naturally because the thought of an epidural needle frightened me more than labor. I had a few friends who gave birth naturally. How could that be difficult?
Insert the rolling eyes emoji here.
Some women, like those interviewed in the book by famous midwife Ina May Gaskin Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, describe childbirth as a pleasant experience.
This may be true for some women. To me, the pain of childbirth was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Nowlin explains, “As labor progresses, when the contractions do their strongest work, the feeling of dull menstrual cramping can multiply tenfold and turn into a full body experience that demands the full attention of the woman. mother.
Boy, to put it mildly.
I will keep the details of my own work between myself, my doctor and the 42 nurses in the delivery room. However, I will tell you that after my water broke I requested an epidural.
After about five minutes of these contractions, I even used the code word that my husband and I had agreed to use only if I couldn’t seriously tolerate the pain.
Finally, I didn’t have an epidural because I didn’t have the time. Doula Becks Armstrong succeeds when she says, “Nothing can properly prepare you for how you will actually feel that day, because it can be very different. [from your] waiting.”
But Armstrong recommends a few tips and techniques to help prepare for the intensity of labor pain:
Doing yoga to learn both breathing and movement can be incredibly helpful. Even just figuring out how to be in an awkward position, eagerly waiting for a place on the wall and breathing for 30 seconds can be really beneficial. Learning mindfulness and how to allow your thoughts to come in and out of your head while focusing your attention on different parts of your body and breathing slowly and deeply is also a great workout.
3.… or postpartum pain.
Again, I’ll spare you the details of my work, but I’ll tell you I had a nice standard second stage of the tear. I was all full of adrenaline after the birth, so I thought I was feeling good. I was standing and walking about 40 minutes after my son was born.
The next morning? Not really.
Things were very sore. I walked like a cowboy who had ridden his horse for two consecutive weeks. Fortunately, your nurses will take care of you. They’ll provide you with cold packs, pain relievers, and a shoulder to cry on (literally) while also helping you use the bathroom.
I did not understand the name of this woman, but she is a genius and a saint. These homemade compresses felt great. Witch hazel and aloe helped soothe incision pain and speed up the healing process.
The good news is that postpartum pain shouldn’t last too long. After about a week, I was able to take a short walk around the block without pain. My stitches completely dissolved by the third week postpartum.
Recovering from a Cesarean is a little different and usually takes a lot longer than recovering from a vaginal birth.
New mom Dora Smith-Cook, who recently gave birth by Caesarean, says that “recovering from surgery unexpectedly (for me) has only added to life’s stress and frustration. Taking things slowly and allowing myself to heal took a lot of effort, so all I wanted to do was focus completely on my baby.
After returning home, Smith-Cook focused on healing. “I had to delay physical activity, rest for at least one of my baby’s naps, and leave the household chores to my husband.”
4. How anxious I would be to take care of a baby
After the birth, mom and baby are totally pampered. Nurses give you attention, and friends and family come with gifts and wishes. And then just 48 hours later, you’re rushed out of the hospital and expect to drive an unbelievably small baby home, where you’re responsible for keeping it alive.
It’s quite anxious.
Armstrong tells me that I am not alone:
I think women are bombarded with so much information about what they should and shouldn’t be doing that it can become overwhelming which leads to anxiety. There are a number of things they can do to help if they are feeling anxious (or have trouble sleeping, extremely tired or watery, or if their muscles are getting really tight) … Anxiety is often manifested as inability to breathe deeply (and can lead to panic attacks) so finding even 5 minutes to stop and do a deep breath can really help relieve your anxiety. Talking with friends, walking in trees, and even watching a funny movie can help relieve anxiety and [its] effects.
I was afraid to leave my baby alone for five minutes, even with my husband or my mom, but Armstrong said, “Having some time away from your baby can help sometimes, even if it has to be with someone in whom. they trust, otherwise it can increase anxiety.
I thought I would be able to fly it when I went into labor. I mean, who needs to learn to breathe, am I right?
But Armstrong said, “Understand what’s going on [labor] is important so doing classes in the hospital to really understand what the different procedures are and when they can be used is important, but actually talking about bad birth stories (all pregnant women hear them) and finding out what they are could do to prevent them from happening to them, I think that’s almost more useful. Instead of worrying that something bad might happen, they can focus on prevention. “