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Childbirth is a natural process women have gone through since the beginning of time, yet there are many fears and misconceptions surrounding it.
Especially if this is your first pregnancy and childbirth, there may be several questions you didn’t know the answer to.
Have you ever wished somebody told you all about it?
Not just the happy parts or the more widely discussed facts, but the untold, sometimes scary or even minuscule reality.
I know I have.
Of course, nobody wants to be a Debbi Downer, but ignorance is not bliss when you could have prepared yourself better, had you known.
Never fear, I will not let you down.
Today, I am sharing everything I know or experienced about childbirth and hospital.
Disclaimer: there are as many experiences as there are pregnant women. Not one delivery is the same and some of these points below you may never come across. Or there may be some I did not mention. My list is not all-inclusive, but I did strive to make it as detailed and well rounded as possible.
26 Things You Didn’t Know About Childbirth And Hospital
1. No Eating During Baby Delivery
This one stinks, because no matter how fast things progress, you will spend many hours in labor.
As soon as they admit you to the hospital, that’s it: you will say goodbye to food and start suppressing your pregnant appetite.
Nurses will allow you to chew on ice and…wait, that’ s about it.
With my last baby, the doctor was so nice, she let me get away with liquid diet during labor, so I was allowed to drink some broth and eat jello. Seriously, they tasted like heaven, considering the situation.
A simple reason behind the “no food policy” is the possibility of anesthesia or the often expected vomiting during labor.
You may need a C-section or want an epidural, both of which require as little food in the stomach as possible. Certain pain meds may also make you nauseous so it helps to not eat a Big Mac right before.
And, let’s be honest, how on Earth will you push out a baby if you are dead full of food?
2. You Are The Boss Even Without A Birth Plan
In today’s culture, where everybody is talking about birth plans and home births, you may be wondering if you are going to be in any way limited by going to a hospital to give birth.
Rest assured, you are still the boss.
You can say no and you can ask for things. The nurses are there to help you, and while there may be requests they can’t satisfy, they will try their hardest to accommodate you.
Just ask kindly and politely. Nobody feels like dealing with a whiney, ornery, hard-to-please laboring woman.
You usually receive the same treatment you give.
Again, I know for a fact there are exceptions. I have heard horrible birth stories, and I am so sorry if you had to go throgh a traumatic chilbirth experience.
3. Your Gown Will Be Ruined During Labor
I have heard and read all about wearing a pretty gown for labor and delivery so you look amazing for the birth photos.
By all means, do that if you feel strongly about it, but my experience is that you won’t want to.
What you wear during labor, delivery and postpartum, will most likely be ruined.
You can take off the hospital gown and ask for a clean one anytime, but you never have to worry about washing it.
To me, the simplicity of the gown provided was way worth it .
4. The Placenta Has To Be Delivered Separately
Yup, you read that right.
The contractions, the pushing, it’s the same, but it only takes a few minutes.
If you had an epidural, you shouldn’t feel a thing. I literally didn’t even know when all that happened, because I was so busy adoring my brand new baby. (except with my first child, when I asked the doctor to show me everything because I was curious)
The placenta is usually discarded with all other gross things that accumulated while giving birth.
5. Baby’s Size Predictions May Be Off
There are multiple ways to measure a baby’s growth during pregnancy: tape measure, mother’s weight gain, and ultrasounds to name a few.
Getting an estimate of the fetus’ development this way is important because, after the 20th-week ultrasound, you will usually not be getting another opportunity to see the baby until childbirth.
However, just like a lot of things during pregnancy, this is an estimate, an educated guess.
In an article on FoxNews.com, according to Jeanne Faulkner, a registered nurse,
Ultrasounds can be off by as much as a pound or two, especially in the last weeks.
Just because your doctor told you at an ultrasound that your baby will be super big (or small), doesn’t mean it’s true.
Don’t be alarmed ahead of time.
6. Baby Delivery Is Gross, Scary And Beautiful All At
The Same Time.
I can’t imagine a more vulnerable position than giving birth.
Having a baby is probably the worst pain most women experience, especially with a non-medicated childbirth.
And no matter how many times you have done it, giving birth is scary. There are a lot of unknowns and no guarantees.
Yet, I can’t imagine a more miraculous and tear-jerking moment than holding your baby in your arms for the very first time.
After 40 weeks of waiting and wondering, now that little miracle is yours to hug, kiss and hold. (getting goosebumps just remembering it).
Try focusing on that part to lighten the rest of the childbirth experience.
7. Afterpains Could Be As Strong As Labor Pains
Afterpains are due to your uterus continuing to contract after birth in order to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Normally the size of an orange, during pregnancy the uterus stretches to the size of a watermelon.
Afterpains are most usually experienced while breastfeeding and they get more intense the more babies you have had.
You will get pain medicine around the clock and continue to take them for several days after you leave the hospital.
Even with that, you may feel pain, so don’t try skipping a dose for the first week or two.
8. Expect Tons Of Blood And Granny Panties Postpartum
Postpartum ain’t exactly the time in a woman’s life to feel sexy. You will soon figure out that your baby is not the only one being diapered.
At least, that’s how I felt wearing those horrifying (but useful), white mesh granny panties and 3 feet long maxi pads.
Your uterus is getting rid of everything it held during pregnancy and sheds its lining, just like when you have a period. Except, it’s ten times worse than any “time of the month” you have experienced.
Rest assured, that too, shall pass.
9. You Will Be Sweating A Ton After Chilbirth
Ugh, sweating. A very unexpected and untold side effect of the postpartum body.
According to PopSugar Moms,
Your body’s hormones are normalizing, and it’s how you get rid of all that retained water.
You will sweat more than teenage boys playing basketball in the middle of the Arizona summer. Consider yourself warned.
And this will last for months.
10. Your Belly Will Look Like You Are Still 6 Months Pregnant
The good news is, it will feel a lot flabbier and squishier. What?
That’s not good news you say? Alright.
Well then at least you have a cute bundle to show for it.
The reality is, that you may even weigh around the same as you did when you checked in for labor and delivery.
During childbirth, you receive (and retain) a ton of fluids which add on the pounds.
It will take at least 6 weeks for your belly to shrink because that’s how long it takes for your uterus to get back to its original size.
After that, you will have plenty of time to lose the excess weight, so I beg you not to start dieting! Instead, check out these super effective postpartum workouts.
11. Your Hips Will Become Wider, At Least Temporarily.
After giving birth, I couldn’t wear the same pregnancy jeans I wore when I was admitted.
If I wasn’t already bummed out by the size of my remaining belly, I was definitely desperate about my widened hips.
Hip joints (and every other joint really) literally loosen up during pregnancy and delivery, in order to aid childbirth.
I know when you are in pain, it doesn’t sound like a great idea, but your body was made for this and you can at least appreciate the flawless design.
Though my jeans still fit a bit tighter than pre-babies, my hips eventually went back close to their original width.
12. You May Push For Hours If You Have Natural Childbirth
In her article for the Huffington Post, Catherine Pearson says:
Some women are surprised to learn that it can take much more than the one or two (or even 15) pushes regularly portrayed on TV and in the movies to give birth — and that’s not necessarily something that doctors and nurse-midwives emphasize ahead of time, said Jessica Anderson, a certified nurse-midwife and the associate service director with The Center for Midwifery, University of Colorado Hospital.
So don’t be alarmed if that long-awaited bundle of joy just does not seem to want to show up!
You may be thinking: “what can take so long”? It’s not like the road out is miles long!
Well, every body is different, and depending on the baby’s position and your anatomy, active labor time definitely varies.
During prenatal classes, different experts recommend different methods (like Lamaze and Bradley method or hypnobirthing) that prove to be the best and most helpful in their opinion.
When it comes down to it, you will have to figure this one out for yourself. Just listen to your body and don’t compare your delivery to somebody else’s.
13. After Giving Birth, You Won’t Sleep Even When You Could
At the hospital, somebody will come in to check on you at least every 3 hours, but usually more often.
Add to that your husband snoring on the pull-out couch, and between your baby crying for food and having to pee, you won’t sleep a thing.
Never fear, it gets worse when you go home, so enjoy what you can.
It’s time to get used to taking short nap-sleeps. ( I just totally made that word up). You may find this article helpful on How To Survive Your First Week With Baby.
14. You Will Be A “Fall Risk” After Baby Delivery
Your red bracelet will say”fall risk” after you gave birth to your baby.
That means, for the first 24 hrs you will be helped to walk and stand up, go to the bathroom, etc.
Your body has gone through a lot and getting dizzy, slipping or suddenly losing your balance is not uncommon.
If you had an epidural, you will be moved into a special chair that helps you stand as you hold onto it, because you won’t be able to move your legs.
It makes you feel quite incapable and weird, but it’s also very helpful.
15. Epidurals Are Da bomb, Get One If You Can
I have given birth 3 times by being induced, got an epidural about an hour after the petocin started the contractions and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I was able to rest and mentally prepare and I was able to be present during the birthing process instead of being in so much pain that I just wanted to be done with it all.
Nowadays, doctors are able to precisely control how much medicine drips into your spine, so you can ask them to turn it up or down, based on your comfort level.
I had no problem feeling how to push, but I was not in pain.
You may feel nauseated from the epidural like I did, but it can be easily treated with some medicine that also puts you to sleep for a little while.
True, the epidural itself hurts a bit and I don’t recommend seeing how big that needle is, but other than that, I think it’s one of the best inventions of mankind.
Nobody will give you an award or even mention how heroic you were in the birthing room for taking so much pain. Then why suffer through it instead of enjoying the miracle that birthing a baby is?
I do realize, sometimes you don’t have a choice and you can’t have an epidural. Others also may be very intimidated by the risks involved.
I understand those and don’t want to take the cons lightly or disregard them. But this was MY experience with epidurals and based upon that I recommend them.
16. The Doctor May Have To Break Your Water
I have always wanted to experience the excitement of my water breaking spontaneously. It’s always pictured as such a memorable moment in movies.
I was always looking for that sure sign, telling me it’s time to have the baby, instead of wondering and waiting until the end of the 40th week (or longer).
Well, 3 pregnancies, and I’ve never got to experience the adrenaline rush from my water breaking. But then how did my water break?
Quoting from an article on MayoClinic.org,
…your health care provider might use a technique known as an amniotomy to start labor contractions or make them stronger if they have already begun. During the amniotomy, a thin plastic hook is used to make a small opening in the amniotic sac and cause your water to break.
Pretty anticlimactic, if you ask me. But at least labor usually speeds up afterward!
17. You Will Be Switching Rooms In The Hospital
There are rooms specifically for labor and rooms for postpartum stay.
The labor and delivery rooms are bigger and equipped with the medical tools needed for delivery, such as stirrups, monitors for baby’s heartbeat, newborn bed with a warming light, birthing balls, etc.
When you are almost ready to start pushing, staff will roll in lots of other necessities for the doctor and the nurses to use during childbirth, like sterile drapes, gloves, hospital gowns, scissors and such.
After childbirth and when the doctors determined you are both stable and healthy, you will sit in a wheelchair, and move to your postpartum recovery room.
18. You Will Stay In The Hospital For Several Days After Childbirth
Your doctor will keep you and the baby in the hospital for a minimum of 24 hrs after vaginal delivery.
There are still a lot of things that can go wrong in those critical hours, for example, excessive bleeding, jaundice, breastfeeding problems, abnormalities with the baby, etc.
Since a C-section is a major abdominal surgery, the hospital stay will be longer, at least 3 days.
19. You Will Get Several Bracelets And An IV Catheter
Not only will you wear your own hospital bracelet, complete with your and the doctor’s information, you will also get a bracelet saying “Fall risk” and a bracelet for your baby after it is born.
This latter is to make sure that they don’t accidentally switch your baby with somebody else’s.
To be prepared for emergency and aiding the labor process with medicine, you will get an IV catheter put in as soon as you arrive.
20. Your Belly Will Be Pushed On A Ton After Childbirth
The nurses have to make sure that your uterus is contracting and you don’t have blood clots inside it after baby is born.
A few times a day, somebody will come in and do some rough pushing on your belly, trying to check things out. It does not feel good, as your stomach remains very sensitive and swollen, but it’s very necessary.
No news is good news here.
21. You Will See The Labor And Delivery Nurses A Lot More Than Your OB Doctor.
In my experience, the doctor only comes in pretty much to catch that baby and do stitches if necessary! When I had my first baby, she was already crowning when I finally saw my obstetrician getting to work.
Sure, he came in to check on me a couple times during the hours of labor, but the nurses were the ones taking care of my every need, checking for dilation and practicing pushing with me when it was time to deliver the baby.
22. You Will Receive A Perineal Care Package After Vaginal Delivery
Probably everybody’s least favorite part is taking care of the area where the baby came out of.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that you will have to take care of yourself about as much as of the baby, during the first few weeks.
Stitches, tears, swelling, bruises and other fun remainders of childbirth will require antiseptic, sitz baths, medicine, and a squirt bottle to keep the area clean every.single.time you use the bathroom.
It will be uncomfortable at best and excruciating at worst. However, the closer you follow the directions, and the sooner you get moving and force yourself to sit on your bottom, the faster you will heal.
23. The Bathroom Is A Scary Place
You might be too afraid to look “down there” and actually see what you are already feeling.
Afraid of more pain or constipation, many new moms want to avoid the bathroom as much as possible.
Ever had hemorrhoids? If not, prepare for the possibility of a meet and greet. Eventually, though, you won’t be able to avoid the can any longer and have to face the music, however unpleasant that may be.
24. You May Think Your Baby Looks Like A Smurf After Childbirth
When babies are fresh out of the oven, they can look quite blue and white stuff covers them all over. Some have a cone-shaped head too.
A newborn’s skull is not fused together and it molds somewhat to the shape of the birth canal. That is the only way for them to be born without injury.
So depending on how long you pushed, what the exact position of the baby was during labor, and whether the doctor had to use any medical tools to help the delivery, your baby may have a completely normal looking head or it may look tall and cone-like.
It will eventually get back to a nice, round head, so don’t worry much! A little hat does wonders.
Upon birth, one of my boys was so blue, I asked the nurses if he was ok. They said he was, and sure enough, a few minutes later he was already a beautiful pink, baby color! Your baby changes so much during the first few hours and days.
That white waxy thing, the vernix, is there to protect the baby from becoming a prune while swimming in the amniotic fluid for months.
Some hospitals keep it on the baby for at least a day, before giving them a bath, because it protects from infection and has antioxidants too.
As you can see, there’s no reason for alarm if newborns look a lot different than what TV shows portray them.
25. Your Baby Will Be A Little Celebrity At The Hospital
This cute little bundle you waited so much for will be constantly in and out of your arms during your hospital stay.
Everybody will want to see him and not just your family members. You may have newborn pictures taken. And the doctors and nurses will have to check everything out on the baby several times before they discharge you.
They will take your baby to pediatric checkups, jaundice evaluation, hearing test, circumcision (if you opted for it), vision tests, lung examination and more.
You will be hearing reports and numbers and instructions on what to do based on the results.
26. Your Memory Of The Childbirth Experience Will Get Blurry
While all these things about childbirth and hospital may seem overwhelming, or downright scary, give it a few month after delivery, and you will likely have a hard time recalling most of these events.
As Michelle says it in her article for Cosmopolitan,
Looking back, birth is like a weirdly realistic dream that you can only vaguely remember or a crazy, adrenaline-fueled dance recital performance in which you blacked out under all of the lights and cheering.
My husband had to explain a bunch of details to me later, because I either didn’t remember or recalled them completely differently than how they actually happened.
The adrenaline, the fatigue, the joy and all the other emotions involved on that big day are going to leave your memory blurry.
And that’s ok.
Because the most beautiful, most important part of the whole childbirth experience, the reason why you would go through pregnancy and delivery in the first place, will still be yours.
As you gaze into your newborn’s eyes, marvel at the perfect little fingers and toes, smell the sweet baby scent, you know that you would do it all over again.
Did you experience any of these during your delivery and hospital stay? What would you add to my list?
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