Is the clock ticking? Maybe yes, maybe not yet. But, one thing is for sure, a time will come when the tiny human growing inside you will have to be borne.
As a first-time mom, you may wonder what to expect during labor and childbirth. The thought of labor pain, virginal tear, or possible operations can be worrying.
You want to get as much information as possible about childbirth. Likewise, You want to know how it feels or what you can do in your power to get ready for delivery.
As a mother to three kids, I have realized that childbirth can be a different experience. It doesn’t matter about the gender or number of the babies you’ve had, weight, labor, or location.
Each baby comes with a different experience.
In this post, I will highlight some things I wish I knew before going into labor and childbirth and how they can help prepare a first-time mom.
Let’s dive in.
What do first-time moms need to know about labor and childbirth?
1. A Positive Mindset is as Important as the Physical Well being
Think of athletes. Once they sign up for a race, they set on preparation. They start training hard to put their body at par depending on the intensity of the race.
Though the race is physical, they must get the right attitude toward winning alongside other factors like good nutrition.
Similarly, preparing for childbirth may be more of a mental issue than a physical one.
Do you know why?
The physical growth of a fetus in the womb is more natural. You only adjust as the baby’s development progresses. But when it comes to the right mindset, you must do 100% work.
Developing a positive mindset for labor and childbirth helps to reduce the delivery fear, especially if you’re a first-time mom.
According to a study, acquiring a positive birth-related mindset results in low childbirth fear and anxiety.
How do I get in the right mindset for labor?
There are several ways you can tune your mind to remain positive. These includes:
Positive and empowering affirmations
At least have 5 positive births- relate affirmation that you can recite in the morning when you wake up and before bed. Your body achieves what your mind believes, and repetition is the easiest way to make your mind believe in something.
Repeating Positive statements about yourself, your baby, and the birth process will help ease birth-related anxiety and negative feelings.
Meditation is a therapy that can help ease stress and anxiety in pregnant women. With constant meditation, you can reduce the fear of the unknown about your birth process and the baby’s well being.
Try doing deep breathing and other relaxation mechanics whenever you feel anxious. This will change your perception of negative childbirth beliefs.
Constant baby checkups are essential to acquiring the right birth-related mindset. Going to antenatal clinics will help you understand the progress of your baby. You will be able to monitor their weight gain, growth, and development. This vital information sets you in an expectant mood for a healthy baby and possible successful birth.
Birth class and related positive birth stories
I wish I understood the importance of birth class right from when I had my first child. Unlike the grapevine talks, a labor coach will give you a deeper understanding of childbirth alongside a robust support system. Additionally, you may get the following benefits ;
- You’ll become confident in yourself and your baby
- You’ll learn about pregnancy labor and postpartum care.
- You’ll understand Your Birth Preferences.
- Get a head start on newborns care.
Related: Here are 10 Must-Have Survival skills for Mothers with Under 3-Year-Old Kids
2. Everyone’s Experience is Different
I wish someone told me that every birth experience is different. And, that I shouldn’t rely so much on others’ experiences to form an opinion about labor and childbirth.
Relying on everything about others can sometimes mislead you. Someone will talk of false labor and why you should not give it much attention, which may be true depending on their situation.
However, as a first-timer, who still doesn’t understand how labor progresses, it’s only fair to seek a professional opinion if you suspect you’re experiencing cramp-like symptoms.
Getting feelings that rob you of your piece should be a license to seek professional advice rather than relying on what others experienced.
As a mom to three kids, I understand that everyone’s experience is different. Every baby has their own experience, including how your labor pain will feel and last. That is why listening to your body and your health care provider is paramount; above all, always be prepared.
3. Have a Birth Plan
We plan for holidays, schooling, and fitness exercises. But when it comes to labor and childbirth, we sit and hope that all will turn out as expected in our minds.
Think of emergencies. Are there people you want to commission with a decision-making responsibility? or will you be waiting for your doctor to make phone calls to anyone available?
It’s saddening how we wait for our baby or this important life-changing event with assumptions. Sometimes I wish I had known the importance of having a birth plan for my delivery.
A birth plan is a carefully written record or preferences of what you would like to happen during and after childbirth.
Though it’s not a must that you create one, sometimes they can give you or your spouse a blueprint of an ideal birth scenario you would like.
What is typically in a birth plan?
There is no definite way of writing a birth plan. However, at a minimum, your birth plan should include who you want to be with you during labor, your preferred birth type, and what will be your other options if it fails.
Also, consider whether you want pain medication or to stay natural. Additionally, you may state how your team should handle your newborn. For example, after how long should your team should bathe your baby.
You can include anything you think will make your labor and birth more comfortable. This may include restricting other people from coming in your delivery room when pushing, ha!.
I wouldn’t say I like it when people remind me how I was creaming during labor. I wish I had clarified with my birth team that I never wanted extras in my room.
4. Get the Right Birth Team
Getting reliable and supportive company during labor can improve your emotional well being. Whether it’s a close family member, a friend, or a hired specialist, try getting one reliable person before labor day.
Your birth team may help to massage your waist when pain escalates. Sometimes they act as a bridge of communication between you and your doctor when you don’t feel like answering clinical questions.
Your birth team may comprise a doula, a midwife, an obstetrician, and a close family member if you like.
A doula is non-medical personnel you can engage for emotional support and physical help. In case you have reliable relatives, there is no point in hiring one.
I wish I knew how having a great birth team can improve your whole birthing and after-birth process.
I mean, you get encouragement and reassurance from people around you. You get people who can help you with simple tasks like back rubbing, offering seeps of water, and making you feel like a queen for a moment. Who doesn’t like such kind of supportive actions? Ha!
After delivery, you also need someone to help at least for the first month before you can resume your duties. Childbirth affects many parts of your body, and it’s only fair to give yourself some time to heal before resuming your tasks.
5. Cooperate with Your Midwife
Sometimes midwives and obstetricians can be annoying. Despite seeing you in pain, they still ask obvious questions like, “how are you feeling?
I know! I know!
You may feel like not answering, but darling, that is the fastest way to complicate your childbirth experience.
If your midwife asks you questions, please answer with humility. Better still, your doula can assist if it’s something obvious.
Allow the doctor to check your contractions, dilation, and vital signs like blood pressure and pulse rate.
When it comes to pushing, please be ready to breathe as instructed. Only push when asked to and rest when requested to do so. Also, walk around if asked to and only ask the right questions meant to help with your labor rather than annoy your professional health provider.
Going to the labor ward without understanding the importance of cooperating with your caregiver can lead to prolonged labor, which may be fatal to you and your baby.
Related: 7 Unwritten Baby Routines That Sustained My Sanity In The First 3 Months After Childbirth
6. Pregnancy Exercises are a Must
I realized the importance of pregnancy exercises after my struggles and subsequent labor induction with my 3rd borne.
By the time I was pregnant, I had begun freelance writing, and as such, the sitting hours and commitments to meeting client deadlines were hard. I neglected my physical fitness for a while in exchange for making money.
What did I attain?
My Edd was long overdue, and I had to be induced into labor to save my baby.
What is the Importance of Exercise During Pregnancy?
Exercising during pregnancy, especially in your final trimester, can improve your posture and decrease discomforts like backaches and fatigue.
Likewise, some studies suggest that being physically active during pregnancy can minimize the possibility of gestational diabetes and help relieve stress and anxiety.
Also, being fit can help you have shorter labor, fewer medical interventions, and less exhaustion during labor.
Here are 3 exercises to train for labor and delivery
- Child’s pose; This yoga pose may help lengthen pelvic floor muscles and ease discomfort.
- Deep squat; These squats help to stretch the perineum tissues. They also help relax and lengthen the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for delivery.
- Intravaginal or Perineal massage; can soften and lengthen the perineum tissues and make them flexible in readiness for childbirth.
7. There is a Point When You Can’t Hold On Anymore
Some women swear that labor is more painful than pushing. But for me, I choose none.
You see, labor pain happens in stages, from being mild to getting super intensive when the cervix dilation hits maximum. Labor pain also involves several muscles, nerves, organs, and ligaments.
Due to the inter connectivity in the muscles, you may experience pain in your back and waist. Typically, when your labor pain hits maximum, it becomes hard to tell which part of the body pains most. I remember touching the back, and immediately, I realize it’s not even the back but the abdomen…
I swear there comes a time when you wish for the shortest route possible. You may find yourself suggesting to your doctor various methods they should try to end the drama. You may think of a c-section if you hard-signed up for vaginal birth.
The most painful labor episodes happen mainly after the breaking of amniotic fluid.Try to understand that when the water breaks, the buffer between the uterus and baby is no longer there. Thus, the contractions may escalate.
I wish someone had mentioned this part to me; I would have reserved my energy for this session. Anyway, the natural birth method has a unique way of aligning and creating lifetime memories with its patients.
8. If You Want Things to Progress, Go the Toilet Way
What exercises help to pen the cervix?
Walking around to speed up delivery was always my favorite. However, I have learned that combining walking and deep squatting can save the day.
I wish I had known the importance of deep squats before I went into labor with my first baby; maybe I would have had shorter labor than the many hours I had to endure.
Deep squatting assumes the position of “doing your things” in the toilet. And it’s effective in relaxing and lengthening the pelvic floor muscles. It also helps to stretch the perineum.
- Stand with your legs wider than hip-width.
- Slowly squat down as far as you can. As you squat, ensure you hold your hands together as though meditating.
Engaging in squats before delivery can shorten your labor. This is because the baby’s weight applies pressure to the cervix; thus, the dilation will increase and shorten your laboring hours.
9. What Hits You Hard is Labor Exhaustion
Exhaustion during labor is normal. You can go for over 4 hours laboring. The pain will also escalate as you near birth.
Is there anything you can do to avoid exhaustion during labor?
Definitely yes. I wish I knew that applying some techniques could help reduce exhaustion during labor and childbirth. And my number one advice is to;
- Stay tuned to your body as labor progresses.
Your labor will start as period cramps but may get stronger and more frequent as the contractions increase. The contractions will also happen in bits, whereas sometimes it is strong, and you may feel like pushing, then it stops.
This is when you may get exhausted from walking around, screaming, or doing simple squats to ensure that you speed up your dilation rate.
You may try relaxing or sleeping when the contraction stops or becomes mild to prevent getting exhausted. By doing so, you save the energy for the exercise when the contractions return.
Try a change of scenery or sleeping positions to alleviate the emotional tension. You may ask your birth team for simple tasks like massaging your back or waist to relieve pain while you sleep.
If your water hasn’t broken and the contractions are intense, your midwife may suggest breaking it to speed up the labor, do not worry, just cooperate.
- Eat and drink enough fluids.
Try eating Carbohydrate-rich foods for energy during labor. This will help you stay strong throughout the process. Do not forget to take fluids like water and soups between your breaks, especially if you feel cravings.
To avoid getting exhausted too early, do not panic at the onset of labor. Save your energy by staying relaxed through meditation and affirmations.
Related:10 Common Health Issues You May Experience In Your First Six Weeks After Birth
10. Stop Worrying about Pooping!
You’ve probably heard stories about women pooping while giving birth, and you are now wondering, how the hell do you do that?
Well, it is not that we don’t have toilet etiquette. But, unless you’ve attended a birth class and have learned how to breathe or push the baby during delivery, then pooping isn’t an option.
The best way a midwife can help you go through a successful vaginal delivery is to tell you to poop and here is the reason why;
The same muscles you use when pooping are the same as you will engage while pushing. Consequently, your rectum may feel extra pressure during the baby’s movement in the birth canal, prompting you to poop.
If you’re worried about pooping while giving birth, I am here to inform you that doing so may be the last thing on your mind.
Labor and pushing are enough to make you not worry about secondary issues like pooping.
11. There’s No Relief Until You Birth Your Placenta
It’s much possible to say that we give birth twice. First, you must push your baby out, then push the placenta. Birthing the placenta is equally uncomfortable but manageable, so go prepared.
Before giving birth, I used to think that once you hold your newborn,You’re good to go.
Well, that is not the case mama.
You will have to birth the placenta and maybe have some few stitches if you had a perennial tear.
12. When it Comes to Childbirth, Your Yoni is not as Private as you Think
If you are a first-time mom, you’re probably wondering when does a person in labor remove their underwear for a checkup?
Please note that as soon as you report to a hospital with intentions of giving birth, your yoni ceases to be private for a moment.
Your midwife or OB will probably want to check whether your cervix has started to open. They will perform vaginal extermination by inserting fingers in your yoni to ascertain the degree of dilation.
The nurses can repeat this process about two to four times, depending on how first your dilation occurs and subsequent childbirth.
The VE is then followed by delivery. If you have a c- section, you might be safe. But if it’s vaginal delivery, then your chronicles of exposure continue. And, by the time you are done delivering baby number two, you will probably have a mindset shift when trying to remember what you term as the private parts of your body.