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What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Giving Birth (From 40 Different Moms)

  • October 19, 2018
  • By Samantha Kozy
What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Giving Birth (From 40 Different Moms)

As a pregnant woman about to give birth to my first child, there’s a lot of people out there who want to give you advice. Actually, it feels like being pregnant turns you into a walking billboard for unsolicited advice. This can be incredibly annoying, but there is something to be said about learning from the people who came before you.

I’m part of an awesome Facebook community of moms in the Metro Detroit area, and I recently reached out to them to ask them what they wish someone had told them before giving birth. This group of moms was so giving in their feedback. I have to warn you, though, some of these suggestions are not for the faint of heart (or the weak of stomach)…but neither is motherhood, I guess!

Before going into the quotes from the moms, I want to say that we have to remember that everyone’s experience is different and what happened or works for one person may not be the case for another.

For me, some of my biggest takeaways from the feedback are: the importance of setting up clear boundaries, watching out for signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, being kind to yourself, and asking for help.

I’m breaking the feedback down into FOUR categories: labor and delivery, post-delivery (in the hospital), feeding, and the weeks following birth. Here’s what the moms had to say:

Labor and Delivery

“My water broke, and every time I would bend or move, it would GUSH again! I had no idea that would happen. After changing pants/underwear twice, I only moved when necessary and sat on a towel and trash bag on the way to the hospital.”

“Your water doesn’t always break like you see in the movies. Sometimes they have to break it for you after hours and hours of laboring.”

That you [very well might] poop on the delivery table…doesn’t matter….and they won’t tell you if you did or not…LOL!”

“No one told me about the shakes surrounding giving birth. It can happen with vaginal delivery or c section. I thought something was seriously wrong and terrified!  was uncontrollably shaking after birth, didn’t know what was happening. With my second, it happened before giving birth. Totally normal but can be alarming!”

“Back Labor is a thing….. don’t ignore back pain that could be contractions!!”

“If you’re having or end up needing to have a c-section be aware that they strap your arms down. I didn’t know this and would have really liked to know that this was going to happen ahead of time.”

“One contraction at a time! You don’t need to conquer the whole birth. Just ride the wave of each one the best you can! Try to stay focused on just that one! Remember , you can do ANYTHING-as long as you know it’s not forever!”

“I had no idea that I would feel the “ring of fire” pain of delivery, even with the epidural. It was a great help for the contractions, but I was not at all prepared for feeling everything below the abdomen. I was so mad at my mom friends [for not giving me the heads up on this one]!”

Expect the unexpected! The best laid plans often go astray but it all works out in the end. And none of it lasts forever. Postpartum is 6 weeks from hell but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t last forever and you will get though. Promise! Ask for help.”


“It’s ok to say NO or to ask people to leave. Pregnancy, delivery, then caring for a newborn is exhausting. Don’t feel like you have to please or host anyone.”

*Someone followed that up with this…“I wish I had known to make friends and family wait to come visit. Those first hours after birth you will want/need to snuggle and cuddle and be alone with your baby, especially if you are breastfeeding you will need privacy to get the baby to latch, etc…and having a ton of people around is distracting. I thought for sure I would want everyone to meet baby immediately – I didn’t realize how much privacy I really actually needed. I spent the first hours naked from waist up trying to feed and have skin to skin and nurses kept coming in to check on me and push on my stomach. You need privacy.”

**Another person followed up with this as a great suggestion for managing expectations beforehand… “Maybe having a conversation before going into labor would have helped, just to put out there that depending on how labor goes you may or may be ready for visitors right away.”

“Bring a pillow and your own towel to the hospital! It will help you feel human. First shower after baby is OMG the best!”

No one told me how hungry you will be after delivery, and everything takes forever at that point (cleaning you and baby, paperwork, getting ready to switch rooms, etc…), so bring food in for post delivery.”

“Don’t try to be a hero. Recovery is painful. If you need help with the pain, take what they are offering you.”

“Hire a postpartum doula for the first two weeks if it’s within your means. The extra support [from someone who is an expert in postpartum care] is incredible.”

“You will continue to have contractions after you deliver and they are painful, especially if you’re nursing.”

“Take as many of the mesh underwear from the hospital as you can…”

“I wish someone told me about how they push on your stomach several times after you’ve deliver so it feels like you are just peeing blood.”

“If you deliver vaginally, they make you pee before going to maternity from your delivery room. It can be difficult to do after pushing for hours ( all those muscles are tired and confused). Try sitting with just one butt cheek on the seat and leaning over a tad so your “push” muscles relax enough to pee.”

Another mom (who is a post surgical urology/GI unit), added “a trick if you need to pee and can’t is try blowing bubbles through a straw into a cup of water. It relaxes the muscles of your pelvic floor and encourages you to pee!”

“You can pass blood clots postpartum for weeks after delivery and sometimes they can be very very large and scary! It’s normal. I had a friend that put one in a Ziploc bag to show her doctor because she was freaked out! Gross, but I wished I had known this ahead of time.”

“Bake something ahead of time to take to the nursing staff [because you are going to want to thank them]!”


“I wish I was more prepared for how difficult breastfeeding would be in the beginning! Not sure why but for some reason I thought that the baby would just latch and that it would be natural and easy but I really struggled in the first few weeks and had to work at it to get to a place where I was comfortable. Definitely recommend taking a breastfeeding class if you plan on nursing.”

*Another mom added: “Yes! And take it with your husband!”

“(If you are breastfeeding), the day your milk comes in is a huge rush of hormones. Be really gentle with yourself. It’s like pregnancy hormones amplified. Warn your husband…seriously. In the hospital you will fall more in love with him than ever before. The day your milk comes in, you’ll be wondering why you chose him to have kids with! It does settle down, but the initial hormone rush is intense.”

“I didn’t know that not everyone gets milk right away. I got my milk 7-8 days in due to the c-section and other birth trauma that happened – my milk supply was still not be enough and it was tough coping with that the first week – find a lactation consultant you like and stick with them – remember that a fed baby is a healthy baby.”

“Breastfeeding wasn’t for me and that’s ok! As long as your baby is fed that is all that matters. Be prepared to try lots of new things to see what works for your baby. Try to find someone who is going through this journey at the same time. Makes you feel more sane that you’re not going through this alone.”

“With my first kid, I had a nurse who told me breastfeeding is “like riding a bike” when I asked [a nurse] for help…um no it’s not!! Ask for help if you decide to breastfeed and you need help.” <– What this nurse said pissed a lot of moms off in the thread!

The First Few Weeks

“Write down your entire experience as soon as you can. How long you pushed, what time you went into labor, what medications they gave you, etc. You’ll want to remember (plus, other soon-to-be moms will ask you) and if you don’t document it right away, you’ll forget a lot.”

(I just have to say, I love this first piece of advice a lot) “I had no idea how anxious I would be with taking her in the car, and having her cry. I learned such a great tool for the new mom anxiety called “5 things I know”. When she was crying in the car I would think about things I knew “I know she is safe. I know I will feed her as soon as I can. I know we will reach our destination in x minutes”…etc.”

“Stock pile stool softeners.”

I want to be friends with this mom: “You are allowed to say no, and you SHOULD say no to other people. ‘No, you may not hold my baby when you have a cold.’ ‘No, we do not want any visitors right now.’ ‘No, I do not have to make the same decisions you made.’ ‘No, I did not do the laundry.’ You can (and should) tell people what they can do to help. ‘While I feed the baby, would you please load the dishwasher?’ ‘Would you please cuddle the baby while I shower?’ ‘Since you’re coming to visit, would you please pick up dinner/my Kroger ClickList order, more diapers, etc?’ ‘Dear G-d, someone please walk this dog!!'”

“When people say sleep when the baby sleeps…It’s BS! Because you still have to take time to eat, drink, pee, poop (and that can be hard) so I tell new moms to do the best they can, get some rest even if it’s just laying on the couch and ask for help!”

“Postpartum Depression [and other perinatal mood disorders] is not something to be ashamed of – seek help!! Tell people you are overwhelmed, not sleeping, not eating, not showering, are yelling at your baby or want to hurt your baby (this one is important). Talk, talk, talk…don’t keep it in, no matter what you are feeling or thinking (even if you think someone will look at you funny).

“Don’t google anything in the middle of the night!”

“I honestly had no idea how much I would sweat (after birth)! Horrific amounts. And then the hair loss – I knew I’d lose some hair but it was coming out in clumps!”

“I wish someone would have mentioned that I might continue to look pregnant for quite a while after giving birth. I loved every minute of my first pregnancy but was very discouraged when I put on regular clothes and still looked pregnant and had someone ask me when I was expecting.”

“Don’t be surprised in the early days if you find that a piece of you is mourning the loss of your previous life. There’s definitely an adjustment period! I experienced that when I went from 0 to 1 and again from 1 to 2. I felt guilty for feeling that way, but I got over that hump quickly and now cannot imagine my life any other way.”

“This may be TMI, but I wish someone had warned me…when your milk is established after baby comes, when you have sex your boobs will fill with milk (even if you recently fed the baby) and you will start leaking (even possibly spraying) milk depending on your supply. So, just keep in mind that you may want to consider keeping a bra on or at least give your husband fair warning that you may become a human sprinkler system.”

Well, that seems to be a sufficiently alarming place to end! Haha! Thank you to all the moms who contributed! 

By Samantha Kozy, October 19, 2018

Samantha Kozy

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