Hey mama, you've made it through nine months of pregnancy, successfully enduring the gas, swelling, and constant kicks from your little soccer player. At this point, "get this kid out of me" is probably your most muttered phrase, but you have to get through one teeny tiny thing before you can hold your precious newborn in your arms.
Ok, I lied; labor isn't teeny tiny, it's kind of a big deal, and it can be scary for first-time (and veteran) moms alike. The unknown of what it will feel like, whether it will progress slowly or quickly, and about a million other things make labor one of the most feared parts of pregnancy (apart from pushing a watermelon out of your who-ha.)
While I'd love to say that once you look at your precious newborn, all the pain will become a distant memory, the truth is you'll remember it. You just won't care because seeing their perfect little face and kissing their perfect little cheek will make it 100% worth it! But you're not here to read about that; you're here to learn how to get to that point as easily and successfully as possible.
While labor is unavoidable, I've put together some of my favorite labor tips for first-time moms to help make the process less overwhelming. To get sappy for one minute, I want to remind you that you've got this, and just like billions of women before you, you're gonna rock your labor and delivery. So, what are you waiting for? Time is short; you have a baby to birth. Let's jump into this list of the top labor tips for first-time moms!
Confide In Your Labor And Delivery Nurse
Depending on the length of your labor, your L&D nurse will be with you the entire time, so opening up and talking to them can be very beneficial. They are there to make the process as comfortable and enjoyable for you as possible while ensuring you and your baby's health. Be sure to share your birthing plan with them, so they can know what you want and don't want, and never be afraid to ask them questions about how you're feeling. L&D nurses are some of the most compassionate, empathetic, and caring people on the planet, and they understand the fear and pain you're feeling. They can be there to comfort you, answer questions, and provide peace of mind, which can help you relax and make the labor process more manageable.
Be Prepared For Plans To Change
The only thing you can always expect about labor is that there will be unexpected aspects that arise. Whether it's a hold-up with the anesthesiologist (one of my personal experiences) or an emergency c-section (occurring in around 21% of deliveries), it's a fact of life that labor is unpredictable. The good news is that the doctors and nurses taking care of you are fully equipped to handle anything that happens, so you don't have to worry. Just remember that, while having a birthing plan is incredible, you should always keep an open mind to any necessary changes that will ensure the health and safety of you and your soon-to-be newborn.
Be Prepared To Bare All
Ok, time for some real talk; having a baby is a messy and often disgusting experience. Yes, it's beautiful and amazing, and blah blah, that goes without saying, but it's also bloody and gross. To be honest, I wish someone had told me this before I gave birth the first time because I was totally and completely unprepared for how much my vagina would be out for the world to see. Doctors and L&D nurses are so used to the process that I think they sometimes forget we're not used to sitting on a bed, legs spread, with everyone examining our exposed crotch and having a casual discussion about how it looks. There will be a lot of pelvic exams, potential catheter if you receive an epidural, shaving if you didn't do it prior to delivery, and more. Also, you can't leave the hospital until you use the restroom, and the nurse will watch you, so be prepared for that. While all of this is a bit uncomfortable, especially for the more modest mamas, it's all an essential part of the process and completely natural, so just be prepared to lose all modesty, at least until you leave the hospital!
Ok, this may sound crazy, and you're probably wondering how you're supposed to relax during labor, but if you do, you greatly increase your chances for a faster delivery. When you tense up during contractions, it stops your body from pushing your baby farther down the birthing canal, causing your labor to last longer. By relaxing your muscles and allowing them to perform their jobs, you can help expedite the process. Many women find that once they receive an epidural, their labor progresses faster since they are able to relax and allow their body to do its job. If you don't want an epidural, there are other ways to decrease tension, like listening to calming music, utilizing a doula, and receiving massages from your partner or labor coach. However you manage to do it, relaxing your body is one of the most effective ways to lessen pain and quicken labor.
You May Not Remember It
I know what I said before, and yes, you will (at first) remember the pain of labor; but it's actually really interesting how many women say they don't recall many aspects of their experience. While I'm no scientist, I believe our lapses in memory are due to being immersed in the process and not caring about superfluous details. For example, some women say they don't remember their partner filming or talking to them, while others state not recalling when visitors dropped by. If you are focused internally, and in the zone, it's common for you to either forget or fail to notice things going on around you, and that's completely ok!
Labor is not for the weak, and after nine months of pregnancy, you've proven your strength. You will get through and receive the most amazing reward on the other side, your sweet little one. For more tips and advice on pregnancy, motherhood, caring for your newborn or infant, and more, turn to BabyCozy and join our supportive and encouraging community!