I’m pregnant with our first baby. It’s my second pregnancy; unfortunately I suffered a miscarriage first time around. This pregnancy has been pretty stressful so far with all sorts of health concerns for me and the baby. I am now 24 weeks along, things have calmed down and we are able to start to enjoy the process.
We are reading a lot about labor, pain relief and the first weeks with our new baby. What would your top tips be for this time?
It would be interesting to hear what other readers think too!
So sorry to hear about the loss of your first baby but also very thrilled that you’re well into the second trimester and starting to enjoy your pregnancy. It’s been so long that I was pregnant but I’ll share what I remember and then would love for some the newer moms out there to chime in.
PREGNANCY: As you know there are three trimesters, first, second and third. They should be renamed, ‘ROUGH’, ‘READY’ and ‘GET THIS KID OUT OF ME!’
In my first trimester I was horribly sick with both kids. With Casey, I gained eleven pounds during the first trimester when you’re only supposed to gain about 5! I managed better with Cole. The second trimester, I felt great, worked out a lot, was big enough for people to know I was pregnant and not just fat and sort of breezed through those months. The final trimester is God’s way of preparing you for delivery. The baby is getting big, you have indigestion, and you’re staring at your body and wondering if it will ever be the same again. Literally, I felt like I would walk over hot coals naked if it meant getting that kid out of me! By the final trimester, the relative short pain of childbirth will be blunted by the discomfort you feel toward the end.
LABOR AND DELIVERY: This is Good Enough Mother’s opinion only, but I don’t understand those women who feel it necessary to show the world how strong they are by delivering without pain medication. SCREW THAT! Pain medication is there for a reason, to manage pain! Let it do its job. It’s kind of tough before the epidural kicks in but nothing more than say REALLY bad menstrual cramps; you can handle that. I had two C-sections so I cannot speak to the ease of difficulty of a vaginal delivery but two C-sections were no great shakes. I was uncomfortable post-delivery due to gas because when they open you up and then close you back up a lot of air gets trapped (hey you asked!) The recovery from a C-section is nothing to take lightly. When they say take it easy, you really have to. Also, you will get pain medication post surgery. USE IT! I needed it because honestly I had never experienced pain that deep in my body. It was better after a couple of weeks.
FIRST WEEKS POST BABY: Honestly, you will not be able to tell day from night. That little bundle of joy will be awake every two hours expecting a nipple in his or her mouth. I breastfed which was a phenomenal and profound experience – once Casey and I figured each other out (God gave me the equipment but not the know-how). But the fatigue is no joke. You MUST sleep. Forget about the dirty dishes or laundry, WHO CARES? Anyone who expects you to have a clean house after having a baby needs to have his or her head examined. Your true friends will understand and may even pitch in to help clean or bring a meal.
DO NOT PUT UNNECESSARY AND UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS ON YOURSELF REGARDING WEIGHT LOSS! I see this all the time, new mommies just got the kid out of them, now they want to be back in their skinny jeans. That only happens in Hollywood (or other rare instances) and they are eating next to nothing and exercising like banshees. Man that pisses me off. It took nine months to gain that weight and though you will lose a lot post-delivery, you will still go home with a poochy tummy that looks all blubbery with skin that’s all stretched out. Everything can and will go back to the way it was, if you work at it when the time is right.
DON’T STRESS: It does nothing but steal your joy and you need to stay healthy for you and the baby. Whenever I am facing something like this I remember that I am not the only one who’s ever done this. Women have been having babies since the beginning of time, many with the same hopes and fear that you have now.
ENJOY YOUR NEW BABY: It is a marvelous thing, childbirth and babies. Take the time to really bond and marvel at this little creature; they are amazing. I will never forget the very first time Casey smiled at me (that was not reflexive or gas). I saw stars and literally thought I was going to faint! It is that powerful!
Take the time to enjoy each day, well-rested and ready to take on the challenges of being a new mom. I tell a story in my book, Good Enough Mother, of an encounter that really opened my eyes. A woman saw I was freaked about having this baby and she sat me down and said “You will be the best mother that baby can have.” I have never forgotten that. Of course I am the ONLY mother so literally my kids know no different. But there was something so comforting about that and I draw on that even to this day.
Lastly, I want you to have confidence. I know you are a smart cookie; you may not have all the answers now but you are certainly smart enough to ask someone or figure them out on your own. After a few days with your new baby, you two will develop a pattern where you will be able to anticipate his/her needs, know what cry means what and in general learn the delicate dance of mom and baby. You’re gonna be GREAT!
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