The end is almost near! You are starting to get so excited to hold that little bundle of joy in your arms instead of hoisting them around all day in your belly. There were a few things that I learned about labour that I wanted to share.
Bring your underwear! The first thing is that if your water breaks you should always take the underwear that you were wearing at the time with you to the hospital so that the nurses can check it for amniotic fluid. I was told this by several friends and I am glad that I knew because when they checked me there was no sign of fluid and hence no proof that my water had broken. My daughter’s head was so far down in my birth canal that she was blocking the fluid from leaking. There was however amniotic fluid in my underwear so I was put of the 24 hour time limit and ended up being induced. This was not my ideal birthing scenario but in the end it really doesn’t matter anymore because I just wanted that kid out! If you don’t have solid proof that your water has broken they will send you home. If you don’t go into labour you run the risk of getting an infection which will just introduce many more things that could go wrong.
How can I tell if my water has broken? Near the end I was starting to get excited so every day I was hoping for my water to break and had a couple of times where I thought it might have. A good rule of thumb here is if you can’t tell then it hasn’t broken. When your water breaks you will feel a rush of fluid that you have no control over. There may also be a discharge that is not your every day stuff. It also really does smell like the ocean. Some web sites say it will smell like ammonia. If you smell ammonia that’s more than likely just pee which is nothing to be embarrassed about after all you have a small person jumping on and kicking you in the bladder.
Check your nurse for rings! The nurse who first checked my cervix for dilation was wearing a huge cluster diamond ring. It really hurt! I thought that this was a freak occurrence but the more people I mention this to the more I realize it happens fairly often. You have the right to ask you nurse to take off her rings.
How will I know when I’m in labour? It will hurt worse than anything you have ever felt before. I hate to put it like that because I don’t want to scare anyone but you are in labour around the time you feel like it couldn’t possibly get any worse. This may not be true for some but I think it is for most. Another sure-fire sign is when you are getting contractions at regular intervals.
I’m scared of an episiotomy or tearing. This was one of my biggest fears. It turned out to be nothing to worry about. There are three possible scenarios here: 1. You will have an epidural and you won’t feel it any way. 2. You won’t have an epidural and labour will completely distract you from feeling it (I guarantee that you will not feel it on account of everything else you are feeling) 3. You won’t tear at all (it’s still going to hurt just as much after any way). Pretty much, no matter what, tearing won’t be distinguishable at the time and even if you don’t tear it will still be some time until you will be able to freely sit down without a little caution.
I’m afraid of pooping during labour. Don’t worry about this. So many people list this as their biggest fear. You probably won’t. The body starts to prepare itself for labour about three days before. This can actually be one of the signs that you will be going into labour soon. Even if you do I’m sure you would never know. Labour requires %100 of your attention at that moment nothing else will matter. If you are afraid of your husband/ dad to be witnessing this I wouldn’t worry. Labour is pretty stressful for men too. It is very likely that he will be too distracted to notice.
I’m afraid of the doctor/hospital forcing me into things I don’t want to do. It is my opinion that the most important thing is that you and your baby are both healthy and okay after birth. Doctors have extensive medical training and experience. They are there to help you. I don’t think that many doctors became doctors so that they could destroy the dreams of pregnant women all day long. I do recognize that all hospitals and doctors are different. I had an excellent experience. No one pushed anything on me that I didn’t want to do. If you don’t trust your doctor because you have read that they will try to induce you/force drugs or a c-section on you or whatever you are afraid of you may feel unnecessary stress. My doctor was an incredible coach and helped me more than I can ever say. She wasn’t handpicked either she was just the one I ended up with.
I have a very specific birth plan which is really important to me. I have seen a few people get really caught up in their birth plan and end up disappointed by their birth experience. Flexibility is so important. Don’t forget that at the end of this someone is going to hand you a baby who will need constant care and attention. You are going to have to learn new skills immediately after giving birth that are crucial to the well-being of your child. It may not be the best plan to force yourself unnecessarily through too many hours of hard labour. If things aren’t working they way you thought that they would try to accept that and make your decision based on what you are going to need to do after the birth. You probably won’t get to sleep for much longer than two or three hours at a time for the next 6 weeks at least. Try your hardest to accept your body’s limitations. It truly is so disappointing if you won’t dilate, or if you won’t go into labour on your own, or if you need a c-section but it doesn’t make you any less of a woman or a mother. The most important thing really is the health and well-being of both mother and child AFTER the birth. I understand that a birth plan is just so important to some moms to be. I’m not saying it’s bad to have a birth plan. I just really want to get the point across that if for some reason it doesn’t go the way that you had hoped it would, be loving towards yourself. You are going to start the most important job of your life immediately after you give birth. Save your stubborn determination for that.
Should I take morphine if it’s offered to me? I didn’t. From what I have heard from all of my friends who have it just makes you really high, doesn’t really help with pain and usually makes people throw up.
What about the epidural? I did get the epidural. After about 10 hours. It was awesome. I’m not going to lie. I strongly recommend the epidural if you need to be induced. The anesthesiologist did struggle to get it in and that wasn’t any fun at all but once it was in right it was the most amazing thing in the world. I could still feel everything going on; just much less. Most of my friends however couldn’t feel anything with the epidural and needed forceps of the vacuum to help them deliver the baby. This usually causes the need for more stitches. So I think it would be the best idea to discuss different kinds of epidural with your doctor and ask for the kind I got. I don’t know if there is any difference or if it was just the anesthesiologist I got but if I were going to have another baby that would be the way I would want to go.
Bring pyjamas for your overnight stay in the hospital. Hospital clothes suck.
Interactions with nurses: For the most part the nurses in the hospital are amazing and helpful but few people get through their stay without being offended by at least one nurse. Even in the very beginning you know what is best for your baby if you disagree with a nurse that is your right. The community health nurse always got me really worried that my daughter wasn’t eating enough. You know your baby. If you weren’t worried before the nurse got there then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Just try to trust yourself you really will know what your baby needs.
Good luck to you in your adventure of labour. Always trust yourself and do what you think is right. Just like anything else in parenthood labour is a very personal experience. Things that were right for me may not be right for you. I just want to pass on what I’ve learned to help you make your decisions based on a little more information.