We are so honoured to introduce Angela from Nutmeg Consulting! We love to have our blog as a source for new moms and moms-to-be on information relevant to everything related with motherhood. Hope you enjoy the post as much as we did. Great tips!!
Over the past 20 years working with moms and families as a Nurse, Doula and Lactation Consultant, I have learned one thing for sure… labour and birth is unpredictable!
I really think that not knowing when labour will start, when birth will happen, and what the whole process will be like, is nature’s way of getting us ready for the random and unpredictable nature of newborns. Learning to expect the unexpected is a great way to prepare us to deal with our new lives as parents. If labour and birth doesn’t convince you, then meeting the intense needs of newborns will have even the most organized and ‘in control’ moms learning very quickly, that babies are in charge now!
To help you feel at least a little more ready, I have put together a list of 10 things that you actually CAN plan for when it comes to labour and birth, even when it’s so unpredictable!
#1 Plan for it to take a while : Labour is not like it is in the movies ….Don’t panic! First time labour lasts an average of 12-24 hours. This may sound scary, but the early phase may mean that contractions are only every 20 minutes. Try to rest and chill at home as long as possible. Consider not even telling friends (or facebook) that you’re in labour! Breathe.
#2 Plan for packing: Pack 2 bags to take to the hospital. One for during the birth with snacks, socks, camera, any comfort measures, heat packs, phone charger, drinks, and the 2nd with baby stuff and postpartum stuff, breastfeeding pillow, a nice pillow with a different colour pillowcase, and clothes. This way you can leave the ‘after’ bag in the car until you’re settled in the Postpartum room rather than carting it around the hospital from room to room.
#3 Plan for some pain - No matter what your plan is (epidural, home birth, massage, or a cesarean), – learn about breathing, moving, massage, walking, water therapy, hot and cold packs and any other comfort measures you can use. Doulas can help with these things if you’re not sure where to start. You will need some strategies at some point, even if it’s just while you’re waiting for your epidural!
#4 – Plan for a Doula Ok, I may be biased here, but even as a doula, I had doulas for all three of my births. I had 2 vaginal and a cesarean birth and it was amazing to have that constant support. No matter what kind of birth you’re hoping for, having a support person that is ONLY there to help you and your partner, who will answer your questions, explain things, and not change shift, can make a big difference for anxiety, ability to relax and feeling safe and in control…
#5 Plan for the “unexpected” This may make you think “hey that’s not fair, she promised to give us things we can plan for” but to be honest, every birth is SO different. No matter how many blogs or books you’ve read, and no matter how you hope your birth will go, it’s good to be open to the unexpected nature of labour and birth. As a doula, I encourage my clients to create a ‘Birth Wishes’ list (rather than a birth plan)… also, try not to compare your experience with a friend’s birth or things you hear on the internet, since every birth is new experience.
#6 - Plan for “messy” – learn about what ACTUALLY happens to your body in the first few weeks after birth… learn about hemorrhoids, bleeding, ice packs, giant pads vs depends, what to do when your breasts are leaking, that most medications are safe while breastfeeding, how sitz baths can help, and more! If you need help with any of this consider taking a prenatal class or start googling!
#7 Plan to be tired… labour and birth takes a while, so trying to sleep and rest if you are in labour at night is a good strategy. You might feel really excited/nervous/scared, but try to rest if you can! After baby is born, it’s great to try to sleep whenever baby sleeps…it may be your only chance! Also, if you learn about normal newborn behavior like cluster feeding, the ‘witching hours’, babies not wanting to be put down to sleep, and knowing that they have their days and nights reversed for a few weeks, then at least you won’t be so worried that something is wrong if it happens.
#8 Plan for Breastfeeding – If you plan on Breastfeeding, remember that although you may hear that it’s normal and natural, I believe that it’s more of a learned skill and you made need help. Unless you grew up watching women nursing their newborns, then you may need help as you learn what’s normal. It’s really not supposed to hurt (although that often happens while you’re first learning), you should be comfortable, and try to learn what swallows look like, how to know when baby is getting enough milk and what normal feeding is like (which is very different than bottle feeding)… . consider a Breastfeeding Prep consultation or have a Lactation Consultant on speed dial for when you get home! Try to use all the resources available too, like Public Health or clinics and classes at the hospital too!
#9 – Plan for needing “help”!!
Get a list of resources in order:
- Food delivery, groceries or a list and schedule of friends / grandma who are willing to feed you.
- Diaper service or delivery options for new baby must-haves
- Doctor’s office that baby will go to, usually within 2 days after birth
- Lactation Consultant, Postpartum Doulas, and clinics in your area
- Online support networks, newborn classes and :Mommy & me” type groups. You can also join our Facebook group Nutmeg Moms Toronto!
#10 – Baby Love!!…even if it’s not easy, babies are worth it! Even if you’re really tired, and start thinking ‘why did I do this to my life?’, you will somehow keep taking care of that cute baby….it’s biologically programmed that we just keep trying. Once they smile at you around 6 weeks you’ll be hooked for good. Until then, just keep trying, ask for help when you need it, and connect with other parents so you can support each other during the early days. We weren’t meant to parent without a village! Hang in there!
Angela Grant Buechner, is owner of Nutmeg Consulting – Expert Care for Birth, Breastfeeding & Postpartum. She is a Registered Nurse, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Birth Doula with over 20 years of experience. Nutmeg Consulting serves Toronto and the GTA, and offers In-Home Lactation Consultant visits, and has a team of amazing Birth & Postpartum Doulas who are ready to help you before, during and after your labour & birth. We offer non-judgmental support for ALL kinds of birth, and assist you while you adapt to life as new parents. www.nutmegconsulting.ca