5 Things They Don't Tell You About Labor and Childbirthby Allison Hutton
Let me begin by noting that I could write a book on the information people tend to leave out, when "educating" you about labor and delivery. However, I will do my best to condense this information into easily readable, frank, and truthful words. For first time moms, I am not here to scare you. I am here to share with you things that I wish someone had taken the time to share with me. If I had known this information before delivering my daughter, I would have been a much happier woman. There are five things that you must learn, know and remember about the whole "LDR" (Labor, Delivery and Recovery) process.
1. Stretch marks happen.
There is not much you can do about them. Either you get them or you don't. I made it well into my third trimester thinking that I only had a few, tiny ones that no one would ever notice. What I didn't know (and what no one told me) was that there was a whole network of these suckers appearing on the underside of my belly; an area unable to be viewed in the later months of pregnancy. So, after I delivered, and the swelling went down, I saw these things in their full glory - and I cried. This leads me to #2.
2. Prepare for swelling.
There is nothing more misleading than watching any portion of Labor or Delivery on television. Especially what a woman looks like after giving birth. Anyone who is a "Friends" fan clearly remembers when Phoebe delivered triplets. The following week, she was sporting clothes a size smaller than she wore previous to becoming pregnant. Maybe this happens somewhere, to someone--but I've never seen it. I wore my maternity clothes for 4 weeks postpartum. It took me over a year to get back into my pre-pregnancy jeans, and I was still packing it in there pretty tight. Bottom line, after you deliver, prepare to still look pregnant. Only now, your belly will REALLY jiggle.
3. Epidurals Don't Always Work.
While I was excited for the birth of my daughter, I was not looking forward to the pain I would have to endure to get her. I decided early on that I was an epidural kind of gal. After all, I had nothing to prove, and I am not a fan of pain. So when the contractions got so bad I couldn't stand it, I wanted to see the epidural man. I wasn't getting the "traditional" epidural, but rather a spinal injection of fentanyl. The hospital people were very fond of this, and told me that one injection would last for 5 hours, I would not need a catheter, and I would be able to walk. Sounded good to me. After the epidural man stuck me four times, I felt things were not going well. After all, I was feeling the full-force of the contractions, and all I had to show for it were numb bum cheeks. After 15 minutes, and no relief, I demanded more from the epidural man. He must have been afraid of me, because they sent another doctor in his place. His name was Willy. I remember this, because I assured him that if this injection worked, I would be naming my daughter Willamina instead of Hannah. Needless to say, my child was named Hannah. The 2nd round of injections brought on nothing more than a completely numb left leg that flopped around like a wet noodle. After only 10 minutes of pushing, Hannah was born. I wasn't wasting any time. I am still undecided as to how I am going to handle the birth of my December baby. I'll let you know.
4. Brace Yourself for Bleeding.
One thing that completely amazed me about delivery was the amount of blood and fluid that came out after the baby was born. I recently read somewhere that, during pregnancy, a woman's blood volume doubles due to the large amount she will lose during and after delivery. And boy, do I believe it. Once you are allowed to shower after the delivery, be prepared for the first time you stand up. I nearly passed out when a large gush of blood and fluid hit the floor. None of the nurses seemed phased, but it didn't seem normal to me. And it doesn't stop there. You can expect bleeding for approximately 6 weeks postpartum. So my advice is to buy maxi-pads in bulk, because you'll need them.
5. You can't imagine the love.
It is said so often, but worth repeating. When you see your child for the first time, the pain does vanish. As tough as it is, you will forget. It seems completely impossible, but it is so true. After all, if the pain and discomfort were etched in your memory, would you be so gung-ho to do it again? I think not. I have cats. Before Hannah, these cats were my babies. My husband couldn't believe how attached I was to these animals. I actually wondered if I was going to be able to love my baby as much as my cats. I am not proud to admit that, but the thought crossed my mind. When I saw that baby girl for the first time, I gave my heart away. I was in instant, undeniable love. And it only grows stronger and stronger. Now that I am pregnant with my second, I sometimes wonder if I will love him/her as much as Hannah; because I can't imagine loving anything or anyone as much as I love her. After talking with friends and family, I have been assured that I will love this child equally, and my heart will grow to accommodate them both. What a wonderful experience. Regardless of your situation, rest assured that you will get through it. It may not be easy, it may not be pretty, and you may be a little worse for wear. But I can assure you that when you hold that child in your arms, it will have all been worth it. After all, you are being given the greatest gift; that of becoming a mother.Allison Hutton is a contributing editor for The Baby Corner as well Editor of Pregnancy after Miscarriage at Suite 101.
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