It's hard to know exactly what to expect when you're expecting. Yes, there are books, podcasts, overpriced classes and annoying (over-edited) Instagram reels...but nothing can fully prepare you until you're laid out on that hospital bed and saddling up for the workout of a lifetime...CHILDBIRTH!
Here are a few assorted thoughts on prepping yourself for the hospital experience, thriving during labor, and taking care of yourself when you come home. Please excuse my half thoughts and sub-par writing as I'm still just 19 days postpartum, but I wanted to get this all down before I forget!
PREPPING FOR THE HOSPITAL
If it makes you feel fresh for your babe's big debut, put on a little mascara before you head to hospital. Yes, I did this at 3:00am. Yes, it stayed on for the entirety of labor!
Pick your favorite pump-up or relaxation song(s) to listen to en route to the hospital. For our 2 minute drive, we listened to my favorite meditation song.
Pack an oil diffuser with your favorite relaxing scent and set-up when you arrive. Our delivery room smelled like lavender and it helped me stay (as) relaxed (as possible).
Bring a fully charged Bluetooth speaker to connect to your Spotify for constant tunes. We listened to our "Ambient Sleep" playlist on Apple Music for 24+ hours and it made our hospital room feel a little more like home.
We registered for a star constellation projector and it made the room feel dreamy while we recovered that night in the hospital. The nurses absolutely loved it.
Pray and breathe deeply through contractions.
No shame in getting that epidural. It was amazing and I got a solid nap in before pushing!
When pushing, just close your eyes, listen to the doctor's instructions and breathe. Closing eyes helped me focus instead of being overwhelmed.
Don’t be scared to be loud!!! And naked!!! Hahaha I had them take the gown off of me for pushing because my skin got so sensitive.
Pick a special scripture and read it over your baby when they are fresh out the womb and arrives on your chest.
Don't forget to smile. It sounds completely counterintuitive since you're literally doing the hardest thing you've ever done, but it actually helps you relax all over. Bonus: laugh like a maniac while pushing or during a tough contraction.
Keep your husband in a chokehold during pushing. He will survive.
Ask your husband to just talk to you or sing to you if you feel overwhelmed or in pain. Josh sang "Amazing Grace" to me at one point and spoke Psalm 23 over me several times.
Bring a fun lipstick to the delivery and put it on after your babe is born!
Shower at the hospital and wash your hair, if you’re able to.
Ask the nurses for tons of extras before you leave - peri bottles, cold packs, the protective pad that was on your recovery bed, pads disposable underwear, newborn diapers, etc.
COMING HOME TIPS
Ask for help! It was amazing to have my parents with us for the first week to help feed us, take out trash, play with our son and help with household tasks
Shower everyday no matter what! Honestly, I've showered more since having this baby than I ever did before hehe
Every morning, I put on a lil bit of mascara, brush my teeth, do my skincare routine and make sure I feel clean and comfortable. It truly doesn’t take long and it makes me feel less tired and more "myself".
Go for neighborhood walks as soon as possible! Even if just to the corner for a quick snack or to get fresh air. We went to a local restaurant for "Taco Tuesday" just 3 days after our son's birth and it felt empowering to integrate him into our regular rhythms right away.
When you have to pee...pee. Don’t feel guilty about putting your baby down. You definitely don’t want a UTI (!) and it's important to take care of your own physical needs too.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. This has been key for me.
Hydrate. Leave water bottles everywhere and ask your spouse to keep them filled . Bonus: get long straws.
Eat nourishing foods. I've found that bone broth and soup are easy to consume in a mug. Anything with forks and knives is tricky right now since I’m breastfeeding this guy all the time!
Try different things (swaddles, feeding positions, etc.) and if something doesn’t work. Don’t get too attached to anything or beat yourself up if something isn’t how you planned.
Keep a lined Post-It pad by your bedside with a pen to jot down reminders.
Give yourself grace. Give your spouse grace. Make sure your beloved knows he’s doing great too and tell him exactly what you need to be comfortable and cared for.
Laugh a lot.
Lean into the tired. Rest your eyes whenever you can.
Put a peri bottle in each bathroom along with pads or pantyliners so you can stay fresh throughout the day!
"Practice” getting out of the house with all the new gear. Try on the Baby Björn. Open and close the stroller. Laugh when it all goes wrong. We are still figuring all the baby stuff out!
Not a lot of women know that the hospital will actually send you home with some pretty amazing FREE items! Don't be shy about asking for additional supplies before you are discharged.
Our hospital sent me home with:
Disposable underwear (I also bought some of these when I ran out of the hospital ones!)
1 pack of Huggies Newborn Diapers
1 pack of dry wipes
3 peri bottles
The first week of our son's birth, I was staring down at him for so many hours a day that I strained my neck. It literally hurt to turn my head! Since then, I've been more mindful of using good posture, sleep on a heating pad and take ibuprofen as needed.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for more!