My partner, Jessica and I have been working with families for years helping them prepare for and guiding them through their birth and postpartum period. There are many insider secrets that we share with them to help them know what to expect.
Here are a few of those secrets:
By 39 weeks of pregnancy most moms are feeling uncomfortable and are not sleeping well. Many are hoping that their baby will make its arrival sooner rather than later. The reality is that first babies are more likely to come closer to 42 weeks. Hang in there and try to enjoy some alone time with your partner. This will be very limited once baby comes.
We all have seen the movies where a pregnant woman is in a public place and her water breaks very dramatically. This is done for the very fact that it is exciting to watch on the screen. For most moms their labour starts with cramping and contractions then the water breaks on its own or by their health care provider.
Birth is a very wet affair. Many moms are surprised that after the water breaks they still notice water leaking on and off until the end. This is a good thing. Wearing an overnight pad or adult diapers can make you feel more secure with walking and moving around.
We’ve all heard the stories of babies being born in the car but this doesn’t happen very often. If it did, then it wouldn’t be newsworthy. Best thing is to prepare for the process to take some time. Rest as much as possible in the beginning, and if an induction is necessary bring distractions to keep you busy. Books, games on your phone and downloaded shows can be a lifesaver.
You may tell family that you prefer privacy during the labour or once baby is born. Family can be just as excited or even more so than you about meeting the new addition. One trick that we tell our clients is, if you don’t want unexpected visitors then it might be best not to tell them you are in labour. It can be a very long process for them as well so if they only find out at the end it can be a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
If an epidural is in your birth plan, it may be a good idea to also learn additional comfort measures. Sometimes you are ready to get an epidural but the Anaesthesiologist is not available for a little while. In other cases, the epidural works well in the beginning but contractions can be felt again as labour intensifies. As epidurals do not take away the feeling of pressure, many women experience intense sensations, similar to needing to make a bowel movement, just before pushing begins. In all of these situations, breathing through contractions, massage and support can help you relax.
As the baby descends it puts pressure on the rectum. This can actually help you push especially with an epidural. It is very difficult to know how to push for the first time so many health care providers will tell you to push like you are trying to have a bowel movement. Many moms are horrified by the thought of pooping when they are pushing but this is actually a great sign that you are pushing properly. It also surprises many parents that pushing can take 2 hours or more with their first baby. Remember that some of this time is spent figuring out the right place to push. Once that is established then baby can focus on stretching the tissues…slowly. This is not a bad thing if you think about it.
There is a lot of pressure on our partners to know how to support you during labour and birth. They can do all the right things but still not be able to read your mind, even if you want them to. Make sure you are able to communicate well with each other and consider hiring a doula. That way your partner can focus on enjoying the process because they have an expert there to guide them along the way.
Many parents are unaware that there may be up to 10 people at their birth and their doctor may not be one of them. Most obstetricians work in a rotation so you will have whoever is on call at the time. They also tend to only pop in for short visits throughout the labour process and then right at the end to catch your baby. You can expect a doctor, 2-3 nurses, potentially a respiratory therapist, paediatrician and sometimes students with each
The uterus grows with baby and will be around the size of a small watermelon at the end of your pregnancy. Once baby is born, the uterus begins the process of shrinking down to the size of a grapefruit. This transition is a necessary step and comes along with mild contractions as the uterus becomes smaller. Breastfeeding can help with this process, but don`t be surprised if cramping becomes more noticeable. Try focusing on taking slow and deep breathes to distract yourself.