As a mom, doula, and blogger, I am always trying to come up with content that is relevant and encouraging for my readers. I recently asked my friend Stephanie, momma of 11-week-old Maverick, what advice she would give to expecting mothers regarding pregnancy and childbirth. Her answers totally blew me away, and I knew I had to compile them in a blog post because they were just that good.
Let me give you a little back story. Stephanie and her husband Andrew are first time parents. They took childbirth and breastfeeding classes. They listened to birth and parenting podcasts. They hired a doula. They watched natural childbirth documentaries. They attended all of their prenatal doctor appointments. They took yoga classes. They wrote a birth plan. They prepared for having a baby in every way that they knew how.
And still, in the end, - they came face to face with their worst case scenario. Late in her pregnancy, Stephanie’s intuition told her that something was wrong when she began to notice less fetal movement than she was used to. After reporting her feelings to her midwife and receiving a few tests, it was clear that Maverick was in distress during each contraction and needed to be delivered before the contractions got even stronger. He was born via c-section that afternoon.
Stephanie reflects on how she felt following her emergency cesarean, and makes mention of having to make space for processing the expectations she initially had versus her undesired reality.
“I feel strongest about being an advocate for yourself and thinking through preferences in hospital labor. There’s so much that can get taken from your control, so it’s important to feel like you made your choices and were a participant instead of a body just standing by in the birth."
"And afterward - the mental space you walk through is so hard when expectations and reality are very different. Reconciling that and grieving your expectations is ok and important to do - it hurts a lot! I felt like I had failed in labor, I didn’t realize how much I had wrapped the idea of a vaginal birth as the best thing for my child and me that I really had a hard time afterward and felt like my body that I had spent 9 months telling myself to trust had failed me."
"But I didn’t fail - my intuition saved him. My body told me something was wrong. He is alive.”
And… pass the tissues. What a testament to how powerful our intuition is as mothers.
This rollercoaster of a time, as well as the immediate postpartum period, taught this new mom a whole lot about using her voice, pumping, and some sleep and diapering tricks. I hope that you, too, can find some gold in these little pieces of advice from a mom who is daily learning how to be the best momma possible to her little miracle boy.
Stephanie's Tips for Expecting & New Mommas
-Have a birth plan for every scenario. My midwife gave me a template that went through all the preferences and allowed me to visualize how my best ideal scenario would look and the best version of my worst case. I ended up with the worst and am glad to have had those preferences so I wasn’t making ALL the decisions in that emergency when it was really emotional.
-In the craziness, don’t be afraid to ask for a moment. I am really grateful for my doula, before my surgery she asked all the medical staff to leave the room in order to give me and my husband a moment. That was everything before the surgery - it gave us a moment of quiet and prayer in the midst of the storm.
-My baby had to go to NICU but I demanded to hold him before he was hooked up for monitoring. This isn’t always an option but I was not able to hold him for 3 days after - ask for the time you need with your baby.
-Hire a doula! This woman was a Godsend and spoke calm to us before, during, and after surgery. Knowing she had walked this path before and knew many of the staff was comforting, and having an advocate to ask us if we were ok or if we needed time to consider things was so helpful. It can be hard to find your voice with a room full of professionals and a baby needing help.
-Ask for help. This has been tough for me. I had to ask my husband to start taking some nights as I was not handling sleep deprivation well and I was starting to get angry and upset really easily, then feel terrible and upset that I felt that way. It’s been much better now that we are sharing the load - especially as I am with the baby most days all day long.
-Pump in Recovery Room. If you have a cesarean and your baby isn’t with you in recovery, try and pump early on to have something to keep you busy and take to your baby to eat.
-Pumping every 2 hours kept me sane when I was apart from our baby those first days and gave me motivation to get up and walk which has been super helpful in healing the incision.
-Don’t force yourself to be social. I took 6 weeks to be a hermit and bond with my son. If people came to visit it was for a maximum of an hour. Those first 6 weeks are a lot of sleep loss and boot camp, in order to be present and patient I needed to limit the hosting to a minimum.
-Apply Aquaphor after each diaper change - we haven’t had diaper rash yet.
-Sleep sacks are life! Our boy is into the sleep routine and cracks a huge smile when we wrap him up now.
-Put oil or nipple cream on nipples when pumping. I’ve got a strong pump and it hurts if I don’t lubricate! This was a total game changer.
"Take it easy and know that you can’t get everything done as you once did, but that being present for your baby is more important than anything else you could be doing. It takes a lot to stay grounded and present - our son is teaching me how to daily."
Thank you for sharing these amazing tips, Stephanie! If you had an emergency cesarean, or have an upcoming scheduled c-section, and have questions regarding any aspects of the process - drop a comment below. Stephanie would love to help walk you through this part of your journey and answer any questions you may have.