TIPS from your L&Ds
My birth experience was nothing like I thought it would be or could have ever imagined. It's funny how you stress about finding the right OB when in reality, it wasn't my OB that was there walking me through the motions, it was the labor and delivery nurses. Fun fact: you can't choose or interview your L&D nurses for months prior to giving birth. So the person you spend the most time with is someone you have never met or had an appointment with. What/who exactly is an L&D nurse? Their role involves guiding women in early stage labor, providing support through delivery and offering care in the immediate postpartum period.
My aunt is a happily retired labor and delivery (bedside nurse and management) of 42 years from Lucille Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in California. It takes a very special person to work in this field, both emotionally and physically. Her nurse tribe was nice enough to provide some welcomed advice for expecting mothers and new moms!
Tip ONE: Take reputable childbirth classes if you really intend to manage labor naturally. It is important to learn the process and techniques that will help you manage pain appropriately and overcome obstacles.
Tip TWO: For breastfeeding moms, keep it simple for you and the baby. Try not to add pumping or supplementing unless absolutely necessary or until you are settled in. Drink a glass of water every time you feed the baby! Fluids in AND fluids out!
Tip THREE: Ice pads in the vaginal area after a vaginal birth are KEY! Better than pain meds. Buybuy Baby sells the Frida Mom Instant Ice Maxi Pad sets. These make a great addition to any hospital bag. A peri pad wet and frozen works great as well!
Tip FOUR: Have a list of items ready to go prior to labor. Try to do this task along with packing your hospital bag. When people ask what they can do for you, you will have items or tasks ready to delegate. Your loved ones will want to help and when they offer, TAKE THE HELP! Don't have anyone over the first week unless they can help, do laundry, shop, cook and run errands.
Tip FIVE: Be open to “anything” during the labor and delivery process. It may not have been in your birth plan, but as long as mama and baby are healthy, it will be a wonderful success story! Nothing about our birth process was what Amanda and I planned. You quickly learn you have no control and it's important to roll with the cards you are dealt.
Tip SIX: Skin to skin is wonderful for the baby even if you don’t intend to breastfeed. The benefits can calm the baby and help stabilize the baby's temperature, breaths and heart rate. Skin to skin can benefit mothers as well by allowing the release of hormones to lower stress and promote healing for your body.
Tip SEVEN: Goes without saying, take lots of pictures and videos! Document the memories. Those precious new baby moments pass by so quickly.
Tip EIGHT: Don’t let any family members hijack your experience. This is a HUGE bonding day with your partner and baby, one that should hold grace for your new family unit. Don't be afraid to make (you) a priority and take the time to heal.
Nurses don't care if you poop during labor, in fact, you probably won't even realize that you did. If it does happen, this is actually a good sign that you are using the proper muscles and pushing the proper way.
Is there anything you can do to avoid tearing? Third trimester perineal massage is sometimes an option. While pushing, request warm compresses, olive oil and gentle controlled pushing as the baby crowns are most effective.
Does labor breathing really help? Absolutely! Muscles without oxygen buildup lactic acid and cramp. Your uterus is a big muscle working hard in labor.
Why are we changing positions numerous times while in labor? What does that actually do? Changing positions helps keep labor moving, can help the baby get in a better position. You should change positions or get up and pee at least every hour.
If you don't vibe with your nurse, can you request a new one? That’s a tricky one, it’s sometimes possible but the best approach is to speak with your nurse and share what you would like/not like . If that doesn’t help speak with the charge nurse and share your concerns.
What is the ideal wardrobe for postpartum mothers, robe or pjs with pants? Robe! Let the hospital do most of the laundry. Don’t forget slippers or flip flops!
She recently shared with me a reminder that new moms need just as much care as their newborns do. Small and kind gestures can go along way especially with the hormonal rollercoaster ride you are on. Ask how she is doing and tell her how AMAZING she is. Offer to help and assist with any chores, new moms cant move as quick or do as much as they'd like postpartum. Dropping off a small meal is extremely helpful. Small gifts are always a great option, favorite sweet treat or symbolic item. Sleep, what's that!? New moms will always take the opportunity to catch a quick nap if you offer to help with the baby so they can get some shut eye. Final thought was to take pictures of her and the baby! Far too often we find ourselves taking pics of the baby and documenting their milestone moments. Make sure moms are in the shared memory to look back on!
X0 - Katie