My mother had three children, and she is a veritable fountain of knowledge when it comes to labor and delivery. Now, she's my mom, so naturally there is plenty she says that goes in one ear and out the other. However, I do pay attention to most of her advice because, as much as I hate to admit it, she's usually right. That's why I was so relieved when the things my mom told me about childbirth were wonderfully true.
If I'm being honest, I have to admit my birth story wasn't totally "magical." I was in labor for 29 hours and ended up needing assistance from an obstetrician via the vacuum, as well as an episiotomy. Still, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Plus, when I held my baby for the first time I experienced the highest high in the world, just like my mom said I would.
As tempted as you may be to dismiss your mom's labor and delivery war stories, there's quite a bit you can actually learn from them. It's also possible you'll follow in her footsteps (you can look to your mom to predict when you start menstruating, or if you might get stretch marks). Most importantly, in my opinion, is the renewed and increased appreciation you'll have for everything your mom did for little baby you.
"They Won't Let You Go That Long"
With my older sister, my mom was in labor for 64 hours. You read that right. Sixty. Freakin'. Four. Hours. That's basically three days, people. The woman saw The Empire Strikes Back in the theater while laboring. After all that work, she ended up having a c-section, under the shadow of an erupting Mt. St. Helens. She's a damn badass. Me? Not so much.
I was so worried I'd take after my mom and be in labor forever. She assured me that it was no longer the '80s, and my provider wouldn't "let me go that long." Blessedly, it was true. After 20 hours, they put me on Pitocin to speed things up, and I had my daughter nine hours later.
"Any Way You Have Your Baby Is Fine"
First-time moms can get themselves in a twist about their birth plans. I know several friends who were intent on unmedicated, vaginal births, only to be devastated when they needed emergency c-sections.
My mom prepped me for the unknown by saying that any way I had my baby was completely fine. She helped me remember my priorities: my health and that of my baby. The fact that I had to be cut instead of tear naturally like I'd wanted? Not a big deal.
"Get The Epidural. Or Don't."
The gospel according to mother states that modern science exists for a reason. She suggested that I take advantage of pain-relieving drugs. There's no shame in a medicated birth. But if I opted to go unmedicated? She'd support me 100 percent and without question. I ended up going as long as I could, which was 20 hours. Thanks to my mom's words of wisdom, I made that decision guilt-free.
"Your Body Knows What It's Doing"
It can seem impossible that your body is going to squeeze something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. That's when you remember what your mom said. Trust your body. It will know what to do.
The moment your body takes over is, honestly, pretty incredible. Even though I had an epidural, my body told me when I was getting a contraction so I knew when to push. When it was time to bear down, I gritted my teeth and pushed that baby right out, like a boss.
Your body has been getting you ready for this moment for nine months. All those aches and pains associated with ligament stretching, have made room for baby. Your dilating cervix is readying itself for baby's entrance into the world.
My mom told me that I would probably handle contractions well because I've always had such terrible cramps. They've been so bad in the past that I've passed out (most notably during my high school AP calculus exam), so yeah. I was ready.
"You Can Handle Any Pain Now"
One Christmas, we offered my mom a naughty or nice gift. She could choose a tattoo or a spa day. Mom opted for body art. I knew how badly my tattoo hurt, so I bet my sister the tip that mom would be feeling it. As it turns out, she knitted the entire time and only yelped once when she dropped a stitch. When I asked her about it, she replied, "Honey, I've had three c-sections. You can't hurt me."
At a postpartum dental cleaning, I had to have a cavity filled thanks to my calcium-sucking former fetus. The dentist warned me that I'd be getting a shot of novocaine. When I told him I'd just had a baby, he quipped, "You'll be fine." I was.
"You'll Forget How Hard It Was"
My great-grandma used to joke that if women and men took turns giving birth, there would be a maximum of three people in every family because women would do it again, but men wouldn't. I really believe we're biologically programmed to forget how painful the experience is. Otherwise, how would the species survive? I mean, I know in my head that it was a physically traumatic experience, but it was also wonderful. Honestly, I'd happily do it again.
"It's The Happiest Moment Of Your Life"
The moment when you first hold your baby in your arms is hard to describe. Because it's just that. Indescribable. I instantly burst into tears when I saw my daughter for the very first time. She was so incredibly perfect and beautiful. Knowing that's how my mom felt about me overwhelms me with emotion. Mom, you were right. Thank you.