Dear First Time Mom

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Dear First Time Mom,

You’re finally here, you’re going to be a mom. Isn’t that such a terrifying and exciting notion? You’ve surrounded yourself with baby books, shopping lists, and name ideas. You’re designing that perfect nursery for your baby. You’re daydreaming over what that little baby will look like – will he have your ears? Your partner’s hair color? What will be his favorite color, or food, or book? I remember being there, pouring over the books and opening up the pregnancy apps countless times a day. The anticipation is

Can I just give some advice? Now that I’m on the other side of motherhood?

Educate yourself about birth.

Put down the baby name books and pick up a childbirth book. Close those pregnancy forums and open up a webpage about what to expect during labor. Save that document about the baby gear you need and start thinking about your birth preferences.

The birth of your child, the first or the tenth, is going to be such a significant moment in your life. You will remember every detail. You will analyze the decisions you made and the words your care providers said. You will recall the feel of those early contractions and the rush of the pushing stage, or the way your body is numbed from chest down before you give birth by cesarean.

FirstTimeMom

You should spend as much time and effort into planning your birth as you would into planning your dream wedding. Just as your wedding is a significant moment in your life, so are the births of your children. I would actually wager to say that the births you experience will have a bigger impact on your life than a thousand weddings you plan.

Birth education starts with you. Start reading as much as you can (visit my Resources page for my favorite books), all sorts of books, medical and philosophical. Read blogs about childbirth. Talk to people who have had babies all sorts of ways (no interventions, induced, cesarean, you name it). And then go talk to your care provider. Learn about their policies and procedures. Ask them the hard questions: Do they frequently perform episiotomies? What are their cesarean rates? What are the policies regarding VBACs? What are the newborn procedures? Etc.

Learn about every procedure so that, in the heat of labor, you won’t be scrambling to try and make a decision based off of limited knowledge. Learn about the pain medications offered, the risks and benefits, and which you would prefer, if you are leaning toward that. Learn about induction methods. Learn about the stages of labor, how different positions affect your outcome, and the optimal pushing positions. Learn about relaxation techniques. Learn about how a cesarean is performed, if your birth comes to that. Learn about recovery and breastfeeding.

Just load yourself with knowledge. You can never have too much. Even now, as a doula, I’m learning something new every day.

And better yet, attend a childbirth class. Not the one-hour kind offered through the hospital – you want a comprehensive class that covers all these topics and more.

Make yourself a Plan A: Your dream birth. List out the most important things you want in your birth and make them clear to yourself and your care provider. Really think hard about how you envision your birth going. Get it down on paper and focus on it. And then sit down and make a Plan B, and then a Plan C. Because, just as with dream weddings, birth might not go as planned.

I’m imploring you to make this birth the best you can. Don’t fall into the trap that, since your care provider is the expert, you don’t have to do any research on your own. Remember that, as the patient, you will help call the shots. All too often, first time moms go into their birth without the proper education, and sometimes they come back out disappointed at the outcome. Don’t make your second birth the best one, start with your first. Know that every decision made during the birth was within your control and you will most likely be satisfied with the end result.

With all love, hope, and excitement for your future,

Chantal