When I was pregnant with our first and only child, words could not describe just how excited I was. I researched everything, downloaded baby information and growth tracking apps. I took on board everyone’s tips and advice and I booked my self and my husband into all the appropriate birthing and breastfeeding classes available at the hospital where I would give birth.
Unfortunately though, looking back now, I don’t really think any of this really prepared me or my husband for what birth and that first week as a parent would really be like. I also feel like there was a lot of important information that would have been really useful to us, that we just weren’t told.
So here are my important tips for what I wish I knew prior to giving birth:
I think it’s safe to say that no amount of knowledge or preparation can really prepare a woman for labour. When my husband rang the birth suite, at the hospital, to let them know that my waters had broken and that my contractions were 5 mins apart, they told him that birth suite was very busy so if I could stay at home where I was comfortable for a little bit, that would be better for me; but we were to come straight up if anything changed. They also told my husband that I should have something to eat before I came up. It was 8am and I hadn’t had breakfast, so this made sense. No one told me though, that labour can actually make you vomit. Why would they leave that out of their birthing classes? This was the first thing I wish I’d known.
During one of my birthing classes, we were explained, in a rather negative way, how an epidural works, what time frame we would need in order to get one and how the whole scene would look in the hospital.
I was already steering towards not having one but after this class I was adamant that I would not, under any circumstance, have an epidural. This was not up to me though and after about twelve hours in the hospital, my doctor asked me if I would consider having one, as labour was not progressing, and by having the epidural I might be able to fall asleep and give my body and my baby a few extra hours before the doctors would have to intervene. My doctor was lovely and I was not forced to have one but under the circumstances, I agreed, even though I was terrified.
As it turns out however, having an epidural is not as scary as the birthing classes made it out to be and I wish I’d opted for one sooner.
Not once did anyone ever talk to me about having a caesarean. They were not spoken of during birth classes or during my antenatal appointments. They didn’t even come up in the countless birthing stories that I had to endure from random customers, people walking past me in the street, waitresses at cafes I dined at and everyone else who thought it was a great idea to share with me their worst case birthing experiences.
My daughters birth was by emergency caesarean. This, I was not prepared for and it is to this day, one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through; not because having a caesarean is scary but because I didn’t know what was involved with one or what would happen.
Not once was it ever mentioned to me just how much of a negative effect the drugs and gasses given to me in the hospital could have on my body. These drugs and gasses, while vital at the time, can make you nauseous and even vomit. They can also bind you up and make it very difficult to be able to go to the toilet. This would have been handy to know.
The hardest thing my husband and I had to experience in the days following our daughter’s birth, was being told that I could go home, or rather, had to go home, but that we couldn’t take our daughter with us. Some irregularities meant that the doctors wanted to monitor our daughter further, unfortunately though, my time in the hospital was maxed out. This was absolutely heart wrenching and nothing had prepared us for this. After being through so much and then having to return home with our arms empty felt like nothing we had ever felt before. Thankfully though, our daughter came home with us the next day, after having made a few health improvements overnight and after a lot of pleading with the nurses.
It became apparent to us though, that there are many families who weren’t as lucky as we were and who had to come to the hospital daily to visit their new babies. Leaving the hospital without your baby is a possibility, one that we, and certainly many others, are not aware of.
When going through a pregnancy, particularly your first, it becomes apparent that it is everyone’s duty to tell you how it’s going to be, according to their own experiences. But there are some things that I look back at now and think “why didn’t anyone tell me that?” Especially when it comes to birth, which is funny, as it seems to be that one topic that people seem to feel the need to share with everyone.
So I hope that in sharing some of my experiences, I might help a few women prepare for what may happen.
What things do you wish you were told about before giving birth? Please share in the comments below.
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