Friday, January 14, 2011

Labor and The Postpartum Period

Labor Details You Are Afraid to Ask:
★I was afraid to ask my doctor or any other moms what my baby would smell like immediately after birth. When I looked it up on line, I learned that it smells similar to dog or cat having a litter. I'd never been present for that, so it didn't help too much. Didn't matter though. During the final stage of labor, my husband said there were smells. I didn't notice anything since I was too busy pushing. By the time I held my daughter, she'd been wiped off. But, this time around, I hope to hold my baby a little sooner. The smell to expect is kind of a bloody-irony smell.
★Yes, you might poop during the pushing part of labor. It took me a year before I got the courage up to ask my husband if it had happened and no one bothered to tell me. (It hadn't, which wasn't surprising to me. I'd been having trouble moving my bowels for days before the labor, but once at the hospital, I had an easy movement. One of many examples that my body knew what it was doing). Thirty years ago, it was standard practice to give an enema once you arrived at the hospital. That's no longer the case. If you do move your bowels while pushing, you probably won't know it. Your nurses will just wipe it away with all the other fluids exiting your body. (Speaking of which, if you are laboring laying in bed like you see in the movies, the bottom portion of your bed will be rolled away, and they will pull something very similar to a trash can up to you so that all that other stuff goes into it. They will, however, save your placenta to check that it has fully exited your womb). You might only know you've pooped if someone present comments about it, or a nurse asks you to pause to make sure it is cleared away before the baby is out.
★Its also possible you'll vomit or faint. Again, nothing to be embarrassed about. The nurses see it all the time and you won't remember it clearly later. The joy of seeing your baby will make all those other things hazy.
★You will have no modesty by the time the labor is at its height. I counted after the birth, and I believe something like six or seven different people had had their hands inside me during the 16 hours (2 doctors and 4 or 5 nurses). I also had many different things attached to or in my body at one time (IV, epidural, catheter, oxygen mask, my pulse monitor, internal monitor for the baby, external monitor for contractions). When you are pushing and some guy you've never met waltzes in to a full view (in our case the pediatrician on call), you won't care.
★You will know you are close to the moment of delivery when your doctor sticks around and gets suited up. Until then, you will probably be with nurses, and your doctor will come and go.
★I thought touching my baby's head as it was crowning would be weird. And it was. But, it was also very reassuring that all my effort was making noticeable progress. During my pushing, it was very hard to believe everyone who said each push was getting us closer. I thought it very possible they were lying to keep my spirits up. Touching her head was confirmation that we were getting there.
Postpartum Period:
About Mom:
★You can hurt your tail bone in labor! After labor, even though I had a lot of stitches and "the biggest hemorrhoid [my husband] had ever seen," it was my tail bone that bothered me the most after a couple weeks. It hurt pretty regular for 8 months or so, and even now (15 months later) it still bothers me!
★You might have to ask to hold your baby! Natalie was whisked away to be checked by the pediatrician, and then I was delivering the afterbirth and having my stitches done. It felt like forever before someone said I could hold her as doctor stitched. I was so jealous watching my husband and MIL hold her. My biggest regret about the birth is not demanding to get to hold her sooner.
★More than one nurse at the hospital told us that many women who don't plan on bed sharing, do have their newborn sleep in their bed in the very beginning. We did this with Natalie a fair amount in the hospital and the first week or so she was home. It was easier to have her near us and was what she wanted. She had no trouble transitioning into her crib.
★I read that your blood volume doubles while you are pregnant. After birth, you suddenly have a lot of extra fluid. Night sweats are one way of loosing this. I was glad I knew this, or else I would have thought there was something wrong with me! I was soaked with sweat.
★Baby blues after the birth are real. When we got home from the hospital, for about a week, I would feel down and anxious around the same time every day, even if we had had a perfect day. It went away after about three weeks. (Don't confuse baby blues with postpartum depression, though. There are plenty of places to find quizzes to check for it in yourself, and you doctor should ask you questions to check for it at your 6 week appointment).
★Your hormones do go a little haywire after the birth. When the nurses told us Natalie had jaundice, I wasn't that worried or upset, but I couldn't stop sobbing for at least half an hour. I'm talking about crying so hard I couldn't see.

About Baby:
★Newborn breathing isn't as rhythmic as adult breathing. Its a little scary to watch, but your baby might have uncomfortably long pauses between breathes at times.
★Newborns startle in their sleep a lot. Their arms will shoot up and their eyes might start to open, but they are still asleep.
★Newborns can move a lot and make a lot of noise, yet still be asleep. Natalie sometimes sounded like a wild animal! I'd get up to feed her, but she was still asleep. You'll soon learn the difference between awake noises and asleep noises.

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