Childbirth. Bringing new life into this world. Wow! What an experience… What an honor!
A woman’s body is so amazing. It’s so vulnerable, yet so powerful at the same time. Aside from the physical part, your emotional, spiritual, and mental state goes through these huge roller coaster rides within minutes! For some, within seconds! Childbirth is amazing. It is such a humbling and powerful experience.
Every pregnancy comes with multiple childbirth advice. Some are very helpful. But most are not. When we were pregnant, we received some really bizarre tips. But I won’t get into them here — Maybe I’ll compile a list of them for another article.
Of all the advice we were given, there were some that really helped us with all three childbirths. Some I’ve heard of before, but most were new to me and I would never have thought of them. Read on as I share the top 10 things I wish I knew about childbirths.
10 Things I Wish I Knew About Childbirth
1. Birth Plans – Keep It Simple!
The shorter the birth plan, the more likely your delivery team will accommodate all your requests. Too much is going on during childbirth for them to take note of ALL the details. They will skim your plan, at best. So limit it to ONE PAGE! I learned this the hard way when I delivered my first baby. The look I got from the staff when I handed them my 3-page birth plan was hilarious! In addition to keeping it short, make it easy to read with bullet points. That’s what we did with our second baby. The staff’s facial expressions were much more pleasant that time around. By our third baby, we had THE BEST BIRTH PLAN.
I literally just waddled in there and told them in between contractions, “Get him out safely and let me sleep after it’s all done.” Handed them my birth plan — one page with one sentence in huge, bold fonts, “GO WITH THE FLOW”. Translation, do whatever it takes to get you and your baby out of this safely. Even if that means getting an epidural when you’re 7.5 centimeters dilated. You’ll be too exhausted. You’ll need some rest to prepare for the real push. Let mother nature take its course and allow medicine to intervene when it’s necessary… as long as everyone is safe!
2. “4-1-1” Before you head to the hospital or birthing center
That is… your contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasts 1 minute each, and has been going on for at least 1 hour. When this happens, you’re very likely in active labor. You should start heading to your hospital or birthing center – now. Don’t forget to line your car seat with a towel or waterproof pad, just in case. At this point, things start to move really fast.
3. Labor and Delivery (L&D) will not admit you unless you are in active labor.
Once you’re at least 4 centimeters dilated, you’re in active labor. How will you know how dilated you are? When you get to the hospital, the person behind the admission desk will ask you some questions. You will answer accordingly, but will immediately stop talking when a contraction hits. These strong contractions will last about a minute, at least 4 minutes apart or less. When the person behind the desk sees this, he/she will usher you into a triage room, where a doctor or midwife will confirm your dilation. If you are less than 4 centimeters dilated, they’ll ask you to wait in your triage room until you reach 4 centimeters, or they will ask you take a stroll around the block to “get things moving”. Once you hit 4 centimeters, you’ll be taken into your L&D room – where your beautiful childbirth story will unfold.
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4. Bring a tennis ball for those back pains during contractions.
There are so many different types of childbirth labor pains. But the one that hurt the most for me was back labor. It’s PAINFULL!!! You basically get contractions that are in your back. Imagine a normal menstrual cramp in your abdomen…. now move those cramps to your lower back and pelvic area… and multiply that intensity by at least 1000… yes, that is back labor. And one of the best way to counter that pain is to push against it (wherever the location is) with a tennis ball (or your partner’s fists) while you focus on your breathing… or screaming… whatever makes your body tells you to do!
5. Not all women break their water before going into active labor.
Most women expect their childbirth story to begin with their water breaking the way it’s depicted in movies… I was one of them. I had a different experience with all three births. With my first baby, my labor was 39 hours long and my water broke at hour 33. I was admitted at hour 12… I know… 21 hours of waiting and laboring before my water broke. Then another 6 hours before he presented himself. It was rough. With my second baby, my water broke much sooner. I was admitted at hour 6, water broke at hour 10, and he presented himself at hour 11.5. Much smoother than the first. With my last baby, I was admitted at hour 4, water broke at hour 6.5, and he presented himself at hour 7. You read that right… 30 minutes after my water broke, we welcomed our third son.
6. While in active labor, the urge to poop likely means your baby is on its way out.
I remember it as if it was yesterday with my third baby. It literally came out of nowhere. I was standing, breathing through my contractions, eyes shut, head tilted back, arms on my lower back, swaying my hips from side to side, totally in a zone, my husband nervously saying his prayers by my side… then my eyes opened immediately and I told my midwife, “I really need to poop!” She gave me the sweetest smile and signaled my nurse. They guided me to the bed and checked on my status… it was time… Speaking of poop…
7. Push from your bottom – pretend you’re pooping.
Seriously, the best advice from my friend who is a mom of three and a well trained and experienced doula. This is one of the many things you can do to help prevent yourself from tearing down there. Believe me, you will want to do everything you can to prevent tearing! *Shudder* Throughout all three deliveries, her advice kept replaying in my head. If you need an amazing doula that will follow you well into postpartum care, and you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, hit her up! And if you happen to poop a bit, IT’S OKAY!!! Per my midwife, “Whenever we see a mom poop during a push, we know she’s pushing correctly.”
8. Do not hold your own legs when you’re pushing.
You should be spending your energy elsewhere! Some staff will ask moms to hold their legs and push. This is very doable if your labors are short and you still have energy. But if you’re like me and have long labors, you won’t have energy to hold your legs and push. You’ll barely have energy to push! With my first baby, I agreed to hold my legs and totally jacked up my joints and ligaments in my hips and pelvic area. It took months of physical therapy for me to “recover”! I still have problems with my hips now, but they don’t hurt as much as before. So please ladies… don’t try to be super mom. If the staff asks you to hold your legs and push, tell them you’d much prefer they (or your partner or doula) help you hold your legs while you push and hang onto a birthing bar or bed rail or whatever. Your hips and groin area will thank you for this. Speaking of doula…
9. Get a Doula.
This person plays many roles. Traditionally, doulas take care of moms during labor. Nowadays, we have doulas caring for the father, siblings, families, friends, etc. Some moms do not need a doula to assist her with labor, but she needs help with the father and family. Some of the best doulas out there will do prenatal care (help with nesting, organizing, make ahead meals, and any other preparations for the baby) and postpartum care (more about this in another article, Stay Tuned!). Doulas do not have to be someone you hire. It can be a parent, family member, or friend. As long as you are comfortable being naked around them and bossing them around. Trust me, you will have some demands. In my case, my doula was my mom. She was my perfect doula. Love you Mom!
10. hold off on cutting the umbilical cord and give your baby skin-to-skin aka Kangaroo Care
Kangaroo Care is basically another term for Skin-to-Skin. If you cannot do kangaroo care right away, ask your partner to remove his top and provide kangaroo care with your newborn. This is especially important if you have a premature baby. It will help your baby regulate his/her body temperature and help stabilize his/her heart rate, which leads to less crying, trauma, and stress. Less stress will increase your baby’s success with breastfeeding. You will basically mimic the soothing environment of your womb to help ease your baby to life outside your womb. Your baby will feel the warmth from your body heat, smell the sweet smell of amniotic fluid, and hear your breath sounds and heartbeat… a familiar sound from the womb that only he/she will recognize. Sigh.
I hope you enjoyed reading this list of 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Childbirth. And I hope you have learned a thing or two (or more) about childbirth. It’s an amazing experience. It can be nerve-wrecking, but remind yourself you were made to do this. God will not put you in a situation you cannot handle. He even gives you 9+ months to come to terms with it and prepare yourself for your next adventure… Motherhood. Congratulations.
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Peace & Blessings to you all,
At 8 months pregnant with my first kid this article came at the perfect time! Thank you for sharing all these helpful tips, most I’ve never heard before and am thankful I found! People don’t talk about or share their child birth experiences enough. I like to know what to expect and appreciate you putting this all out there to help others! Look forward to read more posts 🙂
Thank you Marissa! I hope to share more to help normalize all the realities of childbirth. So much more can and should be said! You’re going to love being a mom! Congrats!