Truth about Childbirth from moms. You’ve seen the birth class video and practiced your breathing, but there are still some things about labor that might surprise you. Moms deliver the real deal.
1. The best patient advocate is you. "The person administering my epidural just wasn’t getting it right," recalls mom of one Elizabeth Deveney-Frazier of Cohasset, Massachusetts. "I could feel the needle, feel the pressure—all the things they say you aren’t supposed to feel. I spoke up and requested someone else. You can’t worry about being that patient when it’s your well being and your baby’s."
2. You can’t control your baby’s arrival, so relax!. "I had this long list of things to get done right up to my due date, and I had it in my mind that I would finish," recalls Marie Alfonso, a mom of one in Brooklyn, New York. "Then my water broke during a staff meeting, which wasn’t part of the plan!" Try to have tasks finished up well before your due date. The more well-rested you are when you go into labor, the better.
3. Labor: the toughest job you’ll ever...sleep through.. Contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, labor isn’t all agony, all the time. "After my epidural, I had a completely pain-free labor," says Marina Daly, a mom of one from Tampa, Florida. "The entire process was 10 hours long and I spent it napping and watching the Food Network. The nurses actually had to wake me up when it was time to push."
4. You can always change your mind—and meds. ."Both my mother and mother-in-law told me natural childbirth was a beautiful thing, so I gave it a try," says Lorra Brown, a mom of two from Ringwood, New Jersey. "At first I worked through the pain with breathing and relaxation techniques, but hours later, I went for the epidural."
5. Bonding can happen anytime. ."After I had a c-section, I couldn’t hold my baby right off and was worried I’d missed my chance to connect with him," says Lynn Whitlock, a mother of two from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "A few hours later the nurses brought him to me, and there was that click. The delay didn’t matter—it was still a great moment."
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Mothers provide pregnancy tips for the labor process and explain how delivering your baby can be less stressful.
See why these women’s birth days went so right—and pick from their tips to help make your own labor less...laborious.
Tune out. "When I delivered my twins, I brought an iPod loaded with my favorite songs, everything from indie rock to Johnny Cash hymns. Best decision ever. It was like bringing my best friends into the delivery room to comfort me like only they knew how."
—Angela Vincent, mom of four, Los Angeles, CA
Take a breather—lots of them. "I took prenatal yoga, and that allowed me to have a very successful delivery. I was skeptical at first but through relaxing and deep breathing I was able to work my way through each contraction without letting the pain make my body too tense to do its job. Using these techniques, I had three labors that were drug- and intervention-free."
—Jackie Kaufenberg, mom of three, Olivia, Minnesota
Cool off quick. "Ask for an ice pack to put in your underwear immediately after delivery to reduce swelling and pain. I didn’t get to use this technique myself because I had a C-section, but I have prescribed it to thousands of patients, and it helps!"
—Dr. Jennifer Gunter, M.D., author of The Preemie Primer
Hit the shower. "I tell everyone I know to take a warm shower during labor. I’ve done it myself through three natural deliveries. It helps you to relax and feels wonderful."
—Katie Bulger, mom of three, Clarksville, Tennessee
Sit up. "After I had an epidural, my nurses adjusted the bed so I was sitting completely upright with my legs down on a little stool. The nurses explained that this would allow gravity to help with the labor. I went from six centimeters to ‘We can see the head’ in about an hour and a half. I guess mom was right when she told me to sit up straight!"
—Mindy Airhart, mom of two, New Orleans, Louisiana
Get to know the team. "The practice I attended made sure to introduce me to everyone on the staff through the course of my pregnancy, down to the nurses. When I arrived for my delivery, the on-call nurse was one that I’d already met. That made it so much easier and more comforting. If your doctor’s office doesn’t do these meet and greets, ask them to."
—Darneisha Calixto, mom of one, Washington D.C.
An article from the HUGGIES® Brand
By Mary Fischer, CafeMom
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, odds are good you're pretty passionate about your choice. You want to do everything possible to ensure it's an easy transition and a positive experience for both you and your newborn.
And while there is plenty of info out there to help you learn as much as you can about seamlessly getting your baby on the boob, there may be one simple thing you can do right after giving birth that will help you get off to a good start. According to a new study, skin-to-skin contact in the delivery room between mom and baby is linked to an increase in exclusive breastfeeding.
Yep. That's it. A mom's intention to breastfeed, coupled with having her newborn placed in her arms for skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, increases the chances of breastfeeding being a success.
Huh. I guess that makes sense. So much of breastfeeding involves bonding and connecting with your infant. It only seems fitting that having that experience right from the start would make learning to breastfeed easier for both mom and baby.
Hold up -- maybe that's where I went wrong when I had my son. I only breastfed him for a couple of weeks (long story) -- but I guess I should note that I did not have skin-to-skin contact with him after his birth.
No, it wasn't by choice. (Gah. I'm not that horrible.)
You see, I was in labor with my little guy for about 24 hours, and somewhere towards the end, I suddenly spiked a fever. They weren't sure what was going on, so as soon as he came out, the nurses whisked him away to check him over and make sure he was ok. Turns out he was just fine, and several minutes later, he was presented to me all swaddled up like a little burrito.
And while I do remember getting a brief lession in how to breastfeed, there was definitely no skin-to-skin stuff involved. I didn't have the heart to unroll him from his cozy little bundle.
But I wonder if I had ... is there a chance breastfeeding would've come more naturally to me? I guess there's really no way to know for sure, but it's possible that it could've had some sort of a positive impact.
Oh well, there's really nothing I can do about it now -- but if you're having a baby in the near future and have your heart set on breastfeeding, you should definitely put this little trick in your back pocket and give it a shot if your birth experience allows for it. (Every little bit helps when it comes to offering the boob.)
Are you hoping to breastfeed your baby?
By Adriana Velez, CafeMom
If you're looking for a midwife or doula, especially if you're new to your area, where do you begin?
Here are some tips for finding the right midwife practice for you.
Do you have any other suggestions for finding a midwife practice?
By Lisa Fogarty, CafeMom
Sopranos actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler recently said the most refreshing thing I've heard about labor and delivery in a long time. to her son! Granted, she sings the praises of her doula, whom she credits with calming her nerves. According to Jamie-Lynn, her doula told her to prepare for the level of pain she expected to experience, double that, and then anticipate how she'd react if that happened. Sounds like pretty simple advice, doesn't it? But it worked because the actress' anxieties about birth melted!
You may be asking yourself how on earth this could be possible or questioning this woman's sanity. You may even find yourself disliking her for not doing what most women have been taught to do, which is spend the weeks prior to giving birth frozen in a complete state of fear and then spend a few weeks after birth telling everyone about the great agony you were forced to endure.
I apologize in advance to anyone who really did go through childbirth hell. I know it happens. Often. But in my experience with my firstborn, there were five major things I was terrified of happening that either didn't take place or weren't a big deal when they did.
I thought I would be in agony for 18 hours. In reality, I was in labor for this long, but only felt pain for maybe an hour during the pushing process. I opted to get an epidural, so of course that had everything to do with it. But this isn't a decision I regret. I was able to read magazines and talk to my husband without wanting to kill him.
I thought I'd hear other women screaming. The birthing room was almost as quiet as a tomb. And I think I would have preferred to hear the sounds of women -- which I expected -- instead of the unceasing and scary beep, beep, beeps of the heart monitors.
I feared I wouldn't know when to push. I kept asking the nurses, "Is it time yet?" And they kept insisting I'd know when it's time. And boy, did I. The sudden pressure on my lower abdomen and need to push came on like a tidal wave.
I was scared everyone would see me poop on the bed. I still don't know if this happened because I have an amazing husband who just keeps insisting it didn't. But when you're in the moment -- trust me -- poop will be the last thing on your mind.
I didn't think I could spread my legs far enough to deliver a baby. Yeesh, I could've used a doula to tell me that this is not how women give birth. I had no idea I'd be asked to lift my knees to my chin for an hour and a half. You can bet I'm doing prenatal yoga now to prepare for my second delivery.
Were you pleasantly surprised by anything during childbirth?
By Michele Zipp, CafeMom
We don't take bread out of the oven before it is ready. Why on Earth do we do it to babies? There are definitely very good reasons some mothers must induce and give birth before it's time -- and in those cases it can save lives. But for all the other times, it can actually put lives at risk. The final weeks of your pregnancy is a critical time for baby's growth.