What you Didn’t Expect, when you were Expecting

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Here’s the truth: You can read every pregnancy/labor & delivery book out there, and there will STILL be something that surprises you or catches you off-guard. Guaranteed.

Bringing a child into the world is a mix of beautiful, unbelievable, and disgusting. So, here are just a few of the things that I wish someone would have prepared me for (not necessarily all that will happen to you, but that definitely could happen!):

  1. Nosebleeds. Most women know about the nausea, headaches, sore boobs, etc. (the more well-known side-effects of growing a human.) What people won’t tell you is that other things can also happen that are pretty out-of-the-ordinary: Nosebleeds. Floaters in your eyes. Spots and skin tags. Tailbone pain. Round-ligament pain. Tender gums (and restrictions at the dentist. Most require you to have written and signed consent from your OB before performing any procedures, including routine cleanings.)
  2. Old Wives Tales: Most aren’t true. One that is, however, is the concept of heartburn meaning your child will have hair. So, try not to take too much stock in most old-wives tales, but this one is a good one to pay attention to.
  3. You won’t have as many ultrasounds as you want. Most often, your insurance will pay for two. Unless you have an unusual circumstance around your pregnancy, you’ll likely only see your little one on the screen twice.
  4. Hunger, and Lack of Hunger: Pregnancy is often portrayed the same way, all the time. Women that have insane appetites, and binge on whatever craving they have that day. Sometimes this is true, but not always. Some women are sick for so long that the idea of food is the farthest thing from their minds. In fact, some women struggle to keep on the needed weight for pregnancy. For these women, medication is often required so that you can continue to have a healthy pregnancy.
  5. Not all testing is required. Some OBs will try to convince you that all testing is mandatory, but often this isn’t the case. Do your research and decide what is best for you. I did all the testing of my own volition, but some parents would prefer to avoid some of these tests.
  6. You may not have the same OB your entire pregnancy. I was shocked to find that most clinics have OBs on a rotation, so you may see a different doctor every time. It makes sense; doctors are busy people. But, it was important to me to have the same OB my entire pregnancy and at the birth of my child. I spent a significant amount of time trying to find a clinic that allowed this, and was thrilled when I finally did. If this is important to you, be prepared to do some digging to find the right obstetrician for you.
  7. Most doctors will not let you go past 41 weeks. Most of us want to wait for our babies to come on their own, but a great many doctors will absolutely put their foot down. Why? There are some risks, which you can read about here.
  8. When you’re ready to deliver: be prepared to be examined by 10 or more nurses, a handful of doctors, and possibly some medical students. If this isn’t what you want, make sure you talk to your hospital in advance.
  9. Labor and Delivery might not be what you expected, in a variety of ways. If you’re like me, I expected to have the cinema-style birthing experience where the actress has her water break, and baby arrives in a dramatic scene within a few hours. More often, your water will leak all day, and all through your labor, you’ll spend hours bored, in pain, eating popsicles and watching reruns of Friends.
  10. If you have an epidural, you’ll likely have a catheter at some point. Some hospitals keep them in, others just use them periodically. Most often, too much is going on for you to even care.uventet1.png
  11. Be prepared to be unprepared. You can plan for nine months how your labor is going to happen, but most often you’ll have to do what your doctor or midwife thinks is best. If this means a cesarean, episiotomy, etc., sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. And sometimes, like with my labor and delivery, things can get complicated QUICKLY. Ask your nurses and doctors to explain fully what is happening instead of tip-toeing around you. My son was both face-up, and had the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. This meant that I had a positioning specialist, internal monitors, and saline injected back into my uterus. I wish I had known more about things that can go wrong in L&D, though I think many people might want the opposite: to not know at all, and not worry about it (I’m just not that person.)
  12. enhanced-buzz-7951-1440537069-6Things like the “husband stitch” still exist. Sex after childbirth is usually fairly unpleasant the first few times for most people. This will make it worse, so ensure that you have a doctor that doesn’t practice this.
  13. Post-partum. OH post-partum. It can be a crazy ride, that’s for sure. If anything, know what to expect. Knowing now to care for yourself both physically and mentally are crucial to both your well-being and your child’s. Know the signs of post-partum depression and don’t be afraid to talk about it and ask for help. Accept help. Also, know that post-partum pain and bleeding can last a decently long time. Be prepared for it so that you aren’t trying to run to the store last-minute toting a newborn with you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. What shocked you about your own pregnancy and labor & delivery?

-Katie

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The Birth you Want

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Labor and delivery mostly sucks. Let’s face it, outside of finally meeting your tiny human and snuggling them into your arms, there is nothing very appealing about having your body go through so much pain. I love the movement “Birthing Without Fear” and really, to those women, you are awesome. I am not that woman. Other than wanting to get my son into the world, there was no major motivation for me to “want” the pain of labor and delivery. I’d just rather be… eating Chipotle not in pain. Or like, anything else really.

I was lucky to have the same OB my entire pregnancy, and the same OB at the birth of my son. I told her from the get-go, that she’s the medical expert and I did research on doctors for so long so that I could leave it all in her hands. I didn’t go in with a birth plan, and I had no restrictions. I told my doctor to “do what she needed to do to get my son into the world safely.” (I’m not at all belittling anyone that goes in with a birth plan, but that’s just not me.) I trusted my OB, and that’s the important thing.

Even with that mindset, my birth was NOT what I had planned or envisioned.

I was on restricted activity from 33 weeks on, because I was at risk for preterm labor. Strangely enough, I needed to be induced at 40+6. I went to the hospital prepared at 8AM for them to break my water. I started Pitocin, had my water broken, and shortly after everything got a little crazy. The cord was wrapped around my son’s neck, and after my water broke the cord got much tighter. His heart rate was dropping drastically down from 160BPM to 50BPM. I had a positioning specialist, internal monitors, and saline being injected back into my uterus (it’s about as fun as it sounds.) At one point, they had to stop my labor completely to get his BPM back up. After labor started again I dilated SO quickly from 4-9 in a matter of minutes (which made me throw up for the rest of my labor.) All the while, both anesthesiologists were busy, so I didn’t get my epidural until it was so late in the game that it was barely worth it (and, it wore off within the last few minutes of labor because they didn’t have enough. (Great timing. Thanks guys.) I had so many doctors at one point in that room, as well as students, that I was totally overwhelmed with everything that was happening. (I was in labor 14 hours, and pushed for 3.)

My doctor and nurses were everything I could have wanted. Amazing individuals, and I’ll never forget my L&D nurse. Some of the other personnel I could have done without. My doctor advocated for me the entire time she was there. She is an incredibly, intelligent woman and I couldn’t have possibly had a better OB.

My labor left me feeling intensely traumatized afterwards. I was not prepared, and wish I would have known all of the things that can go wrong. I’m thankful I was in a hospital with the professionals I had, and that my son made it into this world safely. It was just NOT the peaceful day I had envisioned, and I wanted the epidural WAY sooner than I ended up getting it.

My labor was a little out-of-the-ordinary because of the cord circumstances, and I just count myself among the lucky to have my healthy child at home with me. While my labor wasn’t what I wanted, nothing matters other than my healthy son being in this world with me.

Here are some other labor and delivery stories. Thank you to these kind ladies for being willing to share, in hopes that it guides some other soon-to-be momma in the right direction of what is best for her and her child:

Amanda Velain
Neither of my births went like I thought like they were going to, but I think as women we plan for chaos or calm, and you never usually get what you are planning for. With my first I had everything planned for any number of circumstances, down to the minute. I had multiple people on standby, my natural birthplan, bags packed two months in advance, house baby-ready, and all I did was research and take everything in I possibly could so I knew exactly what to do. My first baby came and my plans went out the window. There was water all over the kitchen, my husband was an hour away, my parents thought I was talking about the literal plumbing and didn’t believe that I really needed a ride, the hospital didn’t think my water broke, and during labor I was in and out of a tub and in a million positions. I was in labor for 17 hours! NOT planned! It is an amazing story though. But looking back I would have moved around more. I sat in the tub way too long, and got too comfortable. So second baby, a year later, I didn’t even go into the tub. I walked around target, and was in denial about being in labor for most of the actual labor. It was a good thing I had planned on going natural, because I got to the hospital and there really wasn’t a whole lot of time! I mean I had hours left, but not many! I planned for calm and I got chaos! I wouldn’t have changed anything about my second birth though. It was hard and extremely painful, but I was surrounded by loved ones (husband, mom and midwife), and my little boy came into this world and it was all worth it!

Kiersten Offineer

I would have stayed at home until the pain was unbearable. I went in way too early. I ended up being in labor for 30 hours. Next time I’ll relax and take a bath until I can’t stand the pain. I wanted to go natural. I stuck it out for 24 hours then gave in to the epidural.

Ashley Stoll

Well I have 3 kiddos so this might get a little lengthy, so I apologize.
With my first I was young and dumb and just went into it with zero research. Basically, whatever interventions they wanted to do to were fine with me. They were afraid my baby was going to be too big so they induced me 5 days early. I had an epidural (took him 35+ minutes to put in it correctly,) which literally only made my legs numb and did nothing else. So I felt the labor and everything but I was unable to move, change positions or walk. It was frustrating and made things much more difficult than they needed to be. But I can’t complain too much because after only pushing for a few minutes, my baby boy was born at 2am, healthy and perfect. 8lbs 13oz, 19 1/4in long.

With my second I decided that I would do everything I could to avoid an epidural. So I researched like crazy and decided to do a natural hospital birth. Again they were afraid of me having a huge baby for some reason and convinced me to be induced a few days early. We tried to induce by just breaking my water first, to avoid pitocin, but I didn’t progress fast enough and ended up having to have it anyways. Labor was very intense but was so much more manageable without being restricted by the epidural. And again after only about 5 minutes of pushing, my second perfect, healthy baby boy was born at 9:27pm. 8lbs 14oz 20 1/2in long.
With my third I decided I wasn’t going to be talked into unnecessary interventions. I wanted to go as natural as possible. I found a birth center and midwife in Boardman and after a ton of research we decided to go with them for this birth. I went 9 days past my due date which was 2 weeks longer than I got to go with my first two! I woke up at 4:30am having decent contractions. So I got up and got ready to go. My husband woke up shortly after I did and I told him I was labor. We got ready and were taking the kids to my mom’s on the way to the birth center when all of sudden my contractions started coming really close together and we still had an hour drive. I started to get really worried that I was going to have the baby in the car! Thankfully, we made it to the birth center in time. Though I was 7cm upon arrival, I labored in a tub for a while and then got out when things started getting intense. When I felt the urge to push, my contractions pushed for me and I didn’t feel any need to physically make myself push. After about ten or 15 minutes, my perfect, beautiful baby girl was born, without one single “real push” and en caul, which is when the water doesn’t break and the baby is born inside the intact bag of water! Once her shoulders were out, my midwife broke the bag and lifted her out and into my arms. Pretty awesome! 2:22 pm 8 lbs 14.5oz, 20 1/2 inches long.

Looking back now I wish I would’ve went the birth center route for all three. I know it’s not for everyone but for me, it was perfect. It was just so nice and calm/relaxing but also reassuring because they have all the medical stuff right there, ready to go in case of an emergency. And the hospital is a block away. So I felt like I got the best of both worlds there. I also really regret inducing the boys early and of course I regret that epidural. Looking at how intense the pitocin made my labor with the first two compared to how much easier the third was for me without it, makes me wish I wouldn’t have agreed to getting it at all. Oh well. At the end of the day the only thing that actually matters is getting the baby out safe and sound and into loving arms. I have three gorgeous, happy, healthy babies, so I really have nothing at all to complain about.

Kaylee DiPietro

From the time I got to the hospital to the time he was born was 12 hrs. My plan was to wait as long as I could to get the epidural since I heard it slows dilation. However, it was 1am and the nurse talked me into it so I could get some sleep and I’m glad she did, because within 2 hours I went from 3 cm to 9 and it would have been too late. The hardest part was pushing for 2.5 hours…but as soon as you hear that first cry, you don’t care how long it took or how much pain you are in…it’s the most amazing experience of your life! Also, I was one that didn’t really have a set birth plan and I think that’s good…I know someone that was completely against a c section and ended up having one. She was so upset because it wasn’t her plan, she cried for a week after. It was just too much added stress on her…the first week is hard and she made it harder on herself..

Chelsea Woodruff

I knew I was having a scheduled C-section before I was even pregnant. I have mild to moderate hip dysplasia and the stretch of giving birth was a potential danger to my pelvis. Shockingly, I made it to my scheduled surgery day without so much as a contraction. No water breaking, none of that (I know, some of you want to strangle me right now). However, my surgery was EXTREMELY painful. I was not able to lie flat on my back for the majority of my pregnancy and being strapped down on the table with pressure being placed on my trunk to get the baby out caused me a LOT of pain. I was screaming at the anesthesiologist for more pain meds (this is after my epidural) and he said I already had enough to knock out a 200lb man. I’m sure it didn’t help that my OBGYN, expecting my baby to be between 6-7 lbs, cut a tiny incision and the child was 8lbs 7oz. One of the assisting doctors was standing on the edge of the bed using her full body weight to press the baby out. My OB was literally grabbing drs passing in the hall saying “come look at this tiny incision I just pulled this baby out of!” Umm..could we not?! Needless to say, pain. Pain was all I felt for about the next 3 weeks.

After my baby was born, I felt like I vanished in the eyes of the nurses. My one regret is not speaking up more. My nurses were always behind on my pain meds and I was literally in tears calling them on my radio thing asking when the next round was coming and getting snarky comments back that it was “shift change.” Listen, I’ve worked in a hospital before that would have NEVER flown. Shift change shouldn’t take 45 mins and you have a patient in misery. I left after a day and a half because I knew I would get better care from my family at home. Upon discharge, a different dr from my OB’s practice wrote my orders and DID NOT EVEN CHECK MY INCISION! I don’t even think she knew I had a C-section. I wasn’t given any aftercare instructions, nothing.

Bottom line, speak up. If you are in pain or have a concern, say something. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions. I wish I would have and it is my one regret during my birthing experience.

So in closing, know your body. Educate yourself (and your partner!) Ask questions, do research, and follow your intuition. There is no WRONG way to bring your baby into this world, but there are ways that you will be more or less comfortable with. Plan and prepare, but know that what you envision might not be what ends up happening.

Good luck Mommas!

-Katie