Unsolicited Advice for Mothers to Be

Now that I have delivered two babies, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect when it comes to labor and delivery. While anything can happen and there is no such thing as a perfectly planned delivery, there are a few things I’ve learned that might make your time in the hospital a little easier. Here are the tips I’ve shared with friends and family:

1. Check your modesty at the door. There is no such thing as privacy in a labor and delivery room. While this fact was hard for me to accept prior to Evelyn’s birth, by the time we arrived at the hospital I really didn’t care who was in the room as long as my baby was born. All the doctors and nurses are there to support you in a healthy delivery. They are just doing their jobs, and you’re just one of a dozen women they’ll tend to that week. So, go with the flow and try not to worry about who sees what.

2. Lean on your husband or partner. The process of labor and delivery can be hard for your other half; it can take hours and he doesn’t have much to do while the doctors and nurses take care of the hard stuff. So, squeeze his hand till it turns blue when a contraction is particularly tough, ask him to fetch ice chips or an extra blanket, prepare him before the big day to be your advocate and voice in the delivery room. He wants to help and he can help!

3. Speak up! You have the right to ask a million questions about routine treatments and procedures. For example, neither of my children got the Hepatitis B vaccine routinely given to newborns. I turned this down because Hep B is a virus most commonly passed via IV drug use or unprotected sex – so why should a hospital give it to a newborn? I’ll have Evelyn and Mack vaccinated for it when they are older.

4. Prepare to eat after giving birth! Both of my babies were born in the morning after very long labors. I was starving after Evelyn was born so ordered up a breakfast from the hospital cafeteria. It was horrible. With the birth of Mack, my husband drove to the local pancake house to pick up the biggest order of pancakes they offer – and I ate every last bite!! Giving birth is like running a marathon times twenty, so have a food plan ready once you are cleaned up and settled.

5. Reserve at least one afternoon for NO VISITORS. You need time to rest and bond as a new family. We didn’t do this with Evelyn, and I remember feeling exhausted at the end of each day. With the birth of Mack three weeks ago, we let our friends and relatives know that we were going to enjoy a quiet afternoon to ourselves. No one complained – everyone understood that we needed some quiet time. It was really special and so needed.

6. Have your baby sleep in the nursery at night. I know this may be a somewhat controversial point of view as many new mothers can’t imagine sending their precious baby away. However, the nurses will bring the baby to your room when its time for a feeding so you don’t have to worry about your milk supply or special bonding moments. If the baby rooms in with you, every little peep from him or her will wake you up, and after delivering a baby the most important thing you need is rest. You only have 2-3 nights in the hospital, and most moms head home on or just before the day when emotions tend to run the highest. Trust me, you aren’t doing yourself or your baby any favors by denying yourself sleep when you can get it.

7. Take everything with you when you leave the hospital. I’m not referring to your luggage or the flowers from Grandma. Rather, I’m referring to the extra diapers in the bassinet, the little tube of lanolin, and the hospital onesie your little one wore. My friend Cara gave me this advice after her son was born, and at the time I thought it was a little strange. However, as she pointed out you (or your insurance company) paid for that pack of diapers and the baby comb. And, the nurses told me they throw away whatever you don’t take. So, take it all!

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7 Comments for this entry

  1. Amy Badler says:

    I completely agree with sending the baby to the nursery! So important!!

  2. Katie says:

    Watch "The Business of Being Born," http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/ — you might decide to skip the hospital entirely. It may not be for everyone, but having a home birth was the most rewarding experience of my life. You can't get much more homemade than that!

  3. sarahbadics says:

    Nursery was awesome… as was taking everything the hospital was giving me including diapers, industrial sized maxi pads, and those soothing witch hazel pads. I also liked the Business of Being Born although not sure I'm brave enough for it!!

    Next time around I might try an afternoon visitor-free.

  4. HomemadeMother says:

    I have seen "The Business of Being Born", but I am still sticking with the hospital. I am certainly very holistic in my approach to my health care (I've never had an epidural!), but I feel more comfortable having the security modern medicine offers.

  5. Meghan Shriver says:

    Agree with all points. This was advice I was very grateful to follow when I had Trey 5 months ago. Well written, Maureen!

  6. Erin says:

    many congrats maureen!!! i'll file this post away for my future kiddies 🙂


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