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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Aubrey's Guide on Surviving Pregnancy and Childbirth!





Pregnancy:

  • For nausea: lemon ginger tea. If your stomach (or your nose) can't tolerate the lemon, get plain ginger tea. Ginger ale is supposed to also help, but I preferred the hot tea. Also, unsalted saltine crackers next to your bed. Eat them BEFORE you stand up to pee in the morning (I know this sounds impossible, and will drive some of my OCD friends up a wall), but it will eliminate some of the morning nausea.
  • Let someone else clean your toilet. If you're going to be puking in it, you certainly can't stomach the sight (or smell) of it when it's dirty. If there's one thing you insist on your partner helping you with, make it the toilet. If you don't have a husband/partner, the next time someone says, "What can I do to help?" put down your pride and ask them to clean the toilet. Trust me. Besides, if they're asking, they probably really are willing to do whatever you need! 
  • Ice. Sometimes I couldn't even tolerate the tasteless crackers, so I lived on ice. You know that perfect-to-crunch ice that comes with your fountain drinks sometimes? Certain gas stations have bags of that crushed ice for 99 cents. Where I lived, there was only ONE gas station around that sold this ice, and if you didn't get to it early in the morning, it was sold out. It was THAT good. (This ice obsession has a lot to do with being iron deficient, so if you're finding yourself craving the crunch of ice a lot, tell your doctor. Taking an over-the-counter iron supplement will fix that right up.)
  • Rice bags. I have severe back pain / back labor during pregnancy, so heated rice bags SAVED ME. Make some, buy some, use a heating pad... whatever you can get your hands on. Life saver.
  • Just a tip: Don't underestimate the power of STRESS. You might have read that stress affects your baby's chance of depression, anxiety issues, etc., but stress also can cause you to have a premature birth, which is SUCH a big deal. These days women don't take premature birth very seriously, because the hospitals are so good at getting those babies healthy... but the effects last long beyond the NICU. Take relaxation seriously and remove stressful people from your lives during this time. This is your baby's ONLY 9 MONTHS TO INCUBATE! Ok, done with soap box.

Labor/Delivery: 

  • First thing to remember: ONLY YOU WILL BE GOING THROUGH THIS. Absolutely everyone you know (including me!) will be handing out advice, but you are the one who will be feeling the pain. You are the one who will live with regrets if you don't do this the way YOU want to. Not your mom, not your sister-in-law, not your cousin's friend's aunt, not even your husband, and LEAST OF ALL your doctor. If you doubt something your doctor says, get another opinion!! I can't stress this enough. Even the best doctors in the world tend to take short cuts sometimes; ask around, do your own research, read books. You can never be too well-informed! (However, if all the reading has you stressing over every little symptom, put down the books. Remember the relaxation we talked about? That's more important.) 
  • Relating to the advice above, make your birth plan based on what you want, and then leave it alone. Make sure your doctor knows very clearly what you want, but also know that NO labor goes exactly the way you expect it to. Be open to other avenues, just in case. Research more than one possibility. Have a Plan B. Even the most well-laid plans can land you in the operating room if, by chance, you have a child with a giant head. (Not like that ever happened to me.... *ahem*)
  • Keep in mind that your due date is an estimation. Not even your super-awesome, highly-paid OB or midwife knows when your baby is done cooking, only your baby knows that! My doctor was 4 WEEKS off his estimate, so my baby was five weeks early. And by God don't be that girl who "puts herself into labor". I knew a girl when I was pregnant with Josh who tried all the tricks to have her baby early so she "wouldn't get any fatter". That baby was 4 lbs when he was born, and by some miracle he was healthy... as far as I know. (After I heard that she put her baby at risk like that for something so shallow, I stopped talking to her.) Please, for the love of God, don't be that girl.
  • Things to take to the hospital: 1) Your slippers; your feet will be freezing. 2) Music that calms you; sometimes you just need to drown everyone out to endure the process. 3) Makeup. I know this one sounds ridiculous, but when my Max ended up in the NICU, I was in the hospital for two weeks. After a few days, putting on makeup can make you feel SO MUCH BETTER. It's a mood lifter, which is important. 4) A movie; especially if your husband will be going back to work while you're still in the hospital, you will need something to pass the time in between feedings (if you aren't sleeping). 5) Your best friend, sister, or mother. No matter how much you think your husband is going to support you, there's just nothing like a woman to hold your hand. When that baby comes out, everyone rushes to the baby and leaves you alone; tell your best friend to stick with you, because that's a lonely moment. 6) CHAPSTICK! Your lips will be more chapped than that time you climbed Everest. (Ha! Like I know anyone who has climbed anything!) 7) Your own pajamas. If all you have are size extra-tiny-small, buy a big size and bring it with you. Wearing that gown around gets old REAL fast.
  • Bring someone who can stand up to the doctor or nurses for you. You will be TOO EXHAUSTED to be your own advocate. My advocate is my mom; she's a nurse and totally willing to tell the staff what we REALLY want. Find someone who is willing to speak up, because sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) the staff will try to override your opinion. They are the "experts," but you are the one in labor. It's also a good way to stay on their good side - they'll see your advocate as the "bad guy" and you can smile weakly and keep the doctor and nurses as "friends".  :)
  • People have mixed feelings about this one, but during a vaginal delivery, you have the option of using a mirror. They wheel it in and position it so that you can see everything that's going on down there. I know it sounds awful, but it REALLY helps show you when you're pushing effectively. This is especially important if you have an epidural and aren't really feeling what's going on down there. (Lucky you!) 
  • If you know someone you think should not reproduce, just bring them to watch the birth of your baby. Or even just stand in the hall and listen. That kind of birth control is good for at LEAST five years.

Recovery: 

  • Depending on your delivery (and your insurance), this will be 48 hours (vaginal birth) or 3-4 days (c-section). The nurses you get in recovery are generally different than the labor and delivery nurses. There are ALWAYS good nurses and bad nurses. You're unlikely to see your doctor after the moment he finishes sewing you up, so be super sweet to these nurses. They are the ones who will be getting you drugs, helping you adjust in your bed, bringing you your baby, etc. There are separate nurses for the nursery. Be especially nice to these ones, because they are in charge of your baby! However, if someone is treating you badly, SPEAK UP and ask for a new nurse. You don't need to be walked on, and there are enough nurses to go around if you can't stand yours. Remember, everyone has a boss. 
  • Bring a little hand-made sign to the hospital if you are planning on breastfeeding. It should say in BIG, BLOCK LETTERS (maybe with a smiley face for softening the blow), "NO BOTTLES OR BINKIES FOR ME!" or something equally straight-forward. Tape it to the baby's bassinet. Even if you tell them, "I'm breastfeeding," the nurses will take the first opportunity they get to shove a bottle in your baby's mouth. If you're bottle-feeding, by all means! Get some rest (Lord knows you won't be getting any at home). But if you're planning on successful breastfeeding, make sure the nursery nurses have a VISUAL REMINDER every time they pick up your baby not to give him/her something to suck on besides you. (Personal sidenote: Even if you aren't planning on breastfeeding long-term, the very first day or two after birth you give the baby EXTREMELY important nutrients that they will never get again - this is called Colostrum. Consider nursing just for a few days; you can always quit after that if you're uncomfortable with it.)
  • Schedule the time people will be visiting you. You might find that you just want to be alone with your hubby and new baby, but you also might find that you're like me and can't wait to see everyone! I personally enjoy being the center of attention, so being in the hospital is the perfect excuse for me to demand that everyone I know come visit me and tell me what a good job I did. ;) With my first baby, though, so many people showed up at once that there wasn't any time to speak to them or room in the recovery room for them to sit. Ask people to come see you after your spouse has returned to work, so you won't feel lonely. 
  • When the nurse shows you those giant ice packs you crack like a glow stick and then wear like a pad, don't laugh at her. Say thank you as appreciatively as possible, and take full advantage of those.
  • Speaking of supplies... the hospital charges you an arm & two legs for EVERY.SINGLE.LITTLE.THING. They will charge you for it the minute they put your name in the computer at admissions, so don't feel guilty using them. Ask for more pads. Take them home. You will bleed so much in the next couple of weeks you'll think you're going to die from internal injuries; use them. I'm not kidding - when you get your bill, look at it item-by-item. They charge for EVERYTHING. (Ever seen that episode of Friends where Ross takes everything home from the hotel room because "it's included in the price of the room"? It's like that.) 
  • My last piece of advice is this: When the nurse asks you, "Would you like your baby to stay in the nursery, or room in with you?" CHOOSE THE NURSERY. I know, I know, bonding and all that. But guess what, this is your LAST CHANCE TO SLEEP for weeks, maybe months. Perhaps years. Take it. Let the nurse take care of Baby for a while. If you're breastfeeding, just ask the nurse to bring the baby in when he/she is hungry. No one will be waiting on you or your baby when you get home from the hospital, so use this time. After all, you are trading your arm & two of your legs in payment.
I'm terrified of clicking "publish" on this post, for surely I've forgotten critical details! Good thing this can be edited later! I'm already working on the next edition, Things You'll Need to Survive the First 3 Years. In the meantime, add your questions or advice in the comments!!!

(BTW, all my advice relates to birthing in a hospital because that's my personal experience. I wouldn't feel comfortable dishing out advice on having your baby in your hot tub, because I didn't do that! Not because I'm trying to push the idea of traditional hospital birthing on you or anything.)


See also: On Surviving the First Year of Motherhood

2 comments:

  1. Obviously fabulous advice, but I don't think that I could not laugh if somebody handed me a glow stick pad!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just find it hilarious that you tagged this with Halloween...definitely creepy for those who have not given birth to something as large as a pumpkin :)
    Wonderful advice and I have to second the "if you don't like your nurse say something bit"...seriously, you as a patient have the right RIGHT to proper care and you do have the right to ask for another nurse.
    (I am one so I know that this is true)

    ReplyDelete

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