Category Archives: Birth

7 Unexpected Facts Every Expecting Mama Needs to Know

When you’re about to give birth, it is imperative that you feel as prepared as possible for what’s ahead.

You want to know what you’re getting into.

You may feel like there’s no real way to prepare yourself until you’ve gone through it, but there are a few things you can read about that will give you more confidence.

If you educate yourself on birth, recovery, and what comes next, it’s easier to relax and decorate the nursery without fear. 😉

Here are some tips that can help prepare you for birth and having a new baby. I hope they encourage and help you as you excitedly prepare to meet your little one!

1. Birth may not be as hard as you think

From the youngest of ages, women in American society are trained that the only thing similar to the experience of birth is death.

We see the screaming and panic that ensues when a woman goes into labor in movies. We hear horror stories from other women. We read about it in books.

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Unfortunately, the less dramatic and more peaceful birth stories hardly get shared. Because as we know, the positive stories never make news headlines.

Everyone knows that if you go into a situation expecting the worst to happen, the worst most likely will. If you go into a situation expecting things to be horrible, they most likely will.

However, as women we must remember that we have been giving birth for thousands of years.
 God created us to give birth.

View More: http://smetonaphoto.pass.us/vandykebirthIt’s crucial for expecting mamas to think positively about birth.
Do your research. Read up on the incredible things that happen during birth so that nothing is a surprise to you, and you know what your body is doing.

Now it’s also important to not go into birth like a deer in the headlights.

Birth is the most intense experience you’ll ever be a part of. It’s hard work, and you’ll be stretched in physical AND mental ways.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be a negative experience.
Read positive birth stories (Ina May’s book below has tons of them.). Don’t let people tell you about their negative experiences while you’re pregnant. Do your own study, and make informed choices for your birth plan.

My personal favorite book recommendations are Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Hypnobirthing, Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, in that order.

Below photo by Christine Sara 

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2. Your first reaction to your baby may not be love at first sight


Another thing we have all been told is that the moment you see your baby for the first time, is the most incredible moment will ever experience.

For millions of women I’m sure that has been true.But every situation is different. Your body is going through intense things physically and emotionally right after birth. Your hormones are going crazy.

When I saw and held my son for the first time, I felt like I was holding a little alien. It was the strangest feeling I had ever had. And many women have told me they felt the same way.

View More: http://smetonaphoto.pass.us/vandykebirthBirth Photos by Smetona Photo

It may not be love at first sight. And that’s ok. You’re still a good mama. And those amazing loving feelings will come.

3. Recovery from birth may take awhile

Oh man do I wish I had prepared more for this! You’re told to abstain from intimacy for 6 weeks, but little else is usually shared about the recovery period.

Recovery can be easy, or recovery can be hard.I’ve had women share with me that after 3 days, they felt totally fine, and could go about their normal activities.

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I’ve had other women share that it took weeks before they felt they could even do anything.

For me, recovery was incredibly difficult. I share this with you not to scare you but so that you can better prepare.

I could barely walk for at least a week – possibly because my birth was so fast. I had had back labor and so my back constantly ached, along with my whole body. My lady parts hurt terribly making it hard to even sit. And my nipples were so sore I didn’t even wear a shirt most of the time.

I also got mastitis after a week but didn’t know it for about 5 days, so I was bedridden with a fever, chills, and pretty much delirious.

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Every woman and experience is different, so the best thing you can do is just prepare.

I recommend researching beforehand the signs of mastitis so you know what to keep an eye on.
Also have lanolin, a breast pump, tylenol, and perineal cold packs on hand.

If possible having friends lined up to bring you meals, and some canned soup and good freezer meals available can give you more time to rest in the recovery period.

4. Nursing may not come as naturally as you expect


Yes, nursing is natural, but it may not come naturally.Some babies are “good” nursers right from the start, and some have a little more trouble with it.

The important thing to know is that you AND your baby are both learning how to nurse.

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I highly recommend taking a breastfeeding class before you give birth, especially paying attention to how to help your baby latch on, and what the proper latch looks like. La Leche League, your local hospital, Google, & Youtube are all helpful resources.

This was another thing I wish I had done more research on beforehand. My son had a shallow, weak latch but I didn’t know how to help him correct it.
This led to bleeding nipples and contributed to me getting mastitis. After I went to my local hospital for a free nursing consultation I learned how to get him to latch correctly which made a world of difference.

Another thing to know is that it’s normal to have extremely sore nipples for weeks after you give birth.

Women of multiple children tell me that every time you give birth you can expect this. Lanolin helps alot, but I think knowing that the soreness will go away eventually helps you press on if you really want to stick with nursing.

5. Falling in love with your baby is incredible

I already mentioned it may not be love at first sight for you and your baby. Or it may be.

But the encouraging thing to know is that as you spend time with and get to know your baby, the love you develop is incredible.

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It’s amazing how meeting your little ones needs, kisses, snuggles and spending time with your baby creates this amazing bond of love.
It’s like falling in love all over again! And it’s so, so worth it!

6. Seeing your husband become a Father is the sexiest thing ever

Talking about falling in love again, seeing your husband become a Father is the sweetest and sexiest thing!
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Watching them love on and take care of this tiny little bundle is beautiful to see. The tenderness you see in them just might make you want to go back to babymaking pretty quickly! 😉

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It’s also adorable seeing them build their own special relationship with your baby. The baby talk. Special hugs, and little jokes they share as baby gets older just melts your heart.

7. Becoming a Parent is the best character building thing you could do

I’ve shared the easy and the hard, the good and the bad, and I know there’s so much more that could be said on this subject.
But one thing that was unexpected for me was the character building that becoming a parent inevitably does for you.

During the late night feedings, when you feel like you can’t go on, somehow you find the strength to.
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When you’re figuring something hard out, like your baby won’t stop crying and you don’t know why, somehow you get through it.

When you’re ready to give up on nursing because it hurts so much, somehow you keep going.

Becoming a parent builds incredible patience, kindness, and endurance. It builds you into a better person. And a better parent for your little one.
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In the first few weeks after having my son,  I called my mom crying because I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know how I would go on.

My mom wisely said these words,

“Susannah, becoming a mom is the most character building thing you will ever do. At night, when I heard my baby cry, and I was so desperate for just a little bit of sleep, I prayed that God would let the baby go back to sleep. But as the weeks went by, I started praying, God give me the strength I need to meet my baby’s needs. And He always did.”

If you’re expecting a new little one, my earnest hope is that this blog encouraged and helped you!
Some other blogs you may want to check out are My Home Birth Story, The Photo I Never Thought I’d Share, and The Terror I Never Felt Before.

Maternity Photos by Just Maggie Photography.

 

The Photo I Never Thought I’d Share

Yesterday was our beautiful son, Wilder Freedom’s first birthday. It’s nostalgic and sweet remembering all the little things he has accomplished in one year, like smiling,  crawling, and saying mama, dadda; and all the adventures we have had together as a family even in his short little life span.

But one moment stands the starkest in my mind.

The moment I first laid eyes on my son.

This is the moment that hundreds of mothers had told me leading up to birth was the most beautiful moment they had ever experienced. That their body was filled with a rush of love hormones that was indescribable.

That they were struck with such a deep love that it was inexplainable, and other-worldly.

So naturally I was kind of expecting that to happen to me.

I mean, I had done months of preparation for my drug free home birth, and my labor and delivery went very well.

After pushing for an hour I couldn’t believe it all was over, I had reached the finish line, and here was the little baby I had been bonding with while he was in my tummy for nine months.

So the moment came – the last push, my midwife placed him into my arms…

And I looked at my son. His little scrunchy eyes. His tiny little face. My eyes opened wide and I turned to my husband and said,

“This is so weird.”

Most women use the words Beautiful, Wonderful, Indescribable, & Heart wrenching to describe the feeling of first looking at their child.

My word of choice was Weird.

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How I really felt when I first looked at my son.

It’s hard to describe how I felt – a bit terrified, in awe, and shocked. I didn’t feel like this was “my baby” that had just been in my tummy.

I felt like I was holding a little alien that had been placed in my arms and that I was now responsible for. I didn’t know what to do next.

Luckily I had a husband to pat me on the head and tell me good job. 😉

It didn’t feel at all like I thought it was going to. And that’s ok. My body had just gone through ALOT getting this little guy into the world, my hormones were all over the place, and shortly after holding my little son I would almost faint.

I never liked showing this photo to people because I felt a little guilty that I didn’t have this amazing reaction to my amazing little son.

But now I feel differently.

It’s ok. It’s ok to have a different experience than everyone else.

And it’s good to be honest about that and hopefully encourage people after you who have similar situations so that they don’t feel alone, abnormal, or like a bad mother.

I love my little guy with all my heart. For me it was a love that steadily grew in the hours and days and even months after birth as I got to hold him, spend time with him and get to know who he is.

Now I can’t imagine my life without him and he truly holds my heart. But that’s not how it felt at first. And that’s ok.

If this encouraged you and you have any Mama Friends expecting their first baby, please SHARE!

What about you? What was it like when you saw your baby for the first time?

 

My Home Birth Story

One thing I get asked all the time is our birth story. We did an unmedicated home birth. If you had told me two years ago that’s what I would do for our first child, I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy.

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A week before baby came… boy was I feeling it! Photo by Just Maggie Photography {Maggie, you’re the best!}

But guess what?

It was an amazing experience!!!

One I love to share. So here’s the scoop. And for my preggo mama friends, I hope this encourages you. You’re going to do great!!!

{Note, everything below is rated G 🙂 … but if you’re not interested in birth, you can leave now without hurting my feelings 🙂 }

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I don’t consider myself to be an especially strong person. I’m the girl who screams when she stubs her toe. The one whose parents and the other four siblings referred to as “the runty” of the litter.

I was also, I can say, quite terrified of giving birth in my early years of marriage. I was so afraid of getting pregnant. It was a fear I had to give to God, and He healed me and took away my fear. After about 4 years into being married we thought, maybe we’re ready.

Praise God we got pregnant March of 2014. I just figured I would have a hospital birth with an epideral, but after reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, my desires changed and I wanted to do a natural home birth. My husband Lukas and I were overwhelmed with the feeling of trying to find a midwife but had high recommendations from many close friends referring us to Donna, and so we took that as answered prayer. We couldn’t have been more happy with Donna’s care of us!

My estimated due date was December 20, 2014 but we were praying baby would come a little earlier so that my family coming in town for Christmas could meet him. On Dec. 11, I went in for a checkup and found out I was already dilated to a 2. That night as I lay in bed about to go to sleep, contractions started. They were completely painless, and a complete-body experience that was different than what I imagined contractions to be. But, I had never had a contraction so what did I know!

I loosely timed them and was able to get some sleep until about 5am when some of them were two minutes apart. I still hadn’t felt any pain at all. I woke my husband around 7am and said, “Are you ready to meet your son?!”

He set up the birthing tub and I called my mom to come over. The contractions started spreading apart when I got up and started moving around and by the afternoon they had gone away completely. Psyche!! My mom went home, and we put away the birthing tub.

A week later on Dec. 17, I woke up feeling super achey all over. But then again I was 39 weeks pregnant! I had felt a few little twinges when I first woke up, but I didn’t regard them as real contractions because they didn’t feel anything like what I had experienced before – they were a little painful and very short duration. At around 11am I mentioned to Lukas that I was tired and had maybe felt a few little pinches but that I didn’t think it was real labor. In a way I didn’t want to get his hopes up since we had been so excited and ready the week before.

Around 11:30 the contractions were more regular, and I had heard walking helps get labor going so I went on a couple of walks hoping labor would start. I still didn’t pay much attention to these contractions and thought it was just false labor again. In the meantime my sister came into town and I told her about the contractions but said to come on over from the airport anyways because I didn’t think it was the real thing.

My sister and I hung out and were having a great time, and the contractions started to become “a nuisance”. Since I still thought it was just false labor, I decided to relax my body. Someone had suggested drinking a glass of wine and taking a hot bath to stop false labor. So my sister went to buy some wine, and I got in our Jacuzzi at 98 degrees. I felt my body relaxing.

We were having a great time drinking wine and soaking in the Jacuzzi and I realized that when I had a contraction I had to stop talking for a minute and focus. That was a little bit of a change, and I remembered something I read in the Bradley Method book about that being an indicator of real labor, so I got out of the Jacuzzi… and right then my water broke!! It was the weirdest feeling, no pain, just like out of nowhere someone had dumped a glass of water on me or something. At this point it was 5:30pm.

I remember telling my sister, “I think my water just broke! Can you go get Lukas?”  Lukas came outside and I said, “I think my water just broke. Wait, no actually, I know it broke”. A minute later I was hit with a contraction …. Really HIT by it, like, WOW I can’t move or walk and really need to focus. Was it painful? A bit, but more like just a very intense feeling. A very big pinch and aching in my back. THIS WAS THE REAL THING! Haha! “I have to go lay down” I said, and as soon as the contraction was over I booked it to our bed.

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Because I was having back labor I didn’t want Lukas to leave my side. Having him apply counter pressure like we learned about in the Bradley Book cut the pain by 80%. Lukas called Donna around 6pm and she told us to time them and get back to her. From 6-6:40 Lukas timed the contractions while I just totally got in the zone using some of the Hypnobirthing relaxation techniques I learned (I kind of did a mix of hypnobirthing and bradley method). Every time I felt a contraction come on I completely loosened and relaxed my body and mind.

I let the contraction just carry me, I didn’t fight it at all, and I imagined an opening flower (I know it sounds weird but it really sped things up!!) . At 6:40pm, only 40min after the intense contractions, I had a few contractions that were VERY painful. However; they were short duration and I always got a break. I know my body was going to work and doing what it needed to do! At 7pm I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so with Lukas’ help I hobbled in. I just felt a lot of pressure down there that needed to be relieved but I couldn’t. When I went back in to lay on the bed, the contractions had totally changed. The way they felt and hit my body was completely different. The back labor was mostly gone and I just felt like I needed to PUSH!

I told Lukas I felt like it was time to push, and I can just imagine what was going on in his brain. My wife has been in labor only an hour. She hasn’t screamed or anything, she hasn’t given me any of the signs the Bradley book said she would about expressing she couldn’t do this anymore, etc. Instead what he said, in a gentle calm voice was, “You know you’re really doing amazing. But I think we probably have another 6 hours or so to go.” I replied, “ I can’t explain it but if I really listen to my body, I need to push! Tell Donna to come now!” Haha. He urged me not to push because we definitely wanted a midwife there!

So for an hour I relaxed through every pushing contraction willing myself not to push. Some of this was in my bed, and then I eventually moved to the birthing tub which my sister had set up while I was laboring in my room. What would we have done without her! God sure knew what He was doing! I loved the warmness of the tub and it helped me completely relax my body. I remember just mostly keeping my eyes closed and people were giving me bites of food and water to drink. Oh, and at some point my mom arrived.

Then Donna arrived at 8:10pm. I was in the middle of a contraction but I just remember her coming in to the room so respectfully and calmly, and saying something to my mom like, “Has she been like this the whole time?” I think cause I wasn’t screaming or making any noise. She checked me and said “Oh wow, wow Suzy. You are ready to push!” I looked at Lukas like, see I’m not crazy! Because I had held off on pushing for so long I felt like I didn’t know what to do, so I asked Donna what to do and she helped direct and guide me with breathing and pushing. My mom held one knee and Lukas held the other while I pushed. My friend and birth photographer Kristen came at 8:30, just in time because our little baby boy came into the world at 9:01pm! Only an hour of pushing.

One thing to note, is that my whole pregnancy one of my requests to God was that my water wouldn’t break before labor because I had heard that the water bag helps cushion the baby during pushing so it’s not as painful. Well, when baby was born, my midwife discovered he actually had a second water bag the whole time!

When he was handed to me I was completely shocked. I just couldn’t believe that this little baby in my arms was my baby… it felt so foreign. The labor was over. It was more like disbelief than sentimentality. The photo of me holding him for the first time is hilarious because of my facial expression! But here he was. He kind of had the same expression on his face too, “What just happened?!”

Delivering the placenta ended up being difficult for me but I will spare you the details except to say it took about an hour and was more painful for me than the birth itself… but still not horrible, still manageable pain. When that was done, I felt a lot better and so enjoyed holding my little guy! And seeing my family with him too was very special.

He truly was a little Christmas gift, coming peacefully into the world in our living room in front of the Christmas tree with piano Christmas music playing in the background.

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I love to share my story because I think that so many women, including myself, only hear horror stories of birth. But birth is a beautiful thing. Yes it’s hard. Yes there’s some pain involved, but for me it was not half as bad as I thought it was going to be. It’s more “work” than “pain”. It truly is amazing how God designed women’s bodies to grow and then bring forth life! Lukas and I are incredibly thankful to Jesus for so many answered prayers of a safe birth, good experience, and healthy baby!

Birth photos below by my sweet friend Kristin of Smetona Photo

Suzy Homebirth

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