Top 10 Misconceptions and Tips About Childbirth and Newborns

It was just two years, two weeks, and one day ago my Lil Diva entered this world. It has brought a flood of memories barreling into me, both from her and The Tackler’s births.

Naturally, it makes the perfect fodder for my next top 10 list…

Top 10 Misconceptions & Tips About Childbirth & Newborns

10.   Second children always deliver faster. How I wish this was true. What they mean to say is “the pushing part is likely to go faster because your body has “been there, done that”. Lil Diva is proof birth order does not effect the rest of the labor process.

9.  It does not take long to get an epidural. This varies greatly. The Tackler took 90 minutes. Lil Diva took about 35 minutes. Both involved paperwork and being pumped full of fluids prior to the drug doctor ever showing up.

8.  They won’t give you an epidural if you’re close to delivery. FALSE. What this should say is, “They won’t give you an epidural if they know you’re close to delivery.”

Which means they have to check you. My doctors hadn’t in an hour. With both children I was pushing less than fifteen minutes after receiving the epidurals. With Lil Diva, I wanted to push before it had even taken effect.

She was born ten minutes later.

Nothing could get it off my skin, except finger nails... and I couldn't reach it.

7.  Beware of the evil adhesive tape. I didn’t have this with Lil Diva, but I did with The Tackler. Whatever the tape consisted of that was used to secure my IV line and my epidural was evil. It would not come off of my skin. The only way to remove it, was to have someone actually scrape it off with their nails – a challenge with a newborn who despised being set down for second.

6.  You are better off using a laptop to watch something instead of the TV. In my hospital the TV was tiny and far away. The remote was about as useless as Facebook’s new revamp. You couldn’t type in a number, and every time you turned on the TV, you started on the beginning channel. This meant you might have to scroll through over 100 channels to find the last station you were on – the TV lagging several seconds with each click.

Usually you can see the veins on the tops of your feet. And you have ankles. This happened to me post-birth, which I wasn't expecting (sorry for blurriness - the focal point of this shot was Lil Diva, my feet just happened to be in it).

5.  Your feet can swell after pregnancy. This is especially true if you had any drugs while in delivery because they pumped you full of fluids. My feet swelled to twice their size with both kids, and when I walked you could see the water swishing beneath the skin. They looked like water balloons.

4.  A fever and chills post-labor doesn’t always mean you’re sick. It could be the Super Secretive Milk Engorgement Fever/Chills. I had never heard the slightest hint something like this could happen until I happened to me. Twice. And I read a lot of baby books and online websites.

During the first 24-36 hours my milk came in, I had the worst cases of fever and chills since I had the chickenpox in third grade. I actually woke up CG during a very rare Both Parents Are Sleeping at the Same Time moment because my teeth chattered so loud. I bounced between roasting and subzero – with both children (one when it was 96 degrees outside, another in the 60s).

I was prepared for night sweats, but not this. I concluded it was milk related because every time I bent over, gravity would give a slight twinge to the porn star sized D cups I sported and a chill would race through me.

Every. Damn. Time. The shiver always began there.

Do you know how many times a you have to bend over with a newborn?

A lot.

True to mommy brain, I had completely forgotten about this odd side effect until the exact same thing happened with Lil Diva.

You are warned.

3.  The mother’s bladder function is unlikely to work at 100% ever again. The best kept secret, until you join our club.

2. Your child has to sleep in a crib or bassinet and always on their back. No and no! I slept five hours total over four days, because I thought this had to be true. Instead, my son would only sleep while being held, usually on me.

We learned to adapt. The Boppy was our friend and I would transfer him to other laps after nursing so I could sleep.

This was my son's bed... for two months. Because it worked.

The infant car seat became his pseudo crib until he was two months old, because he would actually sleep longer than ten minutes in it.

He slept in the baby carrier.

And when we moved him to a crib, we learned he liked to sleep on his side – he naturally rolled that way. So we let him and wondered if that was the real reason he wouldn’t sleep as an infant in a crib.

So the rule about sleeping newborns? Let them sleep anywhere they want.

They’ll grow out of it. Eventually.

1.   If someone offers you help, you say yes. In theory, you’re prepared for the lack of sleep a newborn brings. But when you combine it with swollen feet, stitches, adhesive tape, cracked skin, sore breasts, and an already crying baby – it overwhelms you.

So if someone asks “do you need anything?” say “yes please”.

And thank them. Profusely.

What do you wish you had known before you went into labor and/or brought your newborn home?


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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20 Responses to Top 10 Misconceptions and Tips About Childbirth and Newborns

  1. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    Very entertaining. I stopped at one. I’d never heard a second could be easier to deliver.

  2. Mean Mom says:

    The pathetic, deflated beach ball look that your stomach has after delivery – I cried in the shower for 10 minutes.

    • You mean the one that still looks eight months pregnant so you fear for the next few weeks traveling anywhere without your infant so no one asks, “When are you due?”

      I did find it depressing, but I also remember marveling how I could finally bend again.

  3. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    I wish someone would have mentioned how hard breastfeeding was. I never seemed to get it right and it hurts like a mother@&$! And I wish someone had told me to trust my instincts more than the public health nurses.
    Great post K.

    • How could I have forgotten this one???

      I didn’t mind breastfeeding the first day.

      But both children cluster fed and pretty much nursed constantly until my milk came in and it hurt like heck.

      Then my son decided to retract his tongue and put his full jaw power into nursing (thankfully Lil Diva did not). If you’ve ever put a finger in a babies mouth and not had the tongue cushioning the lower jaw, you know how powerful their chomp is, even without teeth.

      When my son was a week old I was desperate and in such pain I cringed and cried while nursing.

      I wanted to know WTF the “magical and beautiful moment” was.

      I saw a lactation specialist. She told me, “Your son has enough room to retract his tongue.”

      “How do I fix it?”

      “You can’t. They have to outgrow it.”

      Insert more crying.

      My son hadn’t gained weight for a few days because every time he latched, I disconnected him and redid it, figuring our hook up was wrong.

      It wasn’t.

      But I’m stubborn.

      The breast pump and I became linked.

      I only nursed my son about twice a day: once on each side. The other times he got a bottle of milk I’d pumped – it was too painful to nurse more than that.

      Between each feeding/pumping, I put this amazing cream on myself to heal (prescription only, and really the only useful thing the lactation consultant did for me, other than tell me I was screwed). I had to wash it off before each feeding/pumping but it was magic stuff.

      I survived the stubborn part.

      By two months, he finally started putting his tongue over his lower jaw.

      Suddenly nursing was the wonderful bonding moment I’d anticipated.

      But no one told me it could take months to get there.

      Lil Diva and I were good once my milk supply normalized, at about two weeks old.

      I nursed her for fifteen months. I nursed my son for seventeen.

      So yes, breast feeding is hard, and it does get easier.

      Hopefully it doesn’t take two months to do so.

  4. Katie says:

    Man you must have had some of the slowest epidurals ever!! Both of mine were in at most 15 minutes after requesting them, and that includes the time to pump me full of liquids!

    I echo the belly comment. No one tells you that after having a baby you will still look pregnant. For months postpartum.

    And my kids never slept on their backs as newborns either. With Little Man, my mom propped him on his side in his crib the first night home and he slept like a baby (no pun intended). I just kept on doing that since he hated sleeping on his back, and started out with side sleeping for Lil Sis.

    I got the horrible chills during labor with Lil Sis. The nurses said it’s really common when women are in transition. Who knew?

    • Fifteen minutes??? Wow.

      That would have actually helped me during transition labor, as I was pretty much done and trying to bend over and hold still during the end of it with both epidurals.

      I remember I had chills during labor too. I went from roasting during a contraction, to freezing in between. I think it mostly had to do with the room being 67 degrees and coated in sweat.

  5. I’m glad you said that about the “it’s too late for an epidural” myth. I think the “too late” philosophy comes when the nurses/doctors determine that you’re almost done so why not just push on through (no pun intended) when it’s time?

    But when I had my daughter, the first epidural “didn’t take” – I’d been without and with one before and could tell the difference. The initial attempt was not working even a little (I think it was placed incorrectly, whatever.)

    Anyway, I was ten centimeters when my doctor checked me and I told her I was getting no pain relief. She ordered the anesthesiologist to re-do my epidural anyway. When he made me get up and hunch over to re-administer the needle, I felt like I was sitting on my daughter’s face.

    Totally worth it!

    Anyway, it’s amazing what you forget. (Almost everything?) My kids ask questions about when they were babies and I almost always say, “Ummmm…..I don’t remember. I’ll have to look in your baby book.”

    It was twelve years ago, in my defense. And we didn’t have blogs 😉

    • I would remember nothing without my blog. Certainly not twelve years from now.

      As I was at 9.5 each time I got an epidural, I can attest the hardest thing to do is sit still and lean forward while they are putting it in.

      At the time, I thought I was being a huge wuss. Until they checked me.

      With The Tackler, I was very glad I had, as he required 90 minutes of pushing and a bout of fetal distress where I was told not to push to let him recover.

      Given how very uncomfortable it felt to not push during those contractions (and what I recall from Lil Diva’s while I was told to wait for the doctor to show up), I was very happy I had something supposedly making me numb. Because I couldn’t have not pushed.

      With Lil Diva, I wish I hadn’t gotten it – although I should probably be glad given the stitching I required…

      Just once, I’d have liked to have a “natural” childbirth without stitches, but my large babies had other ideas..

  6. Out of three kids my first labor was 3 hours, my second was 12 hours and the epidural didn’t work and she was the smallest of the three! The last was also only 3 hours but more painful then either of the first. There is no rhyme or reason to labor!

    • I had a huge comment response going in labor times and epidurals tales.

      It got lost.

      Naturally I’m too frustrated now.

      But quick sum up:

      -Son: water broke, labor took 4.75 hours. It was very painful back labor. Epidural received when at 9.5 cm (requested 90 minutes PRIOR) followed by 90 minutes of pushing.

      -Daughter: false labor for a week, 8 hours of labor, seven of which did almost nothing and nurse almost didn’t admit me, requested epidural at 7:10 AM when at 5 cm, received at 7:45 AM at 9.5 cm, cursed at nurses for 15 minutes b/c my water broke, I hit 10 and wanted to push at 7:47 AM but was told not to. Daughter born at 8:10 AM after two contractions with doctor.

      For some reason I can only have epi at 9.5 cm….

      Yes, that is the short version.

  7. Evin Cooper says:

    1. Remember that the doctors work for you, not the other way around. Don’t be afraid to tell them no, or to stand up for yourself!
    2. BRING YOUR OWN PADS. The ones they have in the hospital are 1970s relics that you literally need pins for. Which they don’t give you.
    3. You CAN do it without drugs. You really can. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

    • Yes, I realized I could do it without drugs, but by then I had drugs – all because they didn’t check me just prior.

      That being said, both required stitches, so I’m kind of glad I had the epis.

      Ditto about the doctors – they will use your fear of carrying the child for 9 months and having something happen to it against you – to cut down on possibly lawsuits.

      Same with the nurses, who gave me displeasing looks when I was caught co-sleeping with Lil Diva in the hospital. I was too scared to with the Tackler.

  8. Re planned c-section: having your doctor use a wrestling move to force baby #2 down your uterus toward the 10 cm incision in your lower abdomen will bruise your insides.

  9. “The mother’s bladder function is unlikely to work at 100% ever again. The best kept secret, until you join our club.”

    Heh heh heh.

    Can we just say that one year after Monkey was born, I decided to jump with my nieces and nephews on their trampoline. Oh. My. Holy. Pee. In. My. Pants.

    Yep. I peed on their trampoline.

    Another thing no one really tells you is that you can die. I lost 80% of my blood and went home with a personal care aide. It was a disaster. It is actually a miracle that Monkey and I are both here.

    • Wow, that is crazy. I’m so glad you both made it through.

      I know you typically lose about 50% of your blood – luckily your body adds that much while you’re pregnant.

      I know I had “a bleeder” somewhere internally with Lil Diva and could hear my doctor fretting about it. Luckily, I had her on my chest to distract and no pain thanks to epidural.

  10. OH number 7! I hate that tape!!

    I would also add that if you think you are going to get up and walk around like normal the next day…think again! HA!

    • See, no one ever mentioned the tape! It didn’t bother me with Lil Diva but it was pure torture with The Tackler.

      Walking the next day with The Tackler was way harder – my legs were jello after 90 minutes of hard pushing. Lil Diva was a two contraction birth, so I was much better.

      Until my feet swelled, and then it hurt to do anything other than prop up my feet.

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