Sleep Sleep Sleep– I honestly cannot stress this enough. The biggest mistake I made when I went in after my water broke was allow myself to stay wired. Of course everyone is different and there is no way to really know when you are going to deliver but when my water broke at 5 am I was sure I was going to go that day. Wrong. It took me 32 hours for me to start pushing and by that point I was running on maybe a total of 3 hours of sleep. This made my delivery experience that much harder. Now don’t get me wrong, you are going to be exhausted. There is no way to avoid this. Labor in itself is just exhausting. But the one thing I remember the most about pushing was that all I could think was “I need sleep! Please God let me sleep.” Once I saw my son I went from sleep deprived and delusional to sleep deprived and wired. I was running on adrenaline from meeting my son so by the time we were ready to go home I was twice as delusional as I was during labor and I was about two blinks away from seeing dead people. So sleep when you can. And don’t be ashamed of it. At my hospital they keep the babies in the room with you at all times unless you ask otherwise. I was ashamed to ask them to take him because I felt like he should be nowhere but with me but looking back I wish I had because Jake and I were both wearing thinner and thinner each night.
Avoid All Social Media– Here’s the thing. It’s all fun and dandy having your phone blown up with notifications, texts and calls post contractions, hard labor and baby but once these things start to go down the last thing you want is another text from Suzy asking if there’s a baby yet. We all love Suzy and we all know she asks with only good intentions behind it but in the moment all you really want to say to Suzy is leave me the giant fuck alone while I die in peace please but you can’t because you only did it to yourself by posting “it’s time” in all caps on Facebook. Sure you can turn your phone off but do you want to know what’s more annoying than your phone blowing up mid contraction? Your phone blowing up with every text and notification the moment you turn your phone on to call dad to pick up a foot long on his way back from Subway while you hold your 5 hour old newborn in your arms. THAT’S WHAT! I’m not saying to not post an announcement or anything I am just saying to wait for the right time. And if you physically cannot control your fingers from typing the exciting news then DON’T I repeat DON’T be one of those who announce only to 5 hours later post another status that says “please refrain from contacting us, visiting etc while we rest.” Like no, don’t be that person! And when your family is standing over your bed asking when you are going to finally announce so they can announce that they are finally an “uncle/grandma/8th cousin etc tell them to back the hell off or whatever else gets the point across because you know what? YOU CAN! And it’s your right to take as long as you need to conjure up the most appropriate caption and pick out the most absolute perfect picture. The last thing I have to say about this before I move on is that; this is a day that is never going to happen again. The less distractions the better. If I could go back I would have left my phone at home.
Keep Your Guest List Small– If you’re lucky like me then you have been blessed with a handful of good people that love and support you. It’s normal to want all of these people there but it’s also normal to not. One piece of advice I received prior to delivery was to keep it intimate. To wait to invite friends and family once you’re home and settled or at least till day two in the hospital. That your baby is only one day old once and you’re going to want as much time alone with them as possible. And till this day my heart hurts that I took that advice for granted. Don’t get me wrong I look back at that day and the photos and the people in those photos and think “wow we are so loved and so blessed and I love you and you and you” but I also look back and remember how miserable I really was and how hard I tried to hide it from everyone. All I wanted to do was cry and kiss Jake and my son and cry and work on my breastfeeding technique and stare at my son and sleep and CRY! But instead; for 6 and a half hours I had to share him, I had to keep my eyes pried open, I had to force smiles and laughter when all I really wanted to do was cry from happiness and exhaustion and fear. I almost feel bad sharing this cause I know that half of my readers are those who visited me that day but I can’t share advice if I am not going to be completely honest and if I am being honest; I would go back and do it much differently. Now don’t get me wrong, I never would have kept it to just Jake and I. There is no way I would have made it through those 32 hours without a few specific family members but from new mom to new mom; please don’t consume yourself with guilt if in fact you do want to just be alone. Some other good advice is if you do begin to feel overwhelmed, your nurses will GLADLY kick everyone and anyone out of your room for you.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Your Birthing Plan- Because the truth is, there is a 50/50 chance that what you planned isn’t going to happen and it’s never going to go exactly the way you think so just… no. Talk about if with your doctor and then stop worrying about it.
Have It Documented- I know this isn’t for everyone and I am not here to sell anyone who isn’t interested on the idea. However if you have ever found yourself in a pool of tears over birthing stories on Pinterest then do your research and find the best person for you and your spouse because you deserve to have your story documented as well. Personally, if I had to choose between a newborn shoot or delivery shoot I would always go with delivery and I explain why in a recent blog, you can Click Here and read along with details of our story.
A Fresh Face Feels Better- When I arrived to the hospital one of the first things I did was clip in my extensions and apply makeup. Sure it was a nice “wishful” thought that I would look good for labor but that turned out to now be a hilarious joke. I remember begging my mom to take out my hair and Jake to find my face wipes within seconds of the contractions starting. There is a reason that 99 percent of people’s hospital photos are black and white. Just keep face wipes on hand is all I’m saying.
See What’s Available- Whatever you think might make you more comfortable, chances are someone else has thought and asked for that very same thing. Hospitals have many different options for making labor and stay slightly more pleasant. They will provide all the blankets, pillows, yoga balls you could possibly ask for plus more. If your room only offers a shower and you desperately want a bath just ask and there is more than likely a few spa rooms made available.
Some Nurses Are Bitches- And literally no offense to anyone who is a nurse. What I think we have to remember in the mist of our raging hormones is that our nurses and doctors are humans too and humans sometimes have really freaking bad days. Unfortunately, during the time we spend in the hospital to deliver our babies we see on average 5 to 8 different nurses. That means 5 to 8 different moods and personalities. This can be frustrating for any one being hospitalized let alone brand new moms for many reasons. The biggest one is the mood shift. You might go from one nurse you would literally consider to be your spirit animal onto another who doesn’t seem to give a dame about you. This can be really aggravating as you will find that you may be more sensitive and needy than you typically would be. A lot of us turn to our nurses for more than just guidance but support as well. Don’t feel threatened to ask for what you need or stick up for yourself if a nurse or doctor is making you feel like a nuisance. Chances are it’s not you it’s something personal. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s not always gravy being verbally abused by angry pregnant women and families all day.. Just saying.
Stick Up For Your self- This is with everyone and anyone who is guilting you into something you don’t want to do, don’t feel comfortable doing, physically can’t do. You may have already heard a few horror stories yourself. It happens more than you would think, Doctors, Nurses even family pushing breast feeding/ natural birth / to circumcise or to not, the list goes on and on. I didn’t experience much of this but I will say that there were a few times I felt bullied when it came to breast feeding. For some it comes natural and for others like myself it’s a lot of hard work. Looking back now I appreciate the consistent pushing because it got me to not give up on myself but at the time I will admit there were a few nurses that really hurt my feelings. Myself aside though, I do have a few friends whom have experienced much worse so I will give the same advice to you that they gave me which is to just stand up for yourself. You know what’s best for you and your child, never ignore your intuition.
Breast Feeding Doesn’t Always Come Natural; Don’t Give Up- One of the hardest parts in the hospital for me was the constant feedings. If you do choose to breast feed then you will have nurses on you like wolves. Right as your falling asleep someone’s in your room telling you it’s time and it’s physically and emotionally exhausting especially if you’re not a natural. It’s so easy to get discouraged but don’t. Ask to see a lactation specialist as much as needed if you’re not getting the hang of it or if you have a nurse who isn’t helping you the way the way you need. Once again every nurse is different and every nurse has their own techniques & way of doing things. I would have one that had the magic touch and then the next feeding would have another who just made me feel powerless and discouraged. Remember you’re not going to automatically be a pro and no one is expecting you to be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions & or express yourself.
Breast Feeding Tips
- Talk to your partner prior to the delivery about their comfort level in helping. Sometimes having someone that knows all there is to know like a nurse or specialist around puts a lot of pressure on you and you may want to attempt a feeding alone. It’s good to have your spouse close by to assist with the hand adjustments or positioning of the infant. And if having someone around period puts on a lot of pressure don’t second guess asking for complete privacy.
- The Breast Friend Pillow Is a God send. INVEST!!! You will not be disappointed.
- When in doubt pump and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re less of a mother for needing to do so. Many infants just simply cannot latch right away for many different reasons. I had a nurse who (maybe not intentionally) made me feel like an incapable mother for daring to even ask for a pump. Looking back I wish I would have brought my own from home but did not and will be sure to next time around because it really would have come in handy. As a new mother and first time breast feeder one of the hardest parts is not knowing if you’re producing enough milk for your baby and or knowing whether or not their latched properly. (Don’t worry these fears go away after a week or two) but for the time being it may be nerve racking. With the pump you are able to physically see how much you are getting and the progress you are making. The important thing is that you are building your supply and your baby is being fed. Sure it’s more ideal to breast feed the whole way through but what I recommend is to work on it with your lo for as long as you can and if no progress is being made then resort to pumping. This way you’re still getting skin to skin while practicing. Keep in mind this does NOT mean that you will never be able to breast feed. I exclusively pumped for 2 months before finally getting my son to latch for a full feeding.
Fight The Fear- I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself “this is it, I see the light” but turns out it was just the delusion taking over from lack of sleep and energy. What helped me get through the nerves was thinking to myself “I am here, this is happening, there is no way out of it.” Psychologically speaking when you’re the most afraid of something it’s because the brain is trying to psych you out. When you have the option to jump or not to jump, to get off the roller coaster or not, to give a public speech or to run out of the room and hide etc… You’re making time to build more fear. Once you realize you have no control adrenaline takes over and you’re no longer left with much room to be scared. It may not work for you but it worked for me.
One of my biggest concerns about packing my hospital bag a few weeks prior of my due date was that I would still need to use some of these things on a daily basis. Sure you can go buy travel sizes but your limited to brands and I wanted to feel at home with what I typically use so instead I took a few travel makeup bags and kept everything in there on the bathroom counter every night ready to go. Keeping everything in one place and in order next to my empty bag made it super easy to throw in what I needed and go. I knew exactly where everything was. Jakob did the same thing with his bag.
Dash’s bag on the other hand was much easier. We installed his car seat a month prior as well.
BATH/SHOWER ESSENTIALS- Face wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, tooth brush/paste, face lotion, makeup. If you forget something the hospital should have you covered but just like a hotel you’re going to get the mini samples. After intensive labor all you are going to want is your bed and bath so bring what you would use at home with you.
CHAPSTICK- Your mouth will burn and be dry and your breath will stink and your lips will chap so bring your favorite Burts Bees and throw some gum into the mix as well as a water bottle. For a little bit of shine & fresh breath I personally love Mentha Lip Tint sold at all Bed And Baths. It’s a mint infused lip gloss and it’s fantastic.
TOWEL- I hate with a passion hotel and hospital towels. Why are they child size? And why do they feel like sand paper? At least bring one for your body.
ESSENTIAL OIL (LAVENDER) – I don’t know the science behind it but a good lavender scent is very calming. You also feel really gross after a few hours of being bound to a hospital bed so a little lite scent really can pick you up and make you feel slightly better about yourself.
PILLOW- Blankets/bed I could do. The hospital pillows…. I needed several to satisfy me they are just not fluffly enough for my personal standards so if you are anything like me I suggest bringing your own from home.
BOPPY PILLOW- Speaking of pillows I highly recommend bringing a Boppy Pillow but not for the reason you may think. Your bottom half is going to feel, well like you have just given birth and sitting down may not be pleasant however sitting on a Boppy will really relieve a lot of pressure down there.
BREASTFRIEND PILLOW- You can also use your Boppy for breast feeding but nothing is better than my breast friend.
BREAST PUMP- I know ideally we would like to go in and breast feed from the start without any problems. But sadly that isn’t the case for everyone. For back up I wish I would have brought my breast pump. The hospital should provide you one if needed but they may unavailable or like me you may find yourself in an awkward situation with a nurse that doesn’t think you need one. Either way it’s better to be prepared.
FACE WIPES- And leave them by your bed side. You will be grateful for this. I swear I could feel the pimples emerging with all the stress.
SOCKS- The hospital will provide you with some terrifyingly hideous socks that may cut your swollen calves circulation off. Bring your own & bring a few pairs just in case.
LONG BATH ROBE- Long is nicer only because you will want to feel covered if you need or want to leave the room. I received my maternity robe from an Etsy shop.
SWADDLE BLANKET- I personally wasn’t a fan of the swaddles our hospital provided. Our favorite is a bamboo based one which is convenient for its flexibility and strength.
For clothing I suggest bringing a few options. It was amazing how fast I ran out of clothes. Leggings or sweat pants for comfort. Sweat shirt if you get cold. A maternity bra is nice for feedings but I was craving a sports bra for the support.
The day my son was born was one of the hardest yet most fulfilling and satisfying days of my entire life. I will forever be grateful for the staff at Maple Grove Hospital as well as the family that held Jakob and mines hands during the birth of Dash Alexander.
I wish you nothing but the best of luck and love in the birth of yours and will have you all and your littles in my prayers. I hope you enjoyed reading.