Hindsight's Always 20/20: What I Wish I Knew as a First-Time Mom11/28/2012
To say I had a "difficult delivery" with L would be putting it mildly. I'd rather not get into the gritty details, but long story short, I had very poor care at this particular hospital, which resulted in my hemorrhaging and nearly dying. Whoa! I know....
My pregnancy with L was my first. I was young (20), and didn't educate myself, nor were there many resources with which to be educated. I trusted my doctors; trusting they would take care of me and my baby, but as you already know, that wasn't the case. I would wind up enduring an almost twisted-stone-age labor, and subsequent almost-disastrous delivery. Immediately postpartum, I would be unconscious for some time (about a day... I think), and once awake, would be very limited in my abilities to care for my newborn daughter. I couldn't walk, could barely extend my arms, and was in a lot of pain.
Just as I wasn't educated on labor and delivery, I wasn't educated on breastfeeding, which I had planned on doing. I expected milk to be present once she was born, or at least shortly thereafter. However, I had no idea that traumatic deliveries postpone milk production, and I also had no idea that colostrum is enough. Colostrum is enough, people! But, no, the nurses brought bottles, and I fed bottles to my baby. So, it should come as no surprise that once we were home, and my milk came in, L wanted nothing to do with those weird saggy things and the liquid that came from them. Back to bottles we went, and with formula, because it never occurred to me to exclusively pump.
What I Wish I KnewFirst, and most importantly, I wish I had known I had a say! I wish I knew I could say no. "No, I don't want an epidural." "No, I'd like to see if my water will break on its own." You get the idea. Mamas, you have the right to a say in your care. You have the ultimate and final say. Doctors and nurses can recommend, and strongly suggest, but you are the deciding factor. Don't feel intimated by medical personnel. Of course, I'm not saying ignore them, but ask for options, and weigh them accordingly.
I wish I knew to ask for a Lactation Consultant, or that there was such a thing. Seriously, Lactation Consultants are godsends for nursing mothers. Also, you can call on a Lactation Consultant at any point in your nursing season. They are helpful, and will help, at any stage of the game. If I had asked for one, they would have told me colostrum was enough, and when to expect my milk to come in. They also would've told me to stay away from bottles. Mamas, take a breastfeeding class if you're thinking about nursing, and make sure you speak with a Lactation Consultant after your loved one arrives. (It's good to meet, even if you don't ever need their help.)
I wish I had educated myself so I could have made informed decisions. I wish I knew about delayed cord clamping, and some of the others things I have since learned about. Be proactive in your pregnancy, and in your labor and delivery experience! This leads me to....
My Tip for YouDo your research. It's not hard, and it really doesn't take a long time, especially with the wealth of information readily available today. Be sure to check your sources, though — don't go with the first thing you see on Jane Smith's mommy blog. Make your decisions based on facts. Look into things like labor options, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin, the fact that they don't have to perform tests on your baby right away, whether you want to circumcise your son (should you have one), and whether you want to breast or bottle feed.
Remember, too, that even though you have a plan, things can happen. Be open to the idea of a detour in your birth plan, and make sure you have some ideas for what you'd prefer in those situations. Take a birth class (or two), take a tour of your hospitals labor and delivery floor (which is usually included with a birth class), talk with your doctor(s), and take comfort in knowing women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. You'll do just fine. ♥
Do you have any tips for first-time moms? What do you< wish you knew the first time around?