‘They’ say women forget all about the pain of labor after you go through a pregnancy and delivery. I am not convinced that is true, because I am 7 months post-delivery and still remember the pain like it was yesterday. But, the physical pain wasn’t actually the worst of it for me. It was the anxiety that I remember most vividly. Psychological pain is actually a thing, I guess.
When I do it all again, if I do it all again, I would do so many things differently! Here is a list of every mistake I made that I can think of – and what I wish I did differently:
I chose an OB-GYN that wouldn’t actually be at my delivery
This was just dumb of me, but there was reason for it.
I found out I was pregnant while my husband and I were still living in a pricey one bedroom apartment. We knew we wanted to be in a house before we had a baby. There wasn’t space for a bassinet, never-mind a crib. Soon after my 12th week of pregnancy, we hit the ground running and started looking for houses. We found a home 1.5 hours away, but much closer to my parents. But, you guessed it, now I needed a new OB-GYN!
It was in the middle of my second trimester that we moved and I transferred OBGYNs. Apparently, not many will take you in the middle of pregnancy. The doctor I ended up with was Ivy educated and an excellent doctor, but she only delivered on call a couple times a week. Basically, if I didn’t deliver my baby on a Wednesday or Saturday, I would be delivering my baby with a doctor I had never met before. I was in the Labor & Delivery for 4 days and every single doctor and nurse that worked at that hospital has seen my vagina. I didn’t see my own doctor once! Guys – the anxiety was REAL.
I waited until the day before delivery to write a birth plan
I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and needed to deliver my baby as soon as I hit my 37th week of pregnancy. This meant that I knew exactly what day I would enter the hospital. Happy Gina! I could plan!
Unfortunately, I was so nervous about the act of giving birth and worried for my baby and her impending doom if I didn’t get her out of me. So nervous that I couldn’t even pay attention to the pen and paper in hand. I checked off a few things and circled “no” to epidural, but I left off so many important things! Also, I didn’t follow one thing that was written on my birth plan. So, really my mistake was making a birth plan to begin with.
I didn’t take a birthing class
My friends suggested Ina May’s book which walks you through a natural birth. I bought it and didn’t even pick up the book! I did, however, watch the “Business of Being Born” on Netflix and it actually just scared me. If you haven’t seen it, the documentary starts off by showing you how horrible the Labor and Delivery doctors are in the USA. According to this film, delivery mortality rates are among the highest in USA right now.
Then, they start talking about the different drugs and chemicals that are given during labor actually create a vicious cycle, all of which eventually lead to a Cesarean Section. And apparently, 30% of births in the US result in said C-Section. They talk about Pitocin and Epidurals like there is nothing worse for you and your baby. I forced my husband to watch it with me and I asked what he thought. He said “Well, they aren’t giving you Pitocin, that’s all I know.”
It didn’t teach me about what I should do during Labor and Delivery, but what I should not do. It only increased my fears and anxiety. I did look into classes after I watched that, because I was so freaked out, but there are cut-offs. Wish I knew!
My husband wasn’t prepared
My poor husband didn’t know what to expect any more than I did.
He had never seen me so exhausted and helpless. I should have made him read some articles or watch some birthing videos (other than The Business of Being Born). I should have at least packed him a 5-hour energy because he slept the entire time I was in active labor. He did wake up in time for the pushing though. And he actually watched the baby come out, which is something he will never un-see. Moms-to-be, you know your partner well enough to know if they can handle watching a newborn wriggle out of your hole. Please plan accordingly!
I let everyone walk all over me
This actually, surprised me. I usually shut things down quickly if I am the least bit uncomfortable.
I would hold my pee as long as I could before I got up the guts to press the call button and “bother” the nurses to help me to the bathroom. I was hooked up to a bunch of monitors because of my preeclampsia and a heavy drip of Pitocin that refused to work.
I watched my husband sleeping peacefully for hours as I was shaking like a leaf in pain because the epidural I was given also didn’t work. On the off-chance he would wake up when I whispered his name, he would go and retrieve my coveted ice chips, only plop them on a table next to me and fall back asleep in his cot. Normally, I would demand that he feed them to me and give him a good earful about how to be a good husband. But laboring Gina was meek.
Finally, the baby was born and I was trying to sleep. Then my step-dad, his mother, and my mom’s sister waltz through the door firing questions at me from all angles, just hours after birth. I hadn’t even tried to nurse her yet. I still had the needle in my spine from my epidural. For some reason, my husband thought it would be a good time for them to come visit my zombie a**. My well-rested husband was excited to show baby Z off to the world! Again, this goes back to preparing your husband but the nurses as well. Tell them ahead of time that visitors are off limits until you’ve had some rest. I will never have visitors in the labor & delivery room again.
I guess the lesson I took away with me here is, a women pre/during/post delivery will NOT be herself. Moms-to-be, find someone who will advocate for you. Whether it is your partner, your mother or your doula. You will be a different person, for better or worse. Dads-to-be, I hope you’re taking notes.
I didn’t eat anything
I take that back, I didn’t eat anything with substance. I did have more than enough Jolly Ranchers (which I highly recommend adding to your hospital bag checklist). This would have been easier if the process of birthing my daughter didn’t span 4 days. While I hallucinated in bed, my husband enjoyed his Burger King. By day 3, he enjoyed his Burger King in his car.
The nurses and doctors want to prevent you from eating, especially if being induced, because of the high chance of a c-section. There are a few nice nurses who will look the other way. Most midwives and doulas allow you to eat. Do your research and weigh the risk/benefit, but remember that calories = strength.
I packed incorrectly
I packed twice as much as I should have for myself and not enough for the baby! Rookie mistake.
I think I opened my suitcase probably twice. I lived in my (stylish) Gownies hospital gown for almost the entire time, even after I delivered. The items that I used the most were my Alba Botanica shampoo/conditioner, soap and hairbrush/toothbrush. Think you are going to put on makeup? You won’t. Think you are going to moisturize? You probably won’t. You won’t wear perfume, you won’t shave your legs, you won’t read books.
What were your delivery room regrets, if any? Share below in the comments.