I went to a baby shower recently. It was LOVELY. The food, conversation and setting were fantastic. Mama-to-be was beautiful and surrounded by love. I think that I managed to NOT obsessively/nervously prattle on about myself and my own amazing baby.
One thing that I meant to do for her, yet did not make time for, was to compile a list of new mama bullet-point topics that no one else tells you about. These are not secrets, they are just things that happened to me, and I was either not expecting, or had been informed of and had forgotten. I feel compelled to share them with you now.
- Heartburn is AWFUL. If you have never had it, it can surprise you with it's misery. I thought that I had pre-eclampsia, and went to Labor and Delivery thinking it was an actual emergency. Mortifying. CALL THE ON-CALL DOCTOR FIRST. Even if you are convinced that the on-call doctor is an idiot, she/he will probably know the difference between pre-eclampsia and heartburn whereas you may not...
- If you make up a birth plan, discuss it with your doctor. If your doctor says that birth plans are for suckers (or something equally as helpful), then you need a birth partner who is going to back you up BIG TIME. I didn't stand my ground, and I have regrets. I had an easy, medicated birth, but I had intended to go natural, and I let others talk me out of my plan without really putting up a fight. It still bugs me.
- Nursing is not always easy. If it is for you then YAY! If it's not, but you want make it work, then get a lactation consultant, and find a supportive group of friends. If this means going on-line for support, then DO IT. Even if the mechanics of it come easily to you and your baby, the actuality of nursing takes a serious commitment of time and effort. Be ready, and stay the course.
- Every time that you sit down to nurse for the first couple of weeks, make sure that you have everything that you need. This may include: a beverage (I am PARCHED the instant she latches on), burp cloth, t.v. remotes, cell phone, boppie, laptop, wipes... and so much more. My point is, you may be there for a while in the early days. If it's not within arm's reach (and your if personal valet is on break), you ain't gonna get it any time soon.
- The first two weeks following a vaginal birth are a physical nightmare 'down there'. I do not say this to alarm you. Alarm would do no good - it's simply a fact. Just be prepared. The first time that I had to poop, I wept copiously. There is a reason that your first follow-up visit with your doctor is two weeks after birth - that is the first day I began to feel human again. Listen to your birthing class instructor. Do not blow her off when she gives you the details. Purchase Earth Mama Angel Baby 'Sore Bottom Balm, and USE IT. I felt really sorry for myself, and put off using it because I thought that I was too miserable for anything to help - I was wrong.
- Try not to speak in absolutes when discussing your parenting plans. Statements like 'My friend does _______ and there is NO way that I am going to do that' will bite you in the ass. Here is a list of things that I said that I would unequivocally never do, yet I did them / still do them:
Have an epidural
Let the baby 'cry it out'
Let the baby watch t.v.
Let the baby play with my phone
Let the baby sleep in our bed
To make myself feel better, here is a list of things that I said that I would unequivocally never do, and I have not done them:
Feed the baby formula (outside of an emergency)
Feed the baby jarred baby food
Let the baby play with the computer or the t.v. remotes
... dang, that's a short list... and none of them are harmful, they're just personal preferences...
- Sleep. Do it now. Do it every single opportunity that you can. Listen to your body. After the baby comes, SLEEP MORE. Do not allow yourself to be wound up to the point that you cannot relax, as this will compound the problem so that you will wake up one day and realize that you have not slept more than 4 hours consecutively in over a year. Seriously. Get some sleep.
- Go easy on yourself. Give yourself time to heal and readjust after the baby arrives. Do not expect to be up and active for the full day immediately after giving birth. Birth is a major event for your body (and for the baby), let your body process said event before expecting to 'get past it'. It can be a frustrating time, and (if you're me) you may even feel like your body is just being a jerk. It's not. It really needs time to adjust. Oh, and your organs may feel like they are sloshing around in your belly for a few days - they are. Just turn slowly - no pivoting :-P
- oh, least you think it's all awful, it's NOT. It's hard and frustrating and weird and gross, but it's also breathtakingly amazing. Hang on and enjoy the ride!
I had lots more stuff in mind originally, but (as always) I sat down to type, and my brain went blank... except for the thought that I'm tired and my bra is too tight. Nice, right? So, do you have anything to add my friends?