The word “labor” means hard work – and that’s exactly what it is.
Labor is an activity filled with many emotions. There is excitement, thrill, terror, and, of course, some pain. Even with pain medications, labor can be mentally and emotionally painful. First-time moms are forced to juggle a billion different emotions all while trying to figure out how the heck to push out that little human inside of them (and answer to the doctors, family members, and friends who are texting and calling non-stop).
Like any pregnancy, labor and delivery rarely go exactly as planned. Since every mom, baby and body is unique, it isn’t always easy to stay on track. Though many times the reason behind a difficult labor is due to health concerns, it also can sometimes be from the parent themselves. No one wants to put blame on a pregnant mother – especially one going through such a rigorous experience.
It’s no surprise that first-time moms will make mistakes (and learn from them) during their adventure into parenthood. This is a truth that no mother can deny. However, when hormones and a mix of every emotion possible are in the picture (aka right before and during labor) – who knows how a new mom will react (or not react).
17 Before: Too Afraid To Ask The Doctor Nitty-Gritty Questions
If you are a first-time mom, you probably have many questions running through your mind the days and hours leading up to that due date. What do contractions feel like? What if I can’t follow my birth plan? What will the baby look like? What if there are complications? The questions go on and on because, well, labor and delivery are big deals. Not only because a new life is coming into the picture, but because it is a lot of physical and mental stress for the mom.
It’s important to remember every single question you have and ask the professionals when you get into the hospital (or when the midwives come to you – whatever your birth plan may be).
Write down those questions and don’t hesitate to ask the ones you are most afraid to ask.
Medical professionals in the field have seen and heard it all. Nothing will surprise or scare them and they more-than-likely have heard your questions and worries before.
To be prepared, you have to ask the questions. The more you know, the better! This can help relieve some of the stress if you know what to expect.
16 During: Eating Food Because Labor Is Too Long
Labor can be a long, drawn-out process. Some people go to the hospital because of light contractions and pressure and are there for days before the baby makes their debut. Of course, sometimes doctors will induce the labor to make it proceed at a quicker pace (if there are health concerns). However, sometimes Mom will simply get bored waiting.
And when people are bored – they want to eat.
According to Evidence Based Birth, “everyone going into labor is assumed to be at risk of aspiration because it is not possible to predict who will end up needing a Cesarean surgery under general anesthesia.” Food can cause aspiration to occur if a c-section is needed, but food can also cause other issues such as cramping and discomfort during labor. The best bet is to follow the specific direction from your medical team and focus on the contractions and labor going on, not the pizza you desperately want to attack. Though it is a brutal reality of childbirth, keep in mind that it is both for your and your baby's safety.
15 Before: Not Packing Or Expecting To Wear Adult Diapers
Moms-to-be are told by many, many other moms that wearing adult diapers (or extra, extra-large pads) is a real thing they will have to deal with. Some women are easily embarrassed when it comes to just talking about their period in front of other people – but talking about wearing adult diapers? That can be the worst – especially for someone who is shy and timid.
While hospitals provide these kinds of products for new moms, sometimes it is best for you to bring some of your own.
Sometimes the white, mesh undies the nurses provide just don’t cut it when it comes to keeping all that padding in there. Whether it be a specific brand of pads you like or better-fitting underwear – you want to make sure you are fully prepared to be comfortable during the discomfort that comes after delivery.
Your body has just endured a great deal of stress both physically and mentally. Though it is great that you have a new baby, you need to make sure that you are recovering as comfortably as possible. You do not want to have to be constantly trying to readjust your self while caring for a newborn.
14 During: Waiting Too Long To Request The Epidural
An epidural is an injected medication that numbs the space and ligaments around the spinal cord. This makes it so that, from the waist down, a woman in labor will be able to feel little-to-no pain when pushing. Epidurals also keep the mom active and alert during childbirth so they are able to experience it fully. Some people are fully supportive of epidurals while other women want to go the fully natural route.
There is no wrong route when it comes to choosing to get the epidural, but if you are going to get an epidural – get it as soon as possible.
If a first-time mom is growing unsure about where her contractions stand in the labor process and she want an epidural, it’s important to get to that hospital before it is too late. According to American Pregnancy, some reasons an epidural may not be able to be used is if you are not at least four centimeters dilated, you use blood thinners, are hemorrhaging, have low platelet counts, there is an infection, or if labor is moving too quickly and there is not enough time for the drug to appropriately and safely work.
13 Before: Being Stuck On A Detailed Birth Plan
Birth plans can be very important for new parents – especially moms who are very detail-oriented people. Moms who are intent on how they want their birth to go typically become even more focused on their plan once labor begins. Even though having a plan is a good, organized way to look at the delivery process, it can also sometimes distract Mom and the doctors when the focus should be on safely getting that baby out. This doesn’t mean birth plans are not the way to go; this just means sometimes being so adamant about sticking to your plan can make an already overwhelming experience less enjoyable.
And everyone wants to at least try and enjoy those tough moments leading up to the most beautiful one of all: when that baby is set in your arms.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists some reasons that birth plans are starting to become less effective: “Parents sometimes become inflexible and difficult when changes, no matter how small, to their plan are necessary; or birth plans often contain outdated, useless, or defensive-sounding information.” What medical professionals do like seeing, when it comes to birth plans, is a document that includes information that highlights important details the mom-to-be would like to see occur during their labor that reflects their beliefs and overall vision – not a specific, step-by-step analysis of the delivery process.
Babies will do what babies want to do – and sometimes, you just got to let them do their thing.
12 During: Trying To Mimic Their Idols
Chrissy Teigen. Jessica Alba. Beyonce. The entire Kardashian/Jenner clan.
Celebrities truly have broken the internet, and every social media outlet, when it comes to pregnancies. Though some celebrities can be realistic, positive role-models for women, others can be painfully unrealistic and just utterly ridiculous when it comes to getting a good look at motherhood. Still, many women feel as though they live in a world mimicking that of a celebrity and find the need to behave and be treated as one.
No one’s labor and delivery is exactly the same as anyone else’s – especially that of a celebrity. Therefore, why put your focus on an unrealistic goal when your focus should be on making sure your little one is healthy and safe?
By taking the time to make sure you look, feel, and are being treated like a public figure, you are not only making a fool of yourself, but not seeing the overall situation with appropriate clarity. You are about to bring a new life into the world. That should be your primary focus. Take a step back and realize what is truly important. It shouldn’t matter how you look or sound when you push or what name-brand gown you are wearing during the process.
11 Before: Lack Of Research On Meds
When a mom is in labor and knows for a fact that they want medications, they often know just that: they want to be medicated. However, not everyone knows exactly what medications they want or exactly what each medicine does during the labor process. Obviously, doctors wouldn’t use something that will hard the mom or baby.
However, it’s important to go into the delivery room knowing what you want before labor begins and you end up just asking for everything – which many overwhelmed women tend to do.
“When used during childbirth, opiates are considered the first option after natural methods for pain relief such as labor in water, deep breathing, and massage,” explains American Pregnancy. Some examples of opiates that are usually administered (and always in small doses) are medications such as Morphine, Stadol, Fentanyl, Nubain, and Demerol. It is crucial to dig deeper into how each medication will impact your system before agreeing to use it. You may choose to steer clear from some for personal reasons or maybe you already know that, due to prior health issues, certain meds may not work well.
By feeling more comfortable with the medications that will be offered, you will be more at ease during a relatively high-stress scenario.
10 During: Expecting Your Significant Other Not To See Everything
You want to look good in the eyes of your significant other. Many couples avoid one seeing them on the toilet at all costs or putting on their nightly skincare regimen or their face before makeup. Though this often changes as time together progresses, you may say you don’t care about the nasty morning breath you have or your radiant, hungover glow, but in the back of your mind, you do. When it comes to pregnancy, there are moments when a woman may feel embarrassed by what their body is doing – even if their body is doing a truly remarkable thing.
Well, these moments don’t stop at the pregnancy – labor and delivery bring a totally new level to relationships.
Whether the delivery is a c-section or a nature birth, there will be things that no one wants anyone to see. Even if you ask your significant other to stare at the corner for the entire delivery, they may smell the sterile or surgical scents that could make them uneasy or may be asked to provide assistance during the birth. Depending on the situation and hospital, doctors may ask if your significant other would like to watch part of the surgery during the process – and if they say yes, they better be fully prepared to see more than just a baby (or two) being pulled out. Even after delivery, moms must be cleaned and readjusted often during their stay at the hospital and if your significant other is in the room with you, they may also see some things they never thought they would.
9 Before: Not Planning Who You Want To Be There With You
Leading up to the big day, there are a lot of thoughts buzzing around in your mind. You want the nursery to be prepared and the hospital bag stocked. You want to make sure you are as mentally and emotionally focused as possible and that your baby is healthy and strong. Sometimes, you think you know how you want everything to go down the day of delivery – everything, but who will be next to you in that room.
For some reason, this incredibly important tidbit of information tends to slip people’s minds more often than not. While everyone expects the significant other to be by their side, there is typically room for one other to be by the side of the mom-to-be – and everyone thinks it will be them: the best friend, the clingy mom, the know-it-all sister. Everyone.
On the days leading up to the due date, make sure you know exactly who you want to have by your side and make it clear to everyone around you.
In truth, no one should automatically expect they will be in the room with you. It is up to the mom and the mom alone and if you do not agree with the decision – well, that’s just too bad. Your moment will come and when it does, you will have the reigns.
8 During: Yelling At People You Don’t Mean To Yell At
Hormones can do crazy, crazy things to people. They can make people cry at the drop of a pin, sleep through their entire third trimester, and get madder than they have ever been before. If she is someone who is easily angered, the hormones may either lessen this or make the emotion even worse. Even for someone who is very shy, pregnancy can bring out a side of that person their significant other never, ever expected to meet.
And, in truth, pregnancy and motherhood bring out a whole new side of a woman whether or not they expect it to.
It’s true that moms-to-be may get a little irritated during labor. The day of delivery can be overwhelming for a woman who has never experienced labor – especially if they are in incredible pain and discomfort. It’s easier said than done, but when the moment comes – think. Try to think before you act or push or scream. Try to remember what you learned in those classes or what your friends had told you. Try to think about who you are and what will make the experience worthwhile when looking back at it.
7 Before: Focusing Too Much On How You Look
A trend that has been going on over the last several years is the popular ‘Labor Selfie.’ Women will take a picture of themselves wearing their hospital wristbands and gown while sitting in a cot and smile with the IV pole next to them. Sure, this makes for a laughable memory later on, but is it really necessary to have an entire make-up and professional photo team in the room with you minutes before you are either rolled into surgery or before you are told to push?
Yes, it is important to look good if looking good makes you feel good.
However, when you’re incredibly pregnant and swollen and uncomfortable, a major way to feel better is to get that baby out.
Often when you are planning to undergo a c-section, you cannot wear contacts and you are forced to wear a hairnet. Also, you may grow so sweaty when pushing during labor that your makeup will just sweat right off. These are all factors that should be thought about before packing on the foundation and spraying on the pounds of hairspray.
And really, your baby will love you whether you remembered to put mascara on that day or not.
6 During: Trying Not To Go Number 2 (This Is Real Talk, Folks)
Okay, everyone has heard about this happening or has had it happen to them. It is a fear that almost every woman has when going into labor and delivery. Women will either drink only water for an unhealthy amount of time leading up to pregnancy or focus too much on the possibility of it happening that, well, it just happens.
Yes, we are talking about pooping during delivery.
A doula at Boise Women’s Health and Birth Center in Idaho told Parents Magazine, that “the fear of pooping during labor comes up nine times out of ten – at least. Having a bowel movement during pushing is extremely common.” The reason this is so common is because the same muscles that are activated when you push are the same muscles you use when you are, you know, going number two. So, if you fear having an incident like this – just know how incredibly common it is.
And once you see the face of your little one for the first time, the thought of pooping during labor will be the last thing on your mind.
5 Before: Only Packing Yoga Pants
Yoga pants were probably your main clothing item worn throughout your pregnancy – especially during your last trimester when absolutely nothing else would fit. They’re stretchy, ridiculously comfortable, and can stretch up and over your belly or roll nicely below it. When packing that hospital bag, you may have thought, “Well, yoga pants are comfortable during pregnancy so I’m guessing they’ll be just as comfortable when I’m recovering from delivery.”
Wrong – well, for most people.
After delivery, you will be wearing pads or diapers and, more than likely, the ugliest underwear you own.
You’ll also probably be very sore and if you had a c-section, your scar site will be all wrapped up. Yoga pants put additional pressure on your body because they are so form fitting. When healing from a c-section or childbirth, that additional pressure may not be comfortable. Also, you will probably wear diapers for the next month straight. You will want baggy sweatpants all day, every day – plain and simple. Save the yoga pants for when you need to run errands or do some things around the house (once you’re fully healed).
4 During: Wishing You Had (Or Didn’t Have) A Birth Photographer
Many moms want to fully remember every moment of their pregnancy journey. They may journal every week and post week-by-week pictures on every social media account. For those who love to embrace every memory of parenthood, a birth photographer is someone they know they will want in the delivery room.
However, come time of delivery, some moms may wish they had hired one or hadn’t.
There are always mixed emotions when it comes to having a photographer up close and personal with your, well, “stuff.” Some people get very frustrated with their decision during delivery and take their stressors out on the photographer while other moms wish they had had someone there to document those intimate moments. If you are someone who wants a birth photographer there, make sure you don’t have any regrets and make sure you are ready for all that will be in store.
This also ties in with having a strict birth plan. Though, you may want someone there when everything is going well, if, for whatever reason, there are complications, you may want only your immediate family and doctors. As well, depending on the hospital rules, the photographer may take up the space in the room that you wish was a close friend or family member.
3 Before: Wishing You Had Eaten More (Or Eaten Less)
As discussed earlier, everyone has a fear they will go that dreaded “number two” during labor. Because of this fear, many women will force themselves to only drink water for hours or days leading up to their due date. This is obviously not a healthy way to look at labor and delivery – not only for the mother, but for the baby. That baby must gain weight and absorb nutrients and if the mother is not supporting her baby in that way, the baby will suffer. Sometimes, the mother truly doesn’t have much of an appetite during her pregnancy and has to force herself to eat.
The consumption of food is critical and really shouldn’t something to take lightly.
On the other hand, some mothers overeat during the weeks and days leading up to labor. Pregnancy can cause moms to get extremely odd cravings as well as eat a whole bag of Doritos and container of Oreos in one sitting - without feeling full. Hormones can play a part in this and when women do overeat and they go into unexpected labor, the amount of food still being digested can cause issues during delivery.
It is best to listen to your body during those critical days leading up to your due date. Stick to a healthy diet that doesn’t include starving yourself or eating too much. Try to find a healthy, happy medium so your baby can be fed appropriately.
2 During: Trying To Do Other Things During Contractions
Some people deep clean under the couch during contractions or take a bubble bath or take the dog for a walk. Some people think counting the minutes between contractions would be better if they were getting some laundry done or finishing up some last-minute paperwork. Sometimes, watching a quick episode of the show they missed sounds like a good idea as they feel their body get overcome with the pain that is a contraction.
No. Just no.
When you feel discomfort that you believe to be labor, you truly should either call your doctor or go to labor and delivery. Even if you aren’t a first-time mom and think you can get a few things done before the time comes, it’s the safest bet to get to a safe, sterile environment where you and your baby can be monitored. Focus on you and your well-being instead of the cleanliness of your house or the end of your favorite series. Those things can wait, but if that baby is coming – it can’t. You never know if there will be complications so get into the hands of professionals as quickly as possible.
1 Before And During: Trying To Post Everything On Social Media
Social media has become a huge phenomenon over the last decade. It is an outlet for people to share their thoughts, photographs, and beliefs amongst friends, family members, and people of similar interests. For those who have multiples or children with disabilities, there are groups where parents can support each other and provide guidance to one another. According to The Pew Research Center, “75% of [parents] whom use social media turn to social media for parenting-related information and social support.”
There are positives when it comes to social media, yes, but then there are also some negatives.
Some moms think they need to provide the world with detailed, step-by-step knowledge of how their pregnancy is going leading up to their delivery date. Even during labor, they want their social media following to feel as if they are right there with them. Trying to be on top of your posts when you are in the middle of a contraction can take away from what you really need to be focusing on – the birth of your child. Some people on your Facebook or Instagram may be intrigued by your minute-by-minute posts or your Live video on the way to labor and delivery, but others may see it as being a bit too much.
Whether or not you are a social media fiend or someone who strictly uses it for support groups, the end response is simple: You do what you need to do as long as it results in a happy, healthy baby and a happy, healthy mom.
References: Evidence Based Birth, American Pregnancy, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Parents Magazine/Boise Women’s Health and Birth Center, Pew Research Center