Notes from Friends on Labor and the Transition to Motherhood

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1 month ago

One thing that has been incredibly comforting in the mindset transition to motherhood, has been friends to rely on. Throughout my pregnancy, they have been my lifeline and insight into helping me wrap my head around things, celebrate in this incredible chapter, ease my worries, and cheer me on. I think it’s so important to tap into your most trusted and honest resources during this phase of life, and I am so lucky to call these women my friends—and moms who I have looked up to for a long time now! It’s been so lovely to see them take on motherhood and raise such sweet kids who feel like little nieces and nephews.

As I approach my due date, I decided to ask a few questions around labor prep, time at the hospital, and those first few weeks at home in a whole new, life-changing role as mom.

I’m excited to share their perspective with you… xx

from my friend Megan…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

Your own pajamas and robe, chapstick, and toiletries to shower/wash your hair. After being in the hospital gown for over 24hrs, all I wanted to do was shower and put on my own comfy clothes after giving birth. The first shower is honestly the best feeling! If you are planning to try to breastfeed, make it easy on yourself and get a button up pajama shirt or a nursing tank (where the straps easily click open/shut). Also, you will be encouraged to get up post delivery and walk around – I was grossed out thinking about my slippers on the hospital floor and then coming back inside my house, so I brought sandals that I could slip my feet into while still wearing socks.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

Everyone’s labor is different. More likely than not your birth plan will alter during delivery, and that’s ok. Try to remain as open minded as possible and trust that your body knows what it is doing and was made to deliver babies safely. With my first, I ended up having a c-section because she was breeched. Initially a c-section was of course not my first choice for delivery but in the end my experience was unique and this was my baby’s birth story. In hindsight it was wonderful because it was my story with her. With my second, I was physically fit and rested and ended up pushing during a natural delivery for over 3 hours. It was the longest yet quickest afternoon of my life. I’ve had friends tell me their babies were born after 3 pushes, and so a 3 hour active labor was a position I never imagined being in. But again in hindsight it wasn’t perfect, but it was my story with my son.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

It is an out of body experience. There is so much commotion and shock when the baby is initially placed on your chest – I don’t think I really was able to take a deep breath and fully appreciate what had just happened until the room had cleared and I was alone with my husband and my baby.

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

Be patient with yourself and allow others to take care of you. It is a hard transition – you are teaching a baby how to eat while also learning how to use your own body to keep them alive, all the while on very little sleep. Our mantra for the first few weeks was always: I feed the baby and my husband feeds me. Let your husband, friends, family provide meals and make sure you are still taking time for yourself (even if it is just to shower). It is ok to nap when the baby naps, it is ok for the house to be messy, it is ok to deal with it tomorrow. You will quickly get into a routine of what works for your family. For me, I found that fresh air would always make everything better – whether it was my mood or a crying baby, getting outside for a walk always helped. I made sure that I got outside at least 1x a day.

form my friend Lex…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

Your favorite comfortable pajamas x 2 or 3. People said bring a pair you can throw out, they’ll get ruined. Not the case for me. I felt so happy to put on a plush pair of pjs everyday. Ebrejey are my favorite, because they are so soft and button down in the front. Pants are a must.

My favorite maternity leggings (still wear them weekly) are Storq. Highly suggest for maternity & post labor.

Bring your favorite shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizer, eye cream etc. it was that little luxury that made me feel like myself and pampered, when you’re anything but.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

I knew I wanted an epidural with Charlotte and I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to get to a certain cm before requesting it. I think that helped me go with the flow. When you’re ready for drugs, you’ll know!

With a c-section (had with my twin girls) everything is out of your hands, and that’s ok too. All that matters is bringing your baby into the world safely.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

Magic & sunshine! Lots of happy tears.

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

There are no rules to follow. Do what works for you and your new family. Nipple confusion? Nope, not if your little one loves a paci.

Ask for help, family/friends are happy to assist in any way.

It’s OK to cry, especially in those first two weeks. Evening would come, and I’d cry because I was scared for the unknown of nighttime and also because I was so happy.

 

From my friend Erica…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

I took a very minimalist approach! I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. Soft and roomy pajamas, definitely button- up to give doctors easy access as they will come and check on you often after delivery! A robe for any guests (a pre-covid problem, I know) cozy socks! Although with both boys I rocked my hospital socks the whole time. I had a very paired down toiletry kit. Face wash, moisturizer, some concealer and mascara to try and look a little fresher than I felt 😆 and dry shampoo!! Shampoo and conditioner for that first shower (shower flip flops!) I also loved the Ursa Major face wipes, so refreshing. I also felt really dehydrated after birth so a really great lip balm/lip mask made a difference.

Also, a big rec is a long phone/iPad charger! No matter where the outlet is you will be set.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

I tried to stay active as long as I could. I made sure to listen to my body though – I hit a point with both boys where it definitely didn’t feel “right” during my bar classes and I knew it was time to stop. I felt strongly that I wanted to get to the hospital and take my doctors advice. I had been cautioned that no matter how much you plan, your birth story is a bit out of your hands, and I did not want to be disappointed or anxious waiting for certain things to happen. I felt safe knowing I was at the hospital and the doctors were taking good care of me. All that matters is a healthy baby and healthy mama.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

Complete out of body experience with Henry! Like I was watching myself from above. It was amazing and crazy and even now looking back it all feels fuzzy and dream-like, the memories are not crisp.

With Charlie it was this instant feeling of familiarity, like I already knew him. I cried with both boys – it was an instant automatic response as soon as they were on my chest! It’s a feeling of relief and joy. Pretty incredible.

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Give yourself time, patience, and love. Take it slow, stay in your PJS all day, don’t put silly expectations on yourself. Every baby is different, every mom is different, try not to have too many plans and expectations and just go with the flow.

Also, the early days are kind of the easiest in some ways, newborns sleep SO MUCH. It can feel a bit like you are cheating the system. A few weeks in, they “wake up” and I know with H that was hard for me, I felt like I was not doing something right. It’s just your baby being introduced to the world! Be kind, be kind, be kind. Talk to yourself like you would a dear friend. and ASK FOR HELP.

From my friend Taylor…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

Nursing tanks and a pretty robe. I like wearing cute matching jammies that have a button down top for skin to skin and for nursing. Also a nice body wash and makeup for pictures. Also water and snacks! The hospital food is meh so it’s nice to have a few favorites in your room. We brought chocolate chip cookies this last time! Nursing makes you VERY thirsty so bring a water bottle. Oh and we also brought our iPad to watch a movie when we knew we weren’t going to get any sleep.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

Workout and stay active! I think the more active you are the better your labor will be. I worked out more consistently with my last pregnancy and I have never recovered so quickly. I also was more conscientious of my breathing. Things can get pretty wild and the breathing is everything so maybe consider yoga and meditation.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

It’s everything. You’ve been waiting for this moment for 9 months and you have more love for this little human being than you can even imagine. Then there’s a little shock that they are here, you are holding them and loving them, nursing them if you can, and in an instant life as you once knew it is entirely different. I love that moment but I also love the moment I am with my baby all by myself. It’s a completely different connection and in that moment I completely melt.

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

Try to take in every moment. Take 1000 pictures. It’s the moments of when the baby clothes you can’t imagine fitting somehow in no time they have grown out of them. Also take everything with ease. Don’t push yourself to do it all because it’s a total learning experience. Seek help when you need it.

From my friend Emily…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

Hospital fluorescent lighting is just about as far from mood lighting as you can get. We brought our own battery-operated tea light candles, and it really elevated the mood! A playlist and speaker is also a must. Easy robe was a nice touch, and these from amazon are great to avoid the hospital mesh ones / giant pad. They feel much more like normal undies!

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

Though I was having a hospital birth, I watched some positive home birthing videos on YouTube. I also watched these hypnobirthing tips and tricks. So simple, and I love the host’s vibe. I went on walks everyday, listening to my favorite empowering and uplifting music, and Kevin and I went to the beach for some sunset picnics. Practiced yoga and felt him moving inside me, and put my hands on my belly and connected with him during savasana. My advice is to do the things that make you feel calm and empowered, every day, whatever those are for you.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

Surreal! Magical! He was so tiny and amazing. Seeing his little face and body for the first time, his eyes looking up at me, indescribable. The female body is so amazing! In awe that I created this new being inside me!

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

Enjoy the little moments. I know you’re good at this! I loved watching the sunrise with him, making my morning latte, even cleaning up became a peaceful and calming ritual. Slow down and take it all in. Don’t have too many goals or expectations for the beginning. Aim for a routine, not a schedule. If you’re rigid, you’ll feel stressed, just let the days flow naturally.

Oh, and if you’re breastfeeding, go to bed early and pump right before so your husband can do the next feed and you can get a solid 4 or 5 hours of sleep in a row! It really helps.

From my friend Stacy…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

Mothers love nipple cream – the stuff in the hospital isn’t as clean and the nips definitely need lots of care to get adjusted. A button down – comfy night shirt / outfit to feel more at home vs. your hospital gown after baby debuts. A face mask – perfect to make you feel refreshed as sleep is minimal in the hospital / don’t worry baby can’t see mama quite clearly yet so no scary moments from the baby!

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

I listened to the birth hour podcast – I’m one that likes to know all scenarios and the stories are beautiful to listen to on walks in the third trimester. Prepared for the ‘4th trimester’ – the hormones / emotions / etc. are real and it was really helpful to understand what to expect and what was ‘normal’.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

Euphoric / overwhelming given we didn’t know sex I immediately shouted WHAT IS IT because everyone was so focused on the baby breathing, being healthy, etc. they forgot to tell us the sex. Relief but also immediately after birth you have to push out the placenta and there is lots of pressure applied to your tummy which wasn’t FUN at all. I didn’t realize this was also a big step post-pushing then evaluations for tears and going natural after holding my sweet daughter it was a bit of a shock!

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

Soak up the sweet sounds and record the evolution of movements, they change so quickly and the brain fog in the beginning is real, it is so fun to relive especially as you prepare for number two and relive those moments with your first bundle of joy. Don’t over engineer a schedule the first month plus – give yourself grace and time to heal on the couch soaking up snuggles. It’s hard to let go of the house but you never get those moments back.

From my friend Sarah…

What hospital bag necessities stand out that helped you feel prepared and comfortable during your time in the hospital?

My pillow from home with a silk pillowcase + a super soft fuzzy blanket! This made my bed more comfortable and cozy, especially since I spent every second in my bed since it was hard to get in and out of bed right after labor. I also enjoyed my fuzzy socks since hospital socks are scratchy and this amazon pajama set that was soft and comfortable…I wanted something loose and cheap that I could possibly throw away if need be.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare for labor that made your experience a more positive one? What piece of advice would you offer to expecting moms on this topic?

I didn’t do anything in advance to prepare for labor in particular…but my epidural made my experience super positive. 😃 Being able to relax post epidural and enjoy final one-on-one time with my partner was amazing. This is where we finalized her name and could just talk about the experience and how surreal it all is. It was also amazing to have time to rest and recover from contractions to get energy for pushing.

One piece of advice is to let go (you can not control what happens), stay relaxed, and enjoy all the moments with your partner. It is such an incredible experience that you and your partner will share forever.

How would you describe the first moment meeting your baby?

UNIMAGINABLE…It is hard to prepare for the moment that we met our baby but it is unlike anything that we’ve experienced. It felt like I was meeting my best friend for the first time. You have an instant love connection with this creature that you grew inside of your body for 9 months. I still look at her and am in shock that my husband and I made her and that she is ours forever.

One piece of advice or words of encouragement for expecting mothers in those first couple of weeks of bringing your baby home?

Shower. Hydrate. Eat. Don’t be afraid to communicate to your partner that you need help or need space and time alone.

Feel free to say hi / comment / send questions x