A story hit the news in the last week about how women sharing birth stories in popular forums is giving some a very real fear of natural birth. It’s even got a name- tocophobia. This could be the cue to give a warts and all ‘my story’ but you don’t need to hear it. No one birth experience is the same so it would be of little help. What I will do though is give some practical tips from my experience…
DO take a wee sample in to hospital with you. I wasn’t told I’d need one and trying to pee into a test tube with a TENs machine taped to my back inbetween mighty big contractions was probably my biggest achievement after having Harriet!
(While we’re talking TENs machines DO have masking tape to hand. No really. My poor husband spent much of the 24 hours before we went to hospital taping it around me like I was an oversized, awkward shaped parcel. The sticky pads are anything but once you’ve been going a few hours!)
DON’T bother with distractions/leisurely pursuits in your maternity bag unless you’re going in to be induced or have a planned caesarean. One of my friends took a ‘Who Wants to Be A Milionaire’ game. Surprisingly it didn’t make it out of the bag. We laugh at the absurdity of that now. She and her husband played a better, pain-induced game of ‘Who got us into this mess in the first place’.
DO remember to keep in touch with your family. I naively assumed that my husband telling them we were on our way to hospital was enough and that they’d simply carry on with their day until we got in touch to say the baby was here. Apparently there was lots of wearing down the hall carpet and calls to each other to see if anybody knew anything. Sorry parents!
DO eat the post-labour toast. It will be the best toast you will ever eat. Ever. Fact. It’s like angels have spread the freshest butter from cows in the lushest fields on bread made from grains milled in Utopia. In reality it’s probably a savers loaf and a bulk buy ‘tastes like butter’ spread.
DON’T bother with paper maternity knickers. They’re pointless. They never fit, rustle and any slight activity results in two elastic bands being left round your legs and fresh air everywhere else(!) Take your old, manky grey, comfy pants instead.
DO dress your baby. You get handed your baby in a towel, probably with the assumption that you will dress it. That assumption was lost on us. Having no prior baby experience and being a little shell shocked we just left poor Harriet in her towel in her cot and just stared at her. When we did get the nudge to dress her there was an emergency trip to get some vests. Babygros we knew about- the fact you put vests under them was news to us!
DON’T forget to thank your midwife and the nursing and support teams. The staff at Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital (Arrowe Park) couldn’t do enough. Take a card in with you or send one afterwards. These staff see and support us at our most vulnerable and during the ultimate life-changing experience, so if they’ve done a good job let them know.