With my first pregnancy, I didn’t really know what to expect with my hospital labor & delivery experience. I was induced at 41 weeks, labored for about 12 hours with an epidural (slept for about 9 of those on and off) and pushed for about one hour. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the experience as a whole and really felt like it went easier than I expected. However, there were a few things that my over-researched and birthing plan driven self wasn’t prepared for. I’m sharing those below in hopes to help other moms-to-be prepare for their own birth experience.
There will be blood
And lots of it! I was so shocked at the amount of blood that started flowing shortly after my water broke. During most of my labor I laid on my side in bed, (because they were trying to get the baby to flip into a anterior position) but at one point toward the beginning, I was sitting on a birthing ball which ended up completely covered in blood. About an hour and a half after delivering, I was asked to stand and shower. They laid towels across the bathroom floor and it looked like a murder scene from a horror movie. SO MUCH BLOOD. And it didn’t stop there. The bleeding felt endless. Like 6 weeks of making up for not having a period for 9 months. Yay.
You Have to Shower Shortly After
No one mentioned I had to stand and SHOWER shortly after giving birth. I mean yes I was sweaty, bloody and gross, but standing was not exactly my first priority after pushing out an 8.5 lb baby. Before I was allowed to be moved to a recovery room, it was insisted that I shower. I just expected that to come later once I had already been moved to the recovery area.
You Have to Pee Too
Sorry for all the TMI, but labor and delivery is really a gross process! They made me pee into this weird toilet catch pan contraption. Everything was REALLY swollen down there and passing urine was a bit difficult. I was finally able to go after a few hours. I plan to drink extra fluids this time around so hopefully it won’t be as difficult.
You Can’t Eat, Only Ice
“Hangry” doesn’t even begin to describe the behavior of a starved woman in labor. They allow you to eat ice chips and drink water but nothing else. It’s tough to keep up stamina with no incoming subsidence. The gum I brought was helpful in providing a little taste but not eating is rough. Go ahead and start planning your post delivery meal and have a close friend on call to bring it to the hospital once you’ve delivered.
The Placenta is Delivered Separately
Yes I knew it wouldn’t come out WITH the baby but I figured it would come out soon after. It was almost 30 mins later and still required “pushing” which I just wasn’t expecting being a first time mom.
After Pains Are a Thing
Wait what?! So not only are there contractions during labor but there are CONTINUED contractions for a day or two (sometimes longer) afterward. These help shrink the uterus and while they aren’t AS intense they still hurt. They say it’s worse with every baby, so I’m not looking forward to that with baby number two.
Your Whole Body Will Hurt
Labor is hard work. I guess I didn’t anticipate feeling like I had been hit by a truck after giving birth. My whole body was so sore and achy. They call it “labor” for a reason. At the end of the day, I would do it all over again to hold that precious baby in my arms.
Your Lady Parts Will Swell
Yes down there actually swells after delivery. No one shared this jewel of wisdom with me and an hour postpartum the nurses were shocked to see that I didn’t have (and hadn’t asked for) ice. Moral of the story: ask for ice IMMEDIATELY and keep icing for as long as they’ll let you. If you can grab extra ice packs DO IT. These were my favorite for the first couple days postpartum.
They Massage Your Belly
The belly that less than 24 hours ago was stretched to the max with a baby, that still looks 6 months pregnant, and that is extremely sore from days of contractions and hours of active labor. That’s the belly your nurses will deeply massage in the 24-48 hours after birth. Of course there’s medical need to ensure everything is shrinking properly but it HURTS.
The Baby Won’t Sleep
In my innocent naive mind, I thought baby would be tired after being born and would be in desperate need of a few hours of swaddled sleep. WRONG. My daughter cried. And cried. And cried. She wanted to be held. Not laid down in some cold, flat cradle. The only way she slept was being held. Not that I can really blame her, but still, I needed sleep to help my body recover and that first night wasn’t easy. Luckily on the second night the nurses took her to the nursery for a few hours so I could actually rest.
Do Not Disturb
You’re at a hospital not a hotel, so prepare to be disturbed at all times of night. There are constantly nurses, doctors, interns, etc checking in on you. Sometimes right when you’ve finally fallen asleep you hear that annoying knock on the door, or just wake up to an intern strangely whispering standing beside your bed (that happened twice). They’re just doing their job but sometimes it feels a bit intrusive.
What did you find surprising about your hospital labor and delivery? I am anxious to compare my experience this time around. I’d love to hear your stories and tips!