I have SO MANY people I know who are pregnant. People are breeding everywhere and I’m fielding questions and giving tips left and right. While I know a lot of you aren’t currently hosting a parasite in your belly, I thought I’d give actual helpful advice to some of my pregnant friends. Seriously, it’s not going to be the “sleep while you can’ bullshit people give you (pregnancy insomnia is a thing as is pregnancy rage so don’t tell a pregnant woman to sleep, she might kill you).
Ok, this is going to be long, so settle in. Get your water bottle, put up your feet, and relax. I read blogs on natural births, had a doula, and then ended up with a c-section completely unprepared for that eventuality. I’m here to help you as much as humanly possible BEFORE you have to make a decision.
- Tour the hospital. Ask questions while you do it. This will make the whole visit to the hospital less scary and you will be aware of procedures and processes BEFORE you have to worry about them. This includes if you will get to hold the baby immediately or if they bathe, do eye drops, vaccinations and stuff first. If you get baby time, is it for 30 minutes? Educate yourself on what, if anything, needs to be done immediately. Hospitals are beginning to come around on this issue, and do baths and whatnot AFTER mommy/baby bonding time. Decide if you WANT all those procedures on your baby or if you don’t. Some people forgo that stuff, but make sure you talk with your doctor/pediatrician about it too. Before the birth. Unless you’re giving birth at home, in which case, you already know the procedures, but go over it with your midwife in detail.
- Find a pediatrician. Yep, have one before you give birth. They are going to want to see the baby almost as soon as you get it home, a week after that, and then at it’s 1 month check up. It’s a lot, but it’s to make sure the baby is thriving and it’s important. It’s also hard to do that if you don’t have a pediatrician yet. Ask other parents who they like, go interview. I, for example, have one that refuses to see patients who don’t vaccinated and I like it that way. Choose one that works for your philosophy.
- Vaccinations. Your doctor will have you all caught up before you deliver. Some give the TDAP after you deliver, some before, (that’s tetanus and whooping cough). Your baby won’t have anything for about 2 months. That’s 2 whole months of no vaccinations, except hepatitis B, I think, which they do at birth. I was hardcore about requiring anyone who wanted to visit my babies to be up to date on their vaccinations, including flu and whooping cough. If they weren’t, they couldn’t come over. Period. No one complained about it, and everyone complied because BABY. You may not feel so hardcore about it, but I wanted to let you know it’s OK to do this. It’s your baby, you get to decide. That will be your mantra for the next…18 years or so.
- Visitors. Decide before you give birth how you will handle visitors. This is your first baby, people are going to want to see it and will be clamoring for visitation rights. I had a strict rule that if you came to see me, if you stayed longer than an hour, you had to either bring food, make food, or clean my house. If you didn’t you had to leave. You will be tired and hormonal and in pain, you will NOT want to play hostess. You don’t want to get dressed, brush your hair and smile. You want someone who will bring you food, hold the baby so you can shower, and then get the fuck out. Trust me on this. If you make your rules (whatever they are) clear before visits, they won’t be outraged when you kick them out.
- After you give birth, your body doesn’t just snap back. Whether you do a vaginal birth or a c-section, you are uncomfortable for a while. Buy some heavy duty pads (yes the big diaper-like ones) because you’ll bleed, a lot, and you can’t use tampons. Look up padcicles online and buy the stuff to make them. Have it all on hand so you don’t send your partner to the store to buy it for you upon your return from the hospital.
- Steal stuff from the hospital. Yep, grab everything you can. The big ugly mesh panties are amazingly comfortable, grab a bunch. Pads, blankets, whatever. Take what you can get.
- Mom friends. I cannot stress the importance of these people. Once you return home with your new baby you are: tired, hormonal, in pain, and have no idea what the fuck you are doing and you are required to keep this tiny human alive. If you’re breastfeeding, you are learning how to do that (and I don’t care what they tell you, that shit is hard). If you’re using formula, how much do you make? How much is the baby supposed to sleep? Is it pooping and peeing normally? Bath or no bath? Why won’t it sleep in the bed you bought for it? You feel like you’re the only person on the planet going through everything, but YOU ARE NOT. All mom’s have been there too. Make friends with some. If they have kids the same age, that’s a bonus. 2 months after my first, I called up the women from my birthing class as we all got together once a month with our babies and hung out. It helped immeasurably.
- Birth plan. Well, I’m not going to tell you NOT to do it, but in my experience, you have absolutely no control whatsoever when it comes to the birth of your baby. I had an extensive plan when I went in with my first; it was obsolete as soon as I walked in the doors of the hospital. Have an idea of what you want, try to stick with it, but understand that things can change in an instant. Or they might go exactly as you want. It’s really a crapshoot.
- What to bring to the hospital. You can find lists online, but I found that minimal stuff is fine. The hospital provides you with gowns to wear and if my experience echos everyone else’s, you end up pretty naked by the end anyway. Don’t buy a fancy nightgown to wear, seriously. During labor you’re oozing stuff out of your vagina and it just gets worse as time goes on. You’ll stain that nightgown beyond repair and it’s just not worth it. Wear the gown they give you, trust me (and don’t worry about the naked thing, by the time you’re ready to have that baby you will not give one fuck about who’s in the room and how naked you are, trust me). Do bring phone/computer chargers, a camera if you want one, and music you want to listen to. I recommend soothing stuff, but maybe rock/metal is soothing for you. Don’t load up on snacks because they won’t let you eat and as soon as your partner opens that snickers bar he brought, you’re going to want to kill him. If he/she gets hungry, they can find their own food and eat it out of sight in five minutes or less (the time it will take you to start demanding where they are and WHY ARE THEY NOT HERE?!) Bring a change of clothes to take the baby and yourself home in. Stores try to sell you a special going home baby outfit, but bring something practical and easy-ish to put on them. Dressing a newborn is like dressing an octopus and as soon as you put it on they will poop or spit up and and that’s that. Personal care stuff: shampoo, body soap, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush. Really, that’s it. They have pillows, pads, underwear, and even blankets to wrap baby in. You just don’t need a lot of stuff.
- Birthing classes: YES. Do this, whether you plan on having an epidural or not. The classes will help you understand the process and the instructors can answer questions you have about…well, anything. They will help you find ways to deal with the pain (yes, it fucking hurts) and get through the whole process sane. There are three different types, unless one popped up in the year since I had my last baby.
- Lamaze: Yep, still around. Breathing and pain management techniques
- Bradley Method: this is a 12 week course. Yes, 12 weeks. Similar yet different to Lamaze.
- Hypnobabies: Self-hypnosis. I did this one with my first. It worked ok in that it kept me very calm during a crazy thing, but I’d probably choose Lamaze or Bradley if I could do it over.