The scariest thing about the new mama process is the mystery and unpredictability behind labor and delivery. So many mamas get anxious leading up to their due date because there are so many things that are going to happen really quickly, and you're putting your life (and the life of your little one) in the hands of everyone else in the delivery room.
If that wasn't enough to make a preggo mama sweat a little, then throw in the fact that everyone is telling you what to pack in your hospital bag, what to do to your perineum, why you should or shouldn't get an epidural, if you should eat before you go, if you should have your family in the room, if you should wear makeup...
THE LIST GOES ON.
There is so much going on during the labor and delivery process, that it isn't a surprise that mamas have anxiety surrounding the whole thing! If you're a first-time mama and your due date is coming up, you're probably looking for some real advice from a mama who has been through it.
So the tips in this post are just THIS mama's best advice for how to prepare for labor and delivery.
Under-pack the Bag
Is it just human nature to think that you're going to need 10+ outfits for a 2-night stay? Just me? Okay, whatever. The point is I am a total over-packer, and my advice for you is to keep it simple, and not pack too much in your hospital bag.
If you have a great bag, have already picked out a couple of cute outfits that your babe is going to be wearing when they leave the hospital (plus throw in a couple of bows or swaddles for those first pics, mama!), only pack the bare minimum for yourself.
The fact of the matter is you're still going to be hooked up to an IV, sleeping in a hospital bed, basically rocking the topless life because breastfeeding, and the mesh undies will be your absolute BFF.
I recommend getting yourself a great, comfortable robe that you can throw on over your hospital gown, or wear basically the whole time you're there because... breastfeeding. I also loved having house-dresses in my bag, because pants were not on the menu for me postpartum. Get yourself some comfortable cozy socks, a nursing bra, and you are going to be good to go, mama!
Don't Overthink It
This is something that has happened to pretty much every mama in the history of ever: you are going to overthink the entire thing. You are going to run across a couple of Facebook posts that give you nightmares about the worst case scenario, you're going to think about how much it's going to hurt, you're going to worry about the freaking epidural needle, etc.
This is normal. The only advice I have is that you shouldn't overthink it! The one thing that gave me a lot of comfort and gave me a little bit of peace of mind is to accept that you WILL be having a baby. Period. There are a lot of things that will happen leading up to delivery that you will really NOT be able to control. Maybe things will hurt. Maybe your anesthesiologist will suck. Maybe your babe will be delivered by a doctor you've never met.
But you will be having a baby. So the rest of that is just details that you don't need to worry about, think about, or stress about. Let the universe sort that out, you just accept that a baby is coming, and go ahead and continue to fold baby's little onesies and rearrange their nursery to your nesting heart's content.
Don't Stress the Birth Plan
Just like you can't control every aspect of your laboring process or the delivery of your baby, you shouldn't feel like you've come in unprepared just because you don't have a strict, cleanly laid out, birth plan.
This mama's advice is to have a couple of things that you want to make very clear to the nurses as soon as you are checked into your delivery room. Maybe you want to make it clear that you'll be formula feeding your baby, but that you want to have babe skin-to-skin right away. Maybe you want to make sure that you get your epidural right away without beating around any sort of dilation bushes. Whatever matters most to you, I recommend letting your sweet angel nurses know.
After that, let the universe, your baby, and your OBGYN handle the details.
The more strict and detailed your birth plan, the more let down or disappointed you will be with the entire process, because it didn't go "according to plan." It's normal to feel like things didn't go exactly the way you would have hoped, but it will make the amazing, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous thing that is having a baby a negative experience if you over plan. My advice? Keep it simple.
'Me Time' Before Your Due Date
Okay, this is probably not going to be surprising to anyone, but I recommend taking some time for yourself before your due date, induction date, or scheduled C-section date. Just get yourself some new highlights, get your toes done, get a facial, go shop for some comfy sweats to wear post baby. Whatever you want to do for your 'Me Time' is your thing, mama, but just make time for it.
Before having my son, I remember stressing the most about the way that my toes would look, because they would be up in those stirrups, and the OBGYN, the nurses, and God were going to judge me for my janky polish and dirty feet and I couldn't handle that pressure. So I got a pedi with both my pregnancies the night before delivery. Both my kids decided it would be best to come a week late, so I was induced with both.
You're going to be busy, and tired, and stuck in your house, or stuck to your bed, or stuck to your baby for the next little while, so be selfish, make yourself feel good doing whatever you love and you're gonna have a good time, mama.
Be Ready to Wait
Unfortunately, for any pregnant person ever, you're going to need to gear up for waiting. Once you get strapped up to your IV and you're in your hospital bed, and you're getting ready for your baby to arrive, you're going to be doing a lot of waiting. So come prepared.
I had multiple audio books, some movies downloaded on my laptop, and my husband ready to hang with me and play games or do a puzzle (we didn't do either of those things but we COULD HAVE). Unless you're getting a C-section, there's really no way to tell how long you're going to be laboring, and that can be frustrating and annoying and uncomfortable if you don't know it's coming.
Also don't be annoyed with your husband if he sleeps the entire time you're laboring if it's happening during sleeping hours. It's not his fault that you're in crazy horrible contraction pains while watching some random channel on the hospital TV trying not to die.... He just..... He's just trying to be supportive on his little cot the best he can. But yeah, be prepared to wait for him to get any idea of how to help you, because chances are he is going to be COMPLETELY lost... But don't worry, this will all be over soon and you'll both get the hang of helping out once babe is here!
Things Move Quickly
Okay, so you know that whole waiting thing that happens when you're in labor and you're waiting to dilate to a 10, and you have no clue where your doctor keeps going (but it's probably somewhere important), once your nurse gives you the go-ahead to do some "practice pushes" and says, "We're ready!" things start moving very, very quickly.
Your doc is called in, your nurses are setting things up and getting tables full of instruments and towels and who-knows-what ready for when baby makes her appearance. Your husband is texting your family, calling your mom to tell them it's happening in the next little bit, and to head down to the hospital. Your contractions are getting closer together, and if you're going natural you're FEELING IT mama.
And then it's like 2 minutes later, and you're pushing, and your husband is crying, and your doctor is saying things are moving along smoothly, and then... all of a sudden, you have a new life on your chest and you're absolutely overcome. Take a second before your OBGYN arrives to take a breath, say a prayer, kiss your husband, and realize that what is about to happen is a freaking miracle and you are an absolute warrior, mama.