A recent college grad and college athlete. Eight months into marriage and stricken with baby fever. Wanting badly to be a mom (or maybe just in love with the concept).
And then…2 months later…
I was pregnant!
No sooner had a crossed the threshold into true adulthood than I was on my way to motherhood. I was shocked and excited…and totally unprepared!
When I look back at myself from where I am now, seven years down the road, I think….aww, poor girl. She had no idea what she was doing. She needed some guidance!
Do you feel like this is you?
If so, then you’ve come to the right place! You’ll find other posts in my blog about all things pregnancy and postpartum related. Many of these things are valuable nuggets of wisdom that I either learned from someone else or learned along the way. In this post, I’m going to recap my first pregnancy and birth, what I learned, and what did and didn’t work.
My first pregnancy brought me many surprises. To begin with, I had no idea that I would be completely zapped of all my energy in my first trimester. I was a half-day math teacher at that time, so I would go to my car right after lunchtime and sleep until my husband clocked out. I would hear students laugh and make fun of me, but I didn’t care. Because you realize later (like during birth) that you lose just a little bit of dignity when you’re a mom.
My second trimester came, and with it, renewed energy and strength. I stayed faithful working out, and my belly didn’t even show until I was well into my 5th month. It was a fairly smooth second trimester.
My third trimester was also pretty smooth (I can say, looking back after my fourth baby). I was even running on the treadmill into my 7th month and only stopped because of the pleas of my mother in law. And then I got to my last month of pregnancy…which lasted what felt like forever. I was tired all the time, but thankfully I had no other kiddos at that time so I could rest all day if I wanted.
I remember where I was when I went into labor. My hubby and I had gone to a volleyball game, where I waddled my way into my bleacher seat. Even though I was full term, I still wasn’t very big and the baby was still pretty high. My former coach even said, “You look like you still have a long way to go.” I was like, nooooo….
We got home after the game and I did some squats. I had heard that that helped bring on labor, so I tried it. And surprisingly, I started having what I assumed to be contractions shortly afterward. I wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not, so I started timing them to see if they were consistent at all.
When they were coming every 5 minutes for about 30 minutes, I told my hubby, “Let’s go to the hospital NOW!”. I look back at this moment and laugh. Back then, I had no idea how long labor would take and I was afraid of accidentally giving birth in the car (like I’d seen in movies).
Contractions continued consistently, and I was full of adrenaline. I remember thinking, This is actually going to happen! So we raced to the hospital, which was about 30 minutes away. My hubby asked if I wanted to stop somewhere to grab some food first. I declined, not wanting to waste any time (after all, I didn’t want a car birth).
They checked me at the hospital and I was a whopping 3 cm. They put me on the IV and told me that I’d still have several hours before the baby was born. I was stunned. Several...hours? I thought. All of a sudden I was aware of how hungry I was. I asked if I could go get some food and come back, and they politely declined me. They told me that I could no longer eat until after I delivered. I was offered all the high fructose corn syrup popsicles I wanted, but nothing else (somebody tell me what’s wrong with this picture).
I regretted not stopping to get food, and when I look back at that, and knowing what I know now, I would have done things a whole lot differently. But I’ll discuss this below. Onto the birth.
I wanted to see if I could have a natural birth. It was actually more of a hope, which I realized later, because I did nothing to prepare for one. You can read more about my tips for an easy natural birth here.
I labored until I was 6 cm, and then I was flat out exhausted. It was close to midnight by this time, and I didn’t think I could handle another 4 hours or so without sleep. So I went ahead and got the epidural.
And it was awesome! I was able to go to sleep and was awakened by the nurses when it was time to push the baby out. I pushed for 30 minutes, with the nurses’ guidance, and my first child was born!
It was surreal, and I was very thankful to the Lord for causing this birth to be a success. There are things I did well, and there are things that I could have done differently. So here’s my analysis of what worked and what didn’t:
Trusting in the Lord
I didn’t know what to expect during labor and delivery, and was honestly a bit anxious. But I clung to God and put my hope and trust in Him. I trusted that He would help my birth to be successful and without complications. And He was faithful! His peace was over me as I was in labor, and I was calm during labor and birth.
Staying in shape
I started out my pregnancy in really good shape. I found out I was pregnant just 2 months after finishing college volleyball, so my body was still pretty tight. But I continued maintaining my fitness and working out either everyday or every other day.
I think this was one of the main reasons that I was able to bounce back so quickly after my birth. Staying in shape also made my body strong enough to carry the baby without suffering back pain.
I recommend walking and doing some kind of strength training (with or without weights) during your pregnancy. You’ll be doing yourself a favor!
Investing in a pregnancy belt
I bought this pregnancy belt at a store early in my first pregnancy because it looked like it would come in handy. And it definitely did.
You can use it to be able to wear pre-pregnancy pants unbuttoned, but I mainly used it like a support sock. I’ve used it for all four of my pregnancies and I can honestly say that it helped me be able to be more active during pregnancy. I was coaching during my third and fourth pregnancies, and I wore it to every practice and tournament for support.
Having my hospital bag prepped
When you’re in labor (especially for your first time), you don’t have time to think about all the things you need to gather for your hospital stay. I prepped a bag (I think in about my 8th month) and wrote on a sticky note all that I would need to grab at the last minute (phone chargers, makeup bag, etc.).
I’ve packed a very strategic hospital bag for my last two babies. It’s very minimal (I definitely overpacked with my first baby). It included:
- a nightgown
- nipple cream
- breast pads
- a nursing bra
- toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, face soap, lotion)
- my nursing cover
- an outfit or two for the baby
- my postpartum girdle (my favorite!)
- my Boppy
- a hairbrush
As a side note, I put together a list of things that I recommend doing while in postpartum recovery. If you get these done while you’re in the hospital, I promise you will thank yourself when you get home!
Resting is almost a given when you’re pregnant. Some times, you can’t even help it-you fall asleep almost wherever you go!
I highly recommend making rest a priority during your pregnancy. You may have to rearrange your schedule, delegate some responsibilities or whatever to be able to get rest. Do what you need to for this season…after all, your body is creating another human!
What didn’t work:
Eating for 2
I read an article at some point during my pregnancy that said you aren’t supposed to eat for 2, you’re supposed to eat for “1.1”. But…that’s not what everybody else around me said. They’d say, “eat some more, because now you’re eating for two.” So I did.
And that didn’t work, my friend.
Had I not done that, I don’t think think I would have added 29 pounds and who knows how many extra inches. Even though I’ve heard that the normal weight gain is somewhere between 30-40 pounds, I could tell that I’d gained unnecessary weight by eating too much. But I learned. And I tried my best not to repeat that mistake in my following pregnancies.
Not taking quality supplements
It was only in my third pregnancy that I could look back and say, man, I wish I had taken some awesome supplements in my first two pregnancies!
I took these prenatals in my third and fourth pregnancies and I have never looked back. They are filled raw nutrition that will boost your energy and nourish your body!
One of the biggest differences these vitamins made was that in my last two postpartums, my hair didn’t fall out. Shortly after my first birth, I lost so much hair that it scared me. I seriously thought I was going to go bald! I’d be in the shower washing my hair and chunks of hair would come out. You can imagine how frightened I was after this happened for several weeks!
I realized later that I had not properly nourished my body during pregnancy. So for my last two births, I made sure I was taking the highest quality supplements I could find. And it made such a difference! I didn’t lose any hair at all after my third and fourth births.
Not doing any research
I really wanted to try for a natural birth during this pregnancy. The thought of it scared me a bit, but I always thought about women of old who had no other choice. And they always seemed to have a lot of kids, so how bad could it really be?
Needless to say, I didn’t have a natural birth. I was too scared of tearing and decided I couldn’t possibly go without anymore sleep.
I learned later that I’d really done nothing to prepare for natural birth during this pregnancy except hope. If I’d spent time learning, I believe I could have easily had a successful natural birth, especially with how in shape I still was from college volleyball.
Not using a natural energy booster
I got these deliciously awesome natural energy boosters during my fourth pregnancy and I was like, why have I not heard of these before? They gave me the natural boost of energy I needed (especially while taking care of 3 other kiddos!).
I’m a coffee drinker. I really really like coffee. But of course, you’re limited to how much you can have when you’re pregnant. So I was grateful when I found these energy boosting drink packets that provided the boost I would look for with coffee, only in a natural way!
Not eating a nourishing diet
I’ll admit that I haven’t always been the real food advocate I am now. My version of eating healthy back then was to make sure I ate some veggies and not eat too much sugar. Which these things are still the case, only I’ve revamped our whole diet to be as nourishing as possible.
If I had known enough about proper nutrition and Nourishing Traditions then, I would have invested in it in a heartbeat. I did it when I was in my third pregnancy and it completely changed the way my family ate. And I think this is the primary reason we hardly ever get sick. 🙂
So this is my analysis of my first birth. I hope this provides you with some insight to make positive adjustments during your pregnancy so that you can have the smooth experience you’re wanting. 🙂