10 Things They Don’t Teach you in childbirthing class

Last week I had the opportunity to spend an evening learning and sweating with forty other pregnant women during Flex Studios Prenatal Event. The event included a prenatal-safe pilates and TRX workout followed by an open discussion session with an amazing panel including:

-Founders of Truly MD Jaime M Knopman, MD FACOG and Sheeva Talebian, MD FACOG (Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology)
-Chief OBGYN Resident at NYU, Meggie Smith, MD
-Pelvic Floor PT Abigail Bailes, PT, DPT, CSCS

The supportive and open discussion allowed everyone to ask any question on their mind, ranging from commonly discussed things like weight loss to less discussed topics like waxing and self-love. Since the session was so helpful for me, and the advice came from experts, I wanted to share ten things these experts shared with us that I didn’t learn in childbirthing classes or other materials I’ve read.

Ten Things They Don't Teach You In Child Birth Classes

  • Be kind to yourself and your body. When you are nursing, your hormones aren’t at their baseline state.
  • If you normally get waxed or shave, consider getting waxed right before your delivery! Reason being is that if you end up having a C-section, the nurses or doctors will quickly shave you, which may lead to ingrown hairs near the incision line. Moreover, the bandage for a C-section is often near the hair and can be pulled off when removing the bandage – ouch!
  • GET RID OF THE BIRTH PLAN. The more you try to control your birth the more likely you are to have issues. Feel free to have requests, and ensure your partner or doctor know these requests, but understand that for your health and the baby’s health, they may have to alter the plan.

Source

  • Stay at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. Enjoy a shower to help relieve the pain. Eat and drink. But, once your contractions intensify and are four minutes apart, make sure to head there immediately.
  • While breathing techniques are nice, at the end of the day, the best tip that these doctors give to patients is to push as if you’re pooping.
  • You may not immediately connect with your child and that’s okay, especially considering the state of your hormones following birth. However, make sure that you share your thoughts with someone whether it’s your partner, friend, doctor or loved one. 20% of women experience some form of postpartum depression and many never get the help they need.  There are some great resources and information available on the site postpartumprogress.com.
  • Speaking of nursing, it is not normal to lose all your weight while you’re still breastfeeding. you could probably say “it is normal if you do not lose all of your weight while breastfeeding” — some do and some don’t, most don’t! In fact, three of the speakers noted that they didn’t lose their last five to ten pounds until right after they finished nursing.
  • Using a pump after birth can help with milk production so do not fear the pump.
  • It is fine to use product such as Belly Bandit BUT you should wait 3-4 weeks before starting to use them and make sure to speak with your doctor. It’s important to ensure that you are no longer bleeding too much and that your uterus is starting to involute, a process that typically takes six weeks.
  • There is no upside in returning to workouts too early. While six-week is the blanket statement, it is important to listen to your body. If you have tears or complications during delivery, your body will need more time to recover properly. Also, keep in mind that your body is experiencing constant sleep deprivation, dehydration, and lack of nutrients during these first few weeks of motherhood so recovery does not happen as quickly as it does after running a marathon. Those same workouts and adjustments you did during prenatal workouts are great to leverage postnatal as the relaxin stays in your body five to nine months postpartum.

Your Turn – If you’ve given birth, what was the best advice you received? 

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29 Comments

  1. Kasandra Gonzalez May 17, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    Great post! All of this is very much true.

    Yes, there is no fear to use the pump – I had to in order to stimulate, since it can take anywhere from 3-5 days for your milk to come in. However, once your milk is in, you don’t need to continue to use it. Nursing on demand is the best way to keep your milk supply up. Overuse of the pump in the beginning can lead to oversupply and mastitis, just an FYI. Once supply has been established (usually around the 2-3 week mark), certainly you can start pumping if you wish to create a stash for if/when emergency & you return to work. And for returning to work, you only need for that day (the milk you pump at work will be for the next day, and so on). And finally, remember, baby is more efficient than the pump and the pump is never a good indicator of your supply.

  2. Kristen May 17, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    I think all of this is good advice, though I never waxed, had a c-section and never had a problem with ingrown hairs.

    I had twins, was induced at 37 weeks because one baby was no longer growing, and ended up having a c-section after 30 hours of labor. I think that because I never had a set birth plan, it was easier for me to roll with the way things turned out.

    The one piece of advice that is not here is to walk early and often after giving birth — I think it aids the recovery so much.

    Just the way pregnancy is different for everyone, so is giving birth. In my case, I didn’t find myself more emotional after having birth.

    I found the pump so helpful and actually rented a hospital grade pump for the first month. We gave the babies one pumped bottle a day from the beginning, and just as our pediatrician said, there was never any issue with nipple confusion.

    In terms of exercise, I was very excited about returning to exercise post babies, but once I went back to work full time, that fell to the wayside. Although I remained quite active (LOTS of walks), exercise became a much lower priority behind spending time with the boys, sleeping and doing all the extra baby related chores. Plus, honestly, once I went back to work, it was challenging to figure out how to fit in the pumping/ nursing/ exercising (it was not comfortable to exercise with full breasts). Once the boys were older, sleeping reliably, and not changing so fast, I went back to exercising and am in the best shape of my life. I have no regrets about taking that time off.

  3. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West May 17, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    Hi Ash! Love this advice! As a pregnant gal myself, I’m open to hearing EVERYTHING! Thank you for sharing this one with us! 🙂

    • ashleyd May 17, 2017 / 7:43 pm

      Yes, it is so helpful to hear from people especially the experts, right Ash? Glad you’re feeling good and staying active!

  4. Kate May 17, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    The best thing I did was have NO plan. I decided I’d just go with the flow and have no expectations beyond healthy mom, healthy baby. I was pleasantly surprised when everything went smoothly, but it was WONDERFUL to feel no pressure to do things “right.”

    I also didn’t take any classes or read anything about labor and delivery. I absorbed plenty of info, of course, but I didn’t get into much detail, and I’m glad I didn’t. When I got to the hospital I could just relax and follow instructions, and that worked really well for me.

    • ashleyd May 17, 2017 / 7:43 pm

      That makes so much sense Kate! I have a very similar mindset for labor and delivery. My goal is to have a vaginal birth but if they need to make changes last minute for my or the baby’s safety, I understand as they are the experts.

  5. Jessica May 17, 2017 / 6:05 pm

    These are great! I can’t underscore the comment about PPD enough. Many women don’t realize that PPD/A can rear its ugly head any time during the first year post partum. I didn’t struggle until 5-6 months when I felt like my world was crashing down around me (nothing had changed). I was so angry all the time and felt helpless. I thought surely this couldn’t be PPD because I wasn’t sad. Check out postpartumprogress.com for great resources and don’t be afraid to reach out to your OB, PCP or just a friend for support. Even if you don’t need medication, a good therapist or someone you can be real with can make a huge difference in how you remember your baby’s infancy.

    • ashleyd May 17, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      That is so helpful to know Jessica – thank you for sharing. I am adding this website to the post!

  6. Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers May 17, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    I was so freaked out when it was finally time to push that I specifically asked the nurse HOW to push… Like tell me technique, please! She said exactly what you wrote here— push like you’re taking the biggest poop of your life! She actually said many women exhaust themselves from pushing too much with their core when it’s really more of a “up and out” type push. It helped me so much even though it sounds crazy!! 🙂

    • ashleyd May 17, 2017 / 7:03 pm

      This made me laugh so much Julie! I’m glad you liked this post and that this is in keeping with what you experienced! 🙂

    • Emma May 18, 2017 / 1:02 am

      I felt similarly and was also caught off guard by the breathing. Innately I wanted to breathe in – breathe out and they kept telling me breathe in – hold it. It took a few rounds to get it, so if it feels strange at first pick one person who makes sense (I was overwhelmed by lots of directions/encouragement to follow) and focus (as much as you can!) on what they’re saying.

      • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:17 pm

        Emma this is so helpful in regards to picking one person as I can imagine the whole experience will be quite overwhelming! Thanks 🙂

  7. alex May 17, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    The waxing thing is something that no one else has recommended and I have been thinking about a lot! So this is very appreciated… anywhere you recommend in NYC? I haven’t waxed since I’ve been pregnant and have heard it hurts more (and it’s already so bad!!)

    • ashleyd May 17, 2017 / 7:02 pm

      YES! So after hearing this, I had a Brazilian wax on Wednesday at Anor Spa in Brooklyn. It’s right near BK Heights/Downtown BK and very easy to access from Manhattan. CAN’T RECOMMEND ENOUGH! THEY ARE AMAZING!

  8. Lauren May 17, 2017 / 9:16 pm

    I definitely had a slower return to exercise. I tore and had stitches and wasn’t ready at 6 weeks. When I did attempt to run/walk a bit at 8 weeks pp, it was still too early (I bled after the run), so I waited until about 10 to start slowly walk/jogging and increased my running time over the next few weeks, but of course everyone’s story is so different.

    While I didn’t have pp depression, around 9 months pp, I still felt pretty emotional and was constantly beating myself up for not doing enough (I wasn’t working full time, but part time, house was never clean enough, meals were not interesting enough, etc). The midwife at my annual exam told me it’s very normal to feel this way and it likely had somewhat to do with hormones from breastfeeding, getting used to my new role, etc. She also suggested I start taking Vit D and DHA to help with my mood. I think all of it helped, but honestly just hearing someone say that it was normal was a relief.

    My biggest suggestion though is to build a little community of other moms & babies that you can meet up with and connect with on similar issues/questions/milestones. It’s been invaluable to have these friendships and new friends to remind me I’m not on an island. There are so many others going through similar things. 🙂

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:18 pm

      Lauren I’m so glad you listened to your body and I’ve heard very similar stories regarding returning to exercise too quickly. I agree that having a community will make all of this a bit more manageable!

  9. Emma May 18, 2017 / 1:09 am

    I have a 3 week old and 2 things stand out in my mind:
    1. Birth plan: This can also include HOW you go into labor. I was induced and found this very emotional, having to “mourn” the idea of my water breaking and rushing to the hospital. And also feeling unsure if it was right for the baby, but trusting in my Dr that it was the best decision with the information available. All turned out well, but I was very emotional going into the induction (like had to collect myself before walking into Labor & Delivery) and embraced feeling those emotions before shifting my focus to having a safe delivery and healthy baby.

    2. Post-delivery emotions: The emotions I felt directly after birth were much different than expected. I expected to feel this energy high like on your wedding day — “sunshine happiness” comes to mind. And instead, both my husband and I, felt this deep wholeness. Like everything was just right. Exactly how it was supposed to be. So don’t be alarmed if your emotions are different than you would think.

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      Congratulations Emma on your new arrival! I am so glad things worked out for you and yes, I can imagine the emotions will be more powerful and varied than I can imagine!

  10. Megan May 18, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Ditch the plan! Best advice for sure. PPD is no joke and like others it didn’t rear its ugly head until my son was 7 months old. Also – my organs hurt soooo much the days after delivery. If that makes any sense, like they were all shifting back into place. No one mentioned that to me before having the baby and I wish I had known!

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Oh wow, thanks for the heads up Megan. I guess that makes sense re organs but still so crazy! I’m glad you were able to recognize PPD when it reared it’s head and it’s so helpful to hear from you all that it can come at different points.

  11. emily May 18, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    I swear up and down by learning and practicing lamaze techniques – the fact that i was pushing productively was the only thing keeping me from a c-section! also, i strongly recommend getting out and about as much as possible post-baby, and connecting with other new moms. find a neighborhood story time, music class, la leech league meeting, or just go to the park where there are lots of little kids and sit and nurse on a bench. other moms will love to coo over your cute little babe!

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:06 pm

      Thank you so much Emily! I’ve heard this from many moms and am thankful that here in Brooklyn there is easy access to so many different mom groups! 🙂

  12. Katherine Johnston May 18, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    I would say it’s good to have a plan only in the sense that you have informed yourself of all your options pre-birth. Spending time on education of this experience is very important. It will be a life changing event whether it goes according to plan or not! It can definitely be one of the most physical and spiritual transformations of your life. I always felt extremely exhilarated post-birth and had trouble going to sleep, wanting to stare at this new human in the world, my new human! And IMO the best book you can read for prep is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Enjoy the miracle!

    PS- when you feel like you have to poop, that is the baby wanting to come out! I would say if you have any rectal pressure, that’s the time to get to where you are giving birth, no matter the timing of contractions. Squatting for sure is a great position to get the baby out if you can. And a doula is invaluable no matter what type of birth plan you want, even for an elective C-section!

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Thanks for all the tips Katherine! We’re so excited to meet baby girl!

  13. Lindsey May 18, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    How are you already giving advice? And calling yourself a new mom in the header? You’re still pregnant….

    • ashleyd May 18, 2017 / 9:19 pm

      Hi Lindsey! I apologize for any confusion as I, myself, am not giving the advice. This advice is coming from experts (OB-GYN, PTs, etc). In regards to the header, I wanted to get this done before Baby Girl arrives so that is why the new header and theme went live.

  14. sea May 19, 2017 / 3:38 pm

    I will say, be open to whatever happens. I am surprised you wrote this list prior to birth. For example, I went into labor unexpectedly at 33 weeks. There was no cause and no signs… You never know until you’re there what to expect. I will be curious to see how this article and your opinions change after you actually experience childbirth…

  15. NC May 19, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    My thoughts ..
    have a birth plan ( it allows your partner to ensure the choices you guys made are available if he has to make them on your behalf , talk to your doctor about it , it is important he/she is on board)

    Do not pump too much in the early days .. oversupply is a hard thing to manage .. trust me you do not want want to get clogs/mastitis .. manual pump to stimulate should help .. put the baby on the breast , if breastfeeding does not work out , have a game plan and be okay with it .. it’s important that you stay sane . If you choose to exclusively pump then know that it is hard and get support .

    Bonding with the baby – yes will not happens right away takes time .

    For c-section make sure you are up and walking as quickly as you can , will help in recovery

  16. Angie May 24, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    My big advice is drink a ton of water! I love the big mug the hospital gives you. Helps get pain meds out of your system and its good when you have to use the restroom. Also, I’m not sure about your hospital but let them take the baby to the nursery at night so you can get some sleep. They’ll bring the baby to you when it’s time to nurse. It’s the last time you’ll have that kind of help (husbands are great, but it’s not the same).

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