Let’s be real: having a baby, especially your first one, is pretty darn scary. I wanted to make a list of labor and delivery tips for first time moms because I know how terrifying it can be. You don’t know what to expect, how bad it’s going to hurt, or if it will go the way you imagined it would. All those fears and concerns are completely normal—just know you are going to be holding your beautiful baby in your arms in no time! As someone who had their first child somewhat recently, I hope to answer many of your questions (and address your fears!) today. Have a look at these truly helpful labor and delivery tips for first time moms.
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag
Preparing a hospital bag a few weeks ahead of time is an excellent idea for several reasons. It starts preparing you for everything that is coming, but it also gives you some time to add more to it as you go. As you will quickly find out, babies need a LOT of stuff!
Before you panic, most hospitals are helpful and will provide you with most of the things you forget to pack. However, it’s so nice to have your own things. Here is a list of essentials to bring with you.
- Carseat – Okay, so I know that it doesn’t fit in your bag, but no matter what, you don’t want to go to the hospital without a car seat. In fact, the hospital won’t let you leave unless your sweet baby is in it. So it’s an essential labor and delivery tip for first time moms who want to take their baby home. 🙂
- Baby Supplies – Most hospitals give you enough wipes and diapers to get through the stay, but it is always a good idea to bring some of your own. You never know when you might need a diaper change on the way home! Don’t forget baby clothes, pacifier, blankets, and an adorable newborn hat.
- Nursing Pillow – You will thank yourself if you bring a nursing pillow. It will save your arm from hurting like crazy, and it’s easier to get the baby in the right position.
- Comfy Clothes – Yes, if you forget to bring comfy clothes you can always wear a hospital gown. But let’s face it, those gowns aren’t made for comfort. You want to have the most peaceful experience you can, so bring your comfiest items.
- Pillow – Your pillow may seem like a no brainer, but when you are in a hurry, you may not be thinking about it. Your own pillow will give you lots of comfort.
- Nursing Bra & Pads – If you plan to nurse your little one, it is much nicer to wear a comfy nursing bra. When laying in a hospital bed all day, you are going to want every comfort possible. The nursing pads are essential because when your milk comes in, you don’t want to ruin your clothing or for visitors to see milk leaking out of you!
- Toiletries – Yes, the hospital will give you some basic shampoo and soap, but trust me when I tell you that you are going to want your own from home. Whether you have a fast delivery or a long drawn out one, you are going to want to relax with a hot shower at some point afterward. Don’t forget shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, lotion, deodorant, hairbrush, face wipes, and anything else you can think of.
- Pads & Undergarments – Trust me, the pads the hospital gives are fine, but it’s nice to have something you are more accustomed too. Important labor and delivery tip for first time moms: you are going to want some postpartum undies too.
- Snacks – You and your partner are probably going to end up starving at some point. It is much better to have stuff packed and ready than to have to use the vending machine. Plus, you will save some money too.
- Comforts of Home – A robe, some slippers, relaxing essential oils, music, or anything else that will give you comfort should come with you. If you even question if you may want something, it’s better to toss it in and not use it than to wish you had it in the middle of your labor.
What To Expect During Labor
Let me begin by giving you one of the most important labor and delivery tips for new moms I ever received: it’s impossible to predict what your labor will be like. It may be pretty smooth and not nearly as painful as you imagined, or it may be the worst pain you have ever felt. No matter what, I can assure you that it’s going to be okay and that it will all be worth it! If it wasn’t, so many women wouldn’t have more than one child.
Here are some of the main things to prepare for:
- You will know when you are in actual labor. I know you probably are worried that you won’t be able to tell, but you will. The pain will be stronger than a Braxton hicks contraction, and you will not be able to hold a conversation when they hit. If the contraction doesn’t stop you from walking around and talking, there is a good chance you aren’t in active labor yet. Your body is practicing, though, and it will be soon!
- Once you get to the hospital, you will see lots of doctors and nurses. Everyone has their duties, and it may seem a little monotonous to answer the same questions over and over, but it’s normal. All of these people want to help and give you and your baby the best care.
- Depending on the hospital, you will probably get an IV at some point. The IV will provide you with fluids and antibiotics if you tested positive for Group B strep. Even if you hate needles, you probably won’t even care because you just want to be done being in labor!
- You may end up with an epidural or other pain meds if you want. It is entirely up to you to decide, and unless you have progressed too much, they will be happy to give you some help.
- You will wear a belt that helps monitor the babies heart rate and contractions. This will allow doctors and nurses to know if the baby is in distress at any point.
What To Expect During Delivery
Labor and delivery go hand and hand to get your baby out of your womb and into your arms. Sometimes, it goes nice and smooth, and other times you end up in labor for hours then have to have a c-section. You just don’t know. I want to share some basic things that will happen during delivery so you are prepared.
- Your contractions will get harder and stronger the closer you are to delivery. While it can be miserable without pain meds (and sometimes with), don’t worry, this is absolutely normal. This is usually the very worst part, and you will be glad when it’s over.
- You may throw up. As delivery nears, it is totally normal for a woman to get sick because her body is going through so much at once.
- Nurses and doctors will check your cervix frequently. The doctor will stretch and massage the vagina to help it get ready for the baby’s head to come through. This also helps prevent tearing. The doctor may need to give you an episiotomy to prevent ripping or tearing too—I promise, in the moment you will barely notice or care.
- Once you start pushing, the contractions do not hurt as much. Some women may have painful contractions at this time, but for most, it gets better. The contractions tell your body it’s time to push, and while you are pushing it moves the baby down and releases some of your pain.
- You might poop. Guess what, even if you do poop a little, you probably aren’t ever going to know. The doctors and nurses are used to this, and someone will quickly clean it up without saying a word.
What To Expect After The Baby Is Born
Yay, you are at the most exciting stage of pregnancy, labor, and delivery! You finally get to hold your bundle of joy in your arms. There will be lots of crying from the baby, you, and your loved ones. Let those emotions flow because it’s normal. Here’s what else to expect:
- The cord will need to be cut. Some doctors just do it, and others let the spouse or partner have the honor. It’s a beautiful tradition that is practiced in many hospitals all over.
- You will have to push out the placenta. Thankfully you can push it out with one or two pushes, and you will be so focused on your baby you won’t care. If you get a chance to look at it, you should take a peek. That crazy thing is what helped keep your baby alive for 9 months!
- Skin on skin contact with you and your baby will happen. After the baby has been thoroughly checked over, weighed, and cleaned, it’s time for some vital skin on skin contact. This helps build a bond with the baby, and he or she will want to hear mama’s heartbeat for comfort. Awww.
- Nurses will massage your uterus frequently. They will come in and massage it on the outer portion of your stomach. This helps it shrink down, and it reduces the amount of blood you lose as well as cramping. It doesn’t feel that great, but it does help you in the long run.
- You will be exhausted. You may have moments of energy because you are so excited, but your body has been through extreme exhaustion. Try to sleep when you can and let the nurses help out with the baby as much as possible. You will get lots of bonding time at home, and they are there to help.
- If you have had a C-section you need to walk. I had one myself, and the BEST advice I can give you is to get up and walk after. Thanks to pain medication, it was easy and within a few hours of delivery, I was lapping around the room. Walking helps keep soreness at bay while also getting your digestive system back in order.
- Put dad to work. In most cases, your partner will be eager to do something, anything for you or baby after watching you go through labor. Take advantage of it—get massages, foot rubs, make him run errands, etc.
Phew. That was a lot, but these labor and delivery tips for first time moms will help you feel prepared, and hopefully comforted. You’ve got this, mamas!