I’ll just say it. Giving birth was kindda traumatic.
I went from butterflies in the tummy and positive thought-channeling to a panicky pile of hormones in just 5 contractions.
Of course, few mothers can claim they had a wonderful birthing experience the first time.
But almost all would agree that it was worth it. And it TOTALLY is.
On hindsight though, there were some things I could have done to improve my labour and post-natal state. So here goes, my list of Top Tips to Prepare You For Childbirth:
1. Expect the Unexpected
You’ve done your kegels and graduated top of hypnobirthing class. You have the will-power of an olympian, the constitution of an ox and the best douala-husband in the world. But when things still don’t progress as you hoped, baby becomes distressed or you require an emergency c-sect for medical reasons, keep your chin up and roll with it. Your labour may not be perfect. But the precious little bug in your arms is.
2. Don’t try to be a Hero
The first thing my anesthesiologist said after reading my birth plan was, “You’re very ambitious aren’t you, Charlene?” And I wasn’t even aiming for a drug-free birth. I was, however, aiming to have as little as possible. So throughout my 13 hour labour, I consistently under-declared my pain. In the end, my legs still went numb from the (insufficient) epidural, I still wretched, and after pushing for two hours, I still went through a c-sect with GA and morphine post-op. We all have a different tolerance for pain. Getting relief doesn’t make you any less strong, beautiful and amazing for bringing your baby into this world.
3. You can say ‘NO’
Everybody loves a new baby. So spread out your visitors. The last thing you need when you are feeding around the clock, jacked up on pain meds and your hormones are out of whack, is to feel obliged to entertain an endless stream of well-wishers. Also, if you have to make decisions about your little one in hospital, don’t feel pressured to do something you are not comfortable with. Listen to advice. Trust your instincts.
4. You can say ‘YES’
Choosing to give your jaundiced newborn glucose water or formula because your milk has yet to come in doesn’t mean you’ve gone to the dark side. And if someone offers help, count yourself lucky and take up the offer! My husband was awesome at milking all the helping hands that reached out to us in the hospital. He solicited everything from prayers and breastfeeding consultations to herbal teas and my favourite sticky date pudding from our network of family and friends. Few life situations allow you to be on the receiving end of such ready generosity and kindness. Take advantage of it.
5. Finally, take as many pics and videos as possible WITH Baby
During the mayhem of the first month, I managed to take less than ten pictures with Jules, including one blurry snap of myself holding him after birth. Even though I was incredibly bloated and felt like I had been run over by a truck, I wish I recorded more memories of how the little sprout and his mother got to know each other in those early days.
Would-be mums, what are your biggest fears about giving birth? And mammas, what have you learnt from your experience? Do share!