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.
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.
It’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.
Below photo by Christine Sara
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.
Birth 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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! 😉
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.
Photo by Mariano Friginal
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.
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.