Facing childbirth the second time around is a very different experience. While every pregnancy and every birth is unique I do have an idea of what to expect this time. Perhaps in contradiction, I not only know that I am capable of getting through this, I also am more open to medical intervention. I am more trusting in my midwife practice to guide me either way and I trust more in my own ability to make decisions in the moment, something I was very unsure of before.
I became pretty overwhelmed emotionally as we got closer to our due date with Haines. Like 100% totally terrified. Although I was constantly reassured that my body was built for this, I still maintain that being totally terrified is a legit way to feel. That shit’s no joke and you have no idea which way it could go. There’s only so much you can control as well. Once you become pregnant, you’re no longer in control. There’s this tiny little being announcing its needs, subtly or loudly, and they can sometimes conflict with your own.
It’s great to have a plan. It’s great to have an idea of what you’re hoping for or what your limits are but the best you can do is build your toolbox.
Prenatal yoga// I’ve talked about this in detail before. I’m a big fan of prenatal yoga. I feel like it taught me patience, calm in the face of chaos and the ability to breath through discomfort. It also gave me physical strength and flexibility in preparation for the physical act of labor.
Hydration// All medical professionals tell you to drink up when you’re pregnant. It gets old, but it can prevent preterm labor. Put your big girl/mama undies on and drink more. Infuse it, flavor it, do what it takes.
Get physical// My exercise regularity has really dropped off but I’m still trying to get moving as much as possible. My work offers fitness classes Monday through Friday and I try to make it to at least two. I spend most of class making modifications, which pisses me off, but I’m going to try to keep going. I constantly have to remind myself to prioritize exercise over work or just life as I know it made me more physically ready for labor and helped in my recovery previously. Can’t stop, won’t stop, right? (Until I can’t take it and then I’ll be taking a lot of tiny walks.)
Read up, but don’t go crazy// I’ve known moms on both ends of the “I google everything” spectrum. One of my coworkers purposely read nothing around labor. She felt like more knowledge was going to be too terrifying. Most other women I know read obsessively about it. I purposely have kept away from the Internet (I mean, as much as I can- I’m only human!) as too much information feels dangerous but I did read The Birth Partner which I found helpful for pain management tips. I also forced Tyler to read it.
Go with the flow// Mentally prepare yourself for a drastic change in plans. As in all things with a baby, there are only things you can impact. There is nothing you can control. You can’t control another person right? It feels like you should be able to as they’re living inside you but no way, no how. During labor with Haines I tried eating (nope), taking a bath (nope), using a warm sock filled with rice on my back (nope), walking (not really) to help me manage the pain but none of my prepared activities worked with how I felt. I sat in the recliner with my eyes closed and Tyler held my hand. I couldn’t tolerate anything else.
Get support// I think one of the most important things you can control (for the most part) is who your support/medical team is. You can choose a doctor or midwife who you feel comfortable with and who agrees with your general philosophy on medicine. You can also add in a doula to advocate for you and coach you through the process. It’s expensive but for many it’s a great additional member to your team.
We opted not to do a doula as Tyler wanted our experience to be more intimate. I was on the fence about it as Tyler’s been known to be super queasy/light-headed with blood, etc. In the end, we were fine. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The most important thing I told Tyler was that I was never to be left alone once I started laboring. Mission accomplished.
Remember the end goal// There are only two things that really matter in the end. It’s that you and baby are healthy. Sometimes that means going against what we had hoped for our birth plans. It can mean incredibly difficult situations, but as long as you and baby come out okay everything else will work itself out. Try not to get too wrapped up in the rest.