Photos taken by Sarah Ollis of Honest Abel Photography in San Antonio, TX.
Labor gown from Kindred Bravely, found here.
As you all know, I have all things labor and delivery on my mind! As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect and spent hours googling things like “what do contractions feel like,” “how will I know I’m in labor,” “when should I get an epidural,” “pros and cons of natural childbirth,” and SO MUCH MORE. I was a woman possessed, and the unknown was so scary to me especially since it concerned pain. Luckily, I had the most straightforward, easy labor and birth ever and it really wasn’t as terrifying as I was expecting. This time around, I was much calmer but still apprehensive since every labor is different and I still didn’t know what to expect.
I’ve gathered several of my mama friends (from real life/Instagram/blogging) and asked them for pieces of advice that they would give to first time moms who were wondering what labor and delivery is like. These women come from all walks of life, had very different birth experiences, and have so much to offer in terms of what to expect when it comes to labor and delivery! I’m so grateful to all of them who contributed, and am so excited to have so much wealth and knowledge accumulated in one place.
So whether you’re that first time mom who is stressing out, or the second or third time mom who just needs a refresher, kick back and enjoy reading the advice that these real moms have generously offered to YOU!
“Your body will instinctively know what to do. You’ll plan as much as you can (because that’s what we do with our babies), but when you’re there in the hospital ready to deliver, it will all move forward so perfectly with the help of your nurses and doctor, whether you deliver naturally or by c-section. They do this all the time. Before you know it, you’ll have your beautiful baby (or babies) in your arms. Just enjoy the moment.” Cassie S.
“Don’t let the fear get to you. Fear of the delivery. Fear of an epidural or natural birth or c section. Fear of your doctor not being there if it’s the middle of the night. Fear of the first poop. These are all things that will be on your mind. But just remember that the labour and delivery is only a couple of days in this life long adventure. You will soon have an amazing miracle in your arms and it makes all those fears worth it. Enjoy every moment (some more than others!) and remember to just breath. You’ve got this mama. You were built for it and you will be amazing!” Kristy M.
“My advice coming from my personal experience is to have your birth plan well-established with your husband and your OB or midwife so that there’s less confusion in the chaos of labor. I even usually bring a simple birth plan that I give to the nurse once I’m there. But in the same breath I’d say to be flexible. Certain things might not go according to plan, and in the end you have to remember everyone there is working towards the same goal of healthy mom and healthy baby.” Elizabeth @purelyparsons
“My biggest piece of advice that I tell all my girlfriends is to make sure your spouse/partner/whoever is there with you… make sure they EAT! During labor with my son, the nurses told me to eat while I could because pretty soon the contractions would start making my nauseous and I wouldn’t want to eat. About 6 p.m. we ordered dinner from hospital room service but while we were waiting, suddenly my contractions got really intense. I had already been in labor for about 15 hours, and the pain went through the roof and I ordered the epidural. No more food for me. However, because I couldn’t eat, my husband didn’t end up eating much either. Fast forward to when I started pushing at 3 a.m…My husband hadn’t eaten much and he got really lightheaded and dizzy. The nurse had me stop pushing when his face turned white and was afraid he’d pass out. She brought him peanut butter + crackers with some juice and we all took a 15 minute break while he ate his snack. It made for a funny story after the fact, but now we tell everyone to pack plenty of snacks and make sure to eat them!!!” Rachel Dorr
From a nurse’s perspective, bringing some treats for your nurses is always appreciated, or even some pre-written thank you cards for those who you felt really made a difference. We don’t get that often, and it’s so appreciated when we do.” Elizabeth @purelyparsons
“As a mama that went in for her weekly scheduled appointment at 38 weeks and was sent to the hospital from there at 7 cm dilated, the best advice I can give is to be flexible. Plans, whether small or large can and will change and you need to be willing to accept that. Trust your body and the advice you will receive when the time comes, it will lead you to meeting your beautiful babe!” Nicolle S. @wolfandlittleco
“Probably the most important thing I would tell a new mom is to never be afraid or too intimidated to question things that are happening. Voice your concerns and always know that you have a say in the matter and you never HAVE to do something. These doctors and nurses are working for you and you’re paying good money to get that service so never be afraid to speak up and make decisions you feel are right for you and your baby.” Elizabeth @purelyparsons
“As a new mom speaking to a first time expecting mama- take a deep breath. All that they need when they enter this world is what you already have, and that is yourself and your love.” Courtney @courtney.tracy
“Since I delivered our third boy 3 weeks ago, I would say two things for me that stick out in my mind with labor and delivery would be…. Don’t feel the need to be a hero. You already are one for birthing life, your birth story is uniquely and wonderfully yours. And prepare to want an ice diaper, you won’t want to be standing or exerting much energy for a bit, and that’s okay, you have a new baby to smell and kiss and cuddle. And give yourself grace, grace, grace, when nursing .” Marian @marianelizabeth
“Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Giving birth is going to be the greatest workout of your life and it’s normal to need to rest and recover after that. If you need someone else to hold your baby so you can take a break, that’s okay! Also if you want an epidural, tell your nurse as soon as you’re admitted so she can be your advocate in getting that pain relief ASAP!” Casey A.
“Hey first time mama–here’s what I can tell you. It’s going to be everything and nothing like you expected. You’ll want to remember it all; so when you’re in those final moments before you hold that new baby take a second, close your eyes and take it all in. You’re about to experience the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Truth is, everyone’s experience is different but that feeling is the same for us all. Enjoy it! As crazy as that sounds.” Caroline @raisingaveandlaik
“Have a support system in place, whether that be through a doula or midwife team that you trust, or family or friends. For my first birth I used a doula since my family doesn’t live nearby and it was so helpful during labor. For my second, I had family visiting so I had my mom and sister in the room with me, despite being nervous about that. They were constantly encouraging me and helping with whatever I needed. The other thing I’d recommend is using birth affirmations. I used the website http://www.positivebirthstories.com/affirmations/ and read them over to myself the weeks before birth, and then when I went into labor. I found them to be so helpful and really helped me feel in control during labor!” Jen @theholtsathome
“The one piece of advice that I can give is that I would urge you to not stress too much. I know that that might seem impossible as you are trying to take care of your brand new baby, but don’t let these precious moments pass you by. Cherish every opportunity you have to snuggle your baby as you feed them. Savor the moments where you can just sit there and watch them sleep. Capture in your memory how precious their tiny fingers and toes are. Be grateful for the times you wake up in the middle of the night to take care of that amazing baby. Because before you know it, those moments will be gone. It happens in the blink of an eye and you can’t get that time back. Enjoy every moment.” Beth P.
“Labor is hard and intense and you will want to quit. But you won’t. You will dig down deep and find a strength you didn’t know you had. After all of the pain and struggle you will be rewarded in the most amazing way imaginable.” Lenae @lenae_hamman
“Go into labor with a plan…and a back up plan. I planned on having an epidural so I didn’t learn anything about natural ways of coping with contraction pains. My labor progressed so quickly that my epidural didn’t have time to kick in and I was terrified by the fact that I could feel things when it was time to push. Luckily I had an amazing OB who coached me, but next time I’ll do the research and come better prepared!” Casey A.
There ya have it! I would have loved as much advice as I could get my hands on the first time around so I hope you find this helpful!