I’ve been a Mum for over a month now and have no idea where the time has gone. Looking back, the last 6 weeks are a haze of euphoria, love, tears, feeds, broken nights, nappy changes, washing, gifts, visitors and cake. It’s been the toughest thing I’ve ever done and I know it’s a cliche but it really is also the most rewarding.
I’ve learnt a couple of things about myself during this time too. Firstly, I have a lot of patience and secondly, I’m pretty good at multitasking. I’m sat writing this in bed with Connie attached to one boob, the breast pump on the other, having just finished a telephone conversation with one eye on the TV in the background.
Connie’s first few weeks haven’t been the smoothest of rides and there’s so much I want to share with you all but for now, here’s my take on labour and birth and the few days after.
My labour was straightforward and lasted just 23 hours. I was very lucky and got the birth that I’d hoped for. I spent almost half the time at home with a TENS machine for pain relief. On arrival at hospital, I had a short stint in both triage and the ante natal ward before being moved to the midwife led birthing unit where she was born, pretty rapidly, in the pool using gas and air. As she came out so quickly, I needed a lot of repair work and ended up in theatre afterwards. That part wasn’t what I’d hoped for but once Connie had arrived, I couldn’t have cared less about my own body.
Can you prepare for birth?
I’d read somewhere that to have a positive birth experience, it’s not about the way you give birth, but instead it’s being happy with all of the decisions that are made during your labour and birth, whatever happens. I didn’t have a birth plan. I had written down a few preferences in my maternity notes but had always wondered how I’d know what I wanted if I’d never experienced any of the feelings before. I went in with an open mind, hoping for a natural as possible water birth but open to any sort of pain relief should I need it. After all, there’s no golden pelvis award for doing it without drugs. I knew that if I’d written down a detailed plan of how I wanted my labour to go, I’d always feel disappointed if it didn’t happen that way. I truly believe that having an open mind is the best preparation you can give yourself.
Your Hospital Bag
You’ll find endless lists in books and online to assist with your packing. You’ll most likely take a lot that never gets taken out of the bag. I would suggest packing for one night only but have a second bag ready at home with extra clothes in that your partner or a friend can bring to you in hospital should you have to stay in for longer. You don’t want to be explaining which pair of comfy knickers you want and where they might be in the chest of drawers.
Take a look here for a great list of things that you’ll be very grateful for that you won’t find on most other lists.
- My own top labour bag items were the following:
- A bendy plastic straw -enabling water intake from any angle.
- A bath pillow which I used in the pool.
- A flannel for brow mopping.
- A playlist of my favourite songs on the iPod.
- A sandwich for my husband which he ate while I was in theatre. It’s a long and exhausting experience for them too. Forget the food for you, you won’t want to eat!
The First Few Days
Your baby will most likely sleep a lot during it’s first 24 hours. They are sleeping off labour. Although it’s really hard to sleep when you have so much adrenalin running through you, not to mention a newborn to stare at in amazement, I can’t recommend enough that you try and make the most of sleeping during that time. I had to stay in hospital for an extra night and so the Grandparents visited us throughout day 1. The moment that my husband left that night, Connie came alive. I hadn’t slept for almost 2 days and had a fractious newborn to cope with. A couple of hours sleep during the day would have certainly made that night a little easier for me.
When you get discharged from the hospital, there’s nothing like coming home as a family. It’s an important time to be together as a family and start to get to know your baby so really think about who, if anyone, you’d like to visit. We had a few days on our own which I can’t recommend enough if you’ve had a relatively straightforward delivery. If you do have visitors, make sure they’re useful at the same time. Ask them to bring meals or pick up some shopping for you. You certainly shouldn’t be the one organising the tea and biscuits.
And finally, there’s no escaping the fact that having a baby is painful. If the thought of giving birth fills you with fear, please don’t fret. The pain will be virtually erased from your memory very quickly by Mother Nature. I’m sure it’s her way of ensuring the continuation of the human race. In the short term however, these are the things that I swore by to aid the healing:
- Arnica tablets for bruising
- A salt water and lavender oil bath twice a day if you’ve had stitches or are tender. I did this religiously for 2 weeks.
- Lansinoh nipple cream – use it from day 1 if you are breast feeding. Don’t wait for cracking or soreness.
- Plenty of fluids, lots of iron rich food, and a serious dose of rest.
So readers, did you have a labour bag essential? Any advice for the first few newborn days? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Love, Becky x