Baby girl decided to come this weekend (2 weeks early)! I knew she would be early because I have been having contractions like crazy for over a month now. I went into labor Saturday morning around 2 A.M., finally drove to the hospital around noon, and had her at 4:58 pm. She was 7 lbs 10 oz, and 20.5 inches long. I honestly forgot how much fun it is to have a newborn in the house. Besides trading my pregnancy symptoms for engorgement and clogged milk ducts, I am just loving every part of being a new mom again! My labor and delivery experience was seriously so fun that I thought I would share a few tips for labor and delivery that helped make it such a good experience for me.
Tips for Labor and Delivery
EAT BEFORE YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL
I think this is the first advice I would give anyone that is about to have their first baby. It made a WORLD of difference for me. With my first I went to the hospital around 4 or 5 AM and hadn't eaten anything since dinner the night before. I then had a 19-hour labor. I was starving from the beginning and it really took a toll on my body not being able to eat for that long. After I delivered my baby I fainted repeatedly and the nurses had to finally just pick me up off the floor and put me in my bed. I didn't really get to bond with my baby that night besides holding and nursing her right after she was born. The next day I was so exhausted and I wasn't even allowed to go to the bathroom or shower for the first time without a nurse present. This time around, I ate a good breakfast once I knew I was in labor. I then waited out my labor for a few hours and ate a huge bagel sandwich en route to the hospital. My husband just laughed at me, but there was no way I was going to starve like last time! When we got there I was dilated to a 5 or a 6. I had my epidural, labored for a couple more hours and then had my baby 10 minutes after it came time to push. I could walk immediately afterwards and spent the remainder of the night in the nursery bathing my baby (something I missed last time), and then cuddling her back in my room. The rest of my hospital experience was really quite enjoyable and I contribute it all to the energy that my body had going into the hospital.
With my first, my doctor asked me ahead of time if I would like my baby cleaned off before they handed her to me. I remember thinking, “Um..yeah…I don't want those nasty fluids dripping all over me.” Plus, I didn't think that a matter of couple minutes was going to make that much of a difference between the type of bonding me and my baby had. This time around, my doctor didn't even ask me. He just stated that he would be placing her on my chest the moment she came out. I was surprised at what a difference I felt this time around. The moment was powerful and special and I couldn't help but cry as I held this crazy miracle in my arms! With my first, I remember sitting there while they washed her up and feeling a little weird and conflicted. When they finally brought her over to me (after weighing, measuring, and washing) I remember thinking, “is this really my kid?” I always knew skin-to-skin was important, but I didn't think it was that important right at first. Now I won't do it any other way. It's not just important for the baby. It was important for my bonding as well.
Okay, so this one isn't important AT ALL, but I really like taking my own hospital gown. I don't use it during labor and delivery, but I really enjoy having it for the next day when visitors come. For me it's not about appearance (although they are much cuter than the ones at the hospital), it's about modesty. I hate it when someone comes to visit and I feel like I can't use the restroom until they leave because I'm nervous of flashing my meshy-underwear-not-so-covered-bum to them. Mine also had a snapped enclosure in front that opens up for nursing.
BE PREPARED FOR A NATURAL BIRTH, EVEN IF YOU ARE GETTING AN EPIDURAL
This is so important, even if you know for sure you are getting medicated. Too many of us have had epidurals that didn't work, or didn't get to the hospital in time to have one, and were very ill-prepared. Learning some birth and breathing techniques like Hypnobabies will be very helpful, even for the first part of labor before you get to the hospital. My epidural didn't work with our 3rd child, and I ended up being so grateful for some Hypnobabies background to help me breath through contractions <Get More Info Here>.
GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH
You're paying a pretty penny for this baby, so you might as well soak up your hospital experience as much as you can! Order as many ice-cold juices as you'd freaking like, and when the nurse asks if you'd like some cookies or crackers to take your meds with, respond with the phrase, “yes, could you bring me an assortment please?” My nurses were actually pretty funny about it and really hooked me up in the snack department. One nurse even recommended which cookies are best dipped in which puddings. And please don't forget to snatch up all the extra pads and bed liners…after all, they will end up being the most expensive pads you've ever paid for. One last tip…at the hospital I was at you could only order one meal, but you could order as many sides as you wanted. I'm sure the room service personnel thought I had the appetite of a cow, but I enjoyed ordering quite a few extra sides so that my husband could have something to eat too! Hook a brother up…
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, not only can you now get a breast pump for free, but there is a breast pump company that will do all the paperwork in your behalf, so that you don't have to try and work with your health insurance company on your own, which is such a lifesaver. When you have a newborn, the last thing you want to worry about is jumping through loopholes or calling your doctor's office. See our post on how to get a free breast pump with insurance to learn more.
- When you go to fill out the birth certificate, prepare yourself for pages of questions that have absolutely nothing to do with your child getting a birth certificate. Guess what? You don't have to answer them. For heaven's sake, you just gave birth. Just answer the basics and spend that extra 10 minutes snuggling your new little human.
- Nursing sucks (literally). I would rather give birth 5 times over than go through the first week of nursing! If nursing is a magical experience for you, and your baby latches on perfectly and you could blissfully nurse all day long, then this paragraph is not for you. For the rest of us, I found organic virgin coconut oil to work best as a nipple cream. My sister recommended it to me and I like it so much better than the sticky gooey Lansinoh (spelling?) stuff. Plus, it's safe for baby, good for skin and healing, and has anti-fungal/anti-bacterial properties to help keep infection out. I've found it to be the cheapest at Costco. I also could not live without my nipple shield. It is great for pain relief, and if you are unfortunate enough (like myself) to bleed and blister, it keeps your poor infant from having to put her mouth on your nasty cracked boobs (because since when was that anywhere near appealing?)
- Is it just me or does anyone else agree that the Boppy is the most useless nursing pillow ever? It doesn't seem to support any of the nursing positions and just feels awkward around my belly. If you're considering putting it on your registry, I'd consider something else. Just my two cents.
**UPDATE: Now that I've had a newborn for a month now, there are 2 baby products that I give my glowing recommendation for. These are now the gifts that I will give all my friends because I LOVE them!
The Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper has SAVED ME! I was hesitant to borrow it from my sister because we already have a bassinet and I didn't think we needed it. However, both of my sisters had babies a few months before me and both of them INSISTED that I try it. And I'm so glad my one sister let me try hers because my baby girl has acid reflux and she loves this bassinet because it keeps her on an incline, which keeps her very happy. And she sleeps amazing in it! She's been sleeping 5+ hours at night since about 3- 4 weeks (She's 7 weeks now, so I'm crossing my fingers we keep having a great sleeper). I love that it folds up super easy because we travel to see family almost every weekend, and I also love how easy it is to carry from room to room. None of these things matter as much to me as her being able to sleep so well in it though. I seem to turn into a different person when I'm sleep deprived, and I'm eternally grateful that I haven't had to deal with a baby that cries in the night. She wakes up for one feeding around 5 AM, and goes right back to bed. HALLELUJAH! I guess from now on I will listen to my older and wiser sisters 🙂 Maybe..
The Summer Infant Swaddlers rock! And the funny thing is someone gave them to me when I was pregnant with princess #1 and I never used them! I didn't see the point of them and figured they weren't any different from swaddling with a blanket. WRONG. With baby #2 I used one on a whim. I must have given the other 2 away because I could only find one of them. I am now washing and drying that one almost everyday so that I can use it again the next day (I wish I would have kept the other two, it would be nice to have more than one)! I no longer have to re-wrap my baby when she gets unswaddled because these things velcro in all the right places to keep her snug the whole night! Plus, when it's hot in our house (we have a swamp cooler..ugh), I don't have to put her in pajamas, I just wrap her in her wrap and her hands and feet stay nice and warm without getting too hot. And they wrap super fast. It seems that wrapping her with blankets is an art. I always have my husband do it because I don't ever get it quite right and she gets loose within 10 minutes. These wrap much faster, and trust me…when it's a middle of the night feeding, anything you can do quickly to get your baby back to sleep is worth it!
Do you have any of your own tips for labor and delivery?
Check out some of my other pregnancy posts here: