Doesn’t it seem like every woman who has given birth is now an expert on the subject?
Well, yeah. And rightly so.
Most mothers revel in their stories of long hours of hard labor and vaginal tears to push these bundle of joys out of tight spaces.
And as an award-winning two-time C-section mama, I carry my keloid scars like a badge of honor (although if I had the money to zap the scar away I definitely would.)
As the most common medical condition known to women (other than a cold), we make it a point to share our pregnancy, labor and delivery experiences with other women who may potentially embark down this path.
Despite all of the well-meaning advice, prenatal classes, textbook photos, and your girlfriend’s crazy epidural story, I think there’s still some things people never warn you about the experience.
Because I swear nobody told me about cervical checks– those manual inspections your doctor will perform as you get near your due date. After nearly 9 months of keeping unnecessary trauma away from my cervix, I didn’t realize a doctor would start actively poking around down there looking for signs of labor. With their hands. Good god!
Although I made every effort to be informed and prepared for labor, there are a few details I just wasn’t aware of. So here’s my Top 6 Things I’d Wish I’d Known about Labor and Delivery.
- The labor and delivery nurse is your WORKHORSE. He/She is doing the really hard work of telling you when and how to push, manually stretching your vaginal muscles, and evaluating your symptoms to make sure things are going right. The doctor typically pokes in a few times to make sure things are going well and at the end when you’re fully dilated and the baby is ready to make an entrance.
- Those cervical checks are no joke. These checks are usually performed to give doctors an idea of how close to labor you are and if your cervix is starting to soften and thin out as expected a few weeks before your due date. Typically the doctor will ask you to lay on your back and spread your legs lotus style with your feet together and pushed back as far as possible, while your cervix is manually checked. Remember, you’re 9+ months pregnant at this point. Lawd have mercy.
- The doctor may have to break your water for you. Most of us are usually waiting for that “bloody show” at home, or we’re expecting a big splash of water and wet clothing to signal that it’s officially SHOWTIME. Unless none of that happens. And you go into labor anyway. And at some point at the hospital you will see the doctor pull out a tool that looks like a crochet needle. He’s about to break the bag!!
- Your first epidural might not work. Seriously. Maybe you planned to get it as part of your birth plan. Or maybe the pain and stress of the birth was more than you expected. It’s perfectly acceptable (and sometimes a relief) to know that epidurals are a common and mostly safe alternative to laboring in pain. UNLESS THEY DON’T WORK because of misplacement or some other quirk. It happens.
- Remember when peeing was involuntary? Wait, wuh? Well, you and your baby have one more thing in common now. Some women experience urinary incontinence for a short time after having a baby. Wear some extra pads and beware of the unintended consequences of a big laugh or a sneeze. The experience is humbling.
- You need to poop before you leave the hospital. It’s not a hard and fast rule everywhere but in general, your obstetrician wants to make sure you can have a bowel movement before you are discharged and that everything is in working order. But really, you just pushed a child out of your vagina or you have stitches and staples across your abdomen from a c-section. Coupled with some of the pain medication with side effects that include constipation. WHAT MORE DO THEY WANT FROM ME?
Consider yourself fully prepared now.
What was your biggest surprise during labor and delivery? Feel free to leave a comment. And there’s no such thing as TMI in this post!
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