I’ll chime in as I gave birth a little less than 3 weeks ago…
Don’t get attached to your birth plan. Things change very, very quickly and don’t always go the way you expect.
Advocate for yourself and your baby.
Hire a Doula if you can afford one. They can be great advocates when you are exhausted or it mentally in a place to understand what is happening. Mine was also awesome in taking care of me when things got rough and my husband started freaking out (he had a very hard time seeing me in pain.)
Contractions hurt like all hell, as does pushing the baby out. Contractions (at least for me) were the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
The epidural was amazing for the contraction pain and didn’t hurt at all. I had a “walking epidural” so could still get around just didn’t have the intense insane pain. I recommend the walking epidural very much.
Be patient… I was in labor for 28 hours and pushed for 5.
Be prepared for physical and emotional complete exhaustion beyond what you can imagine.
Your vagina will likely tear, this does not feel good and takes a long time to heal. There is a lot of bleeding and swelling.
Even if you don’t tear you’ll bleed for weeks and weeks as your uterus shrinks. Depends are helpful for the first while.
Youre body won’t snap back. You’ll leave the hospital looking 5/6 months pregnant.
Your hands and feet will swell like crazy for about a week postpartum.
Its OK to be overwhelmed and feel like you have no idea what you are doing, things will get better.
Breast feeding and pumping are hard. Really hard. You will feel like feeding is all you do and that you are no longer a woman but a prize milk cow.
Take notes of what people tell you at the hospital. You’ll be so exhausted you’ll likely not remember anything they tell you and it’s a ton of information.
Dont be afraid to ask for help, it takes a village.
Somedays you’ll ask yourself “why the hell did I do this!?”
Do tons of skin in skin, really helps with bonding.
Understand your husband does not know the baby like you do and it can be frustrating when he doesn’t “get it.”
Your baby will teach you more in a week than you’ve ever learned in your life.
If you bond early or later with your baby, you will learn a love you never knew could exist.
It’s all worth it.