I went to a baby shower last weekend for a young mom in her early 20s. I was at least 10 years older than anyone else in the room. They never treated me as the old lady. It was very nice of them.
They asked if I had any advice for young moms-to-be from someone who has been there a few times. I love that they asked. I am not a medical professional. I am just a woman who has had 8 pregnancies. This is what I have learned.
If you are an experienced mom, feel free to chime in.
You are a unique individual. What is the norm for 90% of the population may not be true for you at all. Learn to listen to your own body and your own instincts as much as you listen to medical personnel. If something doesn't sound or feel right, speak up.
Be friendly with the nurse who is assigned to care for you. She can be your biggest advocate and help. We all work harder for people we like. Nurses are no different.
Make the decision not to care if you offend the doctors or hurt the nurses feelings. It is your body. You deserve to be comfortable with any procedures being done to you. If you're not comfortable, they need to explain it until you are. You have the right to never be comfortable and just say 'no'. They have to respect the decisions you make for your own care. If they don't, you have the right to have someone else take care of you. Ask for the some one else.
Be open minded enough that you can be persuaded if you need to be.
If you know that you can't speak up,hire a doula. She'll have the knowledge and expertise Let your husband take care of you emotionally. Let her ask all of the nosy questions you can't bring yourself to argue about. She'll have the knowledge you don't and a relationship with the hospital staff already in place. Alternatively, bring your nosy, bitchy friend. We all have one. Make sure she's already had a couple of kids so that she knows what she's talking about. Give her permission to ask anything she wants to know and to demand answers.
Your husband, your friend, your mom, and your doula are not in your body. They can't know what you are feeling unless you speak up and tell them. Labor always looks scary and painful to new dads, so don't expect him to instinctively know that you are in more pain. You have to tell him. If he doesn't get it, tell anyone who walks into the room. You'd be surprised how quickly the janitorial staff will get someone to help you.
Unless you have medical reasons for needing one, you don't necessarily need an IV, an epidural, or an episiotomy. If you don't want one, talk to your doctor or midwife before you go into labor. You have a better chance of getting someone to listen when you are calm and rational. It's hard to get people to consider you to be rational if you are in active labor. You may be completely rational, but good luck getting anyone to realize that.
When I was in labor with #1, the nurse tried to stretch my cervix to get me to deliver faster. It was excruciating and tore my cervix. There is a difference between discomfort and excruciating pain. If you are crawling backwards up the bed to get away, tell her to get her hand out of there and DEMAND another nurse. Put your foot in the middle of her chest and push her away if you have to, firmly but gently. I don't care where the doctor wants to be or when he wants to be there. If he wanted to live by a schedule, he should have been a dermatologist.
Don't give in to the pressure for pitocin just to speed things up. Have them explain their reasoning, then make your own decision. There are valid uses for pitocin. A 4 o'clock tee time is not one of them.
From the very beginning, your baby is your baby and you are his mom. There is nothing done within the first few moments after he is born which cannot wait (unless there are medical issues). You may tick off the baby nurse by not handing over your newborn to be weighed, measured and what-not right away. This is your child. You get to say 'No'.
If you want to catch your breath before you hold the baby, it does not make you a bad mom to let them do all the medical stuff before you hold the baby. Catch your breath if you need to do it. There are no hard and fast rules for this mothering thing. Do what feels right for you in the moment and make no apologies.
If you want the baby in your room, you or your husband should go with him when he goes anywhere and make sure he is brought quickly back. It doesn't mean you are an overprotective or crazy mom. #3 once spent 4 hours in the nursery because the nurse forgot to bring him back and then shift change happened and he couldn't go anywhere until the new shift had been briefed.
If you would rather your newborn spend the night in the nursery so that you can recover from giving birth and catch a bit of sleep before you take him home, he'll be fine in the nursery. It doesn't mean you don't love him. He will be fine. Just make sure that if you are breastfeeding you give instructions as to whether or not he can be given a bottle as you sleep or if you would rather he be brought to you to eat.
Don't assume that doctors or lactation consultants know everything about breastfeeding.
Don't assume that your doctor is supportive of breastfeeding. If it is important to you, stand your ground against formula unless it is medically necessary. Make sure you agree that it is medically necessary.
If you are breastfeeding, invest in a baby scale to reassure yourself that he's getting enough to eat. Educate yourself as to what is normal weight gain. Don't freak out if your baby is outside of the "perfect norm."
There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby formula. Generations have been raised on it. Your baby will be fine.
Decide ahead of time if you want visitors at the hospital or at home. Be honest with family and friends about what you want. It is okay to change your mind once the baby is here.
Ask questions about everything. Don't accept the staus quo just because people tell you "This is the way we do this." You are responsible for this little person and you are responsible for you. Make sure that both of you are treated with love and respect.
The bottom line is that you are a grown woman now. These are adults talking to another adult. Remember that. They are not better than you, they just have more education about medicine. You are the expert on you. Talk to them that way. Expert to expert.
You are a strong and powerful woman. Give yourself permission to be that woman.
If things don't go the way you thought they would, learn from it and move on. It's really all about you, your husband, and your sweet baby.